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Fr Joaquin Bernas According to Mel Sta Maria

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Fr Joaquin Bernas According to Mel Sta Maria
« on: November 21, 2020, 06:28:29 PM »
By Mel Sta Maria

Let's pray for one of the greatest Filipinos of all time, a constitutionalist,a professor, a dean, an author,  and most of all a PRIEST, Fr. Joaquin Bernas of the Society of Jesus.  The only individual so esteemed by the Supreme Court  that it characterized  his opinions as "august". Brilliant but humble and very approachable.

Fr. B as we lovingly call him at the Ateneo was  the Jesuit Provincial ( the "boss" of the Jesuits)  during the dictatorship of Marcos and I was fortunate enough to be a college student during his incumbency. He set the tone for our critical thinking.

His favorite riposte to a law student after recitation: "Why are you wrong?" and then he allowed the student to correct herself/himself and be good.  That has become legendary. We would imitate him. 

He was the one who asked  me to be the very   first full-time law professor at the Ateneo De Manila School of Law.  I heeded his advise. After three law books and two forthcoming ones, I still think of him when undertaking a major academic move. Before  I  was appointed Dean of FEU Law to revitalize the program, I asked Fr. Bernas' permission and advise. He seemed to ponder or  even  hesitate for a while and then said "Go Mel, help the school in whatever way you can."   He made Ampy's recommendation for a full-scholarship at the University of Toronto and made sure some provisions were available for her while she was taking her Master of Laws.   He  was the one who blessed our family home.  When Patricia, my daughter, graduated Valedictorian in 2015  from the Ateneo Law School, he was the honoree.   

I am sure, Fr. B touched many lives as a professor, mentor, friend and  most especially as a  PRIEST. I loved to attend  Masses he officated. His homilies were the best lectures anyone can hear -- to the point, brief, inspiring, and loaded --- better than his lectures as a law professor.

He is now in the ICU. May he regain his strength.


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