Father Gonzalo Gabriel Aemilius Berezan is an inspiring figure. I met him through the Eisenhower Fellowships Multination Program last year. Gonzalo is Principal of Liceo Jubilar, an innovative educational center that serves 340 adolescent and adult students and impacts more than 1500 people in the community, one of the poorest in Montevideo and Uruguay as a whole.
As an Eisenhower Fellow for 2012, I got to spend time with him in Philadelphia and the Grand Canyon. While there on a Sunday, Father Gonzalo made a clearing in the woods and invited us to a sermon. MNP Fellow Dearbhail McDonald is both an Editor and also a classical violinist from Ireland. She played a beautiful piece for all of us. Then BBC Journalist Dr. William Crawley gave a reading. Father Gonzalo then discussed what we had seen in the Grand Canyon, the lightness and shadows and applied it to the spiritual world. It was quite a touching moment to watch fellows from China to Jordan to Brazil actively participate together in the simplest yet most vivid sermon I have seen.
His work has inspired many of us. In fact, one of the happiest moments for me this year was seeing Gonzalo’s work recognized in Rome.
Pope Francis, in one of his first sermons, not only specifically called out Father Gonzalo’s work, but actually brought him to the altar to celebrate his dedication to working with the poor. See the video below at 1:35. For me, it communicated a new direction for the Church. Now Father Gonzalo is headed to Rome, and I am thrilled to watch the truly inspirational work of Father Gonzalo continue to unfold.