Padre Félix Varela y Morales


A  Cuban Catholic priest who loved his country and became an Apostle for Immigrants in New York


Book Summary
Book Prologue
Table of Contents


News and Web Changes 

(This is where we will announce the most recent additions to our web site. If you have visited us before and want to know what has changed, take a look here first.)

Prayers for Dr. Juan M. Navia

NAVIA, JUAN M. Dr. Juan M. Navia, age 83, died peacefully at his home on Saturday morning surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by wife of 60 years Josefina, sons Juan L. (Julie) of Doylestown, PA, and Carlos A. (Kathy) of Mobile, AL, daughters Ana M. of Panacea, FL, Beatriz A. of Birmingham, AL, and grandchildren Juan and Carmen, James, Gabrielle, and Rebecca. Born in Havana, Cuba to the late Juan and Hortensia Navia, he studied in the US where he earned a BS degree in Food Technology, and Master's in Food Science at MIT. Returning to Cuba in 1951, he began as Assistant Director of the Instituto de Investigaciones Tecnologicas, and later Director of the Fundacion de Investigaciones Medicas (FIM) laboratories of nutrition in Havana. He was also Associate Professor at the University of Villanova where he taught Microbiology until the communist regime closed the University. Under his leadership at FIM, the laboratory undertook the Herculean task of analyzing the nutritional value of all the common plant-based foods in Cuba. The work merited the San Esteban Conde de Canongo Award in 1954 from the Academy of Sciences in Havana. Fleeing political turmoil in Cuba, he and his young family arrived in the US July 4, 1961. He resumed his studies at MIT in nutrition and oral health, completed a Doctorate in Nutritional Biochemistry in 1965, and joined the faculty at UAB School of Dentistry in 1968. Dr. Navia enjoyed a productive academic life at his beloved University publishing over 150 papers, consulting for many major corporations, and published a book, "Animal Models in Dental Research", considered by many a practical bible standardizing humane use of animals in dental research. He held numerous academic positions over the next 25 years including Director of the Nutrition and Oral Health Training Programs, Senior Scientist at the Institute of Dental Research, and Professor in the departments of Oral Biology, Comparative Medicine, Nutrition Sciences, and Public Health Sciences. As Director of the John J. Sparkman Center for International Public Health, and later Dean of the School of Public Health, Dr Navia worked with faculty at UAB and other universities to establish training programs in Public Health at universities in developing countries, most notably Colombia, Jamaica, Peru, and Thailand. He was recipient of the Senior International Fogarty Fellowship Award 1979; H. Trendly Dean, IADR and UAB Distinguished Faculty Lecturer awards in 1990, UAB 1992 President's Medal, and Hispanic Dental Association 1995 Presidential Award for Leadership. After retirement, he was recognized as Fellow of the American Institute of Nutrition, presented with an Honorary Degree of Doctor in Dental Science at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, and 2007Global Citizen Award in Recognition of Leadership and Academic Excellence in International Health Education. In retirement, Dr Navia returned to the life of a student, earning a MA degree in Theology from Spring Hill College. He developed his thesis on the life of Father Felix Varela into a book, "An Apostle for the Immigrants", he self-published in the fall of 2002.

Published in The Birmingham News on September 8, 2010

* Juan Navia is very sick and the family requests your prayers for  strength that "God's will be done".  Juan has suffered with prostate cancer for many years and offers his suffering for the Cuban people that they will, once again, gain their freedom from oppression and that their human dignity and inalienable rights given by God will be restored.

*  The winner of the 2010 UAB Father Varela Faculty Award is Dr. Serge Bokobza.  Dr. Bokobza will travel to King's College, London to present a paper at a conference on Jun 3-5, 2010.  The paper is entitled: The European Sentimental Education of  Cédric Klapisch.

* We give thanks to God for all the many blessing bestowed in this year of the priest that concluded at the end of June 2010.   May our prayers continue in support of all our newly ordained priests and all those who have chosen to follow God's call and are now enrolled in Seminaries all over the world.

*  Remembrance:  This year (2009-10) has been dedicated by Pope Benedict XVI to honor and pray for our Priests. Father Varela is an example of what a  holy and dedicated servant of God can be.  He was born in Havana in 1788 and died in St. Augustine in 1853. On November 20th of this year we will celebrate 222 years of Father Varela's birth and on February 18th we will commemorate 156 years of his death.  New generations will never forget his life, his dedication, and his ideas. (See this web page on "Events".)

Please continue to Pray for him and with him!

* Noticias de la Fundación Padre Félix Varela en Miami, FL.

* Nueva Candidatura elegida por el Comite Ejecutivo de la "Fundación Padre Félix Varela" en Miami a la Junta de Directores, Bienio 2010-2012

Presidente: Pedro L. Guerra; Primer Vice Presidente: Rafael B. Abislaimán; Vice Presidente: Germán Miret; Vice Presidente: Francisco J. Muller; Vice Presidente: Rogelio A. de la Torre; Secretario: Armando F. Cobelo; Vice Secretaria: Juana Rippes; Tesorero Emilio G. Roca; Vice Tesorero: Nicolás Alvarez-Camp

* La Fundacion Padre Félix Varela participó con una casilla de información en la Feria Internacional del Libro en Miami los días 13, 14, y 15 de noviembre del año pasado.

* La Fundación tambien hizo entrega de Premios a cuatro alumnos del Félix Varela Senior High School que fueron ganadores en el Concurso Literario sobre el Padre Varela. El evento tuvo lugar el Miercoles 28 de noviembre del 2009. Francisco Muller presentó una charla sobre el tema de "Varela: Periodista y Escritor."

* The University  of Alabama at Birmingham established the Padre Varela Award.

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures  approved four years ago the establishment of an award to recognized the interest and dedication of Father Varela to teaching and to the promotion of the importance of languages. He was fluent in at least six languages and was the founder of El Amigo de la Juventud or The Youth's Friend in New York which was probably the first bilingual periodical in the city. The purpose of the award is to provide financial support for travel, research and academic activities to young faculty for their language teaching efforts, particularly Spanish.

    The winner of the first Father Varela Faculty Award  was John K. Moore Jr. Ph.D. who is Interim Chair of the UAB Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. He has travelled to Santiago de Compostela, Spain to carry out his research on "El Camino de Santiago."  The search for a new faculty recipient of this award for this 2010 year has been started and will be announced shortly.

    Anyone wishing to contribute financial support for this faculty award should contact the department development director, Ms. Camille A. Epps (205) 934-6386.

* Video on the life of Father Varela

The video/documentary of Father Varela has been produced by Videografia and was released to be shown in different media outlets in several countries. This documentary has been shown in the TV programs sponsored by EWTN during the month of October 2009.

* Nuestra Fe en Vivo (EWTN)

El Programa Nuestra Fe en Vivo televisado por EWTN y trasmitido por Radio Catolica mundial el 26 de octubre del 2009 tuvo como tema la vida del Padre Felix Varela. El animado y conocedor Pepe Alonso entrevistó a Juan M. Navia PhD sobre varios temas relacionados con la vida de este gran sacerdote. Para ver y escuchar el programa ir a www.ewtn.com/nuestrafeenvivo  o www.ewtn.com/espanol y buscar en el archivo.

Un segundo programa de Nuestra Fe en Vivo se ha de televisar el 1ro de febrero de este año siguiendo la discusión del modelo de vida de fe que el Padre Varela ofrece a todos en este Año del Sacerdote. Se planea un tercer programa para discutir y profundizar en el mensaje de las Cartas a Elpidio, obra principal del Padre Varela, dentro de unas semanas.

* New Biography Translation.

The book originally published in English in 1969 by Joseph and Helen McCadden with the title Félix Varela, Torch Bearer from Cuba has been translated into Spanish (Félix Varela, Porta-antorcha de Cuba) and published by Ediciones Universal in 2005 under the auspices of of the Félix Varela Foundation of New York and the Padre Félix Varela Foundation in Miami.

* Noticias acerca del Proceso de Canonización del Padre Varela

* Recientemente (Ciudad Vaticano 14-6-2009) el Papa ha nombrado cinco nuevos consultores a la Congregacion de las Causas de los Santos cuyo prefecto es el arzobispo Angelo Amato S.D.B. que tiene la responsabilidad de preparar todo lo necesario para que el Papa pueda proponer a los fieles nuevos ejemplos de santidad. La causa del Padre Felix Varela sigue siendo considerada y los miembros de la Congregacion han pedido informes adicionales para continuar sus evaluaciones. Siguen siendo necesarias las oraciones que den lugar a un milagro para apoyar la decision final. (VER ORACIONES , PRAYER)

The Making of a Saint: Father Félix Varela by Tristan Schweiger (6/10/03)  http://www.staugustine.com/varela/varela17.shtml

Organizations and Foundations promoting the memory of Father Félix Varela.

Links to other Web sites dealing with Father Varela.

Other Links of possible interest.




Send mail to Juan M. Navia with questions or comments about this web site.

Updated: July 6, 2010