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


Book Summary:

This historical work focuses on the life and times of Félix Varela y Morales, a noted Cuban patriot, teacher, philosopher, and Catholic priest, who spent half of his life in New York serving Irish and Italian immigrants. The period from 1823 to 1853 when he died in San Augustine, FL., was a time of social, political, and religious change in the US. It was specially challenging for all newcomers. The Church of the Transfiguration, which he founded in 1827, is still active today in Mott Street in Chinatown, providing pastoral care to Chinese immigrants. Father Varela was appointed vicar general of the N.Y. Catholic diocese and became a well known figure and apologist for the Church. The study reveals the central convictions and religious beliefs that motivated his efforts to liberate the oppressed, whether Cubans under Spain or Italian and Irish immigrants in New York. His untiring pursuit to find truth, justice, and human dignity for all within the reach of his pen (see Escritos) or his voice is most inspirational. A final chapter summarizes the character and spiritual transformation that led to his becoming an inspiring model for all (see Table of Contents).

 The challenging exile experience in the New York of the 1800s enabled Father Varela to become a paradigm for all people who have experienced the trauma of living in exile, whether Latino, European or Asian immigrants. Any Catholic person seeking spiritual formation and personal growth will benefit from Father Varela's life of service. This biographical study will also be of interest to students of American Catholicism and to Catholic historians interested in this period.

There are several biographies and studies written in Spanish (see Bibliography) about this outstanding man, but only the McCaddens’ biography and F. Estévez’ translation of Varela’s Cartas a Elpidio (Paulist Press) have been published in English. None of these emphasized the exile years and experiences of Father Varela in New York as an important factor in his life and formation. In this sense, the book offers a new vision and a broadening of the list of biographical works about Father Varela (see Prologue).

More Information:

 Local Bookstores:

In Birmingham, AL: Alpha Church Bookstore ( www.alphachurchsupply.com  800-824-3887)

In Miami, FL: La Moderna Poesía (305-262-1975) New location address:5739 NW 7th St. Miami, FL 33126; Karisma Jubille Group (305-485-0949 karismagroup@aol.com ); Librería San Pablo  www.sanpablo.com.mx ; Books and Books (Coral Gables, FL); Sepi Book Service (sepibook@bellsouth.net );

In St. Augustine, FL.: Basilica Bell Tower Religious Store, 35 Treasury Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084

Postal address of Author:
Juan M. Navia Ph.D.
P.O. Box 660614  Birmingham, Alabama, 35266-0614, U.S.A.
        FAX: (205) 822-4901    jmn@navia.us

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Updated: February 1, 2010