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


About the Author: Juan M. Navia Ph.D., M.A. Theo.

  • Dr. Navia was born in Havana, Cuba and received his secondary education at Ruston Academy. He enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he obtained BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in Nutritional Biochemistry.

     He returned to Cuba in 1951 and taught at the Catholic University Santo Tomás de Villanueva in Havana until the university was closed by the Marxist government in 1961. He was able to escape from Cuba and came to the USA with his wife and four children on the 4th of July of 1961. He was offered a faculty position at MIT, where he remained until 1969. When a research institute was established at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Navia and his family moved to Birmingham. He accepted a faculty position at the university and, eventually, became Dean of the UAB School of Public Health.

              Upon retirement in 1993, Dr. Navia started a new career in the humanities and enrolled in the Theology and History Master program at  Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. It was there that he began the historical study on Father Varela and the European immigrants to the USA in the XIX century. He received a Master of Arts in Theology in June, 2000. He is now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA.


  • Personal statement: This book came to be as a result of my graduate studies in theology and church history at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama.   These graduate studies facilitated the investigation and understanding of the meaning of the exile experience for such an outstanding Cuban Catholic priest. My Cuban heritage has contributed the love and sensitivity to interpret the historical and socio-cultural environment where Father Varela labored, and my former experience as a researcher provided the right tools to explore this subject rigorously. It is my earnest hope that those who learn about Father Varela will be inspired to achieve the high moral and religious ideals he demonstrated in his daily life, always full of love and service for all who came within reach of his voice or his pen.


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

Updated: February 1, 2010