Fr. Arcenio C. Jesena, S.J. on Fr. Richard G. Leonard, S.J.: How the ingratitude of the Ateneo students and faculty during Martial law broke his heart
November 3, 2009 3 Comments
I only knew Fr. Richard G. Leonard, S.J. as my European Modern History (Hi 14) professor, but I never really knew him until I read an article about him by his protege, Fr. Arcenio C. Jesena III, S.J. The article is published in authorsden.com. Because of copyright, I could not copy the article in full. I shall just quote some paragraphs:
But Martial Law and its aftermath had ravaged both of us. We were no longer what we used to be.
Sure, Fr. Leonard still taught and was still a fantastic, well-appreciated European History Professor, but gone was the elan and the joie d’vivre of 1955 and the following 20 years.
Nobody really knew what had happened. But Fr. Leonard was now only a shell of his once-fantastic personality . Before, he was a man full of energy and full of life, always looking around to see what he could do to help, ready to help all those who were in need.
Now, there was only a tired old man, who prepared for and taught his History classes well, but did not otherwise seem to care if the whole world and everybody in it collapsed and vanished from the universe. Nothing and no one seemed to interest him anymore.
It seems that during Martial Law some student activists wrote and circulated a letter of protest against the Jesuits and the Ateneo, viciously accusing them of selfishness, greed and injustice. …despicable motives and behavior from people of such high calling.
And if that had not been enough, that same letter was passed around for signatures, and many Faculty Members signed it, including the Faculty Members who had been served generously and who owed so very much to Fr. Leonard and the Jesuit Fathers since the foundation of the Ateneo. Fr. Leonard had given his all…his very all… and THIS was his reward!
“Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms quite vanquished him…then burst his mighty heart…