Auxiliary Bishops of Havana (Final)

By Msgr. Antonio Rodríguez (Father Tony)

Mons. Juan de Dios Hernández Ruiz, SJ


He was born in Holguin on November 14, 1948. He frequented the catechesis of Holguin’s St. Isidore Church. The only son of a practical Catholic couple: Esteban and Carmen, he studied in his hometown until the first year of pre-university. In 1964 he entered the Seminary San Basilio Magno de El Cobre and simultaneously, together with other seminarians, his priestly studies with daily attendance at the Cuqui Boch pre-university institute in Santiago de Cuba. There he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Science and Letters in 1967 and was soon called the Compulsory Military Service. At the end of his three years of seclusion, he continued his priestly studies at the San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary in Havana.

There is a very beautiful ecclesial fact that deserves to be reviewed. Although for all priests and seminarians, Juan de Dios belonged to the archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba, only three people knew that this was not the case: Father Pedro Arrupe, general purpose of the Society of Jesus, the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Msgr. Enrique Pérez Serantes and Father José Manuel Miyares, superior of the Jesuits in Cuba. John of God entered the seminary of El Cobre as a Jesuit vocation, because then there was no novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Cuba. The anecdote referred to by Father John of God himself illustrates the universal heart of Msgr. Enrique Pérez Serantes, whom Father Miyares told would afford the studies of today Msgr. John of God. To this he resused the colossus of Santiago de Cuba: “I cannot allow it, for you would put me in an unpayable debt. How much money would I have to pay the Society of Jesus for parents Abraham Gil, Eulogio Vazquez and Fidencio Ramos? These Jesuits work admirably in my archdiocese.”

Msgr. Juan de Dios’s membership in the Society of Jesus was made public at the Seminary in Havana in October 1973. On 16 July 1974 he entered the novitiate along with four more young men. The place was the queen’s church of Havana and, at the same time, attended priestly studies at the Seminary San Carlos and San Ambrosio. On 16 July 1976 these five young men made their temporary vows. On December 27, 1976, at the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba, Msgr. Pedro Meurice ordained him a priest. He was assigned as a trainer and teacher to the Seminary San Basilio Magno de Santiago de Cuba. Later, he was sent to the parish of Our Lady of Monserrate in Cienfuegos. In 1984 he was appointed auxiliary director of the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Villa San José in El Vedado. In 1993, he assumed the spiritual direction of the seminary of Havana until 1995 when he resumed his responsibility in the novitiate of the Jesuits and attended the Catholic community of Las Cañas on the Hill.

In 1991 he began directing the Sunday leaf Christian Life until December 31, 2003. On December 3, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him auxiliary bishop of Havana. He was ordained as such in the Habanera Cathedral on January 14, 2006 and was in charge of the Episcopal Vicarage of Cerro-Vedado-Marianao. On January 3, 2014, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, appointed him parish priest of the church of San Agustín de Playa. On 13 July 2019 he took office as Bishop of Pinar del Río, appointed by Pope Francis.

Since his episcopal appointment in 2006 he has been secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba and a member of its Standing Committee.

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