FFCS de Braga honored four founding Jesuit masters of the Catholic University

Thursday, May 25, 2023 - 17:16
Diario do Minho

The Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences (FFCS) of the Catholic University of Portugal (UCP) - Braga Regional Centre, honored yesterday four Jesuit priests, masters of scientific knowledge, who participated in the founding of the Catholic University of Portugal. They are the priests Júlio Fragata, Lúcio Craveiro da Silva, António Freire and João Mendes, some of whom have already been honored in streets or cultural structures in the city of Braga.

The homage took place at the Aula Magna of the FFCS in Braga, which, since yesterday, has been renamed the Aula Magna António Freire.

At the table were Father José Lopes, Director of FFCS; João Duque, Pro-Rector and President of the Braga Regional Center of the UCP; and the four names chosen to evoke the four centenary teachers. They were Acílio Estanqueiro Rocha, who spoke about Father António Freire; Teresa Fragata, who spoke of the «wise uncle», Júlio Fragata, who also gave his name to the FFCS Library; Manuel Gama, who evoked Lúcio Craveiro da Silva, patron of the Library of Braga, former rector of the University of Minho, which he helped found and of which he was rector; and Father Mário Garcia, who invoked the memory and achievements of Father João Mendes.

The director of the FFCS opened the session with an intervention, in which he invoked the four centenary professors, but above all the mission of the Jesuits in Portugal and in the world, committed to intellectual work, which is part of the religious identity of the Society of Jesus. For the Jesuits and the institutions animated by the company of Jesus, reaching intellectual depth is not enough. The real challenge is that it be an apostolate, that is, a way of proclaiming the Gospel more effectively, of learning to grasp the presence of God in the world and the action of his spirit in history, in order to be part of it and contribute to human liberation. », said José Lopes.

In fact, in addition to the spirit of mission, what distinguished these four century-old teachers, “masters of knowledge”, humanists concerned with the integral education of man, was their action. And it was through action that they created, with the contribution of other colleagues, the Faculty of Philosophy and, later, the Catholic University of Braga, in 1967; and which later extended to the whole country, including Lisbon.
Father Mário Garcia made a point of underlining this aspect, so that there are no doubts. «This faculty is the rock on which the Catholic University of Portugal was founded. This faculty is at the origin of the Catholic. These four Jesuit professors are founders of the Portuguese Catholic University », he reinforced.
Mário Garcia recalled the human, literary, artistic and, above all, religious qualities of Father João Mendes, who died as he would have liked.

The enraptured niece spoke about Father Júlio Fragata, who treated her uncle as the “wise” and kind one, “who spoke from the heart” and never forgot her parents and relatives.

Professor Manuel Gama spoke of Father Lúcio Craveiro da Silva, probably the most famous person in Braga, because of the library and for having been rector of UMinho and the first elected rector of the country. In addition to his intellectual and human qualities, he highlighted his friend and «man of action». Incidentally, he listed a series of institutions that he created or helped to create or even that he directed, with emphasis on the fact that he was Provincial of the Jesuits. «His thought acquired a rare depth and an exceptional openness of horizons, both in content and in his ability to analyze problems, situations and currents. His thinking thus constitutes a veritable cultural heritage... », he said, recalling the number of books written. In other words, a vast cultural heritage.

The evocation of Father António Freire was made by Professor Acílio Estanqueiro, who did not skimp on his praise. He classified him as «an internationally renowned figure» in philology and language teaching. He even had a program on RTP 2 called “Portuguesmente spoken”. He left a «stream» of publications ».

João Duque challenged the Jesuits of today and tomorrow to continue the «essential» work of the centenary teachers honored yesterday.

After the homage, the plaques naming the Aula Magna António Freire and the Júlio Fragata Library were unveiled.

After a green of honour, the delegation went to the University chapel, for the closing mass of the Academic Year, celebrated by the Archbishop of Braga. At the ceremony, D. José Cordeiro thanked the Catholic University, challenging it to be in the world “with truth” and discernment, being in the world without giving in to “worldliness”.

As for the president of UCP Braga, he also thanked the teachers and collaborators, wishing «a happy end of the year».