Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Cholera Today

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

During the course of this exhibition, poverty, natural disasters and war have all continued  to create breeding grounds for cholera in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.  On May 2 Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar creating the most recent outbreak.

The Associated Press: Conditions ripe for disease in Myanmar delta 

World Health Organization:  Cholera 

MSF-USA: Cholera Information Page 

Google News: News stories about cholera 

Topix: News stories about cholera 

New York Times Topics: News & features on cholera

Padre Félix Varela, Social Reformer

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Portrait of Father Félix Varela (1788–1853), Frontispiece from José Ignacio Rodriguez, Vida del Presbitero Don Félix Varela (Nueva York: Impresta de “O Novo Mundo,” 1878)

While many Protestant clergymen fled to safety during New York’s 1832 cholera epidemic, their Catholic colleagues remained and actively ministered to the sick and dying. Preeminent among these clerics was Father Félix Varela (1788-1853), who was said to have “lived in the hospitals.” The risks of such work were extreme – in the Greenwich Street hospital fourteen of the sixteen nurses died.  This heroism eased, if only temporarily, the blatant anti-Catholicism of many in the Protestant majority.

Félix Varela (declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in 2003) was born in Havana and early on chose a religious, albeit intellectual, life during a period when the city’s liberal bishop promulgated many health and educational reforms. Father Varela taught and published widely on philosophy, the sciences and law at the San Carlos and San Ambrosio Seminary, before being appointed a Cuban representative to the Cortes, the Spanish legislature. After promulgating many liberal causes, including Cuban independence and the abolition of slavery, he was declared guilty of treason and driven into exile in New York. There, in a period of ethnic divisiveness the local, predominantly Irish, Catholics treated Varela as a saint because of his intense devotion to the poor. Varela worked hard to build bridges not only between the many nationalities represented in New York’s Catholic community, but also with his Protestant colleagues in the ministry. His multi-cultural legacy lives on in the primarily Chinese congregation of the Church of the Transfiguration, founded by him in 1836. In 1997 the US Postal Service issued a stamp in his honor entitled “Padre Félix Varela, Social Reformer.”