Wednesday, January 25, 2017


As we hear so much about Cuba in the news of late, it is interesting to note they may have a new saint on the horizon- one who died not 40 years ago.

FATHER JOSE VANDOR (József Wech, 1909-79) was just proclaimed Venerable by Pope Francis. He was born in Dorog, Austro-Hungary of German parents who were farmers. In 1932 he made his perpetual profession as a Salesian and was ordained in 1936 in Italy.

He asked to go to the missions and in 1936 went to Cuba. He became a Cuban national and changed his name to Vandor. He was a headmaster and chaplain for four years, later becoming rector of the Ag school in Moca, Dominican Republic.. He was known for his wisdom and prudence and so was chosen as Master of Novices. In 1946 became administrator to the College of Arts and Trades in   Camaguey, Cuba.

Later he was appointed to oversee the building of the school of Arts and Trades. When the school opened, Joseph Vandor was appointed rector, a post he held until 1961, when the Communists came to power  and schools passed into the hands of the Minister for Education. He was named rector of the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In 1965, he became its first parish priest.

"Fr. Vandor can be compared to St. Francis de Sales for his patient docility, his prudent dedication, his enlightened wisdom as a spiritual director and to St. John Bosco for his apostolic dynamism, his love of poor youth, his spirit of faith, his serene cheerfulness and his cordial manners."

It is not easy to summarize Fr. Vandor's moral stature. The Bishop wrote: "With Fr. Vandor's death, the Salesian Congregation has lost a son, the diocese an exemplary priest, the faithful a beloved father" and we can add: "Villaclara has lost an honored citizen, who identified with the Corporation's educational concerns." 

In fact, the journalist Antonio Diaz Vázquez, in a piece entitled 'a lamp that burns and shines brightly' wrote: "He was one of the most lovable, dedicated and noble souls of the clergy of Villaclara." 

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