tlf news Vol. xvi, #3 September, 1995

The Cuban Connection

(Carlos Manuel Pérez is a soloist with the company Danza Contemporánea de Cuba. In that capacity he has toured Russia, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, Spain, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Angola, as well as México, Venezuela, Perú, and other countries of Latin America. At present he is choreographer/teacher in residence at teatro la fragua. He lives in Havana with his wife Silvia and two daughters.)

You've been to Honduras, haven't you? If you haven't, I'm inviting you. Obviously, don't come thinking you're going to run into Niagara Falls or the Egyptian pyramids or a great French or Italian city. But you will find a profound Mayan culture, impressive and palpable in the Copán Ruins. And a young city called El Progreso, founded scarcely a hundred years ago: with its plaza and town clock, its markets that give it life and gaiety with the constant coming and going of people (never with their hands empty); and at the center of town, the Church, with its schedule of Masses and charitable works, an important institution in any Catholic nation. And in Progreso to your surprise you'll find teatro la fragua, a group of people who are realizing a beautiful work in the context of the socio-cultural projects of the city. But once you discover and identify its director as the same person who Sunday after Sunday give the parish Mass for children, then your respect and admiration for Fr. Jack Warner sj will multiply.

I'm going to recount to you what happened to me the first Sunday after I arrived in El Progreso, something which (because of its important repercussion in my life as a Cuban) made me respect and admire even more that person who is "Padre Jack".

Some 10 minutes before 9:00 he picked my up. He hoped to take advantage of the Mass to introduce me to the magistrate who had helped arrange my visa (although it turned out that she wasn't in Progreso that day).

I entered the church with that señor who is as unaffected as you or I or any of the persons who were there. With his long hair tied back in a pony-tail, wearing a striped t-shirt, he greeted everyone he met in his path with the same naturalness, goodness, affection and respect which he received from all. I have to confess that I wasn't sure what was going on, because some called him by his name and some greeted him as "Padre"; I sat down to observe and await the beginning of Mass.

When suddenly I say that same man emerge dressed in white with a phosphorescent green stole and everyone present stood up to greet him and there was an absolute silence in the House of God.

I don't know how to describe to you the multitude of thoughts and feelings that went through me: suddenly I saw St. Peter, or the Son of God himself, who had come down personally to encourage the faith of the assembled multitude who awaited only a sign from him to be seated.

Not knowing how to react to what I was seeing, my eyes began to fill with tears and I felt the drops slide down my cheeks. And I understood that there are still good people in this world, although I am also convinced that the heights which this man reaches are far beyond the norms.

The Mass progressed so beautifully and pleasantly that (I have to confess) for the first time I understood the ceremony.

When the Mass finished at 10:00, I was left with a lump in my throat: joy, sorrow, nervousness, I don't know what. You have to live it to know what I mean.

In a few minutes he was back in front of my eyes in the same form as before (jeans, pony-tail, striped t-shirt, etc.), taking the kids' hands, lifting them up, mounting them horse-back style on his shoulders. For some 10 or 15 minutes he listened to what each one was telling him as attentively as if it were a fairy tale.

Since that day, every time I see him I feel even more respect and admiration. And don't think that I am exaggerating, because there remains much more to say of this extremely cultured man who possesses a rare sensitivity for all the arts.

-Lic. Carlos Manuel Pérez Rodríguez
Bailarín solista de
Danza Contemporánea de Cuba.

To contribute to the work of teatro la fragua :

Donate Online

Donate By Phone

Donate By Mail

Click here to make an online Credit Card Contribution.  All online donations are secured by GeoTrust for the utmost online security available today.

Call us from within the United States at 1-800-325-9924 and ask for the Development Office.

 Send your check payable to teatro la fragua to:

teatro la fragua

Jesuit Development Office

4517 West Pine Boulevard.

Saint Louis, MO 63108-2101

Return to the index of tlf news

Return to the home page of tlf

Contact teatro la fragua

Copyright © 1998 por teatro la fragua