Piarist Father Angel Oliveras ( I am not sure if he is still alive ) was a �light-hearted priest; when that adjective was not used- we called him �off the charts” in the late forties and the fifties of last century. He started working with us in fifth grade and then escorted us all the way to graduation. He was a great math teacher, who made even the driest material pleasant, and made us respect algebra and logarithms, with his unorthodox methods in teaching them.  Sitting at the back of the room, he divided the black board in two, and sent us to compete in pairs, solving the same problem. Whoever made a mistake was hit with an eraser on his side of the board, launched with great accuracy. The person who was hit had to correct the mistake, and then return the eraser, throwing it back gently.

When it was time for sports, he would raise the skirts of his denim cassock, tie them at the waist, and was the best of us when it came to putting the basketball in the net, or jumping and blocking shots in volleyball.

People might think that he was “somewhat irresponsible”, but on the contrary, he was demanding and had all of our respect and affection, precisely because he treated us as teenagers, and understood our concerns and problems. He was able, at our request, to lock the classroom door, ask for discretion, and teach sexology, at a time when the subject was a social taboo, or discuss political issues with an open mind, teaching and training us by means of a thorough and respectful debate.

In addition to teaching, caring for us and meeting his other priestly priesthood, he studied at the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Catholic University, where he finished his studies, receiving a special medal for being the best student in his class.

Father Oliveras-tha’s what we all called him- in addition to being our  main teacher,  was also our moral and spiritual guide, and  also our friend, to whom we could go at any time to seek  advice. He always had a smile on his face, whether he was congratulating us on our achievements, or pointing out our mistakes. In all those years, which were very important to our training as men, he always showed us that in addition to being a priest, he was a real man, a lover of his parents and sister, who resided in Spain, far away from him.

Sometimes in the middle of the day, after lunch, we would go up to his room on the third floor of the school, which was always open, to discuss different topics and page through some of his numerous books. Once, perhaps suffering from nostalgia, he showed us some pictures of his family, including one of his younger sister, who was certainly very beautiful. We started to comment on her beauty, forgetting that we were talking to a priest, and he took the photo back from us and blushed, but made no reproach. He only said,  “Remember the sexology classes I taught you. Luckily, my sister did not think of coming to Cuba.”

After graduation, at a later time, when the school disappeared, Father Oliveras also disappeared from our lives. I think he returned to Spain, when he was no longer permitted to teach in Cuba.  Due to the political intolerance of that time, we lost a great teacher, who I would have wished for the training and education of my children, a great friend and a special human being.’

by Fernando Damaso 

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