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Carlos Manuel Rodriguez: 1918-1963: Religious Educator

Deeply Committed To Spirituality And Learning

Rodriguez entered the Catholic School of Caguas when he was six, by which time he could already read and write in Spanish and to some degree in English. He maintained a lifelong friendship with the Sisters of Notre Dame who operated the school, and he began to think of devoting his life to a religious calling. When he graduated from the school in 1932 he received the Medal of Religion award. His characteristic courage had also shown itself in the secular sphere, however: he stepped in when his one-year-old cousin was attacked by a police dog and stopped the attack.

Some of Rodriguez's family members blamed the shock of that incident for the beginnings of his lifelong stomach problems, which developed in his second semester at Gautier Benítez High School in Caguas. His schooling was interrupted several times before he finally graduated in 1939. His ailment was diagnosed as ulcerative colitis, a serious illness that left him prey to high fevers and other incapacitating symptoms. Rodriguez worked as an office clerk during World War II and in 1946 enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico. Unable to cope with the rigors of university study because of his illness, he had to drop out after a year. But it was at this time that Rodriguez's friends began to notice the depth of his commitment to a life of spirituality and learning.

At a Glance . . .

Born Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Santiago on November 22, 1918, in Caguas, Puerto Rico; died on July 13, 1963; son of Manuel Baudilio Rodriguez and Herminia Santiago Rodriguez. Education: University of Puerto Rico, 1946-1947. Religion: Roman Catholic.

Career: Office clerk, early 1940s; University of Puerto Rico Agricultural Research Station, clerk, late 1940s-1950s; offered Catholic instruction and organized student clubs and discussion groups at numerous institutions in Puerto Rico, 1950s-1963; University of Puerto Rico Catholic Center, San Juan, instructor, late 1950s-1963; campaign for posthumous beatification carried on by religious followers, 1981-2001; Vatican posthumous investigation of miracles, early 1990s–; Vatican certified one miracle, 1999; beatified posthumously by the Vatican, 2001; Vatican examined Rodriguez case for sainthood, 2002–.

Studying on his own, Rodriguez read about literature, science, and philosophy in addition to religion. He learned, on his own, to play the piano and organ, and he became an avid naturalist and lover of the outdoors. Taking a job as a clerk at the university's agricultural research station, Rodriguez became more and more involved in Catholic lay activities at the school. He began translating religious writings from Latin, French, and English into Spanish, which he favored as a language of worship that could reach ordinary Puerto Ricans (at this time, the Catholic reforms mandating the use of vernacular languages in place of Latin were still years in the future). These efforts coalesced into a magazine, Cultura Cristiana, copies of which Rodriguez ran off on a mimeograph machine at first. He lived simply: over his entire adult life he is said to have owned only one pair of shoes.

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