In this chapter I intend to
gather the testimonials of some of the persons who lived
with Father Félix because through them we can get to know
better the founder of the missionaries of the Holy Spirit.
Many who knew him are still
alive. They say
that Father Félix was stocky, and almost six feet
tall. He had a healthy shock of wavy, prematurely white
hair. His eyes were dark blue and his eyebrows thick and
black. He had a kind look which inspired peace and an always
We have many black and white
pictures of Father Félix and he was definitely not
photogenic. Very few pictures of him are good.
Father Manuel Hernández, one
of those Morelia seminarians who contracted the "French
fever", gives us the following account:
"Father Félix was an
extraordinarily active and hard-working person. I never saw
him waste time. He was very responsible and his constant
example help up before us novices the habits of work and
responsibility. He was a natural leader. Without his trying,
we all admired him and loved him and wished to be with him.
During free time, (he called it "recreation" as it is called
in French) he was the center of the small group of novices
and he always created a cheerful atmosphere, told jokes and
recounted interesting things. He taught us that during
recreation no one had the right to be sad, for the good of
the brethren. He used to tell us: "Recreation is
"Although he spoke Spanish
very well, he pronounced the "r" with a French accent.
Sometimes, after he had been writing letters and notes in
French, he confused words in Spanish. For example, one day
he called me and another novice and said to us: 'When you go
to downtown Mexico, you will buy me this medicine for the 'amibos'."
We looked at each other and burst into laughter. Our father
laughed also and said' "I said it wrong, didn't I? Forgive
me, I have been writing in French all morning."
"Sometimes he translated
French expressions literally into Spanish. This was funny
and made us laugh.... He adopted the word "Chorcha", which
is a word used in Guadalajara to mean a get-together or
fiesta. Every so often after supper he would say: "Now take
your chairs and we will go to the living room because we are
going to have a "chorchita" to celebrate... I remember that
one 5th of May he organized a "chorchita" "because we
defeated the French."... (On that day in 1862, the Mexican
army defeated the French troops in the battle of Puebla,
translation note). He had a sense of humor.
"What did these celebrations
or "chorchitas" consist of? We would adjourn to the living
room and place our chairs in a circle around our Father and
He would bring from his room all the tidbits that had
accumulated in his desk drawers. When our families came to
visit us they brought many wonderful snacks, but to teach us
religious poverty, our father told us we could dispose of
nothing and should hand over everything to the superior to
be enjoyed later by the community. At the "chorchas" Father
Félix distributed all these things. He had the cook prepare
cocoa or at least tea. And we novices would eat the snacks
while our father talked to us about things as they came up:
about the vocations he had found during his latest trip and
who would soon be with us, about the churches that bishops
had offered him, about some new foundation he planned to
start... And we asked questions, made comments, laughed...
that was the "chorchita"... for me the smile and fatherly
kindness of Father Félix were the best party." (From a
conference given by F. Manuel Hernández at the Apostolic
School. April 18, 1947).
Father Ramón del Real says:
"I was particularly impressed
by the simplicity and poverty of Father Félix, he was always
clean but poor in his dress; I would say almost shabby.
"One day we were going out
together to visit the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and I
pointed out to him that the right sleeve of his coat was
worn and torn around the elbow. He told me: "It doesn't
matter, son; everybody in Tlalpan knows who I am..." And it
happened that two days later we were going h) Mexico City to
buy some books for the novitiate. Again I pointed out the
state of his coat sleeve and he told me: "It doesn't matter,
son, nobody in Mexico City knows who I am..."
"He was poor but very
generous with the poor. He always gave alms to the poor. And
he didn't just give them something, he would help them
"One day we were walking down
the street when a little old man approached him asking for
alms. Father Félix put his hand in his pocket and took out a
coin which he gave the beggar. I said:
-Father, that is gold
-Yes, he answered, the man
also needs it.
And as he watched the man go
on his way, our father shook his head and said:
"Poor people… poor
people...Only God knows how much they have suffered!"....
"Another day I watched him
embracing a little old lady who came to tell him her
problems and ask for help.
"And when it was my turn to
answer the door and telephone at the novitiate, the beggars
would knock and I would go to the bursar who always gave me
something for them. But the poor would ask:
“Isn't the father with white
hair around? When can we see him?'
One day we went to the taxi
stand and I started walking toward the newest car. Father
"Let's take this older car.
Look how poor the driver looks. We can help him a little."
"When the children who sell
chewing gum offered him their wares, he would always buy a
few and then gave them away to some other child.
"Once he talked to us about
the poor and about the love we owe them because they are
beloved of the Father and because Christ is in them. And
then he added:
-When a poor person knocks at
our door, do not ever turn him away empty-handed; remember
that we have made a vow of poverty, not of avarice. Give and
God will give you more and more." (Father R. del Real. Talk
to Novices. January 10, 1950).
Father Vicente Méndez was
also one of those seminarians from Morelia whom Father Félix
"captured" for his incipient congregation.
He had many recollections of
the kind founder, told them wittily and even wrote some
The following is an excerpt
from a talk Father Méndez gave to students of philosophy:
"I loved our father very much
and he relied on me. He called Father Alvarez and myself
"the 'cuatos'; he meant to say 'cuates' which means 'twins'
because we were ordained at the same time.
"I will tell you something I
remember of the time when he named Novice Master, when he
had to go hide at Elenita Aceves' house because of the
"Sometimes he would leave his
place of hiding at night to go briefly to the novitiate and
see how things were going. He asked me many things about the
novices, starting always with the same question: Are any of
the boys sick?
"One day I told him: "Mon
Pére (I liked to call him "Mon Pére" and even spoke to him
in my terrible French), brother nurse has told me that
several brothers are constipated for lack of exercise.
"Of course," he commented,
"if they do not walk, a brick will form in their stomach."
"Then the supper bell rang
and when we had finished eating, our father told the
"The Novice Master has told
me that several brothers are constipated. Please raise your
hand if you have this problem so the nurse can take note.”
"The novice who was next to
me raised his hand and since I knew him well I said to him:
"Brother, did you understand
what our father said? Well... I think he said that those of
us who were distracted should raise our hand..."
"Father Félix directed the
nurse to give them papaya for breakfast every day, but I
asked for permission to buy baseball equipment and a
football. Our father said:
"In France, religious men
don't do such things but… if you believe that will keep the
novices healthy, go ahead."
"A few days later, on a
Wednesday, I invited our father to the first baseball game.
He didn't know anything about it, but he agreed as a good
father to be with his children for that special celebration.
He watched with great
wonderment the batting and the balls flying around, and
after awhile he pointed to the catcher wearing a protective
mask and told me in a serious tone:
"Buy all of them a protective
mask before they break their nose."
"Another night our father and
I talked until very late. All of a sudden he said:
-How the novices sleep?
-Very well, I suppose...
-You suppose? It is necessary
to see them once in a while. Bring a flashlight and let's go
"And we went to the
dormitory.... He flashed the light on each bed. In one he
just saw one mattress on top of the other. Our father got
closer and slapped the mattress, saying in a low voice:
"Brother.... brother!" And
Brother Pedro stuck his head out, turtle-like from under the
-"My God!" our father
exclaimed, "why do you sleep like this, Brother?"
-"I am very cold," the boy
-"All right," said Father
Félix, "but all that weight is not good for you. The Novice
Master will see that tomorrow you be given two woolen
Then he found another one
wrapped up from head to toe, like a mummy.
-My God! And who is this?
-It's Brother Juan, mon pére.
-Oh, that's why he is so
yellow...He does not inhale enough oxygen at night... You
have to teach him to sleep with his head uncovered. Then he
added jokingly, "or make a hole in the blanket so he can at
least stick his nose out..."
Another time he told me:
-I don't think that boy has a
-Why, mon pére?
-Because he resembles a
fish... He never talks, just looks at us... "And his
diagnosis was correct. The young man could not adapt to
community life and asked to return to his family.
"It was customary in the
novitiate for the brother who set the table to place a piece
of bread on each plate. One day our father was making the
rounds and he saw the brother distributing the bread as fast
as he could. ! He got near and told him:
-Brother, the bread has a
face; it should be put on the dish with the face up, like
this, like this, like this...
“Another day he arrived for
supper and I said to him:
"A telegram has just arrived
for Brother Isidro. His mother is very sick." Our father
advised me: "Don't give it to him until tomorrow morning.
Never give anyone bad news at night, because you deprive him
of sleep, unless, of course, it is something very urgent...
Let us pray for Isidro and his mother..."
"He was so fatherly and kind
that even the animals were objects of his care and concern.
We had a female cat in the novitiate and one day our father
saw that she was in heat and mewed sadly... After a while he
went to the phone and talked with Sister Paz Ular:
"Sister Paz, could you please
lend us your cat? Ours is in such a state one feels sorry
"Father Félix had an
inexhaustible sense of humor, and instead of getting upset,
he looked for the amusing side of disagreeable things. One
day he asked me to accompany him to visit a family and when
we were close to our destination, he look out from his coat
pocket new dentures which didn't fit, showed them to me and
"These dentures are only good
“He then put them in his
mouth kind smiled mischievously.
"I remember that on another
occasion when I went with him to visit people, we arrived in
the novitiate very late and I escorted him to the dining
"Let me see what they saved
for us for supper," I said. I looked in the kitchen, and the
refrigerator, in the pantry. Nothing!
-They didn't save anything
for us, mon pére!
-Well, they probably want us
to sleep longer... let's go to bed right away.
“They say that when they told
him that the government had confiscated the four houses of
the Congregation, he remained silent for a moment, with his
eyes closed as if talking to God, and then, to encourage the
fathers, he smiled and said: "Well, let us thank God we
didn't have five houses, because our loss would have been
"That is, how our father
founder was: simple and kind, optimistic and saintly... It
was so easy to love him!
"I remember so many things
about him that if I should try to share them all with you we
would be here all night. Some other day I will some more of
my recollections with you." (Father Vicente Méndez.
Presentation. January 10, 1952).