PASTELLS, FR. PABLO (1846-1932). Jesuit priest who attempted to persuade Rizal to return to orthodox Roman Catholicism by way of correspondence. Pablo Pastells was born in 1846 in the Gerona province of Spain. At age 20 he joined the Jesuit order. Spanish political turbulence caused persecution of the order and Pastells, along with other Jesuits, fled to France to complete their course of study. With the defeat of Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War, the Jesuits fled in the dead of night. Anti-clerical republican revolutionaries caused Pastels to continue his flight that finally ended with his return to Spain where he finally completed his course of study, being ordained in 1871. His priestly work began with the poor that he organized into círculos, a small cell group movement modeled from workers’ groups in other parts of Europe. Anarchist groups foiled this attempt. Pastells returned to France and then transferred to the Philippines.
Arriving in the Philippines on September 5, 1875, he began his work working with students at Ateneo University where he first encountered the 14 year old José Rizal.
From 1876-1887 he worked as a priest in Mindanao in Surigao Province. Success in his missionary efforts led to his position as the local superior followed by a promotion to the acting superior of Jesuit mission work in the Philippines. It was during the last part of this phase of his work that the correspondence with Rizal, now exiled in Dapitan, began. In February, 1893, the Order reassigned him to acting superior of Escuela Normal where this exchange of letters continued until Rizal curtailed it in May or June.
Failing health forced his return to Spain in October of that same year where he devoted himself to researching and publishing, including a three-volume work of the history of the Jesuit Order in the Philippines. Pastells died in Sevilla, Spain in 1932.
Source: The Rizal-Pastells Correspondence. Raul J. Bonoan, S.J. (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1994).
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