Website created by Matt Bjorklund, nSJ with all content contributed by Fr. Chuck Niehaus, SJ

  • Jesuit Priest

  • Artist

  • Community

  • Teacher

  • Retreat-Giver

      Fernando was born in Mexico City in 1933 to a fairly wealthy Mexican family.  He had three brothers (Alejandro, Alfredo and Carlos) and one sister (Carmen).  Fernando’s mother died about 1980 and his father died many years earlier.  Fernando attended El Patria Jesuit Preparatory School in Mexico City where he was inspired by his Jesuit teachers and lay teachers to offer his life in service of others through the Catholic priesthood.  He began his Jesuit studies in 1954.  Little is known about Fernando’s formation years as a Jesuit before 1964.  After college and philosophy studies and after teaching for several years  as a Jesuit “scholastic/seminarian”, he asked his Jesuit superior’s permission to go to Chicago in 1964 to study theology in preparation for his priestly Ordination in 1971.  He saw this move to Chicago as a path toward being a part of the growing Civil Rights movement in the United States.  It was during this time that he further developed his ability to paint.
      During these years, Fernando read a great deal about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his ideals, and especially his teachings about non-violence, etc.  Fernando was deeply moved by the life, writings, and ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  We don’t know if Fernando did any serious painting during his youth and early Jesuit formation.  He painted the original “Black Jesus” in 1966 so that Black Christians could relate better to their Savior.  He began to paint more and more, almost totally in the context of Black and African-American images.  It was at this time that Fernando was missioned (even as a Jesuit seminarian before Ordination) to do ministry at Holy Family Jesuit Catholic Church situated in the near west-side of Chicago nestled among many, many Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) public housing buildings (“the projects”) for the poor of Chicago.  Motorcycles were a hobby/love of his, as seen in the picture above, which was taken during his time in Los Angeles.

      Fernando did many things during his life as a Jesuit priest.  The 28 pictures and murals included here say a great deal  about Fernando and his Christian/Catholic faith and his commitment.  Fernando lived his life with faith, joy, and great enthusiasm until his tragic death in Nigeria in 2006.  As friends and co-workers, we will always miss him greatly.