Biographical profile

Br. Basílio Rueda Guzmán, 1924-1996


Brother Basilio was born at Acatlan de Juarez, Mexico on 16 October. He was the fourth child of his family. During his baptism ceremony he received the names: José, Basilio. He was four years old only when his mother passed away.


He enters the Marist Brothers’ juniorate at Tlalpan. He makes his first vows on 8 December 1944 and his perpetual profession on 1 January 1950.


As soon as he started on his apostolic career he aroused enthusiasm in his pupils. He created a healthy competition spirit among his pupils and his fellow-teachers. He soon became active in catholic action movements and in catechesis animation in the poor suburbs. He played an important role in the organisation of the ‘’Cursillos de Cristianidad’’. He still had time to continue his philosophical studies. He defended his licence of philosophy -masters- thesis on the theme, ‘’Being and Valour’’ on 17 December 1961. According his teachers, his thesis and the understanding of his subject were more of a doctorate standard than of the master (or licence) one. In the meantime, he had been teaching at Querétaro Juniorate, then he became a community superior from 1955 to 1957. He ended this initial period of apostolate as a teacher at CUM (Marist University Centre). His university studies, his activities with the Cursillos, the philosophy courses he gave the Jesuits were his first openings outside Marist institutions that already revealed his apostolic daring. Basilio called himself the spiritual son of Oswaldo Robles, a layman with an exceptional spiritual life. Thus, one may say that Basilio was a universal man beside being totally Marist.


He was a member of Father Ricardo Lombardi’s team in the ‘’Better World’’ Movement. He was this movement’s main representative in Ecuador. His retreats and lectures were very appreciated by the most varied audiences: workmen, politicians, Church people and consecrated persons. His lectures challenged religious people, priests, bishops and politicians alike to better themselves and to become really enthusiastic to improve the world. He also made ‘incursions’ in the nearby countries: Colombia, Venezuela, Chile… He learned the way to deal with national, international, political, economical and religious problems. But he also discovered how to communicate Vatican II’s ideas to his assorted listeners. For Basilio and for our congregation that was a most remarkable moment of grace. Basilio, our future superior general, thus learned to breathe with the lungs of the Church and of the world, to gauge men and their problems on very wide horizons. Although he was working outside our institute’s ordinary parametres and he, a brother.. being the director of a priestly team, he kept asserting his unconditional belonging to the congregation. The Marist ‘fibre’ was always be very strong in Basilio’s soul.


He was appointed director of our second novitiate in Spain, first at Sigüenza, then at the Escorial. He transformed the courses with modern additions and changes: first a better axing of the courses on the Gospel, then he brought the second novices into a better contact with the Council calls and a changing world problems. In fact, he transfered the spirit and experience he had acquired from the Better World Movement into this Marist formation centre for adults. The second novices responded with enthusiasm; they had found a ‘prophet’ who could open intellectual and apostolic highways in a changing world. Basilio, however, remained a simple man, very mindful of different human ways and gestures. Always prompt to react with humour he had no equal to relax any tense atmosphere. With all that success in all positions it was hardly a surprise that he was elected a delegate to the 1967 General Chapter.


He was elected superior general for a first nine-year term on 24 September. There was surprise and joy. Surprise because he did not carry the traditional labels to climb onto this podium: he had neither been general councillor nor a provincial. And the joy? Yes, the Marist Brothers were very happy to see in the newly elect a very capable man with a strong international experience. That new superior was accepting an exceptional task: to return to the sources of the institute and to renew it according to the Council’s demands (aggiornamento).

He immediately started a first tour of the Marist world to assess its situation. He left the direct administration to his Vicar, Brother Quentin Duffy and took charge of the pastoral animation: visits of the communities; hence a lot of travelling and much time spent to listen to Brothers or to write to them. He had to travel almost constantly to meet the brothers where they were working and to direct retreats in most of the provinces. That was a difficult period in time, the one following the Council. Besides, the world, the Church and the consecrated life were rapidly changing while the youth kept protesting for anything. Basilio was up to the task. Thanks to him our congregation undertook to apply the changes called by the Council. By nature,he was open to any sound novelty and often preceded it… During that period, he wrote remarkable circulars: A Chapter for Today’s World, The Church’s and the Founder’s Calls, the Discourse on Prayer, Community Life. The circular on Obedience proved to be a wonderful treaty on the understanding of religious life. The last one named was read and studied by many other religious congregations. He only started: A new Space for Mary during this period. Every one and all acclaimed Basilio as very updated on the world and men, an expert of the Council documents who could explain them. Above all, everybody recognised the deep religious man in Basilio, a man intimate with God.

(We have to acknowledge that the institute owes a lot to Brother Quentin Duffy. Second in command to Basilio during eighteen years, he assumed the administrative work – discreet, monotonous desk labour but indispensable to allow Basilio to open his broad wings of genius for contacts and animation…Nevertheless when in Rome, Basilio was the real leader.)


Another chapter. Basilio had already packed his suitcases to return home. Alas, life would not go that way! He was re-elected with a great majority of the votes. As he had done in his first mandate, he gave himself body and soul: visits, retreats, spiritual directions. We had become used to a superior general who worked up to 2 and 3 A.M. The circulars on The Community Life Project were written during this period. The Community Life Project aimed to improve the evangelic style of each community and to make it aware of today’s men’ s situations and backgrounds. The circular entitled, A New Space for Mary exposed theological views well in advance of its time, and re-assured the brothers that Vatican II had not left Mary out from the Church’s dogmas and practices. The circular on Prayer was one of the most appreciated by the brothers; it was the outcome of the most constant efforts on the part of Brother Basilio. Prayer and meditation occupied a very important part during the retreats he directed. Finally, his ‘swan’s song’ : the circular on Fidelity was like a glorious Magnificat composed by Basilio and sung by all his brothers. One of Basilio’s joys when he sent this circular to all corners of the world was to have written “a proud composition in honour of the Church: the fidelity of so many brothers’, while in various aspects the Church was painfully treading through trials and humiliations.”


After the general chapter he enjoyed a sabbatical year at last! He used the greatest part for prayer and spiritual work. The pilgrim could move at a slower pace now… He visited the Holy Land. He had been the superior general for eighteen years during difficult times. He had travelled thousand of kilometres to go and visit the Brothers, give retreats and deliver lectures. He had given a lot of work to the IBM company that prepared serious results of his enquiries. He wrote 2,500 pages of circulars of which some are really outstanding. He welcomed thousands of priests, friends, former pupils and brothers. He even accompanied closely hundred of others. Not only was his human experience one of the richest but people could also rely on him for sure help as regarded human problems.


He returned to Mexico and became the master of novices of the Central Province. Invited by Brother Charles Howard he put all his efforts to launch the Marist Family.


The institute trusted him so much that the superiors asked him to direct an eighteen-month course for novice masters at Oasi near Lake Albano (Rome). The institute wanted to give him the responsibility to train future masters of novices (the future of the congregation) for the whole Marist world. Father Rotondi, the founder of Oasi and a great friend of Basilio died in the same house during this period. He is the priest who wanted to found a congregation of priests for the service of the Brothers because he admired Basilio and our congregation so much. In fact, Father Rotondi died in the arms of Basilio.


He found himself master of novices again; this time for the two Mexican provinces. Among the young ones, he was the father, the ‘formator’, the brother and the friend. He created plenty of room for freedom, joy, family spirit and intimacy with God in all simplicity. The formation programme he had elaborated for the novices and the specialists he had found for them amazed us by its seriousness, its wide range and its human equilibrium. He knew how to train men, how to prepare apostles.


Basilio entered into the final Easter by returning to the Father on 21 January. His funeral was celebrated on 23 January 1996: it was a grand finale of thanksgiving and love. According to his will he was cremated and his ashes laid to rest in the Quinta Soledad House, the provincial house of Central Mexico.

Basilio enriched us with his person, with his thought, with the great affection he bestowed on each brother. All that, he still gives to everyone of us today.