Belen Jesuit Preparatory School extended a warm welcome to its new president, Guillermo Garcia-Tuñon, who is affectionately referred to as Father Willie, and who became the first graduate of the school to occupy the highest position at that institution.
Garcia-Tunon, a Jesuit priest, was born in Miami in 1969 and graduated from Belen Jesuit in 1987. Now, in 2016, he takes on the presidency of the school.
Principal Maria Cristina Reyes-Garcia said in a news release, “the return of Father Willie to the school represents a culmination of a journey of a lifetime.”
Garcia-Tuñon expressed his desire to “continue Belen’s tradition of providing an excellent Catholic Jesuit education, following the example of former president, Father Pedro Suárez, and those before him.”
Suárez will continue to work alongside the approximately 1,500 male students as a spiritual counselor and a mathematics professor.
“Father Suárez has always been a great example for all the students,” said Teresa Martinez, Belen’s communications director.
During his time as president, Suárez led the growth of the school, structurally and technology wise. He also led the creation of the Mural of the Martyrs, which honors alumni of the Jesuit schools in Cuba and Miami, who lost their lives defending human rights.
Belen was founded by Jesuit priests in Havana in 1854. In 1961, the properties of Belen and of all other private schools were confiscated by the Castro government. The school reopened that same year in Miami with the name Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. The school has distinguished itself as one of the best Catholic schools in the nation. It was selected among the 50 best Catholic schools in the United States by the National Catholic High School Honor Roll.
Garcia-Tuñon is the 37th president since the founding of the school in Cuba, and the seventh since its establishment in Miami.
“The students are very happy to have him as part of their lives again,” Martinez said.
Garcia-Tuñon, who has worked at the school as a professor, spiritual counselor and director, spoke about the mission that awaits him as Belen’s new president.
“The position as president of Belen Jesuit is a great challenge,” he said. “But it’s also a great opportunity to help shape the lives of the youth, so they can become great leaders and be of benefit to our world and the glory of God.”