Fr. Juan Manuel Pérez Romero
Servant of Mary in Mexico
On January 26, 2021, Fr. Juan Manuel Pérez Romero returned home to our Heavenly Father, where Mary embraces him as one of her beloved children. Fr. Juan Manuel was a true example of love for Mary, a faithful servant and instrument, who collaborated in the founding of Schoenstatt in Mexico. The Schoenstatt family, his spiritual children, with great sorrow but fully confident in God, is grateful for his commitment, which has strengthened their spiritual life and fruitfulness. He understood and lived the mission of the Covenant in a way that continues to conquer hearts for the Blessed Mother.
Pablo Arias, 6. March 2021
Providence led his servant to the encounter with Mary.
While he was studying in Germany as a seminarian, Fr. Juan Manuel was led by Providence to Fr. Kentenich’s funeral, and his heart was transformed by the Marian devotion in Schoenstatt, where he found his core in the Blessed Mother’s collaboration with Jesus, through the family, the Schoenstatt Movement and Father Kentenich’s ideal “Dilexit Ecclesiam”.
It was then that he committed himself to Schoenstatt’s mission for the Church and the world. He immersed himself in Schoenstatt’s history and spirituality during his stay in Europe and later in South America, where Father Kentenich’s charisma was embedded in him, in his fatherly way, in his way of loving, and his way of teaching and sharing love and devotion to the Blessed Mother, Jesus and the Church.
The Blessed Mother’s land calls to Schoenstatt
Upon their return to Mexico, the Sisters of Mary from Lamar, Texas, felt the Blessed Mother’s calling to establish and found Schoenstatt in their country, and through God’s will, they met Fr. Juan Manuel on April 12, 1974. Their paths crossed and the Blessed Mother’s work began to bear fruit through the instrumentality and service of Fr. Juan Manuel.
He began to speak about the Movement and to organize groups: youth, couples and even seminarians who, like the first flowers of Mary’s Garden in Mexico, began to work for the construction of the daughter Shrine in Querétaro. In spite of being a rough terrain, the Blessed Mother and her plans indicated that this would be the place where she wanted to establish herself and, on October 18, 1980, the first Schoenstatt Shrine in Mexico was blessed: “Mary, Mother and Queen, faithful heart of the Church”.
Fr. Juan Manuel’s life speaks for itself. He called himself a “servant of Mary dedicated to her mission”. His love for Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Sorrows Lady of Soriano and Our Lady of Schoenstatt was so great that his entire life and service were consecrated to Mary.
Testimonies: close and friendly
The testimonies of those who knew him highlight his paternal and loving figure; not as a “distant, important, and unreachable mystical figure, but as someone close, someone who would remain with you and become a true friend,” shares Raymundo Cervantes, who had Fr. Juan Manuel as his confessor and spiritual director. “That had an impact on my heart, because he always cared about the other person and about showing him God’s love” – he explains.
He taught me to trust
Ariel González, who was touched by Fr. Juan Manuel during his postulancy with the Schoenstatt Fathers, says that he learned from him how to receive the Blessed Mother’s special mission, since “belonging to Schoenstatt is a special call from God through Mary, where, through her inspiration and care, we are chosen as her collaborators”, said Ariel. “Father Juan Manuel taught me to trust being the Blessed Mother’s instrument, to listen to her and to love her by responding to her petitions. He was a special servant of Mary and he conquered my heart,” he concludes.
He was coherent
Another of his beloved spiritual sons, Chucho Picón, also had Father Juan Manuel as his confessor and spiritual director. He testifies: “He had the qualities of a true servant” and “was consistent; he lived to be a priest, and always had a busy schedule. He was a professor at the seminary, gave conferences to different groups and tended to his parish. He always had someone to meet with and never wasted time. He was always writing, reading, educating himself, praying.”
Father Kentenich’s spirit lived in him.
“He was always a teacher and his way of teaching, through his words or through his books impressed me” – says Raymundo. And Chucho shares: “His Masses were didactic and pedagogical, he went deeper into the Scriptures, he linked the ideas and repeated the concepts. I always left with his message imprinted on me”.
He was determined and reachable, passionate about transmitting God’s love as experienced through a faithful covenant. “I remember once I saw him on September 15 praying in the Shrine; it captivated me and now I understand that on that same day years before, he had been praying next to Father Kentenich at his own funeral.” – said Raymundo.
He was a father to me
“He was a special father, he had special gifts and a deep sensitivity for the sacraments and the souls in purgatory” – shares Chucho – “Many of the other priests made fun of him because of his special gifts, such as his gift of healing. He healed me, my wife and my children. He was a great exorcist and a great warrior against the devil” – he continues.
Just like Fr. Kentenich, who was accused and questioned for his ideas and keen perception of God, Fr. Juan Manuel managed to touch the hearts of those who were open to his paternal influence in their lives.
Chucho shares “He was a father to me; he adopted me so he could guide me spiritually. He was demanding, he molded me and required improvements in my spiritual and professional life, but always with great love. Even though he expected radical changes, I always felt comfortable in his presence”.
There was no doubt that he had a deep understanding of the Blessed Mother’s love, love for the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession. “He was a father guided by his love for the Blessed Mother, he was completely Marian” – says Chucho.
The legacy: Mary was his ally
His love for the Blessed Mother brought Schoenstatt to Querétaro; the first Shrine in Mexico and the first step for the consolidation of the Schoenstatt Family in the country. This was one of his greatest gifts and legacies.
“Mary was his ally and he was able save many souls as her instrument,” shares Chucho, who concludes with special affection: “I wish that someday a memorial or a plaque could be placed at the Shrine, where his life and legacy could be commemorated. I am sure that he is in heaven and if it is ever possible, I could promote the cause for his sainthood; I have videos and interviews of him”.
If you want to know more about the history of Fr. Juan Manuel and the beginnings of Schoenstatt in Mexico, visit https://www.diocesisqro.org/homenaje-al-sr-pbro-lic-juan-manuel-perez-romero-1948-2021/.
Translated by Marisa Lencina