FATHER MANUEL ANTUNES, sj
Milestones of an intensive life
By José Eduardo Franco
Father Manuel Antunes (1918-1985) was an exceptional teacher and who marked for life thousands of students who, for more than a quarter of a century, passed through the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon. His memory lives on and enlightens the path of all those who knew him, heard him and read him.
In the difficult times that society is going through, it seems to be elementary common sense to return to the creative silence where words of wisdom can be heard that can help us rediscover fundamental values and “Rethink Portugal”. In this context, Manuel Antunes’ actuality, instead of stranding us in the irremediably bygone past, must comfort our will for a future, equipping it with the sense of essential things, so easily corroded by the accessory and the seduction of the superficial.
Among the credits associated with the memory of the remarkable master, we find the humanist profile, attentive listener to the signs of the times, with the availability to listen to the other and understanding the differences, the search for the essential in the forest of the ephemeral, the spirit of tolerance, the choice for what brings together and unites rather than separating and dividing, the taste of the universal cultivated in the knowledge of the singular, the art of synthesis that does not despise the patience of analysis, nor the concrete rootedness, the awareness of a citizenship lived with responsibility and vigilance. These are some of the many traits that make the intellectual and civic journey of Manuel Antunes a cultural reference, which Portuguese society cannot lose sight of, if it wants to maintain its identity and win the battle of the future.
1918 – He was born on November 3 in Sertã (Beira Baixa).
1931 – After brilliantly completing his primary school in Sertã, he entered the Apostolic School (Minor Seminary) of the Society of Jesus, first at the Costa Seminary in Guimarães (1931-35) and then at Macieira de Cambra (1935-36).
1936 – At the age of 18, he entered the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus, located in the Convent of Alpendurada, Entre-os-Rios (Marco de Canavezes).
1940 – He completed the 1st Junior Year (Humanities) in the former Convent of Costa, in Guimarães, and the 2nd Junior Year (Sciences) in Braga.
1943 – He graduated in Philosophy at the Blessed Miguel de Carvalho Institute, now the Faculty of Philosophy of Braga of the Catholic University. In this Higher Institute he was co-founder of the Academy of St. Thomas.
1943-1946 – He had his first teaching experience, completing three years of teaching the students of the Society who attended the Superior Course of Letters, after the Novitiate at the Costa Seminary in Guimarães. He taught Latin Rhetoric and Greek Language, Greek Language and Literature, Latin Rhetoric and Humanities. At the same time, he was responsible for writing the house chronicle.
1946 – He entered the Faculty of Theology of Granada, directed by the Society of Jesus.
1949 – He received the priestly ordination in Granada on July 15, conferred by D. Rafael Alvarez Lara, Bishop of Guadix.
1950 – He concluded the first phase of his theological training with Distinction and Praise, at the Faculty of Theology of Granada.
1951 – He completed the cycle of his theological and spiritual training in Namur (Belgium), finishing the year of the so-called Third Proof.
1951-1955 – He taught at the Apostolic School and at the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus, situated in Soutelo, the subjects of Latin Literature and Rhetoric, Greek Grammar, Literary Composition, Portuguese Literature and Latin Language. He was also Librarian, Spiritual Director and Director of the Marian Congregation for Men of Viana do Castelo.
1954 – On February 21, he made the solemn profession of the four vows in the Order of St. Ignatius.
1955-1956 – He established his residence in the House of Writers of the Society of Jesus, headquarters of Brotéria. He began to work as editor of this magazine, for which he had collaborated since 1940, particularly in the sections on Literary Criticism and Culture. He taught Theology in the Superior Course of Religion for Religious Women.
1957 – He was invited by Professor Vitorino Nemésio to become Professor in the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon, where he began teaching a chair transversal to the various courses of Literature, called History of Classical Culture.
1959-1960 – He taught the chair of History of Ancient Philosophy, at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon.
1960 – He published Ao Encontro da Palavra: Ensaios de Crítica Literária, by Liv. Morais and Do Espírito e do Tempo, by Editora Ática.
1964-1967 – He acted as Superior of the House of Writers of the Jesuits.
1965 – He was appointed Director of Brotéria. He took part, as a delegate, in the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, held in Rome, in which the Superior General Pedro Arrupe was elected. He assumed the chair of History of Roman Civilization, in the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon.
1965-1967 – In parallel, he also coordinated the courses of History of Classical Philosophy, in the Superior Catholic Institute.
1965-1975 – Worked as Consultant in the government of the Portuguese Province of the Society of Jesus.
1967 – He published Função da Teologia no Mundo de Hoje, by Edições Brotéria, and was elected corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon.
1972 – He published Indicadores de Civilização, by Editora Verbo, Educação e Sociedade, by Editora Sampedro and Grandes Derivas da História Contemporânea, published by Brotéria.
1972-1974 – He was Counsellor of the Cultural Planning Group of the Ministry of National Education.
1972-1975 – He interrupted his mandate as Director of Brotéria.
1970 – He participated, as delegate, in the Congregation of Representatives of his Order.
1974 – He participated, as Delegate of the Lusitanian Province, in the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, held in Rome.
1979 – He published Repensar Portugal, in Editora Multinova.
1980 – He published Occasionalia: Homens e Ideias de Ontem e de Hoje, edited by Multinova,
1981 – He received the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from the Rector of the University of Lisbon.
1983 – He was decorated with the insignia of Great Officer of the Military Order of Santiago da Espada by the President of the Republic, General Ramalho Eanes.
1985 – He died on January 18 at the Hospital of Santa Maria.