Miguel A Loredo, OFM
1938 – 2011
Fr. Miguel Loredo, OFM, was born Nov. 30, 1938 in Havana, Cuba. He entered the Franciscan seminary there in Santiago de las Vegas. Because the friars who ministered in Cuba were members of the Basque Province, Fr. Miguel continued his Franciscan formation with them in Spain.
He entered novitiate in 1959 in Zarautz, Gipuzkoa and professed first vows there one year later. He professed solemn vows in 1963 and was ordained to the priesthood one year later in Arantzazu, Gipuzkoa.
Fr. Miguel returned home to Cuba in 1964 and began serving in pastoral ministry at the Iglesia de San Francisco in Havana. He also served as pastor in Casa Blanca. In addition to his priestly work, Fr. Miguel developed his talents as an artist. As a child, he had taught himself to paint, was mentored by famed Cuban artist Rolando Lopez Dirube, and later became acquainted with other artists.
In 1966, he was among 16 people arrested in Havana on charges of allegedly harboring and aiding a man who killed two people in an attempt to hijack a Cuban Airlines plane form Havana to Miami. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Over the next decade, he was transferred 22 times among various prison locations in Cuba. During his confinement, Fr. Miguel’s spiritual side found expression in painting, often with nothing more than brewed coffee and scraps of paper. He also began writing poetry.
Thanks to the intervention of the Holy See, Fr. Miguel was released from prison in 1976. For the next seven years, he lived at Santo Domingo Friary in Guanabacoa, Havana, and taught moral theology at the seminary of San Carlos while also serving as pastor of the newly created Santa Clara Parish in Lawton. After persistent attempts to oust him from Cuba, Fr. Miguel was forced to leave his homeland in 1984 and went to Rome. While there, he attained a licentiate in theology at the Pontifical Anthonian Athenaeum. In 1987, he was assigned to the friary at Sabana Seca in Puerto Rico, where he served in pastoral ministry and as director of formation students and guardian of the friary.
In 1991, he asked permission to move to New York City, becoming a parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Manhattan. From this base, he ministered extensively to the Cuban exile community in New York and New Jersey. He was also given studio space in the friary to continue his work as an artist. Over the years, he created numerous paintings on a variety of subjects, and held a number of exhibitions of his work.
Fr. Miguel became a member of Holy Name Province in 1994. During his time in New York, he became deeply engaged as a human rights activist, often lecturing at international meetings. In July 2008, after a bout with cancer, he retired from full-time ministry at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla., although he continued to paint and assist at local parishes until his health failed.
For Fr. Miguel, the calls to be a painter and to be a friar were inseparable. He had many obstacles in his own life to overcome, and his strong emotions sometimes led to misunderstandings. But artistic expression — both painting and poetry — became his way to resolve those human tensions and express the God-life within himself.
He died Sept. 10, 2011 at Maria Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, St. Petersburg. Fr. Miguel was 72 years old, a professed friar for 50 years and a priest for 47 years.