About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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“The argument moves from the existence of the thing to the correctness of the thing: what is, ought to be. Or, a popular variant: if a thing is, it doesn't make any difference whether it ought to be—the correct response is to adjust, to learn to live with the thing.”
— L. Brent Bozell, Jr.

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A Fascinating International Conversion Story
published 9 April 2013 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

E WAS BORN on October 22, 1925 in Nizankowice, a district (Przemyśl) that used to be part of Austria and was ruled by the now declared Blessed, Emperor Charles I of Habsburg and his wife, the servant of God, Empress Zita of Bourbon-Parma, in a multiracial, cultural and religious society that today is part of Ukraine at 3 kilometers from Poland. He was Austrian at his heart without undervaluing his Polish nationality, whose language he still remembered, as well as other Slavic languages of his native region.

Because he had a universal outlook, he never tried to hide his roots nor the languages spoken at home (German and Yiddish), mastering them to perfection to the time he died. He loved the German language, which he always spoke with an Austrian accent; it was part of the language of protocol of his people. They used it in their activities and even for the invitations for his parents’ wedding

This profound scholar had seen the light for the first time in a pious and sincere, religious Jewish home, that proceeded from the priestly caste, Zadik Kohen. He was the oldest and favorite grandchild of his maternal grandfather, who with varied interests was a businessman, active civically, and became part of Nizankowice’s city council. His grandfather was highly educated, generous, and affable with a profound spirituality and prayer life; he was connected to rabbinic universities (Yeshivas), he is now buried in the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. His grandfather greatly impressed him and they retained a great love for each other until the end of their lives, both dying coincidentally on yom kippur, the most sacred day in Judaism.

He immigrated with his parents to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, a totally different world from his native country that he never forgot although he was never able to return to it. An active and grateful man, he became part of his adopted country and made Spanish his principal language which he spoke without a foreign accent. A born polyglot, he also learned Hungarian, French, and English. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in medicine and his medical studies at the University of the Republic, Uruguay in Montevideo.

During his infancy, adolescence and youth, his restless genius pushed him to become a voracious reader of the most varied religious, political, moral and philosophical themes. He sought the Truth in all areas, including medical, that made him become one of the pioneers in immunohematology in Uruguay; not only human but also animal. He investigated and made scientific discoveries through self-teaching and received national and international recognition. In his search for the Truth, he went through a period of atheism, something contradictory in a Jew that in itself necessarily implies being observant of the religion, especially after receiving a very good, solid religious education, at home as well as in pious practice. He also received religious and biblical knowledge in community institutions from the Jewish community, parallel to the Uruguayan public education. He reacquainted himself with his Hebrew roots in Catholicism after reading the biography of St. Paul, a Jew who, following the orders of the Sanhedrin, persecuted the first Christians who for the most part were Jewish. Later Paul became one of the principal apostles of the gentiles (who were not Jewish). St. Paul’s biography was the decisive instrument to his conversion.

Just as St. Paul, his conversion in the Holy year, 1950, through baptism was the fruit, not of a rationalization, nor personal convenience, but of an infusion of faith, a gracious gift given by God, not merited, supernatural, not contrary to reason, as explained by St. Thomas Aquinas, philosopher and theologian with an Aristotelian base, who many times used the works of the Jewish Spaniard, Maimonides.

After becoming Catholic, at different times he wrote many articles with religious themes in various Catholic magazines and newspapers with a national circulation. However, he never abandoned his universal interests, also writing about cultural, scientific, economic and current political themes. In 1954, he was the first exponent in Uruguay of the person and spirituality of the Jewish philosopher, convert, and member of the Carmelite Order, Edith Stein, while she was quite far from canonization.

A holy Christ-centered man, very devoted to the Blessed Mother, firm and immutable in matters of faith, morals and personal convictions, personal and political philosophy, without ever contradicting his beliefs, he always kept faithful to the Magisterium and always maintained a coherence between his behavior and his beliefs.

Having formed a solid, cultured, simple and happy home, based upon his faith in Devine Providence, he died in Montevideo, in his home after a long physical ailment on October 8, 2008 surrounded by his loved ones, totally serene and conscious with an image of Our Lady Mother of the Devine Providence of his native Nizankowice , in the year of St. Paul, and having close to him the special blessing that his compatriot, the Blessed John Paul the II had sent him. It was, without his knowing it, the Eve of Kol Nidrei, when the Jews begin to celebrate the Day of forgiveness.