About Fernando Arizti Soto SJ
Se ordenó sacerdote Jesuita; trabajó muchos años con afroamericanos en Chicago y Los Angeles.
Tenía como afición la pintura y se destacó por pintar a Cristo negro, para apoyar su labor de evangelización. Aquí compartimos algo de sus pinturas y de sus famosos Cristos negros.
En un año sabático se fue a conocer las misiones en África y se fue a vivir allá, donde fue también muy querido.
Falleció en un accidente automovilístico el lunes 6 de febrero de 2006, en Nigeria.
Memorial Mass planned for Fr. Arizti, former St. Brigid associate
A Memorial Mass at St. Brigid Church in Los Angeles will be held Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. for Jesuit Father Fernando Arizti, 72, who died in an automobile accident in Benin City, Nigeria on Feb. 6. A former associate pastor at St. Brigid Church, Father Arizti was an artist and muralist whose works depicting black religious icons graced Bibles and churches in the U.S. and Africa.
Born in Mexico in 1933 of mixed Spanish, Mexican, French and black ancestry, Father Arizti was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1971. He served as an associate pastor of Dolores Mission in the late '80s and spent a dozen years as an associate pastor at St. Brigid Church from 1991-2002.
"He was such a wonderful people-loving person. He was very receptive to different ethnic communities in the parish," said Alexandrina Strode, who met Father Arizti while volunteering with the African-American Catholic Evangelization Program.
A gifted artist, Father Arizti painted several paintings for St. Brigid Church, including a portrait of the late civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His paintings of a black "Christ Overlooking the City" and a black "St. Joseph as a Loving Father" were featured on the covers of Bibles published by the American Bible Society and distributed locally in 2001.
That same year, he was commissioned to paint a mural in the House of Formation of the Josephite Fathers in Iberu, Nigeria. His work, "Flight into Egypt," depicting Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus as Nigerians, was much loved in the local African Catholic community. The experience proved to be life altering for Father Arizti, who left the archdiocese in 2002 to serve the people of Nigeria and continue his painting.
At the time of his departure for Nigeria, Father Arizti told The Tidings: "I hope I would have an influence on African art because most of the religious images are Caucasian. It's time to bring the beauty of the people into religious art, to represent the divine in the image of the people."
A chaplain for the Route 66 motorcycle club and a motorcycling enthusiast, Father Arizti gave up his motorcycle before leaving for Africa. He said he knew his decision was right because, "You know when there's a call because the kind of peace and happiness you experience cannot be compared to anything."