The Life of Fr. Eugenio Merino Movilla (1881-1953) [2003]

[Originally published in the Spanish Solidaridad magazine.]

Fr. EUGENIO MERINO MOVILLA, born in Villalán de Campos (Valladolid) the 26th of March, 1881, inherited from his mother, Mrs. Edmunda, a profound faith, and from his father, Mr. Calisto — a poor farmer […] — a consciousness of the grovelling and exploitation which the poor in Tierra de Campos suffered. Both aspects, a deep mystical experience and an unselfish dedication to the social question, were to mark his priesthood.

From 1892, he studied […] at the Seminary of Saint Matthew in Valderas (León), finishing his studies up to the doctorate in U. P. of Toledo between 1901 and 1903. Soon after his ordination on the 26th of September, 1905, he is appointed as professor at the seminary of Valderas of which he will be rector until 1941, when the theology faculty permanently moves. During this time, he teaches Sociology, Oratory, Ecclesiastical History, Rhetoric, Dogmatics, Catholic Action,…  and publishes many studies and manuals on these subjects.

His important work as a propagandist of Social Catholicism stands out in his studies and trips to Europe. The fruit of this task, developed in his classes, in the representations which he writes for union evenings, and his novel Tierra de Campos, is the rapid extension of agrarian syndicalism in the district, with the Federación de Villalón as one of its major expressions. 

As a member of the Apostolic Union of Clergy, he participates in the renewal of priestly spirituality in Spain, makes several contributions to Congresses on this matter, and devotes himself to his novella Cura y mil veces cura. Due to the limitations imposed on him by his progressive blindness, he deepens this spirituality, which is enriched with his knowledge of the new approaches of Catholic Action and the lay spirituality of [Joseph] Cardijn’s Juventud Obrera Católica (JOC), with whom he lived with in Belgium and whose works he translated into Spanish.

In his last years as the spiritual director of the seminary of Leon and national counselor of the Hermandad Obrera de Acción Católica (HOAC), he dedicates himself with passion to disseminating the mysticism of the 24 hours of life honored in the grace of God [this was his motto], which will profoundly mark Guillermo Rovirosa and a group of converts that will make the Spanish Church able to build apostolic bridges with the working class, from which it had unfortunately separated.

[…] [While] in Madrid in his last service, he passed away on the 8th of April, 1953.