RIP Fr Joaquin G Bernas SJ, 1932-2021

March 08, 2021

It is with deep sadness that Ateneo de Manila University announces the demise of priest, lawyer, and educator Fr Joaquin Bernas SJ.

Bernas died "early this morning, 6 March 2021," Fr Roberto Yap SJ said in a memo to the University.

He was 88.

In a public announcement, the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus said that Bernas died at the Lucas Renewal Center of the Loyola House of Studies in Quezon City.

"Fr Bernie, 88, had serious heart ailments and was in quarantine after discharge from the hospital on Thursday evening (4 March 2021)," the post said.

"In view of pandemic considerations, Fr. Bernie’s remains were cremated this morning and the ashes brought to the Ateneo de Manila Jesuit Residence for in-house memorial Masses there and in other communities on campus," the Province said. "They will then be kept in the Jesuit Health and Wellness Center until, in mid-March, a proper funeral Mass and inurnment in the Province cemetery at Sacred Heart Novitiate can be scheduled."

Priest, lawyer, teacher, leader

The Ateneo community best remembers him for his leadership, having served in key administrative positions in the University.

Bernas was the 28th President of Ateneo de Manila (1984-1993), leading the University during one of the most tumultuous and critical periods in Philippine history.

He also twice served as Dean of the School of Law, first from 1972 to 1976, and then again from 2000 to 2004. Upon his retirement, he was conferred the title of Dean Emeritus. He has taught countless Ateneo law students since 1966, when he first joined its faculty.

"We take solace in the knowledge that his was an earthly life filled with meaning and purpose. An earthly life dedicated to service, to standards of excellence, to the greater glory of God," a memo from Law School Dean Jose Maria Hofilena read. "Indeed, a man, an excellent man, for others."

Hofilena also said that Bernas "has contributed immeasurably to keeping the Ateneo Law School true to its identity and calling. The Ateneo Law School’s debt of gratitude to Fr. Bernas can never truly be fully repaid."

Bernas also served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the predecessor of today's Loyola Schools, from 1970 to 1971.

He was also Provincial Superior of the Jesuit Philippine Province between 1976 and 1982, and Rector of the Jesuit Residence from 1994 to 2000.

Bernas is best known outside the Ateneo community as a constitutional law expert, and was of the 1986 Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

He earned his law degree at the Law School in 1962, graduating as class valedictorian. He later placed 9th in the Bar examinations that year.

He also held a Doctorate in  Juridical Science (1968) and a Master of Laws (1965) from New York University; a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from Woodstock College (1966); an MA in Philosophy (1957) and a BA in English, Latin, and Greek Classics (1956) from Berchmans College, Cebu.

He was born 8 July 1932 in Baao, Camarines Sur, and entered the Society on 20 June 1950. He was ordained into the priesthood on 10 June 1965.

"We request the Ateneo community to keep Fr Joaquin G Bernas SJ, his family, and his Jesuit brothers in your prayers," Yap said in his memo.

News Archive

  • RIP Fr Joaquin G Bernas SJ, 1932-2021
    Monday, March 08, 2021

    It is with deep sadness that Ateneo de Manila University announces the demise of priest, lawyer, and educator Fr Joaquin Bernas SJ.

    Bernas died "early this morning, 6 March 2021," Fr Roberto Yap SJ said in a memo to the University.

    He was 88.

    In a public announcement, the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus said that Bernas died at the Lucas Renewal Center of the Loyola House of Studies in Quezon City.

    "Fr Bernie, 88, had serious heart ailments and was in quarantine after discharge from the hospital on Thursday evening (4 March 2021)," the post said.

    "In view of pandemic considerations, Fr. Bernie’s remains were cremated this morning and the ashes brought to the Ateneo de Manila Jesuit Residence for in-house memorial Masses there and in other communities on campus," the Province said. "They will then be kept in the Jesuit Health and Wellness Center until, in mid-March, a proper funeral Mass and inurnment in the Province cemetery at Sacred Heart Novitiate can be scheduled."

    Priest, lawyer, teacher, leader

    The Ateneo community best remembers him for his leadership, having served in key administrative positions in the University.

    Bernas was the 28th President of Ateneo de Manila (1984-1993), leading the University during one of the most tumultuous and critical periods in Philippine history.

    He also twice served as Dean of the School of Law, first from 1972 to 1976, and then again from 2000 to 2004. Upon his retirement, he was conferred the title of Dean Emeritus. He has taught countless Ateneo law students since 1966, when he first joined its faculty.

    "We take solace in the knowledge that his was an earthly life filled with meaning and purpose. An earthly life dedicated to service, to standards of excellence, to the greater glory of God," a memo from Law School Dean Jose Maria Hofilena read. "Indeed, a man, an excellent man, for others."

    Hofilena also said that Bernas "has contributed immeasurably to keeping the Ateneo Law School true to its identity and calling. The Ateneo Law School’s debt of gratitude to Fr. Bernas can never truly be fully repaid."

    Bernas also served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the predecessor of today's Loyola Schools, from 1970 to 1971.

    He was also Provincial Superior of the Jesuit Philippine Province between 1976 and 1982, and Rector of the Jesuit Residence from 1994 to 2000.

    Bernas is best known outside the Ateneo community as a constitutional law expert, and was of the 1986 Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

    He earned his law degree at the Law School in 1962, graduating as class valedictorian. He later placed 9th in the Bar examinations that year.

    He also held a Doctorate in  Juridical Science (1968) and a Master of Laws (1965) from New York University; a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from Woodstock College (1966); an MA in Philosophy (1957) and a BA in English, Latin, and Greek Classics (1956) from Berchmans College, Cebu.

    He was born 8 July 1932 in Baao, Camarines Sur, and entered the Society on 20 June 1950. He was ordained into the priesthood on 10 June 1965.

    "We request the Ateneo community to keep Fr Joaquin G Bernas SJ, his family, and his Jesuit brothers in your prayers," Yap said in his memo.