The Fantastic Vincente Fox

The Fantastic Vincente Fox January 11, 2012

By Dean Nelson:

Vicente Fox and his classmates wanted their 10-year college reunion to be something they’d never forget. They rented the University Club in Mexico City, one of the swankiest rooms in the city; they made sure the food was exquisite, the liquor plentiful, the cigars imported, and the women beautiful. They wanted to remember this reunion for one thing in particular: They wanted to impress each other.

Some of the classmates were bankers, some were presidents of manufacturing companies, some were CEOs. This was the nation’s elite—including Fox. He was president of Coca-Cola in Mexico, at the ripe young age of 32. It was a night for bragging.

They had attended Iberoamericana University in Mexico City, a school run by the Jesuit Order of the Catholic Church, and they invited their main professor, Father Schiefler, to help them congratulate themselves. Schiefler mingled with the newly enriched graduates, watched as they preened in front of each other like so many peacocks, and then called for their attention. The classmates became quiet, in anticipation of the praise that would follow. What the priest said changed Fox forever.

“He thanked us for inviting him to the dinner and said he was pleased to be with us, but then he paused,” Fox said. “He said ‘I feel very sad and sorrowful tonight. I think I failed in my teaching and my education with you. I tried to teach you to live for others and not for yourselves, to promote opportunities for others and not just enriching yourselves. I am disappointed. I am not going to stay for dinner with you. Good night.’”

Schiefler left the party, and the crowd stood in stunned silence. Fox said they felt ashamed of themselves and did the next best thing.

“We all got drunk,” he said.

But he got the message, and began thinking about what he had learned in college. He had studied Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. He remembered that Ignatius was quite self-absorbed, much like Fox’s graduating class. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes Ignatius as a man “affected and extravagant about his hair and dress, consumed with the desire of winning glory.” At the age of 30, Ignatius was wounded in battle and, during a long, painful rehabilitation, had a spiritual revelation that propelled him into serving and educating others.

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