An interview with Brother Ricardo Guardado, the new Prior Provincial of Central America, conducted by Brother Luis Javier Rubio, O.P., Socius of the Master of the Order for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ricardo, please tell us some important facts about your childhood and adolescence.
I was born in San Francisco, La Virtud, Lempira, Honduras, in 1978. My father’s name is Cándido Guardado and my mother’s name is María Lucinda Flores. We were nine siblings in total, eight boys and one girl. My origin is purely peasant; for this reason, I have always felt more comfortable in the countryside than in the city. Corn tortillas and beans have been the basis of my daily diet. I am a mountain man, that is why I always renew the promise of ‘never giving up my roots’, since my identity began to be forged there. This is how I feel better, fulfilled, and happy. With my father I learned to work the land, and with my mother I learned the tenderness of dealing with other people; without them, I would never have made it this far. My teenage years passed like a sigh, because life required me from very early on to acquire the tools to survive far from home and family, when I finished elementary school I had to go to the city for my secondary education.
How did you meet the Dominicans?
In 1991, when two friars, driven by the spirit of the ‘Holy Mission’, came to the village where my family lives. There they met my dad, who has been a minister of the Word of God for more than forty years. Those friars were on mission for a week and they spoke to the people in a unique way and made an impact with their way of preaching the Word of God. That was my first contact with the members of this Order, which, over the years, I have learned to love.
Tell us about some of your experiences as a Dominican friar.
One of the greatest experiences I have had in the Order of Preachers has been to trust in human beings; I have learned that it is possible to find goodness and beauty in every person. Therefore, I have discovered that all of us, men and women, are a project under daily construction, in which we can collaborate mutually to reach the highest of our dreams and desires—that is to say, to live in God without leaving him.
What did you learn from your experience abroad?
I learned about the universality of the Order of Preachers and its plurality that does not take away its unity. The experiences abroad have helped me to discover that “universal fraternity,” no matter how utopian it may seem, is always achievable. For this reason, I believe and maintain that we, Dominican friars, are required to go out of ourselves, in order not to waste our time and life looking at ourselves. Our Order was not born for self-reference, but to live in a constant Pentecost, “speaking with God and of God”.
What are your goals now that you have been elected Provincial?
To listen and accompany the friars of the Province, to learn obedience to God every day, and to encourage my brothers in the different communities in Central America to build bridges through assertive and proactive communication.
To invite and encourage the brothers to go out of themselves and to always go to the place where life reveals fragility and hope, to collaborate in the construction of the kingdom of God, healing the wounds of those who are hurt and discarded every day in our society.
Do you have a closing message for us?
I urge the members of the Dominican Family in Central America and all those with whom we relate every day, to keep hope in God and in humanity in these times of pandemic. Let us love God by healing the wounds we have inflicted on our ‘common home’. Let us strive and seek, most urgently, that the ministry of preaching will be connected with people’s lives, and that we will always communicate God’s good news to our world.
In this Jubilee Year of Our Father St. Dominic, let us prepare the table of the Word and of the Bread, and let us go out to look for people to eat it. This way we will not remain with the table set and the food spoiling, but allow it to nourish the lives of those who are agonizing on the wayside.