Work is a subject that is dear to the Pope, and he is very grateful to his father for having taught him its importance. “I thank my father so much because he sent me to work,” Pope Francis once said. He recalls that particular day in 1949, when his father, Mario Jose Bergoglio, called him and told him it was time to get a job. The Holy Pontiff— then called Jorge Bergoglio—was only 13 years old at the time, and a high school student at an industrial technical school. He enthusiastically welcomed his father’s proposal.
The Bergoglios were not rich, but they did not necessarily need another source of income. However, Mario Jose wanted his son to experience putting in an honest day’s labor. From that moment on, Jorge took on many jobs.
My Pope takes a peek into the Pope’s previous life before he went on to priesthood. Read on!
Part of the Workforce
In different instances in his life, Jorge was a janitor, a clerk, and a teacher. It may seem strange to think of Pope Francis as someone in charge of cleaning a sock factory, but that was exactly how he started! His father was an accountant in a factory, and this was where Jorge landed his first-ever job! He must have been a wiz at cleaning, because in no time, he was given administrative tasks.
From the sock factory, Jorge moved on to a laboratory, which he was able to enter by virtue of his being a student at an industrial institute that specialized in food chemistry. The days were long and tiring at his post as an apprentice chemical technician: In the morning, young Jorge would get up early and go to work; at one o’clock in the afternoon, he would take a one- hour lunch break and then go to school afterward, where he would be in classrooms until eight in the evening.
Despite the great commitment it required— or perhaps precisely for this reason—this was an especially happy time for Jorge. “In the laboratory, I learned the good and evil of every human activity. And my boss was an extraordinary woman,” he recalled.
After the factory and the workshop, Jorge worked at a dance hall. Not as a bartender or a DJ, but as a “throw-out”— who drove away annoying or unwelcome customers. In short, the future pope was a bouncer! Pope Francis considers this experience as a teaching moment; he explains that this particular job helped him understand how to push people to go back to Christ and believe in the Church.
In 1958, the bouncer joined the novitiate of the Society of Jesus and later became a teacher in1963. Pope Francis taught literature and psychology, subjects that were entrusted to him even if he had studied chemistry in school. He then continued on this path with theology before becoming the rector of the Colegio Máximo of the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology.
Little did young Jorge know that from his dreams of becoming a butcher, and his path that led him to be a janitor, chemist, bouncer, and teacher, he would someday assume the throne of St. Peter as the leader of the Catholic World!