José María Arizmendiarrieta

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José María Arizmendiarrieta
José María Arizmendiarrieta.jpg
Born (1915-04-22)22 April 1915
Barinaga, Markina-Xemein, Biscay
Died 29 November 1976(1976-11-29) (aged 61)
Arrasate
Occupation Catholic priest; co-operative organiser

Father José María Arizmendiarrieta Madariaga (22 April 1915 – 29 November 1976) was a Catholic priest and founder of the Mondragón cooperative movement in the Basque Country.

Arizmendiarrieta, whose name is often shortened to "Arizmendi", was born in Barinaga, Markina-Xemein, Biscay, the eldest son of a family of modest means. He had lost an eye in a childhood accident so could not be a soldier. Instead he was a journalist for Basque language newspapers. His actions caused him to be arrested after the Spanish Civil War and he was sentenced to death for his activities; legend has it that he escaped the firing squad only through an administrative oversight. Released, he returned to his studies in Vitoria and went on to take holy orders.[citation needed]

Arizmendi wanted to continue his studies in Belgium but was assigned to a parish 30 miles from his own home town. He arrived in Arrasate (in Spanish, Mondragón) in February 1941, as a 26-year-old newly ordained priest to be assistant curate, to find a town still suffering from the aftermath of the Civil War and severe unemployment. The local priest had been shot by Franco's forces.[citation needed]

Arizmendi did not impress his new flock. Their one-eyed priest read badly; one parishioner described him thus: "He spoke in a monotone with intricate and repetitive phraseology difficult to understand. He hardly ever [read] with grace."[citation needed] They initially asked the Bishop to replace him. Nevertheless, he was determined to find a way to assist his congregation and realised that economic development - jobs - was the key to solutions to the town's other problems. Co-operatives appeared the best way to achieve this. Co-operatives, both consumer and worker, and self-help organisations had a long tradition in the Basque Country but had died away after the War.[citation needed]

In 1943, Arizmendi set up a Polytechnic School,[1] now the Mondragón University, a democratically-administered educational centre open to all young people in the region.

Arizmendi died in 1976 in Arrasate.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Jose Mª Arizmendiarrieta. Mondragon Corporation.

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