Can you imagine the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio answering the teacher’s roll call? Pope Francis must have been such a good little schoolboy—or was he?
Student life for young Jorge began in a nursery school in the Barrio of Flores in Buenos Aires—the Catholic Institute of Nuestra Senora de la Misericordia. Little Jorge must have enjoyed his years there, because for as long as he lived in the Argentinian capital, he would always visit the nuns there at least once a year, usually in March. He was especially attached to the ancient classrooms of the school, and remembers having his First Holy Communion under the care of the nuns. It was here where he met Sister Dolores, who would become a great source of support for Jorge when he had to undergo surgery in order to remove part of his lungs in 1957—a moment he considers to be one of the most difficult in his life.
In Argentina, right after kindergarten, kids move up to primary school, which essentially includes elementary and middle school. Jorge moved to the Salesian school Wilfrid Baron de los Santos Angeles in Ramos Mejia, a district in greater Buenos Aires where he completed primary school. Though he didn’t particularly excel, Jorge was a good and hardworking student.
When he finished middle school, Jorge went on to higher education. He already expressed his love for literature, psychology, and religion, but he was enrolled in the institution called the Escuela Tecnica Especializada en Industrias Quimicas No. 12, a technical school specializing in chemistry and physics. Maybe the practicality of his dad Mario influenced his decision, and convinced him that a diploma as a chemical technician would be useful in finding a job.
On the Job
As young as Jorge was, his father wanted to help him get accustomed to the idea of work so he found him a job in a hosiery factory where Mario worked as an accountant. At first he was assigned to cleaning and other miscellaneous duties, until the time came when he would go to a laboratory to analyze food products.
Adolescent Jorge became busy: at work from 7 am to 1 pm, and after a short lunch break, he would be at school until 8 pm. Despite his packed day, Jorge was happy.
On September 21, 1953, Jorge found his vocation and decided to become a priest, paving the way for him to become one of the world’s best-loved leaders.