Pérez Marcio, Manuel Francisco (1910–1987)

By Hector Julio Pérez

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Hector Julio Pérez

First Published: October 28, 2021

Manuel Francisco Pérez Marcio, an Adventist missionary, educator, and education administrator, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He served as a pastor in Argentina, a missionary in Peru, director of services in the Southern Union Conference, as Prata Adventist Academy director, and as Central Argentine Conference president. His sons were both Adventist teachers: Raul and Hector Julio.1

Family Background

To better understand Manuel Márcio's life, it is necessary to know a little about his father's family as well as aspects of his conversion. Manuel’s father was a Spaniard named Manuel Francisco Pérez Rodríguez, and when he joined the Spanish army, he was forced to choose between his two first names. From then on, his name in all documents was Manuel Pérez Rodriguez.2

Manuel Pérez Rodriguez was born in 1875 in the village of Morille in the province of Salamanca, Spain. His future wife, Camilla Marcio, was born in the village of Villarino de los Aires, also in Salamanca, Spain, in 1878. Manuel Pérez Rodriguez was sent to Cuba as a soldier in the Spanish army, which had 200,000 men who were sent to fight against Cuba’s uprising seeking independence. Between 1895 and 1899, he served in Cuba. In the army, he received the rank of corporal. Living in the military shaped his character into a tough military one, which was later softened by his conversion to Christ.3

He married Camila Marcio in 1902. At that time, poverty and misery were very common among the Spanish people. For this reason, Pérez Rodriguez decided to emigrate from Spain to Argentina in early 1907. He traveled without his family, with the goal of earning money to pay for his wife and children’s trip as soon as possible. In Argentina, he performed all kinds of work. The following year, 1908, his wife and two children, Braulio Francisco (four years of age) and Esmeraldo Felipe (two years old), came from Spain. The family settled in the city of Buenos Aires. There they lived in a hostel (tenant) on Juncal Street.4

Early Years

Manuel Francisco Pérez Márcio was born in March 1910 in the city of Buenos Aires, but this event was only registered on April 1. Little Manuel's father, during his childhood in Spain, had been an altar server and later he became an agnostic and an enemy of all believers. Such was the degree of enmity that, when his wife Camila and their two children arrived from Spain, he forbade them to go to church on Sundays. The church was for traditional ceremonies only, including the baptism of children. Then, sometime in 1910, he had little Manuel baptized in Nossa Senhora do Perpétuo Socorro Basilica.5

In 1914, Isabelita was bornPérez. That year, the family moved from the city of Buenos Aires to Florida, in Vicente López, a province of Buenos Aires. The father, at the time, was employed at a factory and went to work every day on a suburban train that took him to the Palermo neighborhood where the factory was located. In Florida, they had rented a small house with a large yard, as the custom was at that time. In 1920, Isabelita, who was six years old at the time, fell ill with meningitis and died.6

Isabelita's death brought pain and anguish to the whole family. There seemed to be no comfort for such pain. Camila was the one who suffered the most since she was a woman of great sensitivity and kindness. During this time, an Adventist couple who were neighbors of the Pérez family sought to help, especially the inconsolable mother. This couple included an Adventist pastor, Oppegard Ole, and his wife, Lidia Greene. They were Norwegian missionaries who had come to carry out their ministry in Argentina. Oppegard visited Mrs. Camila, who also went to their home, where she found comfort while learning about the teachings and promises that the Bible offers to God’s children.7

Her husband, Manuel, who had remained firm in his agnosticism and was reluctant to participate in anything that involved religion, discovered that it was good that his wife was visiting these foreigners, and soon even allowed her to go to the Adventist church on Saturdays, at times accompanied by her two children. One night, Camila went to Pastor Oppegard's house with her husband. As Manuel sat down in the living room, he was surprised and intrigued by the four pictures on the room’s wall. He couldn't take his eyes off those strange and scary animals, so he asked what they were. That night Pastor Oppegard gave Manuel a Bible study on the prophecy of the four animals in the seventh chapter of the biblical Book of Daniel. When Manuel realized that what Pastor Oppegard had told him had to do with God and that this God was different from what he had been taught, he started to change his way of thinking.8

Then Pastor Oppegard loaned him the book O Conflito dos séculos [The Great Controversy]. Manuel read frantically over several nights and became convinced of God's plan for humanity and that he was part of that plan that the Godhead had prepared for human beings. He and his family were soon baptized in the Adventist Church. He quit his job and as a canvasser began to participate in the mission of selling Adventist publications, a work he did until his retirement. His wife, Camila, had attended only two years of elementary school in Spain where she learned to read and write. However, due to her lack of use of these skills, she had forgotten them and become illiterate. After her baptism, though, she began to read and understand the Bible. She had not been able to understand the headline of a newspaper nor what was published in an Adventist Church publication, leaflets, or paperbacks from Sabbath School lessons, but reading the Bible soon became part of her life.9

Manuel Pérez worked his canvassing ministry in several cities in the west and south of the province of Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, his youngest son, Manuel Márcio, went on to study at Florida's Adventist elementary school. This location, which had been rented, was on the corner of San Martin and Echeverria streets in front of where the offices of the Argentine Union Conference are located today. On Saturdays, it functioned as a church, and during the week, it was a school. He finished his elementary studies there. His teacher was Miss Flora Block, who later married Pastor Hugo Beskow.

Since the school was a private one, all of its students were required to pay a monthly fee. However, the Pérez family did not have enough resources to meet this need. Thus, the administrator of the recently inaugurated Sudamericana Publishing House, who was a single American, paid for the studies of little Manoel Márcio. Later, the family left the house they had rented in Florida and went to live in the cities where their father canvassed. His children often accompanied him when he went canvassing.

Education, Marriage and Pastoral Ministry

Later, the Pérez family settled in Bahia Blanca, a province of Buenos Aires. In that city in 1925, Manuel Márcio was baptized at the age of 14 by Pastor J. T. Thompson. In 1926, their eldest son, Braulio, went to study at what was then called the River Plate College, Entre Rios, Argentina. The following year, it was Esmeraldo’s turn, and in 1928, time for Manuel Márcio, their youngest son, to attend. The latter during his years of study had to work hard to pay for his education. He did this during the summers, working on the school farm as well as in neighboring fields, harvesting and threshing. During some summers, he also canvassed with Braulio, and he went into the city of Bariloche. In his last year, he served as director of the student review A Voz do Colégio [The Voice of the School]. In 1933, he graduated as a Bachelor of Theology degree.10

Manuel Márcio began his pastoral ministry at the Central Argentine Conference (1934-1937).11 After graduating, he worked in the city of Córdoba. There, he collaborated on an evangelistic series led by Pastor Walter Schubert and continued his pastoral ministry in the same city during 1935.12 On April 11, 1935, he married Berenice Clara Ernst (1908-2002) in Montevideo. Berenice, the daughter of Julio Ernst and Maria Kohli, was born on February 7, 1908, in Uruguay. She graduated from the Normal Higher Course at River Plate College (1933). In 1936, Manuel F. Pérez was a pastor in the city of Santa Fe. His son Raul A. Pérez was born in the middle of that year, and later they had a second son, Hector J. Pérez (1942).

Foreign Ministry (1937-1947)

In February 1937, Manuel Márcio arrived with his wife and son in the Republic of Peru, where he served the Adventist Church for 11 years.13 Between 1937 and 1942, he basically worked as a teacher. There, in the city of Lima, the Adventist Church had a boarding school. In the 1930s, this educational institution was called Industrial Institute. In 1937, he taught several subjects there, especially those related to the Castilian language, biology, and topics related to the study of the Bible. During that first year in Peru, his wife was the dean responsible for the girls in the boarding school dorm.

For the next four years,14 he served as the dean of the male boarding school dorm in addition to continuing to teach various subjects in the classroom. At that time, Pastor Samuel Weiss arrived in Lima, who was also a native from Argentina. After working for a few years in the Peruvian city of Arequipa, he was transferred to Lima to lead the city's central church. Upon reaching there, Pastor Weiss organized one of the first radio evangelistic programs that were presented live in Spanish. The music was presented by a quartet of Peruvian lay people, and the presenter and main partner of the program was Pastor Manuel F. Pérez. He had been ordained to the pastoral ministry in January 1939. During the summer of 1940-1941 when there were no classes, he held an evangelistic series in the city of Sucre, Bolivia, at the request of Church leadership.

During those years, when he served as a missionary to another country, he would be away for at least five years, and then he could only return to visit family members, and then soon return to the mission field. Thus, at the end of the 1941 school year, the family returned to their home country on vacation to visit their relatives. In 1942, while back in Peru, they found a very different situation there. Through a new law proposed by the Catholic Church, the government did not allow mixed education establishments for men and women in Lima to operate. Classrooms had to operate separately for male students and female students. At that time, the church acquired property outside of Lima, in a rural area, so they could develop an educational project consistent with the needs of church members in that region. There they began the construction of what is now the Peruana Unión University.15 That year, the second son of Pastor Manuel Márcio was born and was named Hector Julio.

From 1943 to 1947, Pastor Manuel Márcio directed several departments of the Inca Union Mission (Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia). In 1943, he was the evangelist pastor, and that year, he held two evangelistic series in Peru, the first in the city of Tacna and the second one in the city of Huacho. In this second city, a beautiful church was organized. From 1944 to 1947, he served as the director of the Youth and Education departments of the Inca Union Mission.16 He traveled constantly, with trips lasting about three months, especially when visiting the many schools in the Peruvian-Bolivian highlands and the Amazon jungle of Peru.

In the highlands, there were elementary schools and Adventist churches in distant and inaccessible places. So the only way to get to these places was to travel by mule. The trips to the Peruvian jungle were no different, although perhaps they were more dangerous. There weren't many Adventist schools there as there were in the highlands, but he took trips to visit the churches, encourage pastors, and also preach and baptize in the region's abundant rivers. When baptizing, he was at times accompanied by a lurking crocodile. In that region, the only way of communication was through rivers. In order to cross them, the region's own canoes called piraguas were used.17

Meals in these places consisted especially of abundant tropical fruits and fish that the natives took from the water, hunting them with archery and then roasting them. In this context, Pastor Manoel Márcio also prepared biology teaching materials and made drawings and sketches of plants and animals so teachers at Adventist schools in the Peruvian-Bolivian highlands could have didactic material.18 All of these were prepared by using labor-intensive forms of duplication that do not exist today. In the area coast of Peru, he organized the first camps for young Adventists. Although this activity was already taking place in other parts of the world, it was something new in South America.

In these camps, participants slept in canvas tents with another large tent serving as a dining room and meeting place. These first camps were located on the Peruvian coast in the bay of Ancón, a little to the northwest of the city with the same name. The Peruvian coast was generally deserted at that time, and the bay of Ancón was no different, so these camps were conducted in a desolate location. During the first two years, the camps were mostly for young people, but later they were also prepared for children of many ages. In 1946, Manoel Márcio was appointed delegate for the General Conference Meeting of the Adventist Church held in the city of Washington. He took this opportunity to observe how youth and child camps in the United States worked as well as how many important Adventist educational institutions functioned. After serving for eleven years in the Inca Union Mission19, the Pérez family returned to their home country.

At the Austral Union Conference (1948-1970)

The rest of Manuel Márcio's ministry took place in the Austral Union Conference (Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay). Upon returning from Peru, he was invited to assume the role of director of the Education and Youth departments of the Austral Union, a task he performed from 1948 to 1955.20 Trips to different parts of the Austral Union Conference were not as long as they had been in the Inca Union Mission. Instead of lasting three months, each took only about three weeks. But during summer times, his absence from home lasted from late December to the end of February, a period in which he attended all youth camps in the Union.

He served as director of River Plate College from 1956 to 1961.21 In 1962, the Austral Union Conference established their union administrative secretariat, and Pastor Manuel F. Pérez Márcio was appointed to serve in that function and also as director of Education. In 1966, the Central Argentine Conference invited him to assume the presidency of this ecclesiastical field, a task he performed until October 31, 1970,22 when he retired, at the age of 60 with 36 years and ten months of service dedicated to the Adventist work.

Last Years

Pastor Manoel Márcio moved to Libertador San Martin, Entre Rios, after his retirement. He collaborated as an elder in the church of River Adventist Academy and also counseled Pathfinders. He was a member of the Libertador San Martin neighborhood association, which regulated aspects of construction in the village before the creation of the city. Serving in this role along with other residents of the village, he saw the disorderly growth of streets and buildings that began to proliferate. Thus, they believed that the creation of a city was necessary, and in a combined effort with the River Plate Sanitarium and Hospital, and River Plate College, they submitted this request to the province of Entre Rios.

In 1975, the River Plate College director, Professor Egil Wensell, went to the United States for a year to perfect his skills and obtain a master's degree. During that year, Pastor Manuel Márcio, who had already retired, led the River Plate College for a second time. After that, he participated in community activities in the new city and the local Water and Public Services Cooperative. In 1978, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, a condition that required medical care he received from the River Plate Sanitarium and Hospital. However, even this disease did not prevent him from collaborating selflessly for several years more in all the activities he could. He died on August 18, 1987.23

Sources

“Bocaditos” [Snacks]. Revista Adventista, June 4, 1934.

Gambetta, Victor. “Notícias de Córdoba” [News from Cordoba]. Revista Adventista, March 11, 1935.

García, Milton Peverini. Vida de Braulio Pérez Marcio, fundador de La Voz de la Esperanza: De incrédulo a campeón del evangelio [Life of Braulio Pérez Marcio, Voice of Hope founder: From incredulous to champion of the Gospel]. Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2007.

La Voz del Colegio [The Voice of the College]. Review published by the students of River Plate College, November 1933, 1956-1960, 1975.

Liernur, Ricardo. “Necrología” [Obituary]. Revista Adventista 87, no. 11 (November, 1987).

Murray, W. E. “Noticias de la Unión Austral” [News from the Austral Union Conference]. Revista Adventista, October 22, 1934.

Nunes, Carlos Henrique. “Presente para os Peruanos” [Gift for Peruvians]. Revista Adventista (online), May 8, 2019.

Perez, Manuel F. Los hijos de la selva [The children of the jungle]. Buenos Aires: Sudamericana Publishing House, 1953.

Plenc, Daniel Oscar. La formación teológica en la UAP. Una historia de excelencia y servicio: 1898-2018 [Theological formation at UAP. A history of excellence and service: 1898-2018]. Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: River Plate University Editorial, 2018.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1940, 1947, 1956, 1971.

Schubert, Walter F. “Dios obra en Córdoba” [God works in Cordoba]. Revista Adventista, February 4, 1935.

Schubert, Walter F. “Dios obra en Córdoba” [God works in Cordoba]. Revista Adventista, March 11, 1935.

Schubert, Walter F. “A obra evangélica em Central Argentina” [Evangelical work in Central Argentine Conference]. Revista Adventista, July 9, 1934.

Von Oertel, Sofía C. de. “La recolección en Santa Fe” [Gathering in Santa Fe]. Revista Adventista, April 9, 1934.

Notes

  1. Milton Peverini García, Vida de Braulio Pérez Marcio, fundador de La Voz de la Esperanza: De incrédulo a campeón del evangelio [Life of Braulio Pérez Marcio, Voice of Hope founder: From incredulous to champion of the Gospel] (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2007), 264; Daniel Oscar Plenc, La formación teológica en la UAP. Una historia de excelencia y servicio: 1898-2018 [Theological formation at UAP. A history of excellence and service: 1898-2018] (Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: River Plate University Editorial, 2018), 200; “Datos con la información de la ex Unión Austral” [Data with information from the former Austral Union], del legajo no. 1113, available in the Argentine Union Conference archives, April 9, 2018.

  2. Milton Peverini García, Vida de Braulio Pérez Marcio, fundador de La Voz de la Esperanza: De incrédulo a campeón del evangelio [Life of Braulio Pérez Marcio, Voice of Hope founder: From incredulous to champion of the Gospel] (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2007), 18.

  3. Ibid., 12-17.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Ibid.

  9. Ibid.

  10. La Voz del Colegio [The Voice of the College], a periodical published by the students of River Plate College, November 1933, 11.

  11. Sofía C. de von Oertel, “La recolección en Santa Fe” [Gathering in Santa Fe], Revista Adventista 34, no. 8 (April 9, 1934): 10.

  12. “Bocaditos” [Snacks], Revista Adventista, June 4, 1934, 16; Walter F. Schubert, “La obra evangélica en la Argentina Central” [The evangelical work in Central Argentina], Revista Adventista, July 9, 1934, 10; W. E. Murray, “Noticias de la Unión Austral” [News from the Austral Union Conference], Revista Adventista, October 22, 1934, 16; Walter F. Schubert, “Dios obra en Córdoba” [God works in Cordoba], Revista Adventista, February 4, 1935, 16; Walter F. Schubert, “Dios obra en Córdoba” [God works in Cordoba], Revista Adventista, March 11, 1935, 13.

  13. Manuel F. Perez, Los hijos de la selva [The children of the jungle], (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana Publishing House, 1953), 218.

  14. “Peru Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1940), 188.

  15. Carlos Henrique Nunes, “Presente para os Peruanos” [Gift for Peruvians], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], May 8, 2019, accessed January 23, 2020, https://bit.ly/38vGXW3.

  16. “Inca Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1947), 147.

  17. Manuel F. Perez, Los hijos de la selva [The children of the jungle] (Buenos Aires: South America Spanish Publishing House, 1953), 218.

  18. Idem.

  19. “Young People's Missionary Volunteer Department,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1947), 141.

  20. “Austral Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1956), 139.

  21. La Voz del Colegio [The Voice of the College], review published by the students of River Plate College, year 34, November, 1956; La Voz del Colegio [The Voice of the College], review published by the students of River Plate College, 35, November, 1957; La Voz del Colegio [The Voice of the College], review published by the students of River Plate College, 36, November, 1958; La Voz del Colegio [The Voice of the College], review published by the students of the River Plate College, 37, November, 1959; La Voz del Colegio [The Voice of the College], review published by the students of River Plate College, 38, November, 1960.

  22. “Central Argentina Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1971), 219.

  23. Ricardo Liernur, “Necrología” [Obituary], Revista Adventista, November, 1987, 31.

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Pérez, Hector Julio. "Pérez Marcio, Manuel Francisco (1910–1987)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 28, 2021. Accessed February 22, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AIBM.

Pérez, Hector Julio. "Pérez Marcio, Manuel Francisco (1910–1987)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 28, 2021. Date of access February 22, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AIBM.

Pérez, Hector Julio (2021, October 28). Pérez Marcio, Manuel Francisco (1910–1987). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 22, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AIBM.