Bartomeu Suau Serra
Bartomeu Suau Serra (Palma, 14-03-1944). Priest and social mobilizer. Founder and principal promoter of social and educational entities that act under the name of Jovent (Club d’Esplai, Cooperativa, Farm school, 21st Century Association) and others linked to the parishes of Sant Josep del Terme (sa Indioteria -Palma -) and of Sant Alonso Rodríguez (Pont d’Inca -Marratxí-).
Son of Bartomeu and Catalina, he resided almost all his childhood in Alcudia, where his parents were school teachers and where he first studied at the School of Maritime Orientation of the Port of Alcudia. In 1954 he joined the Palma New Seminary where he studied five years of high school, three years of philosophy and five years of theology. Having turned 18, being a seminarian, he began his participation in several summer camps; organized by the Workers’ Patronage by Ventura father, later the Càritas Mallorca camps at Ses Covetes and later the summer camps of Can Tàpera. These beginnings consolidated a great capacity for carrying out socio-educational activities with children and young people. He was ordained a priest on June 16, 1968 and assigned to Lloseta (Mallorca) as vicar, where he already stood out as an organizer of children’s and youth activities inaugurating the youth club “L’Altura”.
In 1969, Bishop R. Álvarez Lara appointed him superior of the New Seminar with the intention of giving him a more advanced air, in accordance with the historical moments. He soon emphasized himself as a true youth activist both in the field of seminarians and in the school of Sant Pere (annex to the seminar) where he introduced numerous extracurricular activities (volleyball teams, theatrical performances …) school to the young people (1977) with which the New Seminary, San Pedro school, enters into modernity.
In 1979, he was appointed vicar in the parish of Sant Josep del Terme, in the district of Sa Indioteria (Palma), where he has been working since then. Recently appointed, he spent 3 months in Madrid where he established contacts with the grassroots communities, parishes of the working quarters (the Pozo of Uncle Raimundo, Vallecas, etc.) and with university residences. This context helped to reinforce its commitment to the most disadvantaged social groups, and was decisive for the implementation of initiatives that would soon change the social appearance of sa Indioteria. When he returned from Madrid, the cohesion of the neighbourhood was raised through families, and for that reason he organized the first camps in Menorca with the children of the three schools in the neighbourhood. The success was so important that in the same camps a proposal to create a youth club for the neighbourhood was put to the vote. The proposal was massively accepted by children and young people, and during the 1979-1980 academic year the Club d’Esplai Jovent was launched with more than two hundred children. The club was organized into age groups and sections, launched a pedagogy based on values of a humanistic nature and was rooted in the neighbourhood with numerous daily activities, on weekends, on holidays … At present the club has an average of 500 children each year and about 90 monitors. The entity encourages the commitment to the environment and its children, so that it is fed back as new young volunteers are ready to take over as monitors taking on the “social fight for a better world”.
Over the years, with the support of the club, B. Suau has been generating other initiatives of a social nature that continued to transform the neighbourhood into a cohesive community and an important social network. Among these initiatives are: the social action group of the parish (1982), the Cooperativa Jovent (1984), the Center for the Elderly (1986), the Social Action Center(1995), the Jovent School Farm ( 1984 and 1998), the Platform of Entities of sa Indioteria (1998), the Associació Jovent Segle XXI (1998), the reform of the church (2005) and a second reform of the Club de Esplai Jovent (2005). In 2006 he began the reform of Sa Midoneria . Casal de Barrio Jovent, which came into operation at the end of 2012. Among the latest activities, it emphasizes that in January 2008, the “Jovent: iniciativa d’Iniciatives Solidàries” program was launched, involving many mallorcan entrepreneurs in projects for children, youth and the community.
Alongside all of these activities, in 2003 the bishop gave him a new responsibility: the parish of Sant Alonso Rodríguez in the neighbourhood of Pont d’Inca (Marratxí). Although it had some characteristics different from Sa Indioteria, Suau is considering importing into the new neighbourhood the social network model that had so many successes reported to him in this neighbourhood. For this reason he founded the Club d’Esplai Utopia-Jovent (2004) and established a very similar dynamic both in activities with children and youth as in those of the parish. Finally, to complete all this work in the peripheral districts of Palma, in May of 2016 the Club of Esplai Making Camí-Jovent (district of the Nursery) is inaugurated, also by his initiative in collaboration with the Rotary Clubs of Mallorca and the City Council of Palma.
Annually in each of these neighborhoods, B. Suau becomes the main entertainer of the popular festivals, of the Three Wise Kings of Christmas, of the celebrations of Easter, etc., as well as promoting numerous activities of the parishes : courses for married couples, catechesis, etc.
As regards the recognition of his work, for several years B. Suau was a member of the Advisory Council of the Esplai Foundation, a state-level body and a member of the board of the Sa Fundació Sa Nostra. He has received several important prizes: the Ramon Llull Prize at the Civic Initiative awarded by the Government of the Balearic Islands (March 2000), the Carlo Corsini Award to the Solidarity of the Rotary Club of Mallorca (August 2000), Cruz de Plata of the Civil Order of the Social Solidarity of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (January 2003) personally delivered to SM the Queen Sofia, Emili Darder prize for Coexistence and civility 2009 granted by the City Council of Palma, Prize for Solidarity 2009 and medal of Honor and Gratitude 2016 both granted by the Consell de Mallorca. But more than for his awards, Bartomeu Suau is valued and recognized both for his social projects and for his example of willpower and personal coherence, for his permanent struggle against the superficiality and inequalities of the world, and for his tireless work for a fairer society.