Date of publication: 07/06/2021

The Scientific Fellow Member

Council General International

A glimpse into the 13th President General’s life

Born on June 6th, 1932, he became a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at the age of 13. He was involved in many youth Conferences, in Portugal and England, where he studied for a few years. Not only was César Augusto Nunes Viana a SSVP member, he also worked as a volunteer making prison visits, and provided support to those struggling with an alcohol addiction.

Being still a young man, he held various positions at Youth Committees, being the first National Youth Coordinator in Portugal: he represented the country at several international events; namely, the 1st World Assembly of Vincentian Youth, held in Paris in 1960, and the 7th International Youth Meeting in Carcavelos, held in Portugal in 1969. He also was the Vice President of Lisbon’s Zone Council.

In Portugal, up until the 1970s, there were two Superior Councils as in many other nations: one for men, and the other for women. César Augusto was the last president of the Superior Council for men (1973-1976) and, after its merging with the Council for women, he became the first president of Portugal’s National Council (1976-1983). He took part at the CGI’s Assembly, held in Ireland, in 1973, when the second SSVP Rule was adopted.

On May 24th, 1993, Nunes Viana was appointed the SSVP’s 13th President General, the first non-French-speaking Vincentian in the history of the SSVP since Bailly de Surcy in 1839. The inauguration ceremony was held on September 27th, 1993, at the Chapel of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris. During his term of office, Pope John Paul II beatified Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam on August 22nd, 1997. César completed his term of office on September 9th, 1999.

His academic life was flawless. In 1952, César Augusto graduated with a degree in Physics and Chemistry at the University of Lisbon, with two PhDs in Chemistry: one in England in 1966, and the other one in Portugal in 1969. He devoted his professional life to research and studies, being a well-known full professor in Portugal and all over Europe. 

Furthermore, he was professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Faculty of Science of the University of Lisbon for many years. His academic background is impressive, brimming with science-related activities, such as being president of the Portuguese Society of Electrochemistry (1987-1989). He also coordinated and oversaw numerous seminars, presentations, science internships, and MSc and PhD theses on Kinetic Chemistry and Electrochemistry. He was also coordinator of the master’s degree in Applied Electrochemistry.

One of his best-known papers focused on the role of water as a solvent. He wrote several books in Portuguese, English and Spanish. His most famous publications, co-authored with other specialists between 1982 and 1995, covered topics related to chemistry, such as pressure, solvents, kinetics, volume, ionization, temperature and gaseous reactions. César Nunes was, indeed, very keen on science as was fellow member and professor Ozanam.

Nunes Viana passed away on August 13th, 2004 at the age of 72, when he was holidaying in Cordoba (Spain) with his wife, Madam Henriqueta. The couple had six children and eight grandchildren. His funeral took place on August 16th in Lisbon, and was attended by hundreds of people, including Vincentians, academics, former students, university staff, scientists, journalists, relatives and friends.

I had the privilege to meet our beloved President César Augusto Nunes Viana on two occasions: The former, in 1994, during a brief visit to my city on his way to Rio de Janeiro to take part at the SSVP’s Ibero-American Meeting. We toured the Cathedral of Brasilia, and I explained to the late President General the building’s architecture. The latter, in 2001, at a dinner in Rome, which was attended by him and the then Vice President General, Huáscar Nabuco. On that occasion, I had the chance to listen and learn from him. To me, brother César was an excellent President General who knew how to dignify the office he held with serenity, zeal, devotion, loyalty and, above all, with passion. Values which are rarely to be found.

I do miss the professor, the humanist, the scientist, the outstanding Catholic and the caring Vincentian that Nunes Viana was. We will never forget Cesar’s virtues. I keep his example in mind. 

From the Heavenly Conference, take care of us here on Earth!

Fellow member Renato Lima de Oliveira

16th President General