On June 27 the Prelate of Opus Dei traveled from Rome to Pamplona, Spain.
He spent four days in the capital of Navarre. Among other activities he visited a number of sick people in the University Hospital and presided over a meeting with the hospital’s Board of Directors at the University’s administrative building.
On Thursday, July 1, Bishop Echevarría traveled to the Shrine of Torreciudad, where three days later he conferred the diaconate on a group of 24 faithful of the Prelature from 12 countries. On his trip from Pamplona, he stopped off in Saragossa to pray at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar.
On the day of his arrival in Torreciudad, he met with a group of faithful of the Prelature who work at the shrine. He encouraged them to “take care of our Lady’s house,” and asked them “to base everything on prayer” and to dream about the growing apostolic fruit that, “if we are faithful, our Lady will foster at the shrine.”
On the 2nd he went to greet Bishop Ambrosio Echebarría of Barbastro-Monzón. The two of them visited the construction site of the church dedicated to Blessed Josemaría that the bishop is building in the city of Barbastro.
On the morning of Saturday, July 3, the Prelate of Opus Dei met with some three hundred boys taking part in various formational activities promoted by Centers of the Prelature in a number of countries. Those taking part asked many questions, and Bishop Echevarría stressed the importance of human virtues and study. He also urged them to pray for the Holy Father and the apostolate.
In the afternoon he received a number of families, and later met again with young people, this time with girls who participate in the Prelature’s apostolic activities.
On Sunday morning he celebrated a Mass during which he conferred the diaconate on 24 faithful of Opus Dei. At the end of the ceremony he greeted the many people gathered on the esplanade of the shrine. A little later he received, among others, the Board of Directors of the Torreciudad Foundation and some families. In the afternoon he met with the deacons and their families. In the evening he met once again with the people who work in Torreciudad, who told him various anecdotes connected with the shrine. Bishop Echevarría expressed his joy at the approach of the 25th anniversary of the shrine and referred to Blessed Josemaría’s great love for our Lady.
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Bishop Echevarría returned to Torreciudad two months later, on September 4. There he celebrated Holy Mass as the principal act of the Eleventh Marian Family Congress, attended by some forty thousand participants.
Pope John Paul II sent a message to the Congress urging participants to “untiringly promote human and Christian virtues in the heart of the family,” since these values “not only make it a place where life is generously accepted, but also the primary and indispensable school of harmony, sharing and solidarity, where the faith is transmitted and the Christian meaning of life fostered.”
In his homily during the Mass, Opus Dei’s Prelate referred to the history of the shrine, urged forward by Blessed Josemaría and inaugurated in 1975: “The Eucharist is an act of thanksgiving. Today our hearts are also raised in thanksgiving to God the Father, rich in mercy, because in the course of these twenty-five years he has poured forth lavishly his forgiveness at this shrine, allowing a great number of men and women to experience the joy of returning to God.” Bishop Echevarría also commented on some of the riches that Christian life brings to the family, for example, the priceless assistance of the Mother of God: “If you abandon yourselves trustingly to Mary, she will see to it that your home is at all times a loving refuge for every member of the family, where there can always be found a spirit of generous self-giving to the others, thus forging the soul for great human and divine ideals.”
In the afternoon, Bishop Echevarría met with the families who were present. In replying to their questions, the Prelate asked God to grant them the supernatural faith and vision needed to accept the children with which He wants to bless each family. He also referred to couples who cannot have children: “at times our Lord blesses families by not giving them children... those without children also have a very holy matrimonial vocation.” Then he spoke words of admiration for large families, which he described as “a very great treasure.”
Speaking of the rearing of children, Bishop Echevarría recalled the clarity with which Blessed Josemaría stressed the need to give them a good formation: “He insisted that parents had to invest their time and affection in the best business of the family, in their children.” He reminded them that the founder of Opus Dei encouraged many parents to undertake apostolic initiatives in the field of education.
On the following day the Prelate traveled to Madrid, where on the afternoon of the sixth, he conferred priestly ordination on two faithful of the Prelature in the Pontifical Basilica of St. Michael. During his homily he urged those attending to thank God for his providence and to pray every day for priests.
 Cf. From the Prelate, page 229.
 Cf. From the Prelate, page 225.
 Cf. From the Prelate, page 233.
Romana, n. 29, July-December 1999, p. 227-229.