Blessed Josemaria honored

Thousands of people all over the world took part in Eucharistic celebrations to honor Blessed Josemaria on his June 26th feast. In many cases the diocesan bishop or the Vatican’s nuncio presided over the ceremonies.

In Shukugawa, Japan, the Mass took place on June 23rd, drawing faithful from such cities as Tokyo, Kyoto, Kanazawa and Okayama It was concelebrated by Takaaki Hirayama, bishop emeritus of Oita, Monsignor Soichiro Nitta, regional vicar of the Opus Dei Prelature in Japan, and Monsignor José Ramon Madurga. The latter marks this year the golden anniversary of his ordination, most of these fifty years dedicated to pastoral work in Japan. In his homily Bishop Hirayama urged those attending to be bold apostles, strengthened by a sincere determination to be holy, transforming society as leaven transforms a mass of dough.

In Costa Rica the liturgical ceremony drew faithful to the National Shrine of the Basilica of our Lady of the Angels, the country’s patroness. The Papal Nuncio, Bishop Antonio Sozzo, was the main celebrant. Before dismissing the crowd, he told them, “Blessed Josemaria’s message will resound through the centuries reminding us that we are all called to be holy right where we are, amid everyday realities, despite our weaknesses and the difficulties we may face. By living in this way we can change the world.”

Some 500 people gathered in Managua’s cathedral on Blessed Josemaria’s feast day. The main celebrant was the capital’s archbishop, Miguel Cardinal Obando Bravo. Joining him at the altar were eight diocesan priests. At the start the Cardinal praised the work the prelature is carrying out in Nicaragua. He pointed out that Opus Dei’s founder knew how to unite holiness and apostolate. Echoing the Holy Father in his recent letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, he encouraged those present to “launch out into the deep,” as Blessed Josemaria had done. The Mass was carried live on the radio network Star of the Sea.

As in previous years, commemorative Masses were celebrated throughout Italy. In Rome Opus Dei’s prelate presided over the ceremony in the Parish of Blessed Josemaria.[1] In Florence the newly named Archbishop Ennio Antonelli concelebrated with a dozen priests. The celebration was accompanied by a 50-voice choir from Ramini, Pistoia. More than 500 faithful from throughout Tuscany participated.

The archbishop of Toulouse, Émile Marcus, presided over the concelebration on June 26 at Notre-Dame de la Dalbade. In his homily he said that the youthfulness of the saints never goes out of date. Not only are they perennial, but they also anticipate the future.

In Kazakhstan, Almaty’s Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Henry Howaniec O.F.M., was the main celebrant at the Mass in honor of Blessed Josemaria in the cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity. His homily dwelt on the sense of divine filiation in Blessed Josemaria’s life and preaching. He encouraged the faithful to imitate his life of prayer. Among the participants were people with Kazakh, Russian, German and Polish backgrounds.

On June 26 a solemn Mass in honor of Blessed Josemaria took place in the Basilica cathedral of Vilnius in Lithuania. The Apostolic Nuncio for the three Baltic countries, Bishop Erwin Josef Ender, was the primary celebrant, assisted by the Regional Vicar of the Opus Dei prelature and other priests. As he fondly recalled, Bishop Elder was present at the founder’s beatification in Rome in 1992. He expressed gratitude for the Prelature’s work of both priests and lay people in the Baltic nations. He signaled out Estonia, where the Church, still small, is grateful to see a number of conversions.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Eugênio de Araújo Sales, presided over a Mass in the Candelária Church. Also on the altar were the auxiliary bishop, Rafael Llano Cifuentes, the Prelature’s delegate vicar, Monsignor Pedro Barreto, and other priests. In the homily, the Cardinal quoted from and commented on a papal address given on March 17th to prelature faithful attending a conference called to study ways to implement Pope John II’s recent document, “As the third millennium begins.” Similar celebrations took place in Brasilia, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Niterói, Campinas, São José dos Campos, Londrina and Sorocaba.

The cathedral in Braga, Portugal, witnessed a concelebrated Mass presided by the auxiliary bishop, António Marto. In his homily Bishop Marto emphasized how central Christ was in the life and preaching of Blessed Josemaria, with his spiritual life grounded in divine filiation.

The main celebrant at the holy Mass celebrated in the cathedral of St. Andrew’s in Glasgow was Monsignor James Clancy, the archdiocese’ vicar general and acting head since the recent death of Cardinal Winning. Expressing his happiness to be present at a celebration in the founder’s honor, Msgr. Clancy said his first assignment as a young priest had been with a pastor who was very devoted to Blessed Josemaria, whom he liked to quote. At the conclusion he made reference to the number and noise of so many small children. He remarked that the “Church is the best place for children to be; so bring them to church!”

In Kinshasa, Congo, Blessed Josemaria’s liturgical feast drew more than a thousand faithful to the Notre Dame cathedral. Presiding was Monsignor Xavier Hervás, the Prelature’s regional vicar in Congo, assisted by, among others, the secretary-general of the national episcopal conference, l’abbé Urbain Kabunga.

Many Masses were celebrated throughout the U.S. Presiding at the one in Boston was Bernard Cardinal Law; in Manchester, N.H. Bishop John B. McCormick; in Syracuse, N.Y., Bishop James Moynihan. The main celebrant in Washington, D.C., was Theodore Cardinal McCarrick. Other celebrations honoring Blessed Josemaria were held in Miami, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Moline, Denver, Houston, Dallas and San Francisco, among others. In New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Archbishop Renato Martino, the Vatican’s representative to the United Nations, presided, accompanied by 14 priests. The archbishop encouraged those present to continue serving the Church by doing what is characteristic of Opus Dei: seeking and manifesting Christ in ordinary life, being witnesses to him in the midst of one’s daily work.

In the church of St. Joseph of the Mountain in San Salvador, the Eucharistic celebration for some 1500 faithful was presided by Archbishop Fernando Sáenz Lacalle. Concelebrating with him, among others, was the delegate vicar of Opus Dei in El Salvador and the vicar general for the archdiocese.

In Chile Masses were said throughout the country, including Valdivia, Osorno, Antofagasta, Valparaiso, Punta Arenas and the capital itself, Santiago.

In Medellin, Colombia, auxiliary Bishop Gonzalo Rivera Gomez celebrated the Mass on June 26th for some 800 faithful. Among the other Masses celebrated throughout the country, that celebrated in the small town of Rebolo, Magdalena, in the Santa Marta diocese, deserves special mention. Its faithful are very devoted to Blessed Josemaria for the many favors obtained through his intercession.

In Yaounde’s cathedral in Cameroon, the archbishop, Andre Wouking, presided at the solemn concelebration. He invited the faithful in his homily to accept our Lord’s call to holiness and apostolate, echoed by Blessed Josemaria’s constant preaching and example. “God helped him to see,” he remarked, “that for an ordinary Christian, there is no need to change one’s place or condition in society or the Church in order to work for Christ. The Work’s faithful, priests and laity, by belonging to the prelature, undergo no change in their situation in the Church, although they firmly pledge themselves to the mission of evangelization.”

Lima’s cathedral welcomed some three thousand persons to the Mass celebrated in honor of Blessed Josemaria on June 26th by the Cardinal Archbishop, Juan Luis Cipriani. Concelebrating were the Holy See’s Nuncio, Bishop Rino Passigato, Monsignor Jose Luis Lopez-Jurado, regional vicar of Opus Dei, and 15 other priests.

Also in Peru, following the Mass, faithful in Cañete fervently carried an image of Blessed Josemaria through the streets. In Arequipa the Archbishop, Luis Sanchez-Moreno, celebrated Mass in a hall next to the Yanahuara church, damaged in a recent earthquake.

In Buenos Aires’ cathedral the Cardinal Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio presided over a Mass in honor of Blessed Josemaria for some 2500 faithful. Joining him was the regional vicar of the Opus Dei prelature.

On June 26th in Beirut’s church of Notre Dame des Dons de Achrafieh, the Maronite Archbishop Boulos Matar presided at a Mass in honor of Blessed Josemaria. In his homily he referred to sanctifying work as a central message for the third millennium. Holiness is not reserved to priests or religious. All the faithful are obliged to seek holiness and give Christian witness in every corner of their lives. Attending the Mass, celebrated in the Maronite rite, were some 400 faithful.

Prague’s auxiliary Bishop Vaclav Maly was the main celebrant at the Eucharistic celebration in the church of Our Lady of Tyn. In Budapest the Holy See’s Nuncio, Bishop Karl Josef Rauber, was the main celebrant.

In Sydney auxiliary Bishop Peter Ingham celebrated Mass in honor of Blessed Josemaria on June 26th. In his homily he stressed that all the members of the Church have been entrusted with an apostolic mission.

Many other Eucharistic celebrations took place also in many cities in Spain, the Philippines, Germany, as well as in Macao, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Johannesburg, to mention some widely-scattered points. This year for the first time Moscow and Mozambique had Masses in honor of Blessed Josemaria.

[1] See homily on p. 56.

Romana, n. 32, January-June 2001, p. 75-78.

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