Pastoral trips

Upon arriving in Portugal on July 4, 2003, the Prelate of Opus Dei headed for Enxomil, a conference center near Oporto, where he was to spend some days.

He met with faithful of the Prelature, friends and cooperators on Saturday, July 26. The Prelate spoke to them about the family, and about sickness, work and apostolate. He encouraged those present to pray and mortify themselves for the Holy Father and to encourage others to pray the Rosary. Two days later he had a get-together with priests in Enxomil.

During his stay in Portugal, he went to Fatima twice to pray to our Lady.

On July 30, the Prelate traveled to London, where he remained until August 2. During his brief stay he had a number of get-togethers with faithful of the Prelature in the centers of the Commission and Regional Advisory. He also met with several groups in Netherhall House, a student residence in the northwestern district of London.

On the morning after his arrival, he dedicated the altar of the new oratory at the seat of the Regional Commission, beneath which he placed a relic ex ossibus of St. Josemaria. On August 1, in the afternoon, he visited Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster. That same evening he had a get-together with members of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.

Bishop Echevarría encouraged a group of women faithful of the Prelature who are members of the boards of directors of various apostolic works not to be daunted by the difficulties that might arise in their work. He recalled St. Josemaria’s tireless work to overcome all the obstacles in beginning Opus Dei, never losing his peace. He also spoke with several women who work in the field of fashions, stressing the impact they could have by promoting styles that respect the dignity of each person.

At the end of his stay in London, he visited Crosmore, an apartment in the “City of London” which some faithful of the Prelature and Cooperators have made available for apostolic activities of Opus Dei. There the prelate recalled St.Josemaria’s first visit to the “City” in 1958, when everything was still to be done and it seemed a folly to begin apostolic work in that milieu—apparently so distant from God. But with God’s grace and the impetus of the founder of Opus Dei, it had become a reality.

On August 2, the Prelate arrived in Ireland from London.

On Sunday, August 3, at eleven-thirty in the morning he celebrated Holy Mass in Lismullin, a conference center about twenty-five miles from Dublin. During the Mass, he dedicated the altar and blessed the oratory.

On the last day of his stay he had a number of get-togethers with faithful of the Prelature, during which he transmitted the blessing of the Pope and encouraged those present to carry out a far-reaching apostolate on the island through their professional work, just as the early Christians had done. He also urged them to help improve their children’s education through active participation in the schools where they were enrolled. He told the priests that they should be instruments of God to serve all souls and that they should make the Holy Mass the center of their day.

In Cleraun, a study center for university students, Bishop Echevarría had a get-together with boys who take part in apostolates of the Prelature. He told them they were the future of the Church, and invited them to read the Gospels diligently in order to get to know Christ and bring him to others.

Bishop Echevarría arrived in Argentina on September 2. On the following day he stopped at Chacabuco, a center of Opus Dei, to visit some gravely ill faithful of the Prelature.

On Saturday the thirteenth he went to Austral University. In one of the lecture halls of the School of Biomedical Sciences he had two meetings with faithful of the Prelature who work in the university. He encouraged them to have the enthusiasm of pioneers, and spoke to them of the urgency of bettering society. He also met with the boards of directors of the university’s various academic bodies.

In the afternoon, after visiting the diocesan bishop, he went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lujan, where he conferred the priesthood on two Associate faithful of the Prelature. It was the first priestly ordination he officiated at in the Americas.[1]

On Monday September 29, in the morning, he had get-togethers with several groups. In the afternoon he took part in the ceremony granting three honorary doctorates at Austral University.[2]

On the following morning, September 30, he had a get-together in the Austral University auditorium with several hundred people. He spoke about conversion, prayer and sacrifice in ordinary life. He also encouraged those present to contribute to the advancement of their country through work well done.

Right after the get-together, the prelate left for Ezeiza Airport to return to Rome.

During his stay in Argentina, on September 17 the Prelate of Opus Dei flew from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital. Upon arriving he went to the Monte VI high school, where there was to be a get-together with faithful of Opus Dei in the school’s gymnasium. He encouraged those present to work towards resolving their country’s problems, by praying with optimism and acting with responsibility.

In the afternoon he had other meetings with various groups of faithful, and late in the evening he returned to Buenos Aires.

Bishop Echevarría also interrupted his stay in Argentina to take as short trip to Chile on September 25. During this trip he showed his concern for a number of sick people, and visited Bishop Adolfo Rodriguez Vidal, the first priest of Opus Dei to come to Chile, who died shortly after the Prelate’s visit.

He also took advantage of his stay to have get-togethers with many faithful of the Prelature. In these gatherings he expressed his joy at being able to be with his daughters and sons and encouraged them to be very apostolic and to seek the intercession of St. Josemaria. The Prelate also insisted that the faithful of Opus Dei should contribute to spreading the value and meaning of the Christian virtues of holy purity, decency and modesty. Before leaving for the airport he visited the shrine on the campus of the University of the Andes, where he prayed to our Lady and personally thanked all of the workers who had taken part in its construction.

The Prelate arrived in Paris late in the evening on Thursday, December 18, accompanied by Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz and Msgr. Joaquin Alonso. From the airport he went to the Couvrelles Conference Center. On the morning of the 19th, Bishop Echevarría gave a meditation and celebrated Holy Mass in the Dosnon School of Hostelry, adjoining the conference center. Later he had a get-together with the directors, teachers and students of the school, whom he encouraged to live a consistent Christian life and to rediscover each day the incalculable value of their work in service to others. He also met for a few minutes with those who were taking part in a retreat at the conference center.

Before returning to Paris, the Prelate went to the Couvrelles cemetery to pray at the graves of some of the Prelature’s faithful.

That afternoon and the following day he had a number of get-togethers with faithful of the Prelature from Paris and other French cities. He urged them to draw closer to God, especially in the days preceding Christmas, and to continue to carry out a tireless personal apostolate with hope and optimism, each in his own environment.

During these days the Prelate also had meetings with the members of the Advisory and the Regional Commission. On the morning of Sunday, the 21st, after preaching and celebrating Mass at the seat of the Commission, Bishop Echevarría returned to Rome.

[1] Homily on page 32.

[2] See text of his address on page 50.

Romana, n. 37, July-December 2003, p. 24-26.

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