Masses for Bishop Echevarría Throughout the World
Below we highlight some of the Masses celebrated in various countries for the eternal rest of Bishop Javier Echevarría.
Madrid: “I always sensed his paternal concern”
Cardinal Carlos Osoro, Archbishop of Madrid, was the principal celebrant at the Mass for the eternal repose of the soul of Bishop Javier Echevarría, which took place on Friday, December 16 in the Cathedral of the Almudena. Other ecclesiastical authorities also took part including the Archbishop Emeritus of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco; the Archbishop Emeritus of Seville, Cardinal Carlos Amigo; the military ordinary Archbishop Juan del Rio; Archbishop Emeritus Antonio Algora of Ciudad Real; and the Nuncio of His Holiness in Spain, Archbishop Renzo Fratini.
“I was blessed to know him and count on his closeness and friendship,” Archbishop Osoro said in his homily. “I can say that I always sensed his paternal concern. The last time I saw him was in the Consistory in which Pope Francis made me a Cardinal and, afterwards, in a meal I invited him to in the Spanish College. His last words when saying good-bye to me were always the same: ‘You can count on my prayer. I’m praying for you and for your ministry.’”
Besides this memorial Mass in Madrid, the city where the Prelate was born, more than fifty Masses were celebrated in various cities in Spain, with about thirty bishops taking part.
Guatemala: “Let us imitate Bishop Echevarría in loving others”
The Archbishop of Guatemala City, Oscar Julio Vian, S.D.B., presided over a Eucharistic concelebration in the metropolitan cathedral, on Thursday December 15. Concelebrating were Auxiliary Bishop Raúl Antonio Martínez; Msgr. Francis Wurmser, Regional Vicar of Opus Dei in Guatemala, and other priests. In his homily, Msgr. Wurmser stressed Bishop Echevarría’s devotion to the Passion of our Lord, recalling some of his trips to Guatemala: “We saw him venerate the image of Christ of Esquipulas in this cathedral, on two occasions. He was also moved when contemplating the image of the Crucified in the Istmo University oratory, and said that it was a very realistic image that vividly reflected the sufferings of Jesus in his Passion. On seeing it he gave it a kiss while asking Jesus: ‘why did you want to suffer so much?’ And he told us that our Lord had made him understand the answer: ‘because Love is proven with sacrifice.’”
Before the final benediction, the Archbishop of Guatemala City directed some words to those present: “Let us do everything each day well, striving for holiness as he did, as he showed us with his life. Loving others, serving so many people who need us. So, my beloved brethren: take heart! Forward! Let us not grow tired! We have to become saints, imitating these great men and women who are showing us the path to eternal life.”
Monterrey, Mexico: “A simple and cordial man”
On December 13, Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera celebrated Holy Mass for the eternal repose of the Prelate of Opus Dei in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Oak. In his homily, he said that Bishop Javier Echevarría was a simple and cordial man who won the hearts of people with his rich personality and deep spirituality, leaving a mark on those who knew him. Archbishop Cabrera encouraged the faithful to make these features their own and to strengthen their desire to be saints in the midst of their daily activities.
Milan, Italy: “He never stopped living as a son”
Cardinal Angelo Scola presided over a Eucharistic celebration in the Cathedral of Milan for the eternal repose of Bishop Echevarría. “The fatherhood we saw in Don Javier’s life, both in his episcopal ministry and in his work as Prelate of Opus Dei, was fruitful because he never stopped considering himself and living as a son, from the time he was called to follow Jesus in 1948, at the age of only 16. A son of God, a son of the Church through his experience of being a son of St. Josemaría and of Blessed Alvaro,” the Cardinal said in his homily. “The priestly ministry of Bishop Javier Echevarría,” he added, “was a response to our Lord’s moving invitation: ‘Go and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Mt 10:7). His ministry was deeply rooted in the real world, in ordinary realities illumined by faith.”
Beirut, Lebanon: “Affection and friendship”
Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch and Metropolitan of the Maronite Rite, celebrated a Mass for the repose of the soul of Bishop Echevarría on Wednesday, December 21, in the church of Bkerké, seat of the Patriarchate. He was accompanied by several Lebanese bishops, as well as by Fr. Jesús González Gaitano, Regional Vicar of Opus Dei in that country.
The Patriarch expressed his gratitude for the affection and friendship that united him to the deceased Prelate. He recalled the three trips that the Prelate made to Lebanon since the beginning of stable apostolic work of Opus Dei there in 1996. He also expressed his gratitude for the service that the faithful of the Prelature are trying to offer to the Church and society in this country in the Middle East.
Pamplona, Spain: “A promoter of priestly vocations”
Some 3,500 people took part in the memorial Mass for Bishop Javier Echevarría celebrated at the University of Navarra, of which he was Chancellor. Archbishop Francisco Pérez of Pamplona presided at the ceremony. “Certainly our prayer, especially at this moment, unites us to the one who is now no longer among us, in our earthly homeland, since he has passed on to the eternal one,” he said. “You affectionately called our beloved don Javier Echevarría ‘father’ because, as St. Paul said, paternity seeks to generate souls for God and for heaven. So many of you are grateful for his heart of a good shepherd. He was also a fosterer and promoter of priestly vocations. I have already included him as an intercessor for this purpose,” said the Archbishop, who also recalled some of his personal encounters with the Prelate of Opus Dei: “I always had the impression of seeing in him a man who lived his priesthood intensely, who believed in Christ with all his heart, and in His Spouse the Church, which he loved with a generous heart.”
Nairobi, Kenya: “A duty of justice and charity”
On Friday, December 16, many people took part in the requiem Mass celebrated in Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi. Celebrants included Bishop Antony Muheria of Kitui, Bishop Dominic Kimengich of Lodwar, and Fr. Silvano Ochuodho, Regional Vicar of Opus Dei in Kenya.
In his homily, Fr. Silvano asked people to give thanks to God for the example of Bishop Echevarría’s life, and to pray for his eternal rest, fulfilling a joyful debt of justice and charity At the end of the Mass he passed on the condolences of Cardinal Njue of Nairobi, who expressed his closeness to all the faithful of Opus Dei. He also mentioned many other bishops who had sent messages of condolence.
Valencia, Spain: “Watch over all of us affectionately from heaven”
Several thousand people took part in the Mass for the repose of the soul of the Prelate of Opus Dei that Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, Archbishop of Valencia, celebrated in the Cathedral. “What my heart asks of me now for my brother don Javier,” said the Cardinal, “is not to pray for him, but to speak with him, to go to him for advice, to tell him so many things, to recall the hours we shared and ask him to watch over all of us affectionately from heaven.”
Archbishop Cañizares pointed to his “simplicity and warm and affectionate welcome” as features that stood out in Bishop Echevarría. He also stressed his love for the Church, “which was his great passion, through his dedication to the Work that God brought forth to serve the Church. God endowed him with great wisdom and ardor to guide Opus Dei in the service of the Church and mankind.” Concelebrating with the Cardinal were, among others, Archbishop emeritus Manuel Ureña of Saragossa, and Bishop emeritus Joan Piris, of Lérida.
Jerusalem: “As in Gethsemane”
In Jerusalem, the Mass for the eternal repose of Bishop Echevarría was held in the Basilica of Gethsemane, the Holy Place that most impressed the Prelate on the several visits he made to Israel. The Regional Vicar of Opus Dei, Rev. Joaquin Paniello, recalled that the Prelate’s personal prayer about Jesus in the Garden of Olives can be found in the book he wrote entitled Getsemaní. “Hours of human bitterness for Jesus,” Bishop Echevarría wrote in the prologue, “but hours of ineffable peace in the depths of his Spirit, because he was fulfilling the holy Will of his Father. They are hours, those of Jesus’ prayer in the garden, that reach right to the depths of a Christian’s heart.”
Romana, n. 63, July-December 2016, p. 242-245.