Pastoral Trips: Covadonga (Spain), Nigeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Marian Family Day, Campus Bio-medico, Granada
Covadonga (Spain), July 13
Invited by Archbishop Jesús Sanz Montes of Oviedo, Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Covadonga to take part in the Jubilee Year of the Coronation of Our Lady. During this day he prayed before Our Lady in the Holy Cave and concelebrated the Mass with the archbishop and Don Adolfo Mariño, abbot of Covadonga. In the Holy Cave, the heart of the sanctuary, the archbishop welcomed the Prelate and led the praying of the Angelus. After thanking him for his words, Monsignor Ocáriz asked for prayers for the Church and for the intentions of Pope Francis. La Santina, as the statue of Our Lady of Covadonga is popularly known, was dressed in a mantle donated by the families of the Cares Association of Oviedo.
About forty priests concelebrated the Eucharist, including the abbot, the vicar general of the diocese, Jorge Fernández Sangrador, the Regional Vicar of the Prelature, Ramon Herrando, several episcopal vicars, the canons of Covadonga, and priests from various parts of the diocese. The Harmonia Choir from Gijón took part in the ceremony, which concluded with the Hymn of Covadonga.
In his words of welcome, the archbishop expressed his gratitude for the apostolic work of Opus Dei in the diocese. He said this work is carried out “with true availability and sincere dedication in so many areas: education, teaching, apostolate, families, professional work. All this takes place in the midst of daily life, sanctifying work as an unfinished work of God that He wants to entrust to our small hands.”
During his homily, the Prelate of Opus Dei stressed his joy at kneeling before La Santina and encouraged those present to pray for the fruit of the upcoming synod on youth, faith and vocational discernment, so that many young people may know the joy of dedicating their lives to God and to other men and women.
Monsignor Ocáriz referred to La Santina as the “all-powerful intercessor,” “the woman of the yes,” the “cause of our joy” and “believer par excellence,” with “a faith that urges us to go out to meet others,” with a joy that “is experienced by generous people who are attentive to the needs of others.”
He also said that his pilgrimage follows “in the footsteps left by so many pilgrims who throughout the centuries have come here to seek consolation.” He mentioned the visits toLa Santina by St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, as well as those of St. Josemaría, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, and Bishop Javier Echevarría. He also made special reference to St. Pedro Poveda, who between 1905 and 1913 had stayed in Covadonga, where the Teresian Association came to birth.
Through September 8th, Covadonga is celebrating the centennial of the Coronation of Our Lady, whose statue is venerated in the Holy Cave, very close to the basilica inaugurated in 1901. Thousands of pilgrims come to pray before La Santina with the invocation “Mother and Queen,” the motto of this Jubilee.
Nigeria, July 20-26
During the days spent in the west African country, the Prelate of Opus Dei greeted numerous faithful and friends of the Prelature. Opus Dei's apostolic work in Nigeria began in 1965. The previous Prelate, Bishop Javier Echevarría, visited the country in 1999.
On the 20th, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz met with faithful of the Prelature and shared with them the joy of seeing them “in a land of great possibilities,” with the wealth of its more than 170 million people. Among other topics, he encouraged them to cultivate a deep friendship with others by loving very much their freedom. One expression of this love for freedom, he said, is the need to actively listen to others.
In the context of the preparation for the next Synod of Bishops, Msgr. Ocáriz recalled that all men and women have a vocation, even those who, for the moment, have not received the gift of faith. “God does not abandon anyone,” he insisted. “The question that must be asked is not so much whether I have a vocation, but what is the call that God is addressing to me.”
On Saturday, July 21, the Prelate spoke with some of the Prelature's faithful and friends at Lagoon School Lekki, and Lagos Business School. People came to see him from various cities including Lagos, Ibadan, Iloti, Nsukka, Enugu, Benin and Abuja.
When asked about the value of work in the home, Msgr. Ocáriz said that the beauty and order in the atmosphere at home helps people to develop a healthy emotional life. This work, he said, “leaves a lasting mark on people,” adding that “domestic work is the backbone supporting the family environment in Opus Dei.”
In view of the economic hardships the country is going through, a situation that is causing many people to emigrate, the Prelate advised working as well as possible to further the common good. He also pointed out that each country faces its own challenges and needs to seek the appropriate solutions.
Throughout the day, the Prelate received a number of families. Some had travelled from places as distant as Benin City.
On Sunday, July 22, Msgr. Ocáriz greeted those responsible for some educational initiatives, including Whitesands School and Ikota Educational Foundation. He then had a get-together with faithful of the Prelature at Lagos Business School. In view of the upcoming synod on vocation and discernment, one of the questions was how to help parents understand the vocation of their children. The Prelate used the apostle John as an example of how young people can have sufficient supernatural and human maturity to make a commitment. Maturity does not depend on age, but comes from being close to God.
In a meeting with young girls held at Lagoon School, the Prelate encouraged them to strive to come close to Christ and become apostles. “We do not follow only a beautiful teaching or an ideal, but a Person who is very close to us in the Holy Eucharist.” Throughout the various meetings, he asked all those present to pray frequently for the Pope and for the Church, especially at Mass.
On Monday, July 23, Msgr. Ocáriz visited the campus of the Pan-Atlantic University. There he blessed a new shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help and encouraged those present to have great devotion to our Lady, presenting their needs to her.
The Prelate toured the university facilities and met with those in charge of the academic center. “When people are formed humanly, professionally and spiritually; when they are taught to be concerned about the problems of society, to work and to reflect, this has repercussions on the various aspects of their lives and contributes to the common good,” he said.
Before leaving the university, he visited the Eleko University Center, a residence hall for men, and blessed the Aster Hall residence for women, which is still under construction. As a memento of his visit, he planted a tree at both sites.
His next destination was the Iroto Conference Center in Ogun State. People from neighboring villages welcomed him, dancing and singing the Ekabo, which means “the Yoruba welcome you.”
On the sixth day of his pastoral trip, Msgr Fernando Ocáriz went to Enugu. There he met with a group of diocesan priests and seminarians. He spoke with them about the beauty of their priestly vocation and their responsibility to carry out the mission that God has entrusted to them.
He then went to the Niger Foundation Hospital (NFH), a health center under the spiritual care of priests of Opus Dei. Later the Prelate had two meetings with faithful of Opus Dei at The Base conference center.
On July 25, Msgr. Ocáriz visited the Institute for Industrial Technology (IIT), a social work that provides technical skills for young people without many resources for obtaining an education. The IIT was established in 2002 on the occasion of the centennial of St. Josemaría’s birth.
Afterwards Msgr. Ocáriz went to pray at the Ikoyi cemetery, where some of the Prelature's faithful are buried.
July 26 was the last day of his pastoral visit to Nigeria. In the morning he was received by Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos. On the way, the Prelate stopped at the Catholic Cathedral of Lagos, where he prayed for a few minutes before the Blessed Sacrament.
In the afternoon, he met for the final time with some of the faithful of the Prelature. One of those present asked him what message he would like to leave them. Msgr. Ocáriz proposed three ideas to them: the need to make Jesus Christ the center of one's interior life, care for fraternal charity that is shown in unity with others, and the value of freedom. At the end, he imparted his blessing to all those present.
Argentina, August 2-8
On the morning of August 3, Msgr. Ocáriz arrived in Argentina after his flight from Madrid. He was received by Father Victor Urrestarazu, the regional vicar, along with some families and other friends. Some of the first members of the Work in Argentina were waiting for him in the La Chacra Conference Center.
At the La Chacra Center for Study and Work he met with university women from Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, and various cities in Argentina. Among other topics, the Prelate of Opus Dei invited everyone to pray for the difficult situations in Venezuela and Nicaragua, as Pope Francis has requested.
On August 4, he had several get-togethers in the Parque Norte auditorium with faithful and friends of Opus Dei. The topic of the family came up several times. After one question, Msgr. Ocáriz recommended that they start smiling at the door of their homes before entering. “Even if you are alone. Sometimes smiling requires effort, because we are worried or tired. You may arrive home exhausted and perhaps don’t have the strength to say much. But if you smile, that alone helps. It not only helps your wife and children, but also yourself.”
In the afternoon, the Prelate returned to Parque Norte to speak with faithful of the Work and cooperators. At the start, he encouraged people to pray a lot for the Pope, “and not only because he is Argentinean,” he said, “but because he is the Pope, the Vicar of Christ for the whole Church. And because he needs and asks us to, since he has great faith in the effectiveness of everyone’s prayers.”
Recalling a question put to St. Josemaria in 1974, one of those present asked him to leave a message for all Argentinians. Echoing the response of the founder of Opus Dei, his successor said: “That you love one another, that you understand one another, that you know how to forgive one another if necessary. This is not a question of sentimentality, but of a real concern for others. And how is this possible? Through Jesus Christ, by seeing Jesus in others.”
Sunday, August 5, was a day for meeting with young people. At mid-morning, in the Buen Ayre School, hundreds of young women from different provinces of Argentina and other countries were waiting for him. In response to a question about the temptation of activism in our life, the Prelate advised them “to look at Jesus in the Tabernacle. Look at him with a look of faith, knowing that He is there for you. Dedicate part of your prayer to saying nothing: listen by looking.”
In the afternoon, promoters of initiatives dedicated to the formation and accompaniment of families spoke with the Prelate, who encouraged them to continue with this important mission.
Later, he met with a large group of young men. One of those present asked how to put into practice Pope Francis’s invitation to find Jesus in friends, companions, and especially in the most needy. The Prelate invited him to always have an “interior attitude of being open to others’ needs.” He recalled that the Pope had advised him in an audience that “Opus Dei should carry out a work of evangelization especially in the ‘peripheries’ of the middle class.” And he continued: “there is a material ‘periphery,’ and also a spiritual one. We have to help people with material needs as much as possible, and also learn from them.”
On August 6, Msgr. Ocáriz visited Cardinal Poli in his Buenos Aires residence. Afterwards he went to Barracas to greet the educational communities of the Cruz del Sur and Buen Consejo schools and of the Association for Social, Educational, and Health Enterprises. These schools are carrying out an educational plan of social inclusion, in close contact with the students’ families. Buen Consejo recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. Pope Francis sent a letter of congratulations through the chaplain, Father Pedro Velasco Suárez. Years ago, the then Cardinal Bergoglio blessed an image of Mary Most Holy at the school, which the students now gave to the Prelate. Msgr. Ocáriz in turn gave them a relic of St. Josemaría to put in the chapel.
In the afternoon, he went to the nunciature for a meeting with the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Léon Kalenga Badikebele, who arrived in the country last June.
Finally, on the Feast of the Transfiguration he celebrated the Eucharist together with other priests, in the parish of St. Benedict in Buenos Aires’ Palermo district.
On August 7, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz went to Austral University. He visited the hospital, the graduate school building, and also the business school. There he met briefly with all the academic staff at the university.
At the end of his visit, the Prelate received the diploma of Honorary Rector of Austral University, a title that had been conferred on him by the University’s Board of Directors in March 2017.
In the evening, some 20 families from Buenos Aires had the opportunity to share a few moments with Msgr. Ocáriz at La Chacra.
On his last day in Argentina, August 8, the Prelate said good-bye to our Lady of Lujan, as St. Josemaría had done 44 years earlier. Before entering the basilica, he greeted a group of women carrying out the Marangatú Workshops, an initiative for the integral development of women and their families.
He also greeted the authorities of the Marzano Foundation, an institution that since 1974 has promoted rural development and social inclusion in various schools. He congratulated them on a new project launched in Luján: the “Los Aromos” training center.
In the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján, Msgr. Ocáriz prayed for a few minutes and said the Hail Holy Queen before the image of the Blessed Mother. Then he went to one of the side chapels where a statue of St. Josemaría was installed in 2009.
In the visitor’s book, the Prelate wrote: “With the joy of having prayed in this holy place to our Lady of Lujan, following in the footsteps of Saint Josemaría, I entrust my intentions to the intercession of Mary, praying for the whole of the Argentinean nation.”
Bolivia, August 8 to 13
The Prelate of Opus Dei set foot on Bolivian soil on August 8th in the afternoon. He arrived at the airport of El Alto, at an altitude of 13,000 feet, late in the day. There he greeted Father Marcelo Rojo, the vicar of Opus Dei in that country and some of the faithful of the Work. He then went to Río Abajo, a conference center where he will stay during his pastoral trip. The Prelate gave special thanks for the work of the women who take care of the center's domestic services, and encouraged all of them to strive to stay close to God, overcoming the difficulties.
In Rio Abajo he met with Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor of La Paz; the Auxiliary Bishop and Secretary of the Episcopal Conference, Aurelio Pesoa; and the Military Bishop Fernando Bascopé. At the end, a photograph was taken.
The Prelate also met with a group of students from La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz who told him some anecdotes and asked several questions about the relationship between science and faith, the determination to move the country forward, sincerity in taking advantage of time, and generosity in helping others. In the evening a number of families came to greet him.
On August 11, he had get-togethers with several groups of people. In the first, Msgr. Ocáriz commented on the Gospel of the day: “Faith moves mountains; nothing is impossible for those who have faith. Therefore we have to be people with great faith, with great trust in God. Trusting that God has chosen us as we are.” And he concluded: “This also means that we should always be very happy, despite the difficulties.”
In the afternoon he met with a group of young girls in La Casita. In the garden they danced a Bolivian “cueca” for him, dressed in the typical costumes of La Paz, Cochabamba, Potosi, Tarija and Chuquisaca.
The afternoon get-together in Rio Abajo began with a welcome in Quechua, recalling the 40 years since the beginning of Opus Dei’s apostolic work in Bolivia.
In his answers to various questions, the Prelate often stressed that “for everything, first of all prayer.” And he insisted: “we are not following a life project; we are following Someone, Jesus.” Finally, as on other occasions during this pastoral trip, he stressed the importance for the Church of the apostolic work with families.
On August 12, he visited some centers and several educational and social initiatives run by faithful of the Work, cooperators, and friends.
In the morning, waiting for him at the Hontanar Club were a group of girls who attend the apostolic activities in this center. He then went to Horizontes School, where he had a brief meeting with teachers and administrative personnel. Msgr. Ocáriz reminded them of the importance of the work of human and Christian formation that they carry out there.
The morning concluded with the concelebration of Sunday Mass in the sports center of the Cumbre School. Previously he had met with all the employees. Several families did the readings and brought up the offerings. In his homily on the Gospel of the day, he stressed that in the Eucharist we find the strength to sanctify ordinary life.
After lunch at the Huayna Club, he gave a brief talk, and some Peruvian boys carrying out a solidarity project also spoke. Afterwards, he went to CEFIM, a cooking and hospitality school that helps women to improve their work opportunities.
At CEFIM, the Prelate talked with the directors, teachers, students and other people who assist this project, and got to know the facilities in detail. As he toured the building, he met some of the students and several of them asked him to bless their hands, their “instruments” of work. He also met with some of the young women in Illawa, the residence attached to CEFIM.
From there he went to Thaki, where many families and a group of cooperators from Cochabamba had the opportunity to greet him. They took photos, asked several questions and requested prayers for particular intentions.
The day ended in Rio Abajo and a final meeting in La Casita. The Prelate expressed his gratitude for all the small signs of affection and care shown him during these days.
The last part of Msgr. Ocáriz's stay in Bolivia took place in Santa Cruz, with two get-togethers in the airport waiting room with the people of the Work and other friends (due to the cancellation of a flight he was unable to visit the centers in that city). The Prelate told them that “apostolate means loving people.” He answered some questions about the family and the education of children, social advancement and prayer. At the end, he was given a “camba” sombrero and he imparted his blessing to everyone.
Paraguay, August 13th to 16th
Msgr. Ocáriz landed in Asunción on August 13. A number of families were waiting for him in the reception room at the airport. Afterwards, the Prelate went to La Cumbrera conference center, where he would be staying in Paraguay. He greeted a group of women who received him with strong applause and the typical local greeting “Mbaéichapa Padre” — How are you, Father!
On August 14th, the Prelate went to visit the new site of the Buenafuente School. At noon, he received several families from Encarnación, Ciudad del Este and Asunción. After lunch, he went to the Colonial House to have a get-together with women of the Work from various cities including Asunción, Ciudad del Este and Encarnación. A small group also came from Posadas (Argentina) and Montevideo (Uruguay). Later, he returned to La Cumbrera to greet more families and then to meet with students.
The visit to Laguna Grande School had a special moment, when the students gave him tereré, a traditional local beverage, in the same guampa (a drinking cup made from a bull’s horn) that Pope Francis had used.
At 7:00 p.m., San Cristóbal Parish was overflowing with people because of the double joy of celebrating the Feast of the Assumption, patroness of the city, and participating in the Eucharistic concelebration presided over by Msgr. Ocáriz. Accompanying him were the priests Victor Urrestarazu, Andrej Rant, Jorge Gisbert, Luis Aguirre, Federico Mernes, and Juan Carlos Alegre.
One of the Mass intentions was to pray for Bishop Rogelio Livieres, on the third anniversary of his death, the first priest of the Work born in Paraguay and Bishop Emeritus of Ciudad del Este.
In the homily, he stressed the tie between the Feast of the Assumption and the history of the city. He said that “the Assumption brings the Blessed Mother closer to us; she is now so closely united to God that she is able to listen to us and be present with each and every one of us.” Finally he reminded them the importance of service: “In the Gospel that we have just heard, the first thing Mary does is to think of her cousin, and set out quickly, in a hurry, to stay for months helping her.”
Afterwards he had dinner with priests who are members of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.
On August 15, the Prelate celebrated the Mass of the Assumption of our Lady in the oratory of La Cumbrera. It was the 47th anniversary of his priestly ordination.
In the middle of the morning, he met with a group of women in the Mariscal Lopez Convention Center. In answering their questions, Msgr. Ocáriz dealt with various topics including love and fidelity in marriage, order and diligence. One of the first women who arrived in Paraguay to begin the Work’s apostolic activities presented him, on behalf of everyone, with a chalice made in the typical Paraguayan liturgical style.
Later Msgr. Ocáriz visited Las Almenas School to bless the new oratory. He greeted the director of the school, the authorities and the founding families. Then he unveiled a commemorative plaque that recalls that this oratory, dedicated to the Holy Family, was built through the efforts of the families and former students of the school.
On the 16th, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz began his last day in Paraguay by preaching to a group of faithful of the Prelature in the oratory of La Cumbrera. He spoke to them about fraternity, knowing how to forgive others, and service. He cited the teaching of St. Josemaría that “charity, more than in giving, consists in understanding,” and encouraged them to be attentive to the needs of others.
Then he went to the apostolic nunciature to visit Bishop Eliseo Ariotti, the nuncio in Paraguay. This cordial encounter was followed by a visit to Archbishop Edmundo Valenzuela of Asuncion, in the archbishop’s residence near the metropolitan cathedral. Among other topics, they spoke about the recent beatification of “Chiquitunga,” the first Paraguayan woman to be proclaimed blessed and whose devotion is wide-spread in the country.
Afterwards, the Prelate of Opus Dei visited Campoalto School, an educational facility inspired by the teachings of St. Josemaría.
After greeting a group of mothers there, he went to the center of the patio, where hundreds of students were waiting for him. Msgr. Ocáriz thanked them for their warm welcome and encouraged them to be good students and good friends, and to strive to draw ever closer to Jesus. At midday he received a number of families at the Villa Morra cultural center.
Marian Family Day, Torreciudad (Spain), September 1
The Prelate of Opus Dei presided over the 28th edition of the Marian Family Day at the Shrine of Torreciudad. 16,000 people from all over Spain took part.
Msgr. Ocáriz concelebrated the Eucharist, placing at the feet of our Lady the petitions of the families for the new school year. With words of Pope Francis, he reminded them that “many families, who are far from considering themselves perfect, live with love, fulfil their calling and keep going forward, even if they fall many times along the way.”
He also urged the families to be aware of the great good they do when they strive to be a school of communion, forgiveness and solidarity, “through small gestures of goodness,” as the Pope said at the World Meeting of Families recently held in Dublin. This applies to every home in the challenges arising from scarcity of resources, raising children, living in harmony. “God will give us the strength needed to turn these into opportunities to grow as a family, to find in these small or great challenges a way to be more united, because they are confronted by everyone with love.” Addressing the parents who filled the esplanade, Msgr. Ocáriz said that “there is no need to wait until everything is going perfectly in your own home,” and asked them “to be united in sharing your joyful and hope-filled vision of the family.”
200 volunteers helped out in the organization of the Marian Day. Among the local authorities present there was Laura Puyal, mayor of El Grado, who said she was happy to “share in this festival, which is a commitment to the family and to values that are a patrimony of all mankind that help us to overcome individualism. Moreover, it contributes to making our region and our villages better known.”
Campus Bio-Medico, Rome (Italy), October 3
On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the founding of Opus Dei, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz visited the Campus Bio-Medico University in Rome and met with the center's personnel. Doctors, nurses, administrative personnel and professors spoke with Msgr. Ocáriz about various topics, including the meaning of suffering and the conflict that can arise between family life and professional dedication.
The meeting with the staff was preceded by greetings to the Prelate extended by the president of the Campus Bio-Medico, Felice Barela, and the rector Rafael Calabrò. The president recalled Blessed Alvaro del Portillo's homily during the Campus' inaugural Mass, and stressed the desire to return “to the roots” of this initiative, which was born under the impetus of St. Josemaría's first successor. The rector in turn referred to the get-together with the Prelate as the reunion of “a family which wants to look to the future together with its father.” He also reminded people that the main goal of the formation given at the Campus Bio-Medico is to help develop “experts in humanity,” according to the well-known expression of St. John Paul II.
The Prelate began by speaking about Bishop Javier Echevarría, who spent the last days of his earthly life at the Campus Bio-Medico. He then made reference to some key elements of a university's mission as “a place where culture is at the service to the person and not a pretext for self-affirmation or the exercise of power,” and where “scientific progress and human progress can grow side by side without harmful conflicts.”
Speaking about professional work, the Prelate invited them to cultivate a strong optimism, basing it “on small, specific gains that you recognize in your daily work: the satisfaction that, as students, you notice when you finish a class that opens up new horizons for you, or that, as teachers, you notice when you see that the knowledge transmitted has been well understood.” Msgr. Ocáriz ended his opening words by expressing his desire that “at the Campus Bio-Medico University in Rome, science and service, competence and generosity, faith and geometry, may walk together,” and reminded them that, as St. Josemaría said, “it is love that makes small things great.”
The Prelate then responded to various questions. Several of these referred to working in a hospital. One person asked: How can we transmit bad news to the relatives of the patients? He said that one important thing is to “love the people” to whom we have to give this kind of news, trying to “make present our love and affection for them, trusting in God’s help. While also realizing the risk of “hurting others with our words,” even when we want the true good of the other person.
Other questions referred to the difficulty of reconciling work and dedication to one’s family. Msgr. Ocáriz's advice was twofold. On the one hand we need to cultivate an order in which “the family comes before work,” and on the other, “to try not to get nervous if at the end of the day we have not achieved all the tasks” that we had set fo rourselves.
Granada (Spain), 23-26 November
Msgr. Ocáriz landed on the 23rd at the Federico García Lorca airport. A few meters from the landing strip, some families were waiting for him and gave him a bouquet of roses.
The Prelate's first stop was the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows, the patroness of Granada. The pastor of the church, Fr. Blas Gordo, greeted Monsignor Ocáriz and joined him in praying before an image of Mary that the people of Granada have venerated since the arrival of the Catholic Monarchs in the 15th century. The Prelate thus was following in the footsteps of Saint Josemaria and of the former Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarría, who visited Granada in 1996 and 2002.
On Saturday November 24th, the sky cleared over Granada and the sun shone brightly over the snowy peaks of the nearby Sierra Nevada. With this landscape as a backdrop, the Prelate of Opus Dei made his way to the Monaita-Mulhacén School for a series of encounters with families and members of the Work from Granada and its neighboring cities of Málaga, Almería, Jaén and Melilla.
Before the morning get-togethers, Msgr. Ocáriz greeted the directors of Attendis, an educational enterprise that runs 21 schools in Andalusia and Extremadura. These schools foster close collaboration between teachers and parents, inspired by the message of St. Josemaría. Sandra Pérez, the general director, presented him with a plaque as a souvenir. He then greeted the people who take care of the cleaning and the cafeteria at the school, assuring them that their work has a very direct educational impact on the students, and is therefore "just as important, or even more so, than that of the teachers."
That same morning, Monsignor Ocáriz also had a get-together with over 1,400 people in the sports pavillion at the Monaita-Mulhacén school. At the beginning, the Prelate recalled the visits made to Granada by Bishop Javier Echevarría, and he encouraged those present to make themselves available to fulfill God's will, being open to all men and women, with a universal outlook. As an example, he spoke about the life of Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri, a woman of Opus Dei who was to be beatified next May 18. He also asked them to pray for the Pope.
The Prelate of Opus Dei also held an encounter with diocesan priests who participate in the activities carried out by the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross in the eastern area of Andalusia.
In the afternoon, another gathering was held in Monaita-Mulhacén with people from all over Andalusia. The Prelate reminded them that holiness is God’s plan for each one of us, which doesn’t mean a material perfection or trying to become people without defects, but rather the fullness of love, which leads us to give ourselves to God and to others.
He again referred to the example of Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri, recalling her willingness to “do whatever God wanted,” whether it was going to Mexico or living in Rome or taking responsibility for the domestic administration of Opus Dei centers. "We have to help strengthen freedom," Monsignor Ocáriz told those present, explaining that this is possible when we do everything "because we want to, putting love for God into it. When we feel free and act out of love is when we are truly happy."
In response to a question about how to stay close to God when using the social media and the internet, Bishop Ocariz recalled that St. Josemaría discovered the depth of God's presence in the middle of the city, on a streetcar, and he recommended taking special care of our encounters with God, especially in the Holy Mass. He said that these moments are like radiators that help us keep the warmth of God's presence all throughout the day.
The last day of Monsignor Ocáriz's pastoral visit to Granada, November 25th, coincided with the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King. The Prelate spoke with various groups of young people, reminding them that Christ reigns by respecting the freedom of each person.
At mid-morning, he went to the El Soto Professional Training Center, located in the town of Chauchina, in the farming district of Granada. The center has offered middle and higher education courses for over 40 years.
This school was born as an association of families, with the aim of improving the living and working conditions of the local people in this rural area. Msgr. Ocáriz expressed his gratitude for their work, which contributes to making St. Josemaría’s dream come true: putting Christ at the summit of all human activities. He reminded them that agriculture is an important activity for society, and that the joy of the Gospel should be found there too.
Romana, n. 67, July-December 2018, p. 243-256.