United States July 7 to August 8
During his first visit as Prelate to the United States, Msgr. Ocáriz had the opportunity to greet many of the Prelature's faithful and their families and friends. He also visited several educational and welfare initiatives.
The Prelate arrived at New York's JFK airport on July 7. The next day he visited IESE's New York campus. There he took part in a colloquium with professors from various universities organized by the Witherspoon Institute. In a social environment often beset by sentimentality and arbitrariness, he reiterated the importance of a Christian understanding of the meaning of love and freedom.
On Tuesday afternoon, July 9, Msgr. Ocáriz went to St. Patrick's Cathedral to pray and meet with the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
On the 10th, the Prelate visited St. Agnes Parish, which is entrusted to priests of the Prelature. He then spent a few minutes praying at Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers were destroyed in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and where a memorial has been erected with the names of the victims.
Msgr. Ocáriz had several get-togethers with young people and with faithful of the Prelature who traveled to New York from other cities in the East including Boston, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Miami. Among other topics, he spoke about the communion of saints: “All the good we do, our prayer and our work, not only has a direct, immediate impact on what we have in our hands. It affects, gives impetus to, and helps the whole Work and in reality the whole Church, because the Work is a small part of the Church.” Quoting words of Pope Francis, he encouraged them to “transmit the joy of the Gospel, which is to transmit the knowledge of Christ.”
Upon his arrival at Chicago's O'Hare Airport on July 12, Msgr. Ocáriz greeted several families who had come to welcome him. On the 13th and 14th he met with people from Northridge Prep and The Willows Academy schools. Quoting St. Josemaría he reminded them that “the Church is Jesus Christ present among us, with his grace, his word, his sacraments, and He himself in the Eucharist. This is the Church, and this is what is permanent, this is what gives strength to everything else, even though we see a lot of weakness in ourselves and in many other people.” He spoke at length about married life and the education of one’s children and the importance of “reconquering one's own freedom,” realizing that “we are free only when we love.” He also addressed a few words to those suffering from illnesses, reminding them that their prayer can reach the whole world.
In a get-together with young people, he reminded them of the great importance of friendship: “when there is true friendship we can transmit what we carry inside, our thoughts and desires, and even our difficulties.”
On Monday, July 15, he visited Metro and Midtown Centers, two social initiatives run by faithful of the Prelature in Chicago that offer supplemental educational programs for girls and boys respectively. Since both were holding summer sessions, the Prelate was able to speak with students and teachers. On the same day, he visited St. Mary of the Angels parish, which is entrusted to priests of the Prelature. There he had an informal meeting with other diocesan priests involved in formational activities of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.
Before leaving for Milwaukee, on the morning of July 16 Msgr. Ocáriz visited Cardinal Blaise Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago.
The Prelate arrived in Houston on the afternoon of July 20. That day was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo XI moon landing. In a get-together with faithful of the Prelature and their friends, one of the those present who works at NASA presented him with a plaque commemorating the date.
During these days he resided at Westcott Study Center, a recently opened center of Opus Dei that offers educational activities for young people.
On July 21, during a get-together at the Intercontinental Hotel, the Prelate encouraged those present by pointing to the immense panorama of evangelization before them, how much has been done and how much remains to be done, and how God has wanted to count on them. “We have to be people of great hope, founded firmly on our faith,” he said.
He also spent time with a group of people from Venezuela who had to leave their country due to the difficult circumstances there. He encouraged them to continue praying and not to lose hope, because the whole Church is accompanying them.
On the morning of Monday the 22nd, the Prelate visited Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston. He then visited Holy Cross Chapel, located in the commercial center of the city, whose spiritual care is entrusted to priests of the Prelature.
That day he also met with students coming mainly from Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. In response to a student's question about how to work well without falling into perfectionism, the Prelate reiterated that “we need to work hard, putting in many hours, but if we understand that the meaning of our work is supernatural, we will know when to stop to dedicate time to our family, to rest and to care for others.” In the afternoon get-together he reminded people that prayer is the best way to help the apostolic work of Opus Dei.
On the morning of Tuesday the 23rd, Msgr. Ocáriz visited Western Academy, a school for boys, and blessed a magnolia tree on the site where the Magnolia school for girls will be located. At Western Academy he had an opportunity to speak with teachers and students. That same day he spent time with a group of families who organize activities to help strengthen families in Family Enrichment programs.
The family that received the Prelate at the Los Angeles airport on July 24 carried a large sign reproducing the legendary Hollywood sign on the hillside above the city, a reminder of its close tie with the movie industry.
On Thursday the 25th, Msgr. Ocáriz visited the cathedral and had lunch with Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles.
On Friday the 26th, the Prelate met with young people at the Caruso Catholic Center in the University of Southern California. In response to a question about the possible beginning of the Prelature's apostolic work in mainland China, Msgr. Ocáriz reminded them of the importance of prayer.
The topic of the cinema and the media was present during the days the Prelate spent in Los Angeles. During a get-together on Saturday the 27th, he encouraged those who work in this field to be good friends of their co-workers, and to try to produce films that are of high technical quality and communicate a positive message. He also recalled St. Josemaría's dream that one day there would be a shrine here dedicated to our Lady, Mother of Fair Love, and said he hoped the shrine would help spread to many people “the beauty of Fair Love, the beauty of marital fidelity and purity.”
That afternoon Msgr. Ocáriz met with women who take part in the Prelature's work of formation. In response to a mother from Silicon Valley who expressed her concern about the negative impact of material wealth on her children, he encouraged her to show by her example that it is possible to be happy without being attached to material possessions: “Detachment makes us free to love people. If we are attached to things, our strength to love others diminishes. The heart can expand enormously, but it can also shrink.”
As in the other cities that he visited in the United States, Msgr. Ocáriz received many families of Opus Dei faithful, cooperators, and friends to whom he conveyed a message of hope and optimism and urged them to serve God and the Church with generosity and love. In all the groups he met with, the Prelate insisted on the importance of supporting the Pope with their prayer, thus responding to the Holy Father’s continuous request for prayer.
After a few days of rest, on August 8 Msgr. Ocáriz left from San Francisco for Vancouver, Canada.
Romana, n. 69, July-December 2019, p. 214-217.