Pastoral Trip to Galicia, Castile-León and Asturias: July 1 to 7, 2022

From July 1 to 7, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz visited Galicia, Castile-Leon and Asturias. In all three regions he participated in gatherings with different groups of people – families, the sick, members of Opus Dei and friends – and greeted a good number of bishops of the different dioceses through which he traveled.

On the first day, July 1, in Santiago de Compostela, where he resided during his stay in Galicia, he received the directors and parents of various educational initiatives, such as the As Neves, Fonteboa and Piñeiral agricultural family schools and other secondary schools, whom he thanked warmly for the work they carry out.

In the course of a get together he had with a good-sized group of people at the residential college La Estila, after making some considerations based on the liturgy of the day, he invited those attending to ask him or tell him whatever they wished. A young Venezuelan, a medical student at the University of Santiago, and a shepherd who breeds sheep and goats, who recently received an award for his contribution to the improvement of the Galician breed of cattle, told their personal stories candidly. Before ending the get together, Msgr. Ocáriz encouraged everyone to pray a lot for the Pope and to follow his teachings, because the task he has, he said, is very hard and there is no lack of misunderstandings.

A second get together with faithful of Opus Dei and other people from the apostolic milieu of the Prelature took place, again in La Estila, on Saturday, July 2, at noon. There was a third get together on Sunday morning, July 3, attended by more than 700 people. A writer from Ferrol, mother of twelve children, gave him her latest book and asked for a blessing for her silver wedding anniversary. A Ugandan woman, a convert to Catholicism, also spoke.

On the afternoon of July 2, the Prelate concelebrated Holy Mass in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela with the Archbishop of Santiago and eighty priests. The church was looking its best after the restoration. The Vigo choir Montecastelo-Acacias enlivened the ceremony with their singing. Before the Prelate’s homily, a woman read in Galician the petition to the Apostle that it is traditional to make in the holy years. In addition to expressing gratitude for St. Josemaría’s pilgrimages to this holy place and the spread throughout Galicia, thanks to the seed he planted, of the call to holiness in ordinary life, she asked for the grace for all the faithful of the Work to persevere in the mission of continuing to spread it in all areas of society, accompanied by the Archbishop and the Prelate of Opus Dei. After the final blessing, Archbishop Julián Barrio spoke a few words of thanks to those present and had a special remembrance for José Ocáriz, brother of the Prelate of Opus Dei, who had died a few hours earlier in Barcelona: “In a special way I want to thank Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, Prelate of the Work, for wanting to be with us this afternoon, accompanied by so many faithful of the Prelature. For my part, too, it has been a great satisfaction to be able to meet with you and to receive your affection. I will pray for you and for your intentions and concerns. In a special way, today I commend the faithful of the Work whom the Lord has called to his presence. In a particular way we want to commend Don José, brother of Msgr. Ocáriz, whom the Lord has called to his presence this very night. May the Apostle St. James, with the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary and St. Josemaría, accompany them to the definitive Portico of Glory.

On July 4 and 5, the Prelate was in Valladolid. On both days he had gatherings with large groups of people: one on the 4th and two on the 5th. On the 4th, the contribution of a father of eleven children brought about surprise and laughter. His children became famous two years ago, for “the sole merit” (as he said, himself, with unabashed modesty) of being infected with Covid on March 14, 2020, just when the pandemic was declared in Spain. Other life testimonies spoke of harsher stories: a woman, mother of three children, who was abandoned by her husband, and a psychiatrist who works with adolescents who have mental problems.

On the evening of the 4th, some students from Valladolid, Palencia, Burgos and Salamanca who attend formation courses in centers of the Prelature entertained him with a pleasant festival.

On July 6 and 7, the Prelate was in Oviedo, capital of the Principality of Asturias.

On the 6th, he concelebrated Holy Mass in the cathedral with the Archbishop of the diocese, Most Rev. Jesús Sanz Montes, and fifty priests. Numerous faithful of the Prelature, as well as family members and friends, also participated. Previously the Prelate had had a private meeting of almost half an hour with Archbishop Sanz.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the archbishop expressed his gratitude for the visit: “The fact that you have agreed to concelebrate with me and then to speak to us as our father fills us with joy and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Bishop Sanz emphasized “the ecclesial gift of St. Josemaría’s charismatic legacy” and the capillary presence of Opus Dei in his archdiocese through the efforts of the men and women of the Prelature in various professional environments and in service to society. He also expressed his condolences for the recent death of José Ocáriz, brother of Don Fernando, for whom the Mass was offered.

In his homily, the Prelate, basing his words on the Gospel of the Mass (a votive Mass of St. Josemaría), invited everyone to consider that Jesus also today “is on the shore of the immense sea of human history” and that people, consciously or unconsciously, are looking for him. He encouraged those present to “bear witness to the faith with courage and without complexes” and to put out into the deep with hope, without falling into lazy pessimism: “All of you, and in a special way young people, have to take up and carry out this mission of transforming society, strengthening all the positive aspects of our modern world.”

The prayers included prayers for those affected by the war in Ukraine and the “discarded” of society, as well as for Most Reverend Gabino Díaz Merchán, Archbishop of Oviedo for almost 33 years (1969-2002) and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference between 1981 and 1987, who recently passed away.

At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, which was attended by some 1,500 people, the archbishop warmly urged the Prelate of Opus Dei to return soon.

On the morning of Thursday, July 7, Msgr. Ocáriz preached a meditation and celebrated Mass for some members of the Torla Association of Oviedo, dedicated to the promotion of human and Christian formation activities for young people.

Romana, n. 75, July-December 2022, p. 187-189.

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