Fiftieth Anniversary of the 1972 Catechesis in the Iberian Peninsula

Several cities in Spain have recalled the stay of St. Josemaría there during the course of his catechetical trip throughout the Iberian Peninsula in October and November 1972.

In Madrid, the El Prado school produced a video, Para cambiar el mundo (To Change the World), with clips of St. Josemaría, especially the gathering he held at the school on October 18, 1972, and testimonies from parents, teachers, students and alumni about the Christian spirit that animates the school. In addition, the teaching and non-teaching staff participated in a gathering with José Carlos Martín de la Hoz, a member of the academies of ecclesiastical history of Seville and Valencia and director of the Office for the Causes of Saints of Opus Dei in Spain, who spoke about the impact and role of St. Josemaría in the Church. The students in secondary and final year levels attended a round table discussion in the sports center. There six persons from a variety of professions and personal backgrounds ̶ a film critic, an engineer, an influencer who is the mother of a large family, an athlete, a taxi driver and an economist who works in an investment bank ̶ spoke about how St. Josemaría influences their lives. Finally, parents and teachers took part in a Mass concelebrated by the priests Ignacio Barrera, Vicar of Opus Dei in Spain, and Gabriel de Castro, Vicar of the delegation of West Madrid, both former students at the school.

In the Guadalaviar school in Valencia, where St. Josemaría also held some catechetical gatherings in 1972, a commemorative video was presented during an event which closed with a talk by historian Francisca Colomer on this and the other trips by the founder of Opus Dei to the Levantine capital, from his first trip in 1936 to his last in 1975, and on the traces that his Valencian experiences left in his preaching. A solemn Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated in the church of St. John of the Hospital, another place St. Josemaría visited during his 1972 stay in the city. Most Rev. Javier Salinas, Auxiliary Bishop of Valencia, concelebrated with the current rector of the church, Jorge Nava, and the three previous rectors, Manuel de Sancristóval, José María Boza and Carlos Cremades.

In Seville, the Guadaira residence also celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of St. Josemaría’s stay on November 8, 1972. A gathering was organized for this purpose that brought together students from that time and those of the present day. The event was presided over by the Vicar of Opus Dei for Western Andalusia and Extremadura, Javier Yániz, and included the projection of a film of the get-together with St. Josemaría in the auditorium of the residence. Afterwards, the historian Joaquin Herrera outlined the history of Opus Dei in the Andalusian capital and recalled the various visits of St. Josemaría to the city, the last of which was in 1972.

In the auditorium of the Cajasol Foundation in Jerez de la Frontera, Alba Sillero, a doctor specializing in palliative care, and Enrique García Máiquez, a poet, columnist and high school teacher, held a public conversation on November 30 on the influence of the spirituality of work according to St. Josemaría. The event, intended to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of St. Josemaría’s stay at the Pozoalbero retreat center on the outskirts of the city, was moderated by journalist Eugenio Camacho. It was attended by almost two hundred people, and included the screening of the report La huella de un santo. Catechesis de san Josemaría en Andalucía, produced by Betafilms.

Two days later, the Bishop of Asidonia-Jerez, Most Rev. José Rico Pavés, presided at a Eucharistic celebration in the cathedral church of Jerez, at the end of which two pictures were blessed: one of our Lady of Guadalupe and the other of St. Josemaría. Both paintings are the work of the Mexican painter Jose Antonio Ochoa, who lives in Valencia, and have been placed in the chapel dedicated to St. John Paul II, at the entrance to the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. At the foot of the painting of St. Josemaría, the painter has placed a phrase of his that reflects his determination to know Jesus Christ and make him known: “May I see with your eyes, my Christ!”

In the monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes, in Barcelona, where St. Josemaría went in 1972 at the invitation of the abbess, Sister Assumpció Flaquer, to encourage the nuns to be faithful to their vocation and the spirit of their order, the Association of Cooperators of Catalonia organized the unveiling of a plaque commemorating that event. The plaque was unveiled on November 27, on the fiftieth anniversary to the day of St. Josemaría’s visit. The event, which was attended by about a hundred people, was presided over by the current abbess, Sister Montserrat Casas, and included a musical performance by the violinist Òscar Vilaprinyó and the soprano Montserrat Tarradellas. The Vicar of Opus Dei in Catalonia and Andorra, Ignacio Font, blessed the plaque.

Another event commemorating the stay of the founder of Opus Dei in Catalonia, also organized by the Association of Cooperators, was held at IESE (Institute of Higher Business Studies) a few days earlier. It began with a Mass in suffrage for deceased cooperators, followed by five first-hand testimonies of personal experiences with St. Josemaría in 1972. At the end, those present had the opportunity to share a modest aperitif.

Romana, n. 75, July-December 2022, p. 216-218.

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