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Australia and New Zealand: August 8 to 26, 2023

On the morning of August 8, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz arrived at Sydney International Airport from Jakarta. He was welcomed by Father Íñigo Martínez-Echevarría, Opus Dei’s Regional Vicar for Australia and New Zealand, along with a group of young families.

The Prelate spent the next few days at Kenthurst Study Centre, a conference center where he was able to rest a bit and prepare for the various activities he would undertake in the following two weeks.

On Sunday, August 13, in Sydney, Msgr. Ocáriz had several get-togethers with a good number of university students and young professionals at Warrane College and Creston College, men’s and women’s residences, respectively, in the University of New South Wales. At Warrane College, the Prelate began by drawing on the Gospel of the day, in which Jesus calms a storm on the Lake of Tiberias, and exhorted the young people present: “When we experience difficulties, never be overcome by fear; God is always stronger.” In the afternoon, at Creston College, the get-together began with a performance of a popular dance, the Nut Bush. After the Prelate answered questions about fidelity to one’s vocation and ways of knowing God’s will, some of the young women spoke about their work in a mentoring program for refugees.

On Tuesday, August 15, Msgr. Ocáriz made a pilgrimage to a church dedicated to Our Lady, since it was the feast of the Assumption, as well as the 52nd anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He was accompanied by several faithful of the Prelature.

On August 16, he flew to Brisbane, where he met in the Tierney Auditorium with families whose members attend the Prelature’s formation activities in that city. He spoke about the relationship between love and freedom. After a brief visit to the two Opus Dei centers, Merindah for women and Aldridge for men, he boarded a plane for Melbourne.

The following day, Msgr. Ocáriz visited two schools in Melbourne, Harkaway Hills College and Lysterfield Lake College.

On Friday, August 18, he met with about 30 people from Perth who attend apostolic activities of the Prelature there and who had flown to Melbourne to join him for a lively get-together. In the afternoon he met with students and young professionals at Heathgrove, a women’s center.

On Saturday, the 19th, a general get-together was held at a central Melbourne venue attended by about five hundred people. Late in the afternoon, Msgr. Ocáriz traveled back to Sydney.

On Sunday, August 20, he attended the largest gathering of this trip. Nearly two thousand people came to Rosehill Gardens in Sydney to be with him for a large family gathering. The setting was decorated and furnished to create a homey atmosphere that reflected the nature of the event.

After a brief and warm introduction by the two presenters, Msgr. Ocáriz briefly commented on the Gospel of the day about the Canaanite woman seeking healing for her daughter. He said it was a lesson about perseverance in prayer. Even when we do not see the results we desire, nothing is lost, although it may seem so to our limited human vision. There were questions and answers about growing up in a strong and loving family, about staying young in retirement by growing in love for Christ, and a moving account of life in a family with a child with Down syndrome. The Prelate stressed that the parents’ happiness is what best expresses their faith and openness to God’s plans. He also said that suffering can strengthen a family’s unity and offers a direct path to Jesus.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, August 22 and 23, he visited four parent-run schools inspired by St. Josemaría’s message in western Sydney, meeting with parents, teachers and students. On Wednesday afternoon he also met with some forty diocesan priests, some of them members of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, the section of Opus Dei for diocesan priests. There were questions about priestly life and work. The Prelate responded by encouraging them to draw from the celebration of the Mass the love of God that fosters pastoral charity.

On August 24, he boarded a plane for Auckland, New Zealand.

Friday the 25th was a busy day. Msgr. Ocáriz traveled by car to Hamilton, where he visited the Opus Dei centers there, Rimbrook and Greywood, and met with faithful of the Prelature and some families. He then returned to Auckland to meet with university students and young professionals at Glenrowan and Fernhall, men’s and women’s residences respectively.

On Saturday, August 26, the gathering in Auckland of the Work’s faithful, families, cooperators and friends began with a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony. Msgr. Ocáriz expressed his gratitude for finding such a warm welcome there, so far from Rome: “We are always closely united precisely because we are united in God.” To a question about how the members of the family of Opus Dei in New Zealand could help each other and contribute to the growth of the Work, he responded by recommending practical ways of living fraternity, which is mutual charity: praying for one another, understanding the value of each person, their virtues and talents, rejoicing in the good of others and making the difficulties and sorrows of others one’s own. This authentic love is the way to serve the Work and the Church, he said. He concluded by asking everyone to pray for Pope Francis and for his intentions.

That same afternoon, Msgr. Ocáriz flew to Rome from Auckland International Airport.

Romana, n. 77, July-December 2023, p. 179-181.

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