During the first half of the year, Bishop Echevarría had the opportunity to visit the African continent again, traveling to Cameroon, and also to make trips to Spain and Slovakia.
From April 9 to 15 the Prelate visited Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, as he had in 1998. Included in this issue is an interview he gave to a Cameroon newspaper. On this occasion he also traveled to Douala, the country’s second most important city. In both places he took the opportunity to visit the ecclesiastical authorities, in addition to meeting with the people of the Prelature in that country and a good number of cooperators and friends who take part in Opus Dei’s formational activities.
On Sunday, April 29, the Prelate celebrated Holy Mass on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the University of Navarra Hospital in Pamplona. The Eucharistic ceremony took place in the university’s sports center. Concelebrating were the vicar general of the Prelature, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz; the Vicar of Opus Dei in Spain and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Navarra, Msgr. Ramon Herrando; the Vicar of Opus Dei for the Delegation of Pamplona, Rev. Rafael Salvador; and the Director of the Chaplaincy of the University Hospital, Rev. Narciso Sánchez.
Among those participating in the celebration were the Government delegate, Carmen Alba; the Mayor of Pamplona, Enrique Maya; and the Councilor of Education in the Government of Navarra, José Iribas. Representing the University of Navarra were the Rector, Ángel J. Gómez-Montoro; the Permanent Commission, made up of all of the Vice-Rectors; as well as the members of the Counsel of Directors of the University Hospital, headed by the Director General, José Andrés Gómez Cantero; the medical director, Doctor Nicolás García; the subdirector, Doctor Esperanza Lozano; the subdirector, Doctor Jorge Quiroga; the director of nursing, Carmen Rumeu; and the director of operations, Iñigo Goenaga.
The Chancellor had special words for all the professionals working in this institution, and emphasized the ultimate aim of their work: alleviating the suffering of the sick and raising up their work as an offering to God, as the homily included in this issue stresses.
The evening before the Mass, a get-together with the Chancellor was held in the same place, with the attendance of a large number of those who work in the hospital.
From May 18 to 20, Bishop Echevarría made a pastoral visit to Bratislava, Slovakia. During those days he had numerous meetings with families and friends who take part in apostolic initiatives organized by people of Opus Dei. He urged everyone to carry out an apostolate filled with optimism, to pray for and follow the indications of Benedict XVI, and to correspond joyfully and generously to God in their daily life.
During a family gathering, the Prelate encouraged everyone to seek sanctity in the ordinary activities of each day. He reminded them that they should be grateful for all those who offered their lives for the faith during the Communist rule and religious persecution.
Opus Dei’s stable apostolic work in Slovakia began in June 1996. The Prelate stressed several times that the Founder of Opus Dei, long before the fall of Communism, “visited” Slovakia in his mind and heart, praying for the persecuted Christians of this nation. The apostolic fruit now being gathered, he said, is also a result of that prayer.
On Saturday the 19th, the Prelate went to visit Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky of Bratislava. He also was able to have a get-together with thirty diocesan priests and seminarians from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He urged them to strengthen their own spiritual life and that of the faithful.
On Sunday, Bishop Echevarría also had a chance to see some property on the outskirts of Bratislava where a center will be built for retreats and other formational activities.