Bishop Echevarría summed up, in his letter to the faithful of Opus Dei dated September 1, the pastoral trips he carried out during the months of July and August: “At the beginning of July, before arriving in Pamplona, I stopped in Barcelona and Gerona. There we had a large get-together and I blessed an image of St. Josemaría in a place where quite a lot of apostolic work with young people is carried out. Afterwards, as I’ve already told you, I went to Portugal to pray before our Lady of Fatima and to meet with a large group of your sisters and brothers. And on the 23rd I was in Lourdes, honoring our Lady.”
On August 16-18, he continued, “I also made a quick trip to the Netherlands. Besides the joy of seeing the people of the Prelature there, I relived part of the ‘prehistory’ of the Work in that country, when I was accompanying our Father and our beloved Don Alvaro. How much they prayed while traveling along its highways and through its cities, thinking of the men and women who would come to Opus Dei, with a hope we now see made a reality! Let us be sure to live the Communion of Saints each day.”
The letter, dated in Torreciudad, continues: “Tomorrow, on September 2nd, I will ordain to the priesthood three of your Associate brothers, who received the diaconate six months ago. Also for this reason my thoughts have turned to St. Josemaría, who dreamt of this step: the moment when some priests would come from among these sons of his. Pray for them and for the fruit of the many activities now being carried out throughout the world; also for the Regions in the southern hemisphere who, by their ordinary lives, are sustaining all of us.”
On September 4th he returned to Rome, where he remained until the 28th of that month, when he traveled over the weekend to Zürich, Switzerland. He went directly from the airport to visit our Lady at her Shrine of Einsiedeln, where St. Josemaría and the venerable Álvaro del Portillo had prayed many times. In the course of his brief stay, he was able to speak with people from all the Swiss cities where the Prelature is carrying out its apostolic work. He showed special interest in those who were sick and extended to everyone words filled with confidence and optimism.
On Saturday the 29th, referring to the feast of the Holy Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, he encouraged those present to go to their intercession and to make resolutions to be faithful and apostolic. He also expressed his joy at seeing that the spirit transmitted by St. Josemaría was being lived faithfully everywhere. On various occasions he invited them to pray insistently for Pope Benedict XVI.
From the 16th to the 18th of November he was in Milan, where he met with many faithful of Opus Dei and friends who take part in formative activities offered by the Prelature in that city and nearby. On Saturday the 17th, he had a meeting with priests, and another in the Viscontea Student Residence. Afterwards he visited Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Archbishop of Milan, and made a visit to the Cathedral. There he prayed before the Blessed Sacrament and before an image of our Lady, and then went to the altar where the remains of Blessed Ildefonso Schuster are interred. In the afternoon the largest gathering of the trip took place in the Fieramilanocity Congress Center with some 4,000 people. Finally, on Sunday, Bishop Echevarría had an opportunity to meet with a large group of university students at the Torrescalla University Residence.
On December 1, Bishop Echevarría traveled to the Principality of Andorra, invited by the Archbishop of Urgell and Co-prince of Andorra, Most Reverend Joan-Enric Vives. The reason for the trip was to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of St. Josemaría at Sant Julià de Lòria, where he was able to visit the first non-desecrated church he saw during the Spanish Civil War. Below in the corresponding sections we have published the homily and address given by the Prelate during this conference and details of the celebration in which about one thousand people took part.
Finally towards the end of the year, on December 15-16, Bishop Echevarría visited Verona, Italy. In various informal meetings, he encouraged everyone to follow the example and teachings of St. Josemaría in order to seek our Lord in their work and in their life of prayer, and to launch out into a daring apostolate, filled with faith. A little more than fifty years had gone by since Opus Dei began its apostolic activities in Verona in 1961. The first diocesan priest in Italy to ask for admission to the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, Don Ferdinando Rancan, a Veronese, greeted the Prelate as soon as he arrived.
On Saturday he had a gathering with more than six hundred people and answered questions on marriage, maintaining one’s supernatural outlook during the financial crisis, education of one’s children, freedom, friendship, etc. As he had in Milan, on Sunday he met with about a hundred students, this time in the Clivia Residence, where a lively dialogue took place. Afterwards he visited the Cathedral, prayed before the “Madonna del Popolo,” and then had a get together with another group of young people at the Pontenavi Residence.