During the first half of 2014, Bishop Echevarría visited the Asian continent, specifically Sri Lanka, India, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea.
Sri Lanka, from January 15 to 18
The Prelate’s trip to Sri Lanka was his first visit to that country since the beginning of the stable apostolic work of Opus Dei there in 2011. On Wednesday, the 15th, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, welcomed Bishop Echevarría at the airport in the capital. During successive days the Prelate had the opportunity to meet with the faithful of the Prelature and other people interested in knowing better the message of Opus Dei, with whom he had various gatherings. Besides encouraging them to have a deep prayer life and devout recourse to the sacrament of Penance, the Prelate urged them to pray more for the Pope, priests, and the authorities and citizens of their country.
On Thursday, the 16th, Bishop Echevarría accepted the invitation of Cardinal Ranjith to visit the seat of the Archdiocese and the Benedict XVI Theological Institute, still under construction, in Bolawalana, Negombo. Accompanied by the Cardinal, he also made a brief visit to the cathedral of Colombo. In addition, that same day he had a get-together with diocesan priests.
Before finishing his pastoral visit, the Prelate made a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka, in Tewate, Ragama. There, accompanied by some faithful of the Prelature, he placed in the hands of our Lady his gratitude for the trip and his prayers for Sri Lanka.
India, from January 18 to 21
Bishop Echevarría arrived in New Delhi on Saturday, January 18. Opus Dei began its apostolic work in this country in 1993 under the impetus of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo.
On Sunday, the 19th, the Prelate visited and blessed the construction work of a future conference center, on the outskirts of New Delhi. Later he was welcomed to India by a number of families and university students.
During his pastoral trip, Bishop Echevarría visited the cathedral of New Delhi to pray there for India and for the needs of the Church. He also had the opportunity to pray before the statue of St. Josemaría venerated in one of the cathedral chapels. He greeted the cathedral’s pastor, Fr. Maria Susai, and the Vicar General of the diocese, Fr. Susai Sebastian.
He also met with the apostolic nuncio in India, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio. The pastoral trip ended on Tuesday, March 21st.
May 14-22 in Singapore,
Taiwan, and Korea
From May 14 to 22, Bishop Echevarría undertook a pastoral visit to Singapore, Taiwan, and Korea. The apostolic work in these countries began in a stable manner in 1982, 1985 and 2009, respectively. In Singapore, the first stop on his trip, the Prelate met with more than a thousand people—faithful of the prelature and friends—in the Raffles City Convention Center. He reminded those present that “the Christian life is a mixture of deep joy and moments of sorrow, which God helps us to overcome with his grace.” Along the same lines, he stressed that the sanctification of daily happenings lies at the heart of Opus Dei’s message, and that each day offers the adventure of following God’s will in everything.
Bishop Echevarría, who had previously visited the country in 2008, had the opportunity to greet Archbishop William Goh of Singapore, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the apostolic nuncio, and Bishop Paul Tan of Malaka-Johor.
The Prelate was in Taiwan from May 18 to 20. Of the island’s 23 million inhabitants, 300,000 profess the Catholic faith, according to official statistics. During his stay Bishop Echevarría visited Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan. He also had the opportunity to pray the Rosary in the church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, where since 2007 a painting of St. Josemaría is venerated.
Over 200 people, some of them non-Catholics, attended the get-together with the Prelate in the Taiwanese capital. One person asked a question about how to serve the Church better in Taiwan. “Ask God,” the Prelate said, “to increase our faith, so that we never become discouraged and are filled with confidence, struggling out of love to serve those we meet in our daily life, without distinctions. Although they may not be Catholics, our friends, colleagues at work and neighbors are all children, creatures of the same Creator and Father, who loved us first and loves us madly.”
His pastoral trip ended in Korea, on the 21st and 22nd of May. The apostolic work of Opus Dei began in this country four years ago. Bishop Echevarría had the opportunity to visit the Bishop of Daejon, Most Rev. Lazzaro Heung-sik You, and the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla. Afterwards, he went to the cathedral where he prayed for the country and its people.
In the capital city, Seoul, the Prelate met with faithful of Opus Dei and their friends. In answer to one person’s question, Bishop Echevarría stressed the need to lay aside the words “impossible” and “disappointed” because, although objective difficulties are real, “with faith everything is possible.” At the end of the gathering he received various families and a group of priests. They expressed to him their joy at the upcoming visit of Pope Francis, who will visit this country from August 14 to 18.