From July 28 to August 12, the Prelate of Opus Dei made a pastoral trip to three South American countries, Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad-Tobago. During his stay he met with faithful of the Prelature and with many other people who benefit from the means of formation Opus Dei provides in these countries.
He arrived in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, on July 28, and on the following day lunched with the Apostolic Nuncio, Bishop Beniamino Stella.
On July 30 he was in Cali where he visited Archbishop Isaias Duarte and met with faithful of the Prelature. The largest gathering in Cali took place in the Municipal Theater, where he had a get-together with almost 1500 people. Later in the day, before returning to Bogota, he was honored by the provincial governor.
On Tuesday, July 31, he went to Medellín for two days, where he met with Archbishop Alberto Giraldo, President of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference. On Wednesday, August 1, he had a get-together with more than 5,000 people in the Exposition Palace. He spoke about the reality of the Communion of Saints, pointing out that many people throughout the world were praying for a solution to the conflict in Colombia. In the afternoon he went to Los Alcazares High School, where he received an affectionate welcome from students, teachers and school employees. At the end of his visit he was presented with a copy of a prayer book published on the occasion of the centennial of Blessed Josemaria’s birth
On August 2, back in Bogota, he dedicated the altar of the oratory in the Hontanar Cultural Center. At midday he went to the Cathedral to pray to our Lady of Topo, before meeting with Cardinal Pedro Rubiano. In the afternoon he had a meeting with some faithful and cooperators of the Prelature. Then he went to Los Cerros High School, where he had a lively get-together with young people.
On Friday, the third, he visited the University of La Sabana and had a meeting with the faculty. He reminded them that science and faith not only move in a parallel direction, but are totally intertwined because God does not want anything in our life to be separated from our faith. Later he met with students and blessed an image of Our Lady, Mother of Fairest Love, and had a get-together with university employees. He also visited the University Hospital of Puente del Comun, which specializes in rehabilitating the physically handicapped. In the afternoon he visited with Archbishop Ruben Salazar of Barranquilla. On Saturday, the fourth, he was once more at the Sabana University where he met with Bishop Jorge Enrique Jimenez of Zipaquira, President of CELAM.
That same day, a get-together was held at the university with more than 14,000 people. “Jesus has said that we are all called to sanctity,” he reminded those attending, “because he loves us with his whole being and because he came to earth so that we all might share in his life. It makes me very happy to tell you that Opus Dei’s purpose is to spread throughout the whole world the ideal that each person should be a saint right where he or she is: a housewife, with her family; a manual worker, at his job; a politician or economist..., all are called to holiness.”
On August 5, the Prelate of Opus Dei flew to Caracas, and from there, he went to Maracaibo the next day. At the airport of Venezuela’s second largest city he was received by the mayor, who gave him the keys to the city and an image of our Lady as a token of welcome. Then they went to the Palace of Events, where he had a get-together with a large number of people.
On Tuesday, August 7, Bishop Echevarría met with a group of priests and seminarians from various dioceses throughout Venezuela. Among the topics he spoke about were the importance of being recollected before celebrating Holy Mass, the love they should have for their diocese, and obedience to their bishop.
On August 8, the Prelate of Opus Dei went to Trinidad. During his brief stay on this Caribbean island he visited the auxiliary bishop and met with a large group of people in Port of Spain.
Bishop Echevarría spent the next three days in Caracas. On Tuesday morning he presided over an academic ceremony in the newly established Monteavila University, of which he is Honorary President. In the afternoon, after lunch at the nunciature, he had a get-together with a group of young people in a university residence. On Friday, August 10, he received a large group of faithful of the Prelature in the morning, and then celebrated Mass at the Church of the Holy Family of Nazareth, which is entrusted to priests of the Prelature. On the following day a get-together took place with a large number of people at the Los Arcos High School. On Sunday, the 12th, Bishop Echevarría returned to Europe.
On August 30, the Prelate of Opus Dei traveled to the Shrine of Torreciudad, to confer priestly ordination on three faithful of the Prelature, as was mentioned above. Bishop Echevarría remained at the Shrine for four days, where he devoted many hours to talks, classes and other meetings with the future priests.
During his stay at Torreciudad, he visited the bishop of Barbastro-Monzon. In Barbastro, on Friday, August 31, he visited the parish church dedicated to Blessed Josemaria, then still under construction.
In Torreciudad he had meetings with young people from various countries who were taking part in restoration and environmental protection activities promoted by centers of Opus Dei. He also met with families of some faithful of the Prelature and with the people who work full time at the Shrine.
On Monday, September 3, he returned to Rome.
At the end of September, Bishop Javier Echevarría was in Kazakhstan on the occasion of Pope John Paul II’s pastoral trip to that country. The Prelate of Opus Dei arrived in Almaty on Friday, September 21, and the following day went to Astana, where a Eucharistic concelebration with John Paul II took place on Sunday, the 23rd.
On Monday, the 24th, Bishop Echevarría returned to Almaty. During the following days he met on various occasions with the faithful of the Prelature who live in that city and with the diocesan priests of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross who live in Shimkent. There were also get-togethers with people who take part in the means of formation offered by the Prelature. In these gatherings he stressed that when God permits difficulties in the apostolate, he also gives his grace to produce fruit where it seemed impossible.
During his stay in the city, Bishop Echevarría visited the construction site of the Irtysh Language Academy, a women’s educational center promoted by faithful of the Prelature that will be inaugurated soon.
Bishop Echevarría once again traveled to Torreciudad on Friday, December 7. On the following day he met in the morning with more than 400 young men who were participating that week in some cultural and sporting activities. The Prelate transmitted to them the Holy Father’s blessing and his request for prayer and penance for peace in the world.
On the afternoon of the 8th, Bishop Echevarría, with the Bishop of Barbastro-Monzon, Juan Jose Omella, and the Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese, Bishop Ambrosio Echebarria, took part in the ceremony of dedication of the new parish of Blessed Josemaria Escriva in Barbastro. Forty priests concelebrated at the solemn Eucharist.
At the end of the day he gave a talk to the participants in a retreat taking place in Torreciudad. On the 9th, early in the morning he celebrated Holy Mass at the Shrine and then left for Barcelona and from there flew to Rome.
Romana, No. 33, July-December 2001, p. 164.