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Two books about Opus Dei

The publisher Rialp has published in Spanish the books Memoria ingenua (Candid Memories) by Alfons Balcells, and Vosotros sois la luz del mundo (You are the Light of the World) by the Swiss priest Martin Rhonheimer. The original version of the first of these appeared in Catalonian in 2005.

In Memoria ingenua, a posthumous work, Alfons Balcells describes, among other things, the beginnings of the apostolic work of Opus Dei in Barcelona from 1939 on, a period that saw many difficulties. Balcells joined Opus Dei in 1943 as a young doctor. A prestigious pathologist, in the sixties he would become Rector of the University of Salamanca.

Vosotros sois la luz del mundo, a title taken from our Lord’s words (Mt 5:14), is directed to young people. Its author, a professor of ethics, is a well known and prolific writer on topics of morality. On this occasion he confronts, in an accessible and thorough way, the topic of the Christian vocation, and specifically the call to Opus Dei.

Fiftieth anniversary of Montse Grases

On the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the Servant of God Montserrat Grases (1941–1959), a commemorative ceremony was held in Barcelona in a hall attached to the Oratory of Santa Maria de Bonaigua. The speakers were her friends Rosa Pantaleoni and Jordi Suriol; her biographer, Jose Miguel Cejas; and Josep Palmerola, Mayor of Seva, the village where the family of Montse spent their summers.

Montse Grases died on March 26, 1959, Holy Thursday. Rosa Pantaleoni recalled that “up to the last minute she was very simple and calm, staying close to Our Lady of Montserrat.” She still considers her a great friend whom she is close to. Jordi Suriol also related some personal memories of Montse, and said of her, in summary, that she “had a good head, a loving heart, and a firm will.” For his part, José Miguel Cejas offered some thoughts about the meaning of Montse’s life. Despite its few years, “she did what was most important: she loved with her whole soul.”

Josep Palmerola recalled the day when the people in Seva were talking about the news that “the daughter of the Grases” had “a terrible disease.” Everyone in the village was impressed by the family’s calmness in confronting that difficult situation.

After the round table, the Vicar of Opus Dei in Barcelona, Fr. Antonio Pujals, celebrated a Mass in the Oratory of Santa Maria de Bonaigua for the soul of Montse.

Also in connection with the anniversary, an international competition about Montse was held, with three segments (comic, narrative, and audiovisual), in which young people from 9 to 18 took part. The jury was made up of Carlota Goyta and Asunción Esteban, authors of a popular children’s comic, the writer Carlos Pujol, and the publicist Xavier Roca. Young people from the United States, Poland, Mexico, Austria, and the Philippines, as well as other countries, took part in the competition.

African students with the Pope

Gathered in Rome during Holy Week to take part in the UNIV Congress, young people from eleven African countries presented a letter to the Pope in which they expressed their gratitude for his prayer and his words of encouragement during his trip to Cameroon and Angola. We reproduce the letter here:

Holy Father,

In the name of the young people of Africa, we thank you wholeheartedly for your recent trip to Angola and Cameroon, and especially for the words you addressed to us in the Dos Coqueiros Stadium in Luanda. Thank you for the understanding that you showed for the expectations, the joys, the fears, and the sufferings of our continent.

Thank you for the courage and the clarity with which you have become a spokesman for Africa, also when addressing the rich countries, gathered a few days ago in London. In the weeks following your trip, your words about the need for public morality have become a reference point for our countries.

At times when we Africans read the newspapers of the so-called “Northern world,” we feel misunderstood, undervalued and even used selfishly by some. In contrast, in telling us that Africa is “the continent of hope,” Your Holiness has shown that you have trust in us and you have brought us a message of encouragement.

Thank you, Holy Father, also for the demanding words that you directed to us and for your invitation to us to strive personally to further education, to serve others, and to struggle against corruption. In these demands we also see the esteem and the respect that the Pope has for us. We do not forget that you told us that the path to transforming our continent begins with the renewal of our hearts.

Thank you for wanting to be with us, to listen to us, to show us the path and stir our consciences. In the name of all the students and young people of Africa, we want to tell the Pope that we will put all of our strength at the service of Africa, striving to transform it with patience and constancy, working for the future generations.

To maintain this commitment, we rely on the Holy Father’s prayer and trust.

The letter was signed by Serge and Cyrille Futcha (in the name of the participants from Cameroon), Marie-Louise Thiaw (in the name of the participants from Senegal), Supriano Dembe (in the name of the participants from Angola), Busisiew Fortunate Letsoto (in the name of the participants from South Africa), Mark Muhoro (in the name of the participants from Kenya), Sompto Chukwemeka (in the name of the participants from Nigeria), Janvier Mahougnon Gbenou (in the name of the participants from Benin), Clementine Kiodi (in the name of the participants from the Congo), Alex Mbonimpa (in the name of the participants from Uganda), Aimee Adjou (in the name of the participants from the Ivory Coast), and Brenda Garriga (in the name of the participants from Equatorial Guinea).

The University of Navarra: Fifty Years at the School of Communications

During the 1958-59 school year, the Institute of Journalism in what was then called the “Estudio General de Navarra” began operating. The School of Communications at the University of Navarra, the successor to the Institute of Journalism, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this year.

Almost 8,000 people have passed through the school in this half-century, including the professors and students of the various programs that have been offered, both to undergraduates (currently in three areas: Journalism, Audiovisual Communication, and Advertising and Public Relations), and to graduate students (Postgraduate Program for Latin-Americans and the Masters in Communication Management and in Political and Corporate Communication).

The anniversary was commemorated on Saturday, May 16, in a gathering that included many alumni and distinguished professionals in the field of communications who have received their training in the School’s classrooms.

A new liturgical institute in Rome

On May 19 of 2009, the Liturgy Institute at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross was established, under the direction of Professor Antonio Miralles. The new institute is part of the School of Theology, which up to now comprised five departments: Dogmatic Theology, Moral Theology, Spiritual Theology, Biblical Theology and History of the Church.

Opus Dei begins stable apostolic work in Indonesia, Korea and Romania

From the 2nd to the 7th of June, fifteen numeraries of Opus Dei—nine laymen and six priests—came to Rome to receive from the Prelate some pastoral guidelines for their future work in Korea, Romania, and Indonesia, where they were about to go, or (in the case of Indonesia) where they had been living for a few months.

They then flew to their new countries, where they celebrated the feast of St. Josemaria on June 26th for the first time, and where they are now working professionally.

The new centers of the Prelature in Romania and in South Korea are located in Bucharest and Daejon respectively. They were erected with the venia of the local Ordinaries. In Indonesia, the first Center of Opus Dei is in Surabaya, in Eastern Java, which was also opened with the venia and support of the bishop.

In the three countries, activities of Christian formation for faithful of Opus Dei, Cooperators and friends have been carried on for some time. Now that work can be attended to with greater continuity.

Romana, No. 48, January-June 2009, p. 129-132.