Interview granted to La Nouvelle Expression, Douala, Cameroon (April 13, 2012)
“Opus Dei, an Expression of God’s Love for Mankind”
Bishop Echevarría, this is the third time you have come to Cameroon, following your trips in 1989 and 1998. What does our country represent particularly for you and the Work?
St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, felt a great love for Africa. I was given the gift of working for many years at his side, and I saw the great interest with which he followed Opus Dei’s first steps on this continent: first in Kenya, more than fifty years ago, and after that in Nigeria. His first successor, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, was the one who oversaw the beginning of Opus Dei in Cameroon, in 1988. In my opinion, the countries of Africa, and Cameroon in particular, are a great hope for the Church. Pope Benedict XVI has a lot of confidence in this continent and also a lot of confidence in your country, as we saw during his visit to Cameroon in 2009 and in his Apostolic Exhortation, Africa Munus.
Since your last visit here, what changes have especially impressed you, speaking particularly about the Work?
I see that the apostolic work has grown and I give thanks to God. Many people take part in the apostolic activities of Opus Dei, and not only in Yaoundé or in Douala, as was the case when I made my last visit, but also in other cities such as Edea, Buea, Bamenda…. People here are asking us to go to the East, to the North…. I’m also very happy to see that the faithful of the Work who have been born in other places have become as much Cameroonians as those who come from here, and that all are working in union with the bishops of the dioceses (that is the goal of Opus Dei’s apostolic work: to assist the dioceses), as I have been able to verify when meeting with Archbishop Victor Tonyé Bakot of Yaoundé,
Unfortunately, many people don’t know very much about Opus Dei. Could you explain what the Work is to us?
The message of Opus Dei is simply an expression of God’s love for all men and women, to help them live and spread the fullness of the Christian message. The specific focus of the message of Opus Dei consists in putting the accent on the sanctification of work and of all the ordinary circumstances in life.
For a consistent Christian, to fulfill God’s will, to be a saint, there is no need to abandon the world. Work, the ordinary occupations of each day (family life, our relationships with others, our life of work) become a means and an opportunity to live, sometimes in a heroic way, love for God and our neighbor.
What message (or messages) are you carrying in your suitcase for us Cameroonians who are Christians, and especially for the members of Opus Dei?
The same message that St. Josemaría preached right from 1928, when Opus Dei was founded. Each Christian, each faithful of Opus Dei (we don’t consider ourselves better than others) should struggle to be a consistent Christian in all the circumstances of one’s life: in one’s work, doing it well, never falling into the danger of corruption, which does such great damage to society here; in one’s family, following the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth. And specifically, those who are preparing for marriage should pay close attention to what the Holy Father said when he was here in Cameroon about the need to respect one’s future spouse, knowing that it is in marriage, between a man and a woman, where the mystery of human love is fully expressed. Cameroon is a marvelous country. I ask our Lady, Queen of Apostles, Queen of Cameroon, that Christ’s message may continue to flourish here, thanks to the apostolate and testimony of all Catholics, closely united to the Holy Father and to the bishops.
Romana, No. 54, January-June 2012, p. 96-97.