For World Youth Day 2013, Bishop Javier Echevarría was in Brazil, and also visited other nearby countries. Before undertaking the trip he spent a good part of the month of July in Spain, where, on July 1, at the invitation of Archbishop Manuel Ureña of Saragossa, he had participated in the blessing of two life-size bronze statues, one of Blessed John Paul II and the other of St. Josemaría, in the parish of Santa Engracia in the Aragonese capital.
The Prelate of Opus Dei arrived in Rio de Janeiro on July 24. There he met with faithful of the Prelature and with other young people from various countries who were taking part in the great worldwide reunion with the Pope.
After World Youth Day, on July 29, he went to pray at the Shrine of Aparecida, the patroness of the country, and then spent some days at Sitio da Aroeira, a retreat center near São Paulo, where he met with the regional vicars of Opus Dei from North and South America. A few days later he met with the regional priest secretaries as well. On August 5, he went to São Paulo for a one day visit. There he met with groups of people who take part in the apostolic work of the Prelature. An especially large gathering was held in the evening in a sports pavilion with people of all ages and walks of life.
The next stop on his trip, from August 13 to 16, was Santiago de Chile. There Bishop Echevarría was received by Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati. He also went to pray before the Immaculate Virgin of Cerro San Cristobal and met with faithful of the Prelature, as well as with cooperators and friends who take part in activities of Christian formation organized by Opus Dei.
On Wednesday, August 14, he visited and blessed the installations at the University Hospital of Los Andes, which will soon be inaugurated. Bishop Echevarría, the honorary rector of that university, told those who work in the hospital that the deepest catechesis carried out by Pope John Paul II was that which we saw during his last illness, when he did not hesitate to show the world his physical limitations, because he knew that they were a blessing from God. He encouraged them to make the hospital a fruitful place of salvation, both physical and spiritual, for the patients, for their families and for the professionals working in the hospital, through a work carried out not only with professional competence but also with unity, affection and understanding. “May you do everything with the greatness of God, who wants to make use of the women and men who work in his projects,” he concluded.
On Thursday, the 15th, he met with more than twelve thousand people in the Movistar Arena. One of the questions asked came from the mother of José Ignacio Ureta Wilson, the boy whose miraculous cure through the intercession of the Venerable Alvaro del Portillo made possible the upcoming beatification of St. Josemaría’s first successor.
On the 16th he went to La Pitana, a neighborhood on the perifery of the city, where he had a gathering with families from the area and blessed the new church of St. Josemaría. He was received by the children from the schools next to the church, Nocedal and Almendral, whose spiritual attention is entrusted to the Prelature of Opus Dei.
From August 16 to 18, the Prelate was in Uruguay. On Saturday, the 17th, in the Palacio Peñarol, he had a get-together with more than three thousand people from different cities of Uruguay. He asked everyone to pray for Pope Francis and spoke to fathers and mothers about, among other topics, the importance of instilling in their children the virtue of temperance. That same day he visited the expansion works at the La Cantera conference and formation center. He also made a short stop at the Los Pinos educational center, a social work benefitting hundreds of boys from the area, where he met with the teachers, students and their families. Then he visited the Center of Support for Integral Development (CADI), a corporate work of apostolate of Opus Dei. CADI is aimed at the human, social and spiritual development of women. Located in an area of great poverty, currently more than 600 families benefit from its work.
On the day of his arrival in Buenos Aires, Sunday the 18th, the Prelate had a get-together on the soccer field at Los Molinos school. Thousands of people were present, not only from Buenos Aires and other cities of Argentina, but also from Bolivia and Paraguay. At various moments during the get-together, Bishop Echevarría asked those present to support the Pope with their prayer and affection.
From August 21 until September 6, the Prelate spent some days in Solingen, Germany. On the 31st he met with faithful of Opus Dei and friends in Cologne’s Gürzenich auditorium.
In December, Bishop Echevarría made a trip to the Holy Land. He left Rome on December 27. In addition to meeting with the people of Opus Dei who live there, and with some families, on Saturday, the 28th, he had a general get-together with a large group of people in Jerusalem, with simultaneous translation into Arabic and Hebrew. On the 29th, the Feast of the Holy Family, he had another get-together in Bethlehem.
On December 30, before returning to Rome, he visited with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, celebrated Holy Mass in the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and went to see the land on which “Saxum” is being built, a retreat center that will also include an information center for pilgrims. There he blessed the first stone. Located at Abu Gosh, the grounds of the Saxum center are seven and a half miles from Jerusalem. Its name comes from the nickname that St. Josemaría sometimes used in addressing Alvaro del Portillo, pointing to his firmness in the faith and in his vocation of service to the Church. “Saxum” is the Latin word for rock.
Romana, No. 57, July-December 2013, p. 209-211.