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Interview Granted to Avvenire, Italy (August, 29 2014)

Francesco Ognibene

What are the “existential peripheries” to which Opus Dei’s efforts are directed?

Pope Francis often speaks of offering a living testimony to the Gospel by assisting people in situations of poverty, both material and spiritual. The “existential peripheries” he speaks about are not far away; frequently they are found at our side and challenge us personally. The faithful of the Prelature of Opus Dei live in very diverse situations, but they always find themselves facing the same challenge: to go out to help solve mankind’s needs. Whether they live in the so-called “rich countries” or in “developing” ones, the “peripheries” are always present there, and the faithful of the Prelature try to respond to the spiritual and material needs that continually accompany the human condition.

You knew Don Álvaro del Portillo very well, the first successor of St. Josemaría Escrivá. What memories do you have of him?

The memories are very numerous. I will limit myself to saying that he was a man of peace—deeply spiritual and deeply human. It was a peace that didn’t rest on human reasons, but on placing all his trust in God. I was a witness to how, even in difficult moments, Don Álvaro always kept a perspective of faith and serenity, leading others to be understanding, to dialogue, to overcoming confrontations.

He sought to be fully dedicated to the service of others. When he visited a country, even the most distant, he was concerned about the needs of the local population. And afterwards, with a calm but decisive spirit, he encouraged the faithful of Opus Dei and many others to respond to that need with specific deeds. Thus over time dozens of educational institutions, hospitals and training centers became a reality all over the world.

The “Rimini Meeting” is an initiative in which young people especially take part. What can we do today so that the new generations have a personal encounter with the faith?

Young people have an immense yearning for great ideals. They know what it means to give oneself for an ideal. The Meeting, which began with a group of young people eager to give Christian witness in society, reflects this concern. I was very impressed by the volunteers: young people (and not so young) who are dedicating their vacations to assisting people here and helping everything run well. It shows how people respond generously when they are offered high goals and challenges. I was also impressed by the joy of so many families present here.

Romana, No. 59, July-December 2014, pag. 305-306.