A Life of Generous and Fatherly Testimony
On December 12th, feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bishop Javier Echevarría (1932-2017) passed away. This issue of Romana includes a chronicle of those days during which hundreds of people went to pray before his open casket and give their last farewell to the Prelate. The words that Pope Francis addressed to the faithful of Opus Dei in a telegram were very consoling for us then: “I unite myself to your thanksgiving to God for his generous and fatherly testimony of priestly and episcopal life. He followed the example of Saint Josemaría Escrivá and Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, whom he succeeded at the head of this entire family.” The Holy Father said that Bishop Echevarría “gave his life in a constant service of love to the Church and souls,” and assured us of his “fervent suffrages for this faithful servant.”
In the Mass for the repose of the soul of the Prelate that was celebrated in the Roman Basilica of Saint Eugene, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz—then Auxiliary Vicar—said, addressing himself especially to the faithful of the Prelature: “If the one we have called Father for twenty-two years were here with us, he would surely ask us to take advantage of these days to intensify our love for the Church and the Pope, and to remain closely united with one another and with all our brothers and sisters in Christ. And he would tell us once again those words that, especially in his final years on earth, had become a frequent refrain on his lips: ‘love one another a lot, with an ever greater love!’ And this was more than just words; it was moving to see how he loved others. I recall for example how the day before he died he told me he was worried about becoming a hindrance, since so many people were looking after him. And I told him spontaneously: ‘No, Father, it’s you who are sustaining all of us.’”
“Among the many shrines of our Lady he visited with Saint Josemaría and Blessed Alvaro, and afterwards as Prelate,” Msgr. Ocáriz continued, “was that of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. Providence has disposed that the Father was called to Heaven on December 12th, feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. That same day, when his life was slipping away, a priest asked him if he wanted a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe placed close to him. The Father said no, since he could no longer see very well. But he added that he was very close to her in his heart. Let us place our prayer for Bishop Javier Echevarría in the hands of our Lady, Spes nostra, our hope, while giving thanks to God for having given us this good and faithful shepherd.”
May the following pages also serve as an expression of our gratitude for his loving care as a shepherd during his twenty-two years as Prelate of Opus Dei.
Romana, No. 63, July-December 2016, pag. 222-223.