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Continuation and Conclusion of the Congress

Once the Prelate was elected, the Congress members assembled for several days to select the members of the central councils that assist the Prelate in governing the Prelature. They also examined the state of the Prelature and its apostolic activities around the world. The proposals were studied in plenary sessions, which set guidelines for the government of the Prelature during the eight year period until the next ordinary general Congress.

Appointment of the Vicar General and of the Central Secretary Vicar

On January 25, with the approval of the members of the General Elective Congress, Msgr. Ocáriz appointed Msgr. Mariano Fazio as Vicar General of Opus Dei and Father Antoni Pujals Ginebreda as Central Vicar Secretary.

—Msgr. Mariano Fazio

Mariano Fazio was born in Buenos Aires on April 25, 1960. He studied History at the University of Buenos Aires and received a doctorate in Philosophy from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. In 1991 he was ordained a priest by Saint John Paul II, after having worked for seven years in Ecuador as a professor of Philosophy of Law and editorial writer for the newspaper El Telégrafo.

From 1996 to 2002, he was the first dean of the School of Church Communications at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, and then, from 2002 to 2008, the rector of the same university. During these years, he was elected president of the Conference of Rectors of the Pontifical Universities of Rome.

In 2007 he was named an expert for the Fifth General Conference of Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held in Aparecida, Brazil. 

Several months later, he returned to South America, where he served as the Vicar of Opus Dei in Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. In December 2014 he was named Vicar General of Opus Dei by Bishop Javier Echevarría, the Prelate at that time.

He has wide-ranging cultural and philosophical interests. He is a member of the Chesterton Society in Argentina and the National Academy of History in Ecuador. He is the author of more than 20 books on modern society and the process of secularization. These include: Historia de la filosofía contemporánea,Historia de la filosofía moderna, and Historia de las ideas contemporáneas. One of his recent books, Pope Francis: Keys to His Thought, has been translated into English. Other publications include San Juan XXIII;Beato Pablo VI: Gobernar desde el dolor; and
De Benedicto XV a Benedicto XVI.

—Fr. Antoni Pujals Ginebreda

He was born in Terrassa, Barcelona, in 1955. He studied Law at the University of Barcelona. Later, he moved to Rome to complete his studies in Theology. From 1980 to 2002 he worked in the Central Offices of Opus Dei, together with Bishop Alvaro del Portillo and Bishop Javier Echevarría.

He obtained his doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross with a thesis entitled The Juridical Relationship of Incardination According to the Code of 1983.

From 2002 to 2016 he was the Vicar of Opus Dei for Catalonia. 

Constitution of the Councils that Assist the Prelate

In the course of the Congress, the new Prelate appointed the members of the organisms that assist him in the pastoral government of the Prelature: the General Council and the Central Advisory.

—The General Council

During the General Congress, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz appointed three vice-secretaries, a prefect of studies and a general administrator to oversee Opus Dei’s formative and apostolic work with men: initiatives with youth, evangelization of the family, theological and spiritual formation, etc. These are: Javier de Juan Pardo (born in Albacete, Spain, in 1975), vice-secretary; Carlos Cavazzoli (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1962), vice-secretary; Matthew Anthony (St. Louis, United States, 1981), vice-secretary; Luis Romera Oñate (Barcelona, Spain, 1962), prefect of studies; and Julien Nagore (born in Pamplona in 1951 and resident  in Paris since his youth), administrator general.

Also appointed were the regional delegates for the various circumscriptions into which the apostolic work of the Prelature is divided geographically, which currently number 49. Those appointed come from more than 30 nations. 

—The Central Advisory

With the approval of the Congress members participating in the General Congress of the women of the Prelature, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz appointed Isabel Sánchez Serrano (Murcia, Spain, 1969), as central secretary, and María Diaz Soloaga (Madrid, Spain, 1970), as secretary of the Advisory.

To help guide the formative and apostolic work with young women, in families, educational and social initiatives, etc., the Prelate appointed as vice-secretaries Nicola Waite (Oxford, Great Britain, 1979), Carla Vassallo (Palermo, Italy, 1976) and Kathryn Elise Plazek (Pittsburgh, United States, 1988); Susana Líoez Palomo (León, Spain, 1971) and María de Rosário Falção Libano Monteiro (Lisbon, Portugal, 1960), as prefects of studies and of assistants respectively, and Inocencia Fernández Fernández Mayoralas (Madrid, Spain, 1954), as central procurator for administration of resources.

In addition, the regional delegates for the various circumscriptions into which the apostolic work of the Prelature is geographically divided were also appointed.

—Other appointments

Once the congress was concluded, the Prelate appointed the priest Javier Yániz Fernández (Barcelona, Spain, 1976) as spiritual director and Msgr. Carlos Nannei (Santa Fe, Argentina, 1945) as procurator before the Holy See. Both work closely with the Council. The spiritual director helps the Prelate in the spiritual guidance of the Prelature’s faithful and in questions of doctrinal and liturgical formation. Among his commitments is the spiritual accompaniment of the members of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross. On his part, the procurator is more directly concerned with the Prelature’s relations with the Holy See. 

Conclusion of the Congress

As the new Prelate wrote in a pastoral letter signed on February 14, which is included in full in the From the Prelate section, the Congress wanted to put on record its gratitude to Pope Francis, “among many other reasons, for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, his example of piety and austerity, the apostolic stimulus that he is giving to the whole world, and his closeness to people, especially the most needy.” A special gratitude is due to “his decision, in the exercise of his Petrine ministry, to beatify Don Alvaro.” “The Congress also expressed its gratitude to the Pope for having confirmed me as successor of St. Josemaría, Blessed Alvaro, and Don Javier at the head of Opus Dei, and for appointing me as Opus Dei’s Prelate on the very same day as my election,” wrote Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz in that same letter.

The members of the Congress also expressed their gratitude and affection for Bishop Javier Echevarría. As the Prelate wrote in his pastoral letter: “Don Javier was a good son of God by being a faithful son of St Josemaría. That fidelity was the raison d’être of his life. He was our Prelate from 1994 to 2016, and the General Congress gave thanks to God for his life and his teachings. It has also echoed the desire of all the faithful of the Prelature, the members of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross and the Cooperators, to highlight Don Javier’s love for the Church and for this portion of the People of God that is Opus Dei. Don Javier left a fruitful example of pastoral charity, which was expressed in his union with the Holy Father and with all of his brothers in the episcopal college, in his zeal for souls, and in his active solicitude for the sick and the most needy. Therefore, certain that it will cause you joy, I want to record here the general opinion of the members of the Congress, and of so many other people, that it will be advisable to collect memories and testimonies about Don Javier and about his self-sacrificing life and teachings.”

As this pastoral letter points out, the Congress members also recognized with gratitude the dedication of those who closely accompanied Bishop Javier Echevarría—as custodies—during the last 22 years, as well as “the great help provided by the elderly and sick faithful of the Prelature, with the joyful and simple offering of their limitations, in spurring forward the continuing efforts of evangelization that the Work is carrying out throughout the world.” Gratitude is also expressed for the work carried out by the Administrations of the Prelature’s centers and for those who “during these years began the apostolic work in new countries, leaving their place of origin to help carry out the Work in other latitudes.” 

Other conclusions of the Congress included possible ways to foster the spiritual life of the Prelature’s faithful, taking into account today’s mentality, as well as goals for formation and evangelization in the areas of the family, education, young people, the sick, and the most needy, among others. 

All the conclusions on these challenges are included in the February 14 pastoral letter, which is reproduced in this volume of Romana.

Romana, No. 64, January-June 2017, p. 15-18.