Participation in the 27th Course for Brazilian Bishops, Brazil, from January 26 to February 4
Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz traveled to Brazil, invited by Cardinal Oraní Tempesta, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, to give three lectures at the 27th Theological Studies Course for Bishops organized by the archdiocese. At the end of the course, the Prelate took advantage of the opportunity to meet with faithful of the Prelature, cooperators and friends in Rio de Janeiro. He reminded them of the importance of making Christ the center of their Christian life and urged them to read and meditate on the Gospel following the guidance of Pope Francis in Evangelii gaudium. Among other topics, he highlighted the importance of interior freedom and of fraternity. In every gathering he never failed to ask people to pray for the Pope and his intentions.
Taking advantage of his trip to Brazil, he also went to São Paulo, from January 30 to February 4. On the 1st of February he was received by Cardinal Odilo Scherer at the bishop’s residence.
In São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, he also met with the Prelature’s faithful and their friends, and with priests from various dioceses, whom he encouraged to live in close union with the Pope, their diocesan bishop, and all the other priests in the diocese.
Sweden, April 12-15
Msgr.Ocáriz made a pastoral trip to Sweden from April 12 to 15. On the 13th, he celebrated Mass at Trädlärkan, a center of Opus Dei in Stockholm. Afterwards, he went to the residence of Cardinal Anders Arborelius, in Södemalm. He later met with faithful and friends of the Prelature at Åbrink Forum.
On April 14, during Mass, Msgr. Ocáriz addressed a brief homily to some faithful of Opus Dei. “The apostles were alone on the lake, without Jesus. Each of us can also travel in darkness, when we encounter difficulties in life. We may think then that Jesus is absent, but he is always with us.”
Later that morning he received several families in Lärkstaden. The Prelate spoke about friendship as a natural way to share the Gospel: “When there is friendship, one desires the good of the other person. This requires personal contact and dedicating time to get to know that person. When there is friendship, apostolate results spontaneously.”
In the afternoon he met with a group of people from various places in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark at the Finlandiahuser conference center. “We can always be joyful,” he told those present, “despite the concerns and sufferings we face, because the foundation of our joy is Christ. We can’t always understand suffering, but we can always love. Each time we look at a crucifix, we realize how great Christ’s love for us is.” Topics discussed included interior freedom, faithfulness, fraternal love, the virtue of chastity, and passing on the faith to others.
On the last day of his pastoral trip, on Sunday April 15, the Prelate went to Katarina Kyrka, a shrine of our Lady located in the heart of the capital. After spending some time in prayer, he lit a vigil light and prayed a Salve Regina with those present before the image of the patroness of Sweden. Afterwards he visited a member of the Prelature in Branbergen who is suffering from a serious illness, and encouraged her to take advantage of the supernatural effectiveness that suffering has when offered to God.
In the afternoon, he returned to Rome from Arlanda airport. In his farewell words, he encouraged everyone to live “joyful in hope,” as Saint Paul told the first Christians.
Sicily, from May 31 to June 3
The Prelate of Opus Dei arrived at Falcone e Borsellino airport on May 31. On Friday June 1, he visited the facilities of SAME, a professional training school for imparting skills needed to find employment in the hospitality and hotel sectors. The Prelate reminded them that nothing is lost in their work of formation and that, as proof of this, many students over the years continue to express gratitude for what they have learned at the school on the human and professional level, as well as for the deeper knowledge of the faith they were given.
The morning continued with a family gathering during which several people expressed their desire to create job opportunities for young Sicilians. In the afternoon, Msgr. Ocáriz was received by Archbishop Corrado Lorefice of Palermo. At the end of the day he had an opportunity to talk with students at the Segesta University Residence and with other young Sicilians who came to Palermo for the occasion. He encouraged them to face difficulties with an outlook based on faith: “Faith is to be sure of something that is not seen. We have faith not only in the existence of God, but in the fact that God loves us, and wants us to be happy.”
On Saturday June 2, Msgr. Ocáriz went to Calarossa, where he met with families from all over the island. Special attention was paid to the topic of marriage, in particular how to help young couples in the first steps of their married life. At the end of the day he went to Monreale to visit the cathedral, at the invitation of the pastor Fr. Nicola Gaglio.
On his last day in Sicily, the Prelate visited the RUME University Residence, where he presided over Eucharistic benediction for the solemnity of Corpus Christi. He then had an informal meeting with the residents and those who attend means of Christian formation there.
Honoring Bishop Javier Echevarría at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, on January 19
The Prelate of Opus Dei traveled to Pamplona to take part in a tribute to Bishop Javier Echevarría as Chancellor of the University of Navarra. Also taking part in the ceremony, held on January 19, were the rector of the university, Alfonso Sánchez-Tabernero, the former head of IESE Business School, Jordi Canals, and the vice-dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Arantza Campo.
Dr. Campo, who helped provide medical care for Bishop Javier Echevarría, recalled his “heartfelt gratitude for all the care he received” and his “affectionate and cordial manner, often combined with a humorous remark.” Professor Canals made reference to the “legacy of good governance” that Bishop Echevarría left to those who work at the University of Navarra: a sense of mission, impetus for the projects undertaken, and the ability to combine a universal outlook with concern for each person. On his part, the University’s rector highlighted three aspects of the personality of the former Chancellor: his closeness to people, his magnanimity, and his gratitude.
Msgr. Ocáriz, in turn, pointed to a feature that his predecessor, in harmony with Saint Josemaria, wanted the University of Navarra to possess: “Being open to the entire world, with an eagerness to serve, to share the best that one has.”
After the academic act, the Prelate greeted student representatives from the University. He encouraged them to be diligent in their studies and to foster unity with their fellow students, shunning isolation and “individualism.”
In the afternoon, Msgr. Ocáriz met with professors and staff who hold directive positions. In responding to their questions, he spoke about the priority of the person in the work of government, the need to foster an inter-disciplinary approach in their academic work, and the importance of making the University’s Christian identity clear.
Afterwards he visited the Izaga Student Residence and spent time with the staff and families of students living there. He reminded them that their efforts should be aimed not only at helping the young women grow humanly and intellectually, but especially at strengthening their love for Christ, which is “what enables us to be better persons, better able to do good.”
He next took part in an academic meeting in the Ecclesiastical Faculties Building, where he congratulated the theology professors for the 50th anniversary of their faculty. Paraphrasing Saint Josemaria, Msgr. Ocáriz reminded them that “theology studies are done well when the subject matter is made the topic of each one’s prayer.” He also encouraged the professors to carry out their work “with enthusiasm for God’s truth and for the mystery of Christ and his Church.”
Following this act, the Prelate met with seminarians in Bidasoa International Ecclesiastical Seminary, where currently almost a hundred students from 24 different countries are studying.
Audience with Pope Francis, May 26
On May 26, the Prelate of Opus Dei was received in an audience by Pope Francis. Msgr. Ocáriz assured the Holy Father that all the faithful of the Prelature were united in prayer for him and for his intentions.
He also spoke about the evangelizing efforts of the faithful of the Work in various countries and about some apostolic, educational and social initiatives inspired by the message of Saint Josemaria.
Pope Francis expressed his joy at seeing the contribution being made by the Prelature’s faithful through their daily lives to help evangelize society.
Participation in the Saxum Conference, Rome, June 9
On June 9, Experiencing the Holy Land, an event organized by the Association of Friends of Saxum, was held in Rome. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, was the guest of honor.
Msgr. Ocáriz briefly presented the aims of the Saxum project. He stressed that this initiative “has proved to be a splendid opportunity for international cooperation,” to which “many thousands of people from many different countries and from the most varied professional and social backgrounds” have contributed.
Msgr. Ocáriz also stressed that those who assist this project are contributing “to the new evangelization of so many people in the Holy Land who can discover the greatness and beauty of the salvation brought by Christ.” In addition, they are also contributing to “the creation of an environment of civil coexistence, necessary for the recovery and preservation of peace even in territories as conflicted as those in the Middle East.”
The Prelate concluded his speech with words from St. Josemaría on peace: “In the name of this victorious love of Christ, we Christians should go out into the world to be sowers of peace and joy through everything we say and do” (Christ Is Passing By, no.168).
The Saxum project arose to help pilgrims to the Holy Land deepen the roots of their faith, and to foster intercultural and interreligious dialogue. Saxum originated in 1994, when Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, then the Prelate of Opus Dei, visited the holy sites. Following a wish of St. Josemaría Escrivá, Bishop Del Portillo encouraged the establishment of a center that would fulfill this function. It includes an information center for pilgrims and a residential area where activities for spiritual formation take place.
Romana, n. 66, January-June 2018, p. 82-86.