NOT only the faithful and cooperators of Opus Dei in the Philippines—and of course all over the world—are saddened by the death last Monday evening (Rome time) of Bishop Javier Echevarría, the Prelate of Opus Dei.
He was the second successor of St. Josemaría Escriva. He died on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom he was a devotee.
The mortal remains of the Father were brought to Our Lady of Peace, the Prelatic church of Opus Dei, in Viale Bruno Buozzi. The funeral will be held Thursday, December 15 at 7 p.m. in Rome (2 a.m. Friday in Manila) in Saint Eugene’s basilica.
Here in the Philippines, a Requiem Mass for Bishop Javier Echevarría will be held at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Cubao (40 Lantana St., Cubao, Quezon City) today Thursday, December 15, at 5:30 p.m. Priests will be available to hear Confessions starting at 4:30 p.m.
Also mourning—and happy to have another intercessor in heaven—are hundreds of thousands who have benefited from their association with the individual men and women of Opus Dei who taught them to love and pray to St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder, and Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, the successor to St. Josemaria, and pray for Father Echevarria to always be a good leader of what they have learned to call The Work.
The Holy Father, Pope Francis, immediately telephoned Opus Dei’s auxiliary vicar, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz.
Catholic News Agency’s Hannah Brockhaus, in her CNA/EWTN report from Vatican City dated December 13, wrote: “On hearing of the December 12 death of Bishop Javier Echevarría Rodríguez, the Prelate of Opus Dei,
Pope Francis sent a telegram Tuesday expressing his deep sympathy to the members of the organization and to Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz Braña, auxiliary vicar [of the prelature].”
Pope Francis’ condolences
“I wish to make known to you and to all members of this prelature my deepest condolences,” the Pope wrote December 13, “at the same time that I unite to your action of giving thanks to God for his paternal and generous witness of his priestly and episcopal life.”
The Opus Dei faithful’s Father, Bishop Echevarría, was 84 when he died in Rome after being hospitalized with pneumonia. Bishop Echevarría was given the final sacraments that afternoon by his auxiliary, Monsignor Ocáriz.
Hannah Brockhaus’ CNA report also says: “Pope Francis, in his letter to Monsignor Ocáriz, praised Bishop Echevarría, saying that, ‘In the example of St. Josemaria Escriva and of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo…he lived his life in constant service of love for the Church and for souls.’”
“Raising to the Lord ‘a fervent prayer for this servant’ that God will ‘receive him in his eternal joy,’ the Pope also entrusted the bishop to the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe, ‘on whose feast he entrusted his soul to God.’”
“With these sentiments, and as a sign of faith and hope in the Risen Christ, I bestow on all the comforting Apostolic blessing,” the Pope’s telegram concluded.
Bishop Echevarría was born in Madrid in 1932. There, as a student, he met St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, a grouping dedicated to spiritual growth and discipleship among the laity that teaches its members to use their work, their ordinary activities and “the ordinary circumstances of their daily life” as the main way to meet God, receive his graces, get to know Him and love and serve Him and their fellow men and women.
Bishop Echevarría was St. Josemaria’s secretary from 1953 to 1975. He studied for the priesthood and was ordained a priest of Opus Dei in 1955, when he was 23.
Years later, he was named secretary general of Opus Dei. In 1994 the faithful of Opus Dei elected him prelate, which was approved by the Pope. He was consecrated as bishop in 1995.
With Bishop Echevarría’s demise, the prelature’s ordinary governance is now on the shoulders of Monsignor Ocáriz.
Within three months, he is to convoke a congress of the prelature to nominate a successor to Bishop Echevarría, who must be confirmed by the Pope.
Monsignor Ocáriz has become a familiar and beloved figure to Opus Dei faithful through the years. That’s because he was our Father Bishop Echevarria’s auxiliary. And before that, together with Bishop Echevarría (before he became a bishop), Monsignor Ocáriz was an aide to Blessed Alvaro del Portillo.