In his first Mass on January 27 in the Prelatic Church of Our Lady Peace in the headquarters of Opus Dei in Rome, Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz, Prelate of Opus Dei, said in his homily: “This is the foundation of our spirit: realizing, truly realizing that we are daughters and sons of God, which brings peace to our soul and helps us to be, in every circumstance, sowers of peace and joy.”
He thus reiterated the foremost message of the Founder of the prelature, St. Josemaria Escriva: That every Christian is a child of God, a brother and sister of our Lord, the Man-God Jesus Christ. We are human beings, persons elevated to a divine dignity and vested with the potential power of making mountains disappear into the sea and creating a branch of heaven in our families, neighborhoods, workplaces—and churches.
Last Monday evening (Jan. 23), Pope Francis named Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz prelate of Opus Dei, which English-speakers also call The Work (short for “Work of God,” the translation into English of the words “opus Dei”). Earlier that day the prelature’s third Elective Congress, whose members arrived in Rome days before from every country where Opus Dei is established, elected the new prelate to succeed Bishop Javier Echevarría who died, at 84, on Monday Dec. 14, 2016 in Rome after having been the prelature’s head since 1994.
The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Ocariz prelate of The Work by confirming his election by the third elective congress of the prelature earlier on Jan. 23.
Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz until Bishop Echevarria’s demise was Auxiliary Vicar of Opus Dei. Now he has become the third successor of Saint Josemaria to head the prelature.
Monsignor Ocáriz was born in Paris on October 27, 1944, to a Spanish family exiled in France due to the Civil War in Spain (1936-1939). He is the youngest of 8 children.
Author of noteworthy books on Christology
He graduated from the University of Barcelona with a degree in Physical Sciences in 1966. He received a licentiate in Theology from the Pontifical Lateran University in 1969 and a doctorate in Theology from the University of Navarre in 1971, the year he was ordained a priest. In his first years as a priest he was especially involved in ministry to young people and to university students.
He is a consultor for the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (since 1986), as well as the Roman Curia’s the Congregation for the Clergy (since 2003) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization (since 2011). He has been a member of the Pontifical Theological Academy since 1989. In the 1980’s, he was among the professors who began the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Rome), where he was a tenured professor and is now professor emeritus in Fundamental Theology.
Among his theological publications, his books on Christology are especially noteworthy, like The Mystery of Jesus Christ: a Christology & Soteriology Textbook and Hijos de Dios en Cristo–Introducción a una teología de la participación sobrenatural (Sons of God in Christ—Introduction to a theology of supernatural participation). His publications have dealt largely with theological and philosophical themes, like Amar con obras: a Dios y a los hombres (Love with deeds: Love of God and of Fellowmen) and Naturaleza, gracia y Gloria (Nature, grace and glory), with a preface by Cardinal Ratzinger. In 2013, Rafael Serrano’s extensive interview with him was published under the title Sobre Dios, la Iglesia y el mundo (On God, the Church and the World).
He has also published two philosophical works: El marxismo: teoría y práctica de una revolución (Marxism: Theory and Practice of a Revolution) and Voltaire: tratado sobre la tolerancia (Voltaire: Treatise about Tolerance). In addition, he is co-author of several monographs, as well as many theological and philosophical articles.
Since 1994 he has been the Vicar General of Opus Dei, and in 2014 he was named Auxiliary Vicar of the Prelature. Over the past 22 years he has accompanied the previous Prelate, Mons. Javier Echevarría, in his pastoral trips to more than 70 countries, including the Philippines.
In the 1960’s, as a theology student, he lived in Rome alongside Saint Josemaría, the Founder of Opus Dei. From a young age he has been an avid tennis player.
He also said in his homily:
Prudence, the virtue needed for governing
“It’s only natural that today we reflect on who the Father is in the Work. Among the conditions Saint Josemaria highlighted for the Father, both in our Statutes as well as here, engraved on the chair of this church, is prudence: the prudence that I beseech you to pray to God for me. Prudence is the virtue needed for governing. And prudence also for each and every one of us, because what is good for the Father is good for everyone. The prudence to be, in each moment, very faithful to the spirit of the Work, faced with changing circumstances of time and place. May the Father always have the prudence needed to be faithful, very faithful, to our Father’s spirit, which is the spirit God has wanted for us.
“Another characteristic the Father has to have is piety, a deep piety. You will recall that Saint Josemaria assured us that piety is ‘the remedy of remedies.’ So ask that the Father may be pious, that all of you may be pious, and that with your piety you may sustain the piety of the Father, so that all of us may be closely united to our Lord in a unity of thoughts, hearts, intentions.
“Another characteristic is love for the Church and the Pope. How often the Father, Don Javier, insisted (as did Blessed Alvaro and Saint Josemaria) that we pray very much for the Church and the Pope. So ask our Lord that the Father, now and always, may make this motto of our Founder a reality: Omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam! May all of us truly go in close union with the Pope, who is now Francis, to Jesus, through Mary.”