• High Mass marks Feast of Blessed Alvaro


    THE Regional Vicar of Opus Dei for the Philippines has sent out invitations to the Solemn Eucharistic Concelebration on the Feast of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo today, May 12, at 6 p.m. at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Cubao.

    The main concelebrant is His Excellency Honesto Ongtioco, Bishop of Cubao.

    Cubao’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral is in No. 40 Lantana Street, Cubao, Quezon City.

    Priests will be available for confession starting 5 p.m.

    Blessed Alvaro was the first successor of St. Josemaria Escriva as head of Opus Dei.
    After his ordination as one of the first three priests in Opus Dei, he played a central role as the successor of the Founder, St. Josemaria, overseeing its continued development throughout the world.

    In 1982, after Opus Dei was named the first personal prelature of the Church (a Catholic organization headed by a bishop but defined functionally instead of geographically as dioceses are), Don Alvaro became the first Prelate and Bishop of Opus Dei, opening a new chapter in canon law of the Church.

    Alvaro del Portillo was born in Madrid, Spain, on March 11, 1914, the third of eight children of a Mexican mother, Clementina Diez de Sollano, and a Spanish father, Ramon del Portillo y Pardo.

    After receiving his secondary education at El Pilar School (Madrid), he entered the School of Civil Engineering, where he completed his studies in 1941. Subsequently he worked in a number of state water authorities. At the same time he took a further degree in history, and in 1944 he completed his doctorate on the early exploration of the California coast.

    In 1935, he joined Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church that had been founded seven years earlier by St. Josemaria Escriva. He received formation directly from the founder, with the spirit corresponding to this new path in the Church. He carried out a wide-ranging work of evangelization among his fellow students and colleagues, and from 1939 he undertook numerous apostolic journeys to various cities in Spain.

    He was ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 1944 by the Bishop of Madrid, Leopoldo Eijo y Garay, together with Jose Maria Hernandez Garnica and Jose Luis Muzquiz. These were the first three priests of Opus Dei, after the founder.

    In 1946 he moved to Rome, a few months prior to St Josemaria moving there, and lived alongside the founder in the years that followed. This proved a crucial period for Opus Dei, which around that time received its first juridical-canonical approvals from the Holy See.

    For Alvaro del Portillo it was also a decisive period during which he reflected deeply on the role and responsibility of the lay faithful in the Church’s mission, through their ordinary work and their social and family relations.

    During his years in Rome, the various Popes from Pius XII to John Paul II called upon him to carry out numerous tasks as a member of, or consultor to, 13 entities within the Holy See.

    He played an active role in the Second Vatican Council. John XXIII appointed him a consultor to the Sacred Congregation of the Council (1959-1966). In the stages prior to Vatican II, he was president of the Commission for the Laity. In the course of the Council (1962-65), he was secretary of the Commission on the Discipline of the Clergy and of the Christian People.

    After the Council, Paul VI appointed him a consultor to the post-conciliar Commission for Bishops and the regulation of dioceses (1966). For many years he was also a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    The life of Alvaro del Portillo was closely united with that of the founder, Fr Josemaria Escriva. He remained always by his side until the very moment of his death, on June 26 1975, helping St Josemaria in his work of evangelization and pastoral care. He travelled with him to many countries to help set up and give advice on the apostolic works of Opus Dei.

    At the time of Alvaro del Portillo’s death on March 23, 1994, an Irish Augustinian, Father John O’Connor, wrote: “The sight of his friendly and unobtrusive figure beside the dynamism of Msgr. Escriva put me in mind of St Joseph.”


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