Opus Dei Prelate Congratulated by Holy Father

Javier Echevarría Marks 50 Years of Priesthood

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ROME, SEPT. 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent a letter to Bishop Javier Echevarría on the 50th anniversary of the latter's priesthood, highlighting his fidelity in governing the personal prelature Opus Dei.



The papal letter was read Thursday in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, during a Mass in celebration of the prelate's golden anniversary.

In the letter, which was read before the homily, the Pope congratulated the prelate for his priestly anniversary and noted some key events of Bishop Echevarría's life.

"As a young man, when hearing the gentle voice of God who was calling you, you immediately followed it, entering and becoming part of Opus Dei," wrote the Holy Father. "After receiving the necessary formation, you were conferred priestly ordination on Aug. 7, 1955.

"You obtained a doctorate in civil and canon law. You carried out different pastoral and academic ministries. During 22 years you were secretary to St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, and you now govern faithfully, with the same spirit, his providential Work."

Among those attending the Mass were Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state; Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of the Rome Diocese; 14 other cardinals as well as numerous bishops; Father Álvaro Corcuera, general director of the Legionaries of Christ; and Monsignor Massimo Camisasca, superior general of the San Carlo Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.

Civil authorities on hand included Pierferdinando Casini, president of the Congress of Deputies, and Walter Veltroni, mayor of Rome.

Remembering St. Josemaría

Bishop Echevarría's homily centered around words addressed to God by Bishop Álvaro del Portillo, his predecessor as prelate of Opus Dei: "Thank you, forgive me, help me more."

In that context, the prelate recalled the sentiments of St. Josemaría Escrivá in March 1975, three months before his death, when he celebrated his own golden priestly anniversary.

"At the end of 50 years, I am like a babbling child. I am beginning, beginning again, each day," said the founder of Opus Dei on that occasion.

After repeating the founder's phrase, the prelate added: "If you would like to join me in prayer especially today, I beg of you to pray to the Lord that these words of a holy priest will be profoundly rooted in my heart, so that I will make them my own with total sincerity."