After Pope Francis’s approval of the required miracle and the formal declaration of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints on July 5, 2013, the Holy See confirmed in a letter dated January 21, this year that the Holy Father (at the request of the Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarria) established that Alvaro del Portillo be beatified in Madrid, his hometown, on 27 September, 2014- which was yesterday.
Edith Katama, who met Alvaro del Portillo tells her story.
“I was introduced to Opus Dei in the early 1980s when we were in exile in Kenya. By the time we returned to Uganda in 1986, I was a member of Opus Dei and the only member in Uganda.
Opus Dei is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. It emphasises that one orchestrates holiness through their everyday activities.
In 1989, Ms Olga Marlin who had influence in the Roman Catholic Church called to inform me that the Prelate of Opus Dei, Father Alvaro, was coming to Kenya.
To meet the prelate
As I prepared to meet Prelate Alvaro, Marlin suggested that I buy a wooden image of Our Lady and take it with me to Kenya so that I could have an audience with the cleric. This meant that the wooden image would be blessed and called Regina Ugandae. I obliged and set off for the journey.
Finally, we got to Nairobi. Fr Portillo was delighted to see my daughters Agnes and Angela and I. I was so impressed when he said, “Hello Edith!” as if we had known each other for ages.
Someone handed the wooden image of Our Lady to the prelate. He blessed it and indeed it was called,“Regina Ugandae” and kissed her feet. Fr Portillo spoke Spanish and Marlin helped to translate for my daughters and I. Fr Alvaro emphasised the importance of seeking sanctification in our ordinary circumstances and of winning souls for God, among other things.
This has to be done through acts of kindness to those we live with.
Making requests known
Then Fr Portillo asked me to say something. In response, I said the time was right for Opus Dei to be introduced to Uganda.
I paraphrased a verse from the Bible, Luke12:49 saying, the fire of Our Lord should be enkindled in Kampala and then to the rest of Uganda. He listened keenly to me.
After short silence, he asked me for a pen, walked to a table in the sitting room, and wrote the following words: “Ignem veni mittere in terram et quid volo nisi ut accendatur. Regina Ugandae ora pro nobis!” Loosely translated, (I came to cast fire upon the earth and would that it were already kindled. Queen of Uganda, pray for us!)
My daughters and I had a photograph taken with the Prelate. We treasure the photo it hangs on the wall in our sitting room. He then asked us to kneel down so that he could give us a blessing.
Angela commented, “I believe, the blessing was spiritually uplifting!”
Two weeks later, she attained a scholarship to do her Master’s degree in Milan, Italy.
I shall always be thankful to God for the extraordinary blessing and privilege of being in the presence of such a holy and loving man.”
The beatification ceremony in Madrid was presided over by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, and faithful from all over the world.
Today, following the beatification of Portillo, Bishop Javier Echevarría, Prelate of Opus Dei, will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving in Rome.
Why is he being beatified?
On his death, John Paul II recalled del Portillo’s “zealous priestly and episcopal life, the example he always gave of fortitude and of trust in divine providence and his fidelity to the See of Peter.”
In 2004, the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, said, “The rather frequent occasions that I had to meet Bishop del Portillo imprinted on my soul the conviction that I found myself in the presence of an exemplary pastor.”
He added: “In the firmness of his adherence to the doctrine of the Church, in his union with the Pope, in his pastoral charity, in his humility, and in his balance, he exhibited an extraordinary interior richness.” According to the Cardinal, the service Don Alvaro always provided to the Church of Rome and the prompt and effective way that he supported the Holy Father’s pastoral initiatives in this diocese showed the love of the Church that he had learned from St. Josemaría.”
On July 5, 2013, Pope Francis published a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints declaring the miraculous character of a cure of a Chilean boy attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Alvaro del Portillo, which allowed for his beatification
In the Footsteps of Don Alvaro
Both in Rome and Madrid, activities promoted by Harambee Africa International will be organised in order to finance four medical and educational projects in sub-Saharan Africa, which were encouraged by Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, during the years when he was Prelate of Opus Dei.
Who is Alvaro?
Alvaro lived most of his life in Rome and Madrid, where he was born on March 11, 1914, and where he spent his childhood and youth with his parents and seven siblings. It was also in the capital of Spain that he met St Josemaria Escrivá and decided to join Opus Dei in 1935.
While he was a 19-year-old engineering student in Madrid, the young Alvaro del Portillo took part in the activities of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, teaching catechism to children in Vallecas and other poor neighbourhoods and distributing donations and food to needy families. Later, encouraged by St. Josemaria, he continued to carry out similar activities with the young people who participated in the initial work of Opus Dei organised around the DYA Academy.
On June 25, 1944, after finishing his civil engineering and ecclesiastical studies, he was ordained in Madrid by the bishop of the diocese, Leopoldo Eijo y Garay and he carried out his priestly ministry there until he moved to Rome in 1946.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor