August 7: Bishop Javier, Prelate of Opus Dei, celebrates his golden jubilee as a priest
August 1, 2005
“I cannot fail to recall that a few weeks from now, in August, God willing, I will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood,” said Bishop Javier Echevarria on June 25, in the homily of the Mass he celebrated in Rome for the feast of Saint Josemaría. “Help me to prepare for this anniversary well. I am deeply grateful to God for having granted me, half a century ago now, the possibility of making him present on the altar every day; and I ask his forgiveness for my faults. I will be very grateful to you if you help me.”
The fiftieth anniversary of Bishop Echevarría’s ordination falls in the Year of the Eucharist proclaimed by Pope John Paul II. In the same homily, Bishop Echevarría referred to the central place which this mystery occupies in Christian living. “This is an ever-present truth which should have a deep effect on us all. How have our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and our devotion to him, grown during this year dedicated to the Eucharist? How do we love and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is necessary in order to receive the Eucharist worthily if we have offended God gravely, and in order to prepare a less unworthy dwelling-place for him? I invite you to ask yourselves these questions personally, and answer them sincerely and generously. Let’s take the appropriate decisions so that we can increase our closeness to Jesus Christ in the times we spend praying, when we are at Mass, and when we receive him in Holy Communion.”
Bishop Echevarría asked for admission in Opus Dei in 1948 and was ordained to the priesthood on August 7, 1955. He lived and worked closely with Saint Josemaría for twenty-two years. On June 25 this year, he also said: “Saint Josemaría lived by and for the Holy Eucharist. He took the greatest possible care of the Blessed Sacrament, as a sign of his love and gratitude.” For example, Saint Josemaría was deeply moved at the closeness of Jesus in the Sacred Host, waiting for us in our churches. He wrote: “When you approach the Tabernacle, think that He has been waiting for you there for twenty centuries!” (The Way, 537.)
In 1975, when Msgr. Alvaro del Portillo succeeded Saint Josemaría at the head of Opus Dei, Javier Echevarría was appointed its Secretary General. After being elected Prelate of Opus Dei in his turn, and appointed to that position by Pope John Paul II, he was ordained a bishop by the Pope in Saint Peter’s on 6 January 1995.