Bishop Alvaro del Portillo
People from 80 different nationalities expected in Madrid
The future blessed was the first successor of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer at the head of Opus Dei.
People from 80 different nationalities have confirmed their attendance in Valdebebas (Madrid) at the beatification on Saturday 27 September of Alvaro del Portillo. The ceremony will take place at 12noon. According to the organizing committee for the event, groups are also expected from South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Ireland, India, Macao, Nigeria, New Zealand, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago as well as South Africa.
The Eucharistic celebration will be presided over by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who will be joined as concelebrants by cardinals, bishops and priests from all five continents.
Several bishops from Spain will be taking part as well as hundreds of parish priests who will come accompanied by their parishioners. Many of these faithful would have spent at least twelve hours on the road on a day trip to the event, all in order to save accommodation and movement costs.
A beatification of solidarity
According to the spokesperson Teresa Sadaba, the organizing committee wanted that “the entire celebration be in consonance with the spirit of fraternal love and solidarity with the needy, which was characteristic of the life of Alvaro del Portillo, from the catechetical work that as a young man he carried out in the Madrid suburbs, to his inspiration and promotion of social and educational projects throughout the world, following the example of St. Josemaria”. The planners of this event in this way also respond to the invitation of the prelate of Opus Dei Javier Echevarria who wished to encourage people to prepare for the beatification through doing things to help those most in need, following the spirit of the new blessed.
Teresa Sadaba, the spokesperson of the organizing committee
Everyone coming for Alvaro del Portillo’s beatification has a chance to help through donations in some social activities that people of Opus Dei are involved in throughout Africa. The projects include the construction of a Mother and Child Centre in Enugu, Nigeria, a centre that attends to about 12,000 patients annually; the start of a programme to eradicate infant malnutrition in Bingerville, Ivory Coast, directly benefitting 5,000 people; developing four out-patient health Centres on the outskirts of the Republic of Congo for the benefit of about 10,000 children every year, and; providing scholarships for African priests to study in Rome.
As the beatification takes place in Spain the Organizing Committee is championing an Alvaro del Portillo Food Collection, taking place in more than 40 cities around the country, and organized through families, schools and parishes.
Many people who work in social projects inspired by Alvaro del Portillo throughout the world will travel to Madrid to take part in the beatification also as a way to show their gratitude to him. They will also take advantage of their presence in Madrid to take part in an international meeting they are calling 40 initiatives against poverty taking place on the 25 of September. It will involve the heads of several social projects; from the dumpsters of Guatemala, to the villages of Congo, through the Brazilian favelas and suburbs of the Philippines.
The 40 initiatives against poverty meeting will tap into the experiences from many notable worldwide projects with profiles as varied as the Monkole Hospital, Congo, the Baytree Women’s Centre in Brixton, London, the Monterrey Mexico City of Children, the Rosedale Achievement Centre for the education and development of girls in New York Bronx area, the Kimlea school the technical empowerment of rural women in Limuru, Kenya, the Centre for Industrial Technology and Enterprise Cebu, Philippines, which trains young people to over socioeconomic difficulties, and a professional school from Brazil, and so on.
Organizing an event of such magnitude as the beatification can only be made possible thanks to the solidarity of many people and their generous collaborations. For example more than one thousand Madrid families have opened the doors of their homes to participants from other countries, many of who lack the financial resources for accommodation.
More than 3,500 volunteers who throughout the days of the beatification will be helping participants by manning the different information points that will be set up throughout Madrid, taking special care of older people.
Of note are also the more than 3,500 volunteers who throughout the days of the beatification will be helping participants by manning the different information points that will be set up throughout Madrid, taking special care of older people, the sick and those with one form of disability or the other, but wish to be present at the ceremony.
A familiar model Alvaro del Portillo felt the call to follow God in Opus Dei through the example and teaching of St. Josemaria when he was a student of Civil Engineering school in Madrid. He then lived with great fidelity the message of the founder of Opus Dei, that of seeking God in professional work, in the circumstances of life in a family and social relations.
He had doctorates in Civil Engineering, in Philosophy as well as in Canon Law. He was however able to make this excellent academic preparation compatible with having time to deal with very many people. As the first prelate of Opus Dei he initiated the apostolic work in many countries and was especially concerned for the formation of priests, a fact that led to his founding the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. He fostered the start up of dozens of social initiatives throughout the world.
He played a very important role in the Second Vatican Council, a work that helped to engrave within the magisterium the key place of the lay faithful within the Church. His work also contributed to a better understanding of the identity and mission of priests. He was close to many popes and in a special way to the future blessed Paul VI who was one of his first friends when Alvaro del Portillo came first to Rome in the 40s. He was also close to St. John Paul II who wished to go to pray in the chapel on 23 March before Alvaro del Portillo’s remains the very day of the latter’s death in Rome.
An international event that benefits the city of Madrid
The participation of very many people from so many different countries at the beatification will also help project the image of Madrid internationally, as well as boost the tourism and hospitality industry of the city. The choice of Valdebebas furthermore, a new mostly unoccupied urban area, means that Madrid will be spared the usual complications that are associated with huge events of this nature.
Those coming for the beatification will be invited to know Madrid through visiting places in the city related to the life of Alvaro del Portillo. These include the house where he was born on Alcala Street, and the Bishop’s Chapel where he was ordained a priest in 1944. They will also be able to visit the Colon Tourism Centre where on 11 September, an exhibition on the future blessed titled, “A Saint in Statistics” was inaugurated.
How to participate at the beatification
The Organizing Committee has set up a website (www.alvaro14.org) containing all kinds of information connected with the event such as transportation, bus parking, infrastructure and other services. Participation at the event is open to all who wish to attend.
Harambee is inviting people to contribute to four social initiatives begun under the direct impetus of Alvaro del Portillo
Reaching everyone Those unable to travel to Madrid but will still like to be a part of this event can follow the ceremonies live on more than 30 Television channels as well as through the Internet on YouTube.
In addition, throughout the preceding months the Internet and social networks has made it possible be in direct contact with many people interested in the beatification. There are a number of volunteers who have been taking care of communication with these people in English and Spanish on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Soundcloud. Among the several channels available for this purpose Whatsapp has been very widely adopted with more than 10,000 people subscribed and receiving instant news updates.
There is also a free mobile app called Alvaro del Portillo available on the iOS and Android operating systems.
The official web page of the beatification of Alvaro del Portillo (www.alvaro14.org) contains a lot of useful information and is available in four languages: English, Spanish, Italian and Polish.
Programme of Events in Madrid and in Rome
The beatification will take place at 12noon on Saturday 27 September in Valdebebas, Madrid (Spain). The Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by the prelate of Opus Dei Bishop Javier Echevarria will take place the following day 28 September at the same venue and time.
The Madrid events will thereafter continue in Rome, the city where Alvaro del Portillo spent the greater part of his life.
Many people who work in social projects inspired by Alvaro del Portillo throughout the world will travel to Madrid to take part in the beatification also as a way to show their gratitude to him.
From 29 September to 2 October those who go to Rome will be able to visit the St. Eugene Basilica (10, Belle Arti Street) where the body of the new blessed will be temporarily transferred for the veneration of the faithful.
Two Masses of Thanksgiving will take place on 30 September at the basilicas of St. John Lateran (11am) and at St. Mary Major (4.30pm) presided over by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome and by Cardinal Santos Abril respectively.
On Wednesday 1 October those who want to, can take part in the general audience of Pope Francis at the Vatican in order to show their gratitude to him for the gift of the new blessed for the Church.
Finally on Thursday 2 October at 5pm there will be a Eucharistic event at the St. Eugene basilica after which the body of the blessed will be returned to the crypt of the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace.
Further information from: www.alvarodelportillo.org.