HomeTestimoniesJose Miguel Ibanez Langlois, Chile

Jose Miguel Ibanez Langlois, Chile

Priest. Chaplain and lecturer in moral theology at the University of Los Andes, Chile.

January 13, 2011

Tags: Canonization, Priesthood, diocesan priests
One of the greatest joys of my life

Fr Jose Miguel Ibanez Langlois was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1936. He was ordained a priest in 1960. He gained a PhD in Philosophy at the Complutense University of Madrid and another at the Lateran University in Rome. He has been a member of the International Theological Commission. He currently works as chaplain and lecturer in moral theology at the University of Los Andes, Chile.

Q: You met St Josemaria in person. Can you remember your first meeting?
Ibanez: In my lifetime I’ve met people who were strong, or tender, or deep, or funny, or energetic, or gentle, or wise, or friendly, or serious, or jokey, or brainy, or simple, or vigorous. But suddenly meeting someone who was all those things at the same time, in a radically integrated way, and was visibly centered on Christ – that’s what meeting Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer was for me.

Q: What did you think when the Opus Dei founder was canonized in 2002?
Ibanez: It was one of the greatest joys of my life. As I was sitting quite near the altar and the Pope during the ceremony, I couldn’t burst into song or start dancing, or jump up and down from sheer happiness, but I would have loved to, and my heart really was dancing inside me. Because this was the person I have loved most and who has loved me most of all, together with my family. It’s one thing to be absolutely sure about his heroic sanctity, and quite another to hear it solemnly proclaimed in St Peter’s Square to the universal Church and the whole world, by solemn and infallible judgment, by the voice of our beloved Pope John Paul II.

Q: What was it that most struck you about St Josemaria’s message?
Ibanez: The same as lots of other people. Back in 1954, having been brought up a good Catholic, I thought what everybody thought in those days – that to give yourself completely to God, you had to become a priest or a religious. I’d never heard anything as evangelical, as old and new, as this: that all the baptized (so me too) were called by divine vocation to holiness and apostolate in the middle of the world, right where we were, in our own situation and job, sanctifying our ordinary work. Yes, called to holiness, to the fullness of divine life, to contemplative life (our cell is the street, St Josemaria used to say) at all the world’s crossroads, to set Christ at the summit of all human activities. That fascinating ideal produced a complete turn-around in my life.

Q: You were one of the first Chileans to ask for admission in Opus Dei. How did you meet Opus Dei?
Ibanez: Through a student who was studying law and commercial engineering at the Catholic University. Although I was studying civil engineering and philosophy, we met at a cultural activity in the university at the beginning of 1954. I was really impressed by the way that he – Jose Enrique Diez, afterwards a well-known figure in the world of business, who died just a few years ago with a reputation for holiness – had come to Chile from Spain three years before, almost straight from high school, with three or four other people, to begin the apostolic work of Opus Dei in Chile. He told me about the Work, both in words and with his life. I also met the other three people in Opus Dei, and after a few months I heard the call to join Opus Dei myself. God’s grace was at work in that old house at Alameda. Now, looking around me, I can see how all the dreams of those pioneers have come true. At the time they just seemed like crazy dreamers, following in the footsteps of St Josemaria when he founded the Work, alone, with no money, battling against the wind and the waves.

Q: What was St Josemaria’s most notable human feature, for you? Can you tell us something he said or did?
Ibanez: I’d say his sense of humor. I’d only been in Rome a few days when he took a small group of us to show us part of the headquarters building of Opus Dei, which was still being built. He pointed to an ancient-looking little tower, and said he was thinking of having it taken down so the space could be used for building, and asked us what we thought. We all said it was a good idea, get rid of the tower. Then, laughing but pretending to be angry, he said, “You vandals! You want to demolish that beautiful tower we’ve just built in timeless Roman style!” We roared with laughter at ourselves for having fallen into the trap.

Watch VIDEO of Jose Ibanez Langlois in Chile

For further information of: The early years of Opus Dei in Chile

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