Reflections on the Legacy of Opus Dei Prelate Bishop Javier Echevarria’s Recent Passing

Reflections on the Legacy of Opus Dei Prelate Bishop Javier Echevarria's Recent Passing

Maddie Marcucci '19, Contributing Writer

As you all know, Montrose was founded by parents, many of whom were affiliated with  Opus Dei’s main teaching: doing ordinary work extraordinarily well out of love for God. My family has been very involved in Opus Dei, and I had the chance to learn from them about the recent passing of Prelate Bishop Javier Echevarria.

Opus Dei, meaning “Work of God,” has a prelate as its leader. The Prelate of Opus Dei oversees the development of Opus Dei. On December 12, 2016, the most recent Prelate, Bishop Javier Echevarria, passed away peacefully in Rome. However, he has certainly left his mark on Opus Dei, with many insightful teachings that can benefit us forever.

My aunt, Helen Keefe ‘07, who lives in Rome with former Montrose teacher Ms. Bridget Higgins, shared her insight on some of Bishop Echevarria’s greatest teachings: “He put a particular emphasis on the importance of living charity, loving one another–the New Commandment that Christ brought us; really loving the others, not just with words but with everything you do, with God’s help; turning one’s whole life into love for the others, for love of God.”

Bishop Echevarria also often spoke of the importance of loving the family: He encouraged us to detect in ourselves if we were perhaps being indifferent to someone close to us, and to react and change, because if we don’t love the people at our side, how can we love anybody at all, really and truly? That’s why the family was a topic so close to his heart, one upon which he insisted over and over again — he was convinced that the warmth of a loving family was something that today’s world needs in a particular way.”

Additionally, he was admired greatly by others for his incredible generous and kind personality. From the videos I have watched of various interviews and get-togethers, I can clearly see that he lived his life, as Fr. Dick often says, in service for “the others.” I was able to see this from 4,106 miles away and through the Internet. Helen was able to see this through face to face experiences with the Bishop.  “Just a couple months ago,” she said, “I was present in a meeting with a small group of people, and as he was going out of the room, he smiled at me and said: “So — when is the next basketball game?” I was impressed because he managed to remember what I had told him in a letter a while back, which is that I love basketball and that I was happy to be playing real games of five-on-five on a regular basis at a high level here in Rome, something that I hadn’t expected to do. Again, he receives tons of letters from people all the time, but he was into the details; he cared about the people at his side, and his example encouraged you to care about your friends in that way also.”

My uncle, Joey Keefe, who also lives in Rome, was ordained as a deacon by Bishop Echevarria on October 29. He knew Bishop Echevarria on a more personal level through his time spent with him. Joey said, “Obviously, I treasure having been among the last group of men ordained by him, as a deacon on October 29 of this year. During the ceremony, he gave me a huge hug and told me ‘Congratulations Joe! This is a very special day. I am praying so much for your fidelity. Always be faithful!’ As I was leaving, he noticed that I was tearing up (lots of mixed emotions) and asked, ‘Are you crying?’ and smiled at me.”

Joey also commented on the way the Bishop fostered a spirit of service for the others. He said, “He had this capacity to ‘connect’ with everyone under his care, and carries all of these souls very close to his heart. It is certainly a grace you can see in the Pope too, who carries the weight of the whole Church. To give you an example of this personal attention of Bishop Echeverría: I left Rome in 2013 to work in Dallas for a few years. I travelled to Rome for a conference in January of 2016, and managed to be in a small get-together with the Father in his home, after lunch. I hadn’t seen Bishop Echeverría in a long time, and yet he picked up right where we left off: ‘How are your parents and your siblings? I am praying for them.’ And then, in the middle of the get-together, he turned to me and said, ‘By the way, Joe, are you keeping up your singing in Dallas?’ To my affirmative response, he said, ‘Good, you should try to maintain your voice.’” Obviously,

Bishop Echeverria led a holy and serviceable life. He has demonstrated what Opus Dei means through his example, and we can all learn from his teachings and from those who knew him the true meaning of “the Work.”