Opus Dei head who visited Manila and Cebu to be beatified

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo was the first successor of Opus Dei founder St Josemaria Escriva

In a letter addressed to the Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarria, the Holy See confirmed Pope Francis’ approval of the beatification of Alvaro del Portillo, which will be held on September 27, 2014, in Madrid, del Portillo’s hometown. Faithful from all over the world are expected to participate in the ceremony, including many from the Philippines.

Bishop del Portillo was in the Philippines on January 21 to February 1, 1987 for a pastoral visit to the members and the different apostolic and social projects of Opus Dei in the country.

Cardinal Sin hosted a dinner for him at Villa San Miguel, during which the late Cardinal thanked the Prelate for the work of Opus Dei in the Philippines, “spreading the message of the universal call to holiness among the lay faithful and bringing spirituality to the secular environments where the priests and religious cannot reach,” the Cardinal said. Bishop del Portillo also paid a courtesy call to then President Cory Aquino.

The prelate had a number of general audiences at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila and at the Cebu Plaza Hotel. These were catechetical gatherings where he answered personal questions on the spiritual life, sanctification of work, family life, and social responsibility.

Bishop del Portillo is remembered for his untiring service to the Church and his desire to help others. In one of his general audiences, he made an observation about Philippine society, “My daughters and my sons, I have seen enormous wealth and enormous poverty.”

“I know that some among you are already running personal undertakings that form people, provide trades and skills, and make people capable of raising their status so they can work better and earn more,” he said. The faithful of Opus Dei in the Philippines were then running technical training schools for those unable to afford a college education and were beginning a farm school in Batangas for children of farmers of high school age.

Upon his return to Rome, he sent an Italian delegation to Cebu to help set up a technical school similar to Centro ELIS, a successful social project in an outlying district of Rome. That technical school is now CITE (Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise) in Talamban, which has graduated 3,000 industrial technicians from the Visayas and Mindanao since it opened in 1991. It is recognized by the national government and industry as one of the leading technical schools in the Philippines.

President Corazon Aquino formally inaugurated CITE in February 1992. She also inaugurated the Dagatan Family Farm School in Batangas in August 1988, the first of its kind in Asia.

Other projects inspired by Bishop del Portillo in the Philippines include the Banilad Center for Professional Development for girls in Cebu and DAWV (Development Advocacy for Women Volunteerism).

Last July 5, Pope Francis signed the decree of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approving a miracle obtained through the intercession of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, thus paving the way for his beatification.

The miracle was the instantaneous healing of Chilean newborn baby, Jose Ignacio Ureta Wilson in 2003. The boy suffered a cardiac arrest lasting more than 30 minutes and a massive hemorrhage. The medical team considered the baby dead, when unexpectedly, his heart started to beat again. His parents had been praying for his revival through the intercession of Bishop
Alvaro del Portillo. Ten years later Jose Ignacio is living a normal life.

The late Msgr. Flavio Cappucci, postulator of Alvaro del Portillo’s cause, said his office has received from all over the world 12,000 signed accounts of favors granted through the intercession of Bishop Alvaro. They include “graces of all kinds, both material and spiritual,” he said. “Clearly the most striking are the extraordinary cures, of which there is a variety: from the disappearance of melanomas with metastasis after praying to Alvaro del Portillo, to the full recovery of a child who had drowned in a swimming pool.”

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo died in Rome on March 23, 1994 upon returning from a pilgrimage of the Holy Land. He turned 80 two weeks earlier on March 11, 1994. Pope John Paul II went to pray during his wake and later spoke of "the example he always gave of fortitude and of trust in divine providence and his fidelity to the See of Peter.”

The beatification ceremony in Madrid will be presided over by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato.  (Source: Rev. Fr. Roy Cimagala)

Opus Dei
Miracle through Bishop Alvaro's intercession: recovery of Jose Ignacio
Videos of Bishop Alvaro's last Mass and the visit of John Paul II to his wake

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