Mgr Javier Echevarría died in Rome on Monday. Pope Francis said he gave “his life in a constant service of love to the Church and to souls." The second successor of St Josemaría Escrivá visited India three times.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Bishop Javier Echevarría, second successor of Opus Dei founder St Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, is seen as a "father" in India, said Kevin de Souza, director of the Opus Dei Centre in Mumbai who spoke to AsiaNews following the prelate’s death in Rome on Monday (12 December).
Noting that Mgr Echevarría "gave his soul to God" on the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Pope Francis commended him “with affection to the protection of our Mother", stressing that he gave "his life in a constant service of love to the Church and to souls.”
Mgr Echevarría visited India three times: in April 1996, in July-August 2008, and in January 2014. In each, De Souza said, he met believers, aid workers and friends of Opus Dei.
In 2008 he stopped in Delhi before travelling to Australia for World Youth Day. Here he visited the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and prayed in front of the statue of St Josemaría, installed in the baptistery the previous year.
"On that occasion, he lit three candles: one for the Holy Father, one for women, and one for the men of the Prelature in the world."
On his way back from Australia, the bishop stopped in Mumbai, where he visited the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount in Bandra. Speaking to those present, he said he was amazed to see "the hustle and bustle of people moving about, so many cars and rickshaws.”
“All this,” he had added, “is an expression of life in this city and I have found it easier to pray with you and for you. It's also easy to love you more each day."
Mgr Echevarría often traveled to India, de Souza explained, to fulfill a wish St Josemaría had expressed. The latter had never had the opportunity to visit the country and was excited about the growing number of Indian members in Opus Dei.
In Mumbai, the Prelate also said: "I want to be an Indian as you are. I wanted to come to India especially to tell you that God loves you as his beloved. Many saints have loved you in the same way. St Josemaría loved India and all countries."
"You and I,” he said, “have to till the land of India with prayer, with our joyful work, and with a sense of responsibility in social life. We have to sow the seed of truth."