Javier Echevarría began his primary schooling at the Marianist Priests school in San Sebastián. Later, he attended high school at the Marianist Brothers school in Madrid. On September 8, 1948, he requested admission to Opus Dei. Three months previously, he had met some members of Opus Dei at a student residence on Diego de León Street, where he went with some classmates who became interested in Opus Dei through a magazine article. Shortly thereafter, in November, he met the Founder on the occasion of his visit to Spain.
He began studying Law at the Universidad de Madrid and continued his studies in Rome. He received a Doctoral Degree in Canon Law from the Pontificia Universidad de Santo Tomás (1953), and a Doctoral Degree in Civil Law from the Pontifical Lateran University (1955). He was ordained a priest on August 7, 1955. He has been a professor of Moral Theology at the Collegio Romano della Santa Croce and the Collegio Romano di Santa Maria. He worked closely with St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer and was his secretary from 1953 until Escrivá's death in 1975. Member of the General Council of Opus Dei since 1966.
In 1975, when Álvaro del Portillo succeeded St. Josemaría Escrivá as the head of Opus Dei, he was named General Secretary, a position that had been held by Mons. Del Portillo until then. In 1982, when Opus Dei was elevated to the status of a personal prelature, he was named Vicar General of the prelature. Since 1981, he has been a consultant for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and since 1995 of the Congregation for the Clergy. After his selection and appointment by John Paul II as the prelate of Opus Dei on April 20, 1994, the Pope consecrated him as a bishop on January 6, 1995 in St. Peter's Basilica.
He is the author of the books Eucaristía y vida cristiana (Rialp, 2005), Getsemaní. En oración con Jesucristo (Planeta, 2005), Itinerarios de vida cristiana (Planeta, 2001), Memoria del Beato Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (Ediciones Rialp, 2000) and Para servir a la Iglesia. Homilías sobre el sacerdocio (Ediciones Rialp, 2001), as well as several articles in journals and contributions to other books.
Mons. Álvaro del Portillo
The first successor to St. Josemaría to lead Opus Dei, Álvaro del Portillo was born in Madrid on March 11, 1914...
Álvaro del Portillo was a member of the General Council of Opus Dei from 1940 to 1975 and the General Secretary from 1940 to 1947 and 1956 to 1975. He had a PhD in Civil Engineering. He also obtained Doctoral Degrees in Humanities and Social Sciences (History) and Canon Law.
He was a consultant for different departments of the Holy See, such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Congregation for the Clergy, Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He worked on the Vatican II Council, first as head of the ante-preparatory Commission on the Laity and then as secretary to the Commission on the Discipline of the Clergy, and also as a consultant to other commissions.
In 1975, he was chosen to succeed Mons. Escrivá de Balaguer. When Opus Dei was elevated to the status of a personal prelature, the Holy Father named him prelate. In 1990, he was named a bishop by John Paul II, who consecrated him on January 6, 1991. He died in Rome on March 23, 1994. That same day, Pope John Paul II went to Villa Tevere (the headquarters of Opus Dei in Rome) to pray over his mortal remains.
Mons.St. Josemaría Escrivá
The founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaría Escrivá was born in Barbastro on January 9, 1902...
On October 2, 1928, during a spiritual retreat in Madrid, St. Josemaría saw what God was asking of him, and founded Opus Dei. From that day on he worked on the foundation while he continued to fulfill his priestly responsibilities, especially among the poor and sick. He also undertook university studies in Madrid and taught classes to support his family.
In 1946, he moved to Rome. He obtained a Doctoral Degree in Theology from the Lateran University. He was named a consultant to two Vatican Congregations, an honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, and prelate of honor to His Holiness. From Rome, he made many trips to different countries in Europe, as well as to Mexico in 1970, to spur on the establishment and consolidation of Opus Dei in those places. For the same reason, in 1974 and 1975, he made long trips to Central and South America, where he held catechetical gatherings attended by large numbers of people. St. Josemaría died in Rome on June 26, 1975. He was beatified on May 17, 1992 and proclaimed a saint on October 6, 2002.
The University of Navarra hosts the Center for Documentation and Research on Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, the Spanish branch of the Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer Historical Institute, whose headquarters is in Rome. It is an interdisciplinary center whose aim is to promote research on the founder of Opus Dei.