History and Activities

A brief account of Opus Dei's history and activites in the U.S.


Opus Dei began its apostolic activities in the United States in Chicago in 1949, when Sal Ferigle, a young physics graduate student, and Fr. Joseph Muzquiz, one of the first 3 priests to be ordained for Opus Dei, arrived in Chicago. The first center was established near the University of Chicago.

Today there are more than 3,000 members in the United States, and a great many more people who participate in Opus Dei's activities of spiritual formation. These activities are organized from 60 centers in 19 cities: Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Delray Beach, Florida; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; New York; Pittsburgh; Princeton, New Jersey; Providence; St. Louis; San Antonio; San Francisco; South Bend, Indiana; South Orange, New Jersey; Urbana, Illinois; Reston, Virginia; and Washington, D.C. Opus Dei also organizes activities in many other cities.

The Prelature of Opus Dei uses seven conference centers for retreats and seminars. They are located near Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

A number of Opus Dei members are involved in programs to assist the underprivileged. Supplementary educational programs at Midtown and Metro Centers, for example, have helped thousands of African-American and Hispanic youth in inner-city Chicago. Around 95 percent of the students at Midtown and Metro graduate from high school, and 89 percent go on to college (as compared to 20 percent of their peers not in the program). Similar programs exist in the South Bronx section of New York and in Washington, D.C.

Additionally, Opus Dei members, in cooperation with others, operate five secondary schools in the United States: The Heights and Oakcrest near Washington, D.C.; Northridge Prep and The Willows near Chicago; the Montrose School near Boston; and Western Academy near Houston.

Opus Dei also provides spiritual guidance to several residences for university students, the largest of which is Bayridge Residence for women, in Boston. Other residences for university women are Petawa Residence in Milwaukee and Westfield Residence in Los Angeles. Residences for university men include: Elmbrook Student Center in Boston, Lincoln Green in Champaign-Urbana, Windmoor in South Bend, and Wingren in Dallas.

In 1991, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago, entrusted the parish of St. Mary of the Angels to priests of Opus Dei. The Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C., and the Holy Cross Chapel in Houston, Texas, have also been entrusted to priests of Opus Dei.

Opus Dei's U.S. headquarters are located in New York City. Currently serving as Vicar for the United States is Msgr. Thomas Bohlin.