In Vancouver

A brief summary of the days spent in Vancouver with Monsignor Ocáriz during his pastoral visit to Canada.

Opus Dei - In Vancouver

Saturday, August 10

In the morning, the Prelate met with a large group of members and friends of the Prelature in the Vancouver College theatre.

Teresa recounted the recent passing of a Supernumerary and of the example she gave of bearing sickness with generosity.

Minette told the father that her children are the ones who teach her forgiveness. Her five-year old daughter told her that she couldn’t forgive her friend from daycare, and the seven-year old brother replied “you have to forgive seventy times seven’. When the mother asked him if he knew what that meant, he replied that he hadn’t yet learnt the multiplication tables in school.

Nicole, a director of learning resources in the Vancouver catholic school system, asked for advice on how to guide the next generation in the proper use of freedom. The Prelate explained that freedom is the capacity not only to make a choice, but rather to choose the good and by so doing, we are touching on the proper essence of freedom which is to love.

Chichi on the right side of the Father

The Father met families today and greeted some sick. To Zeny who is blind and paralyzed he made the sign of the Cross on her forehead and spoke to her; to Chichi who is quite ill he also spoke some words of thanks for what she had done for the Work. And he greeted Sandra who is terminally ill with cancer.

In another get together at Vancouver College, the Father began with encouraging words about apostolic expansion, taking a cue from Canada’s motto A mari usque ad mare (From Sea to sea), as his predecessor, Bishop Echevarria, had done on his visit to Canada 13 years ago.

Joe was in Toronto in 1988 when Blessed Alvaro del Portillo visited Canada, and had then asked about Opus Dei’s expansion to Vancouver. He attended the first recollection there in 1984 and has seen the Work grow throughout the Lower Mainland. He asked the Father how the supernumeraries can keep the Work growing dynamically as our Father imagined it in the 1950s. In his answer, the Father explained that the Work is people and that for Opus Dei to be dynamic, people need to be dynamic as well, a dynamism centered on their union with Jesus-Christ. He encouraged everyone to think that Opus Dei can only grow and expand through prayer.

Brian offered a native carving of a salmon, a well-known symbol of Vancouver. Salmon are born in river beds and straight away swim to the ocean—the middle of the world. Then they return to the river to reproduce. The salmon’s journey, known as the “salmon run”, is a dangerous one during which the fish must overcome many obstacles swimming upstream.

Before the end of this get-together, Yesid offered to play a song for him, which he composed some years ago—the lyrics speak of searching for God. The Father gave him a hug and then a blessing to all present.

During the day, the Father met a number of families who came from Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver to greet him.

Friday, August 9

In the morning, the Father met Archbishop J. Michael Miller a longtime friend of the Work. Then, he had a meeting with priests and encouraged them to grow in hope and face the challenges the Church encounters. He stressed the importance of unity with the Holy Father.

In the afternoon, the Father also met a group of young women at Crestwell Cultural Center. They greeted him by singing A million dreams.

The Prelate took advantage of the song to remind them that dreams can be good. "The love of God is fundamental and it is not a dream. It gives us faith and confidence."

Mary-Jo, who will begin University in the fall, asked him for advice on how to talk with persons who do not share her way of thinking. The Prelate encouraged her to be friends with people. "Friendship is not thinking exactly the same as the other person, but rather to look for their good, even if you have different opinions. It implies interest for the other person, and to share what you have in your heart."

Isabel from Calgary, asked how not to fall into routine in the prayer life, or look upon it as a boring duty rather than something she enjoys. She is never bored with friends, so why does she become bored while talking to God? "It is because we are weak and we do not see Our Lord", explained the Prelate. "We believe but do not see. It’s a question of faith. Think of Jesus as Someone rather than an idea, and as someone who loves you madly."

Among the girls were all the staff members going off to Camp Misawannee right after the get-together. Bev and Sami, the oldest counselors, presented the Prelate with a green camp T-shirt marked “Honorary Camper”! At the end of the get-together, they took a selfie of the whole group with the Father.

In the evening, around 40 high school, university and young professional men coming from the Lower Mainland, Victoria, and Alberta attended a get together with the Father.

Some students asked about how to evangelize their classmates and bring them Christ. "Apostolic work is not just for some people, but for everybody", observed the Father. "You who receive formation have responsibility: family, workmates, classmates. Think how you can be more efficacious, to be apostles. We are sent by Our Lord to help others, to live the Gospel. Think about the 12 apostles, preaching with all their efforts, they’re placed in jail. All became martyrs, except St John, who suffered martyrdom but did not die right then. Have no fear or shame to go against the current when it is difficult or to go against the whims and fashions."

He answered a question from John Paul: "Think of Jesus Christ who sustains our battles, the triumphs of which we don’t see immediately. This should lead us to Eucharist, where we find the strength."

Nicholas presented an Inukshuk to the Father, a statue made of rocks in the shape of a person. For the Inuit, Canada’s native people of the far north, the inukshuk is a marker to indicate places of importance. It symbolizes friendship, hope and safety.

Marietta and her family with the Father

After both meetings with young people, several families were received by the Father. One of the families was Marietta’s, she arrived to Vancouver in 1973 and was the only faithful of the Prelature at the time. Since then the Work has grown in the Canadian West. She was moved when the Father thanked her.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

At 3:30 p.m. the plane arriving from San Francisco touched down in Vancouver. Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz went through customs and was greeted by the vicar of Opus Dei in Canada, Msgr. Fred Dolan, and several families.

Jonathan, Melissa and their young children had a banner prepared welcoming the Father and were smiling ear-to-ear as he approached.

Anna and James, both converts to the faith, and their seven young children also greeted the Father, with a “Welcome to Canada" sign. Anna presented him with a recently published book that includes her conversion story, as well as gifts of maple syrup and a small moose doll, a quintessentially Canadian animal.

Gabriel and Adna, with their four sons in tow (and a baby on the way) also came to welcome the Prelate. Gabriel is pursuing a doctorate in climate change at UBC.

The Prelate then travelled to Glenwood, one of the Opus Dei centres in Vancouver. After greeting Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, he spent some time with Fr. Joseph Soria, a priest who suffered several strokes five years ago. They have corresponded regularly and Fr. Joseph was moved by the Father’s affection.