St. Josemaria Escriva

St. Josemaria Escriva

July 25, 2011

EDMONTON — On the June feast day Mass for St. Josemaria Escriva, Edmonton's faithful met at St. Andrew's Church to celebrate the Opus Dei founder's life.

While there is no official Opus Dei centre in Alberta's capital, hundreds of people do support the teachings of The Work. Hundreds, while coming from diverse cultural, social and professional backgrounds, are united through their love for Opus Dei.

During the feast day Mass, Father David Sands, an Opus Dei priest from Vancouver, paid tribute to St. Josemaria by sharing his personal reflections about the founder.

Having had the blessed opportunity to spend two years in Rome with St. Josemaria while he was still new to Opus Dei, Sands explained how St. Josemaria was able to develop an instant intimacy with most everyone he encountered.

St. Josemaria had a deep level of personal warmth and an enormous naturalness about him, he said. "Being around him was the most natural thing on the face of the earth."

"Your mind and heart were raised to the Lord whenever in his presence, and in his presence, the sense of personal difficulties simply vanished."

Bernadette Schiller recently moved to Edmonton from Lloydminster and is new to Opus Dei. Her first experience was positive. "I found Father Sands' talks very inspirational," she says.

Schiller took part in the women's silent retreat over the Thanksgiving weekend, and that set the path for her spiritual walk.

"The talks at that time were about sanctifying your day through daily chores, whether that be washing the dishes or changing a baby's diaper," she said. "Offering everything up to God, living in the presence of God, acting as noble children of God and sanctifying work through prayer.

Maretta Rogolino has been involved with Opus Dei for five years. Even before she was familiar with the teachings of Opus Dei, she was trying to live her life in the way St. Josemaria encouraged. Despite never having been to an Opus Dei recollection before, she was still "thirsty" for it.

When she did attend one, Rogolino was able to delve much deeper into her already strong faith life. "Opus Dei increased the depth and the amount of encounters with Jesus," she said.

For Lupita and Juan Irizar, Opus Dei has been a compass for well over 20 years. Parents to 16 children and both possessing a joyful demeanor, Lupita and Juan are examples of sanctifying one's life through daily work.

"What first attracted me was the society of the people," said Lupita. "I met a lot of people and there was something special about them and I didn't know why at first."

Reflecting on her experience with Opus Dei, she says, "It has taught me how to be a better mom, better wife, better friend and a better daughter."

Juan says his whole life is Opus Dei. "It's 24/7, no matter what. If I am at home, if I am working, if I am with my kids, it is all my life. Opus Dei fits into everything."

Terry Storms has been involved with Opus Dei since 1988, the same year he became a Catholic. Storms said it takes work to become holy in the midst of life's distractions. "We can't do it on our own. It's just not possible."

We all have only one chance here on earth, and we don't know how long we have to develop our relationship with God, he said.

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