February 15-17 in Lithuania
On the third weekend in February, Bishop Echevarría traveled to Lithuania, where Opus Dei has carried on stable apostolic work since 1994. Besides meeting several times with faithful of the Prelature along with their friends and families, the Prelate of Opus Dei also greeted the Cardinal Archbishop of Vilnius, His Eminence Audrys Juozas Backis. He also took advantage of his visit to pray at the Shrine of Ausros Varrtai (Our Lady, Gate of Dawn). As Benedict XVI had announced his resignation from the Petrine ministry only a few days earlier, Bishop Echevarría invited his hearers repeatedly to pray for the Holy Father and also for the new Pope. Other recurrent themes of his conversations in Lithuania were: bringing Christ’s light to the university environment, praying for one’s study or work colleagues, and speaking to them about God without fear.
April 11-14 in Lebanon
From April 11 to 14, Bishop Echevarría made a pastoral visit to Lebanon, which enabled him to give encouragement to the apostolic activities that the faithful of the Prelature carry out in that country with the help of many other people. The Prelate visited the centers of formation organized by faithful of Opus Dei in Lebanon, including the Al Tilal Institute of Management and Services where work of human and social development is carried out for women who live in the Lebanese mountains. In the general get-together with more than 350 people, Bishop Echevarría invited those present to be people who pray, who talk with God, and diligently seek holiness. Thus they will be of great help to the Pope, the bishops, the priests, and everyone around them. He also stressed that their daily life lived with generosity and a big heart would contribute to solving the problems that exist in Lebanon and in the world.
The Prelate of Opus Dei visited Maronite Bishop Boulos Matar of Beirut and the Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia. He also visited the Carmelite Convent of Unity in Harissa and the Shrine of our Lady of Lebanon, also in Harissa, where he prayed particularly for peace in that region and in the whole world. During these four days, the Patriarch of the Maronites, His Beatitude Cardinal Bechara Boutros Raï, O.M.M., was not in Lebanon.
May 24-28 in South Africa
On Friday May 24, Bishop Echevarría arrived in South Africa, to spend a few days with faithful of Opus Dei there and those who take part in the means of Christian formation offered by the Prelature. He had an opportunity to speak to many people during a gathering in the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg. He also spent time with various families during his visit to the Mater Dolorosa parish, which is entrusted to priests of Opus Dei. On Sunday the 26th, Bishop Echevarría traveled to Pretoria. There he visited the centers of the Prelature and, in one of them, consecrated the altar in the oratory. He also spoke with groups of university students and with families. In these gatherings he spoke about the Blessed Trinity (the solemnity of this feast was celebrated on May 26th this year), devotion to our Lady, caring for one’s family, concern for others, confession, the apostolate, and other aspects of Christian life.
Bishop Echevarría was grateful for his meetings with the Archbishop of Johannesburg, Most Rev. Buti Joseph Tihagale, O.M.I., and the Archbishop of Pretoria, Most Rev. William M. Slattery, O.F.M. He also had an opportunity to speak with the Apostolic Nuncio in South Africa, Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari. Before returning to Rome, the Prelate had a get-together with priests from various dioceses of South Africa.