Fr. William Porras, a Catholic Chaplain at Harvard University (1954-1960)

Fr. William Porras, a Catholic Chaplain at Harvard University (1954-1960)[1]


On October 19, 1954, the Archbishop of Boston, Most Rev. Richard J. Cushing, appointed Fr. William Porras, a priest of Opus Dei, chaplain of the Harvard Catholic Club. The Archbishop informed Fr. Porras of this appointment during a visit he made to Trimount House, a residence for students established by Opus Dei in Boston[2], to inaugurate the residence and celebrate Mass in the chapel.  The media took note of the event. Thus, the Boston Traveler published a photograph with the caption “New Chapel – Archbishop Richard J. Cushing celebrated the first Mass at the new chapel of the Opus Dei house, 22 Marlboro St. The chapel is the first in Boston for resident college students”[3].

Fr. William Porras was 37 years old. Born in El Paso, Texas, he had studied law in Mexico and obtained a Ph.D. in history in Spain. He had been ordained to the priesthood three years earlier and was the first priest of Opus Dei to reside in Boston, having arrived there from Chicago in 1953.

In this study we will consider the motives that may have led Archbishop Cushing to appoint as chaplain a priest from a relatively recent institution in the Church, which had been present in Boston a little over two years, and in the United States only since 1949. After all, The Archbishop, known for his enterprising ecumenical spirit, had authority over more than a thousand priests in the diocesan clergy, not to mention the presence of a considerable number of priests belonging to various religious congregations operating in the Archdiocese.

“Fr. Bill” Porras, as he soon became known, remained as chaplain at Harvard for six years, until June of 1960. A year before his appointment, Nathan Marsh Pusey had been chosen President of the University. Pusey, a devout Episcopalian, was concerned about integrating secular knowledge with religious faith, and continued to promote the academic excellence for which the university had been known for many years[4]. President Pusey’s tenure coincided with a vigorous presence of the Catholic minority at Harvard[5].

During the years of Fr. Porras’ tenure as chaplain, Mass began to be celebrated monthly on campus; in addition, the Archbishop and the President of the University took part in a yearly social gathering organized by the Catholic Club in one of the University buildings; and the Charles Chauncey Stillman Chair of Catholic Studies was established, with the British historian Christopher Dawson as its first occupant, from 1958 until 1962. The Harvard Catholic Club grew in number of members and organized a number of high-level cultural and intellectual activities. In the following pages, we will consider the role that Fr. Porras played in these developments[6].

Finally, we will study Fr. Porras’s vision of how Catholics – and laypersons in particular –should make their faith a visible reality in secular institutions of higher learning, such as Harvard University, in the 1950s. Such a consideration can assist in gaining a deeper understanding of the relation between Catholicism and secularization.

As is well known, the years that followed the end of the Second World War witnessed a considerable expansion and development in Catholic institutions of higher learning. In the years preceding the Second Vatican Council, this development involved a continuation of the discussion, dating back to the 19th century, on the degree to which Catholics may participate in the secular cultural institutions of their milieu. In the case of education, one of the questions that was posed was whether Catholics should be allowed to attend secular institutions of higher learning. This discussion has sometimes been described as a moment in the transition between the mentality of a “Catholic Revival” as opposed to the tendency toward “assimilation” into a secularized culture as manifested in the 1960s and 1970s. On the one hand, the writings of John Tracy Ellis in the 1950s encouraged the presence of Catholics in the culture; but at the same time there existed a strong “defensive” tendency toward creating a separate cultural and social environment – a “Catholic ghetto”  – and a distrust of scientific knowledge[7]. The crisis surrounding the St. Benedict Center and the condemnation of Fr. Leonard Feeney – events which are relevant for the purposes of the present study – are an extreme example of this last position.

The six years of Fr. Porras’ presence as Chaplain can also shed light on the presence of Catholics at Harvard, as well as on the relations between the University and the Archdiocese; and this, in turn allows us to understand indirectly the presence and development of Opus Dei in the U.S. during the years preceding the Second Vatican Council[8].

1. Why Fr. Porras?

To answer the question of why Archbishop Cushing decided to appoint Fr. Porras as chaplain of the Harvard Catholic Club, we  will consider three factors: the following questions: the Harvard Catholic Club and the crisis caused by the St. Benedict Center; the person of Fr. Porras; the presence of Opus Dei in the Archdiocese of Boston.

a. The Harvard Catholic Club and the crisis at the St. Benedict Center

Thanks to the efforts of some Catholic students and the welcoming attitude of the University authorities, the Catholic Club began to function in the late 1800s, in spite of the apparent lack of interest on the part of the Boston Archdiocese. Over the years, the number of Catholic students at Harvard had grown; meanwhile, the University had been losing its religious dimension and had become secularized[9].

At the time, there were some 250 Catholics at Harvard, and the establishment of a Catholic Club allowed them to have a visible presence on campus. In 1900, Phillips Brooks House was established as a center for religious and charitable organizations, and the Harvard Catholic Club began to use it as a meeting place[10].

During these early years, no chaplain was named; nor was there any connection with St. Paul’s Parish in Harvard Square, though such a connection arose, as was logical, very soon after the establishment of the Club.

In 1901, Fr. John Farrell, associate pastor of St. Paul’s, was officially named chaplain of the Catholic Club. From that time until 1954, when Fr. Porras was named, there were eleven chaplains, six of whom were at the same time pastors or associates at St. Paul’s. Throughout these years, the relationship between the parish and the Club varied according to the circumstances and the persons involved – at times it was very close, at others more distant, and this led to occasional changes in the nature and operation of the Catholic Club.

In the early years of the 20th century, the Jesuit Fr. John Lafarge, a Harvard alumnus and a convert to the Catholic Church, suggested that a religious congregation, entrusted with the care of the parish and with the chaplaincy of the University, would be the most adequate and permanent way of serving both the parish and the University community. Of the two religious orders, Fr. La Farge saw the Society of Jesus as the more appropriate (the other was the Paulist congregation). However, in 1907, the recently named Archbishop of Boston, Most Rev. William H. O’Connell, decided to entrust both the parish and the Catholic Club to archdiocesan clergy. Although Archbishop O’Connell, like many bishops and clergy at the time, did not look kindly on the presence of Catholic students at Harvard, he entrusted to the Catholic Club a property situated at 32 and 34 Mt. Auburn St., which came to be known as the Newman House[11].

The period between 1907 and 1925 came to be known as the “Club House Era.” During this time, the Catholic Club became more closely identified with St. Paul’s Parish, and in 1913 the pastor of St. Paul’s, Fr. John J. Ryan, an alumnus of Boston College, became chaplain of both the Harvard and the Radcliffe Catholic Clubs[12].

During these years, relations between the University and Archbishop O’Connell became strained one the occasion of the dedication of the new St. Paul’s Church in 1916. On that occasion, the Archbishop expressed his concern about the process of secularization affecting society. “There is a very great danger,” said the Archbishop, ”not far distant from this sacred edifice. It is the growing tendency to separate science from faith, and spiritual from material forces”[13].

In any case, by the 1920s the Catholic Club had become a presence in the University, and had established a program of activities that attracted a regular attendance of some fifty members. A much larger number attended the yearly dance, which became the best-known event in the Club calendar and attracted as many as a thousand couples. Nevertheless, some Catholics complained that the Catholic Club was stagnating and seemed unable to draw the attention of a greater number of Catholic students (at the time, about a quarter of the Catholic on campus were involved in the Club)[14].

The situation failed to improve with the arrival of Fr. Augustine Hickey as pastor of St. Paul’s. That same year, the Newman House was torn down to make room for a new rectory for the parish. Until the fall of 1933, the Catholic Club made use of a property on De Wolf St. but that building was soon lost as well. At this point, the Harvard Catholic Club became, in fact, subordinate to the parish, to which Fr. Hickey devoted his principal efforts. A sign of this situation was the fact that, between 1930 and 1932, four successive chaplains were appointed by the Archdiocese.

During these years, the “House system” was becoming an essential feature in the life of the University. Upperclassmen were assigned to one or another of the “Houses”, not only for purposes of residence, but also for some academic activities. Each House became a focus for social interaction for students in the last three years of their undergraduate involvement. At one point, Fr. Francis Green, who, besides being chaplain of the Catholic Club, was also an associate pastor of St. Paul’s, attempted to integrate the Club’s activities with the House system, but achieved only a limited measure of success. The lack of a “home base” for the Catholic Club was obviously a serious drawback to its operations. To this difficulty was added, some years later, the involvement of the U.S, in the Second World War from 1941 onward, with all its effects on the life of the University.

This situation which extended over a period of more than 20 years, gave rise to a number of initiatives on the part of Catholics in and around the Harvard community, which were independent form both St. Paul’s parish and the Harvard Catholic Club. The best-known of these was the St. Benedict Center.

Properly speaking, the St. Benedict Center was never a part of the history of the Harvard Catholic Club, or even of the efforts of the Archdiocese to provide pastoral attention to the University community; and yet, it is part of the history of the Catholic presence at Harvard; and the crisis it caused had serious repercussions in the history of the Catholic Club in the 1950s[15]. It is in this light that we can best understand the appointment of Fr. Porras.

The St. Benedict Center arose in 1941, as an initiative of some students and faculty members at Harvard, assisted by the efforts of Mrs. Catherine Clark, who operated the St. Thomas More Bookstore on Church Street. From the beginning it enjoyed the approval of Fr. Hickey, the pastor, and of the chaplain of the Catholic Club, Fr. Green. However, in spite of the fact that it was situated across the street from St. Paul’s Church, its activities were not carried out in the context of the parish. The Center included a conference room, space for discussion groups and a library.

In 1942, Fr. Leonard Feeney, S.J. became active in the St. Benedict center. At the time he was some 45 years old and, after ten years of teaching at Boston College, was at the height of his literary and academic career. He was known as a charismatic speaker who attracted crowds. In 1945 Fr. Feeney was named full-time chaplain and became the heart and soul of the St. Benedict Center[16].

The future cardinal Avery Dulles, a Harvard student at the time and a pioneer of the St. Benedict Center, recalled the atmosphere of the Center before the crisis erupted: “Thursday nights were special, because they were reserved for Fr. Feeney’s weekly lectures on theology. The Center was vastly overcrowded that night, with people on the street leaning into the doors and windows. By the summer of 1946 the Center was a beehive of activity. Scores of students became converts to Catholicism, and many others, who had drifted away, returned to Catholic practice”[17].

But as time went on, the atmosphere changed. Throughout 1947, Fr. Feeney and those who frequented the Center began to lay a heavy stress on what they saw as an incompatibility between the Catholic faith and the increasingly secularized American culture. At the same time as he propagated an extreme interpretation of the teaching of the Church on the salvation of non-Catholics, Fr. Feeney began to encourage Catholics to abandon Harvard. Ultimately, the ensuing controversy, which some have dubbed the “Boston Heresy Case”, became the occasion for a consultation directed to the Holy See by the Archbishop of Boston, and the authoritative response of the Holy Office in the matter.  One description of the controversy refers to it as “a reaction to the direction that the Catholic Church was taking by moving from the ideals of a religious past to the realities of a secular present”[18].

Archbishop Cushing, who had been a high-school classmate of Fr. Feeney, had tried to resolve the situation without resorting to extreme means; but this became impossible. In 1949, after Fr. Feeney refused to accept the indications of his religious superiors in Boston, he was expelled from the Society of Jesus and forbidden to teach. The Archbishop was thus faced with a delicate situation.

Richard J. Cushing was a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston, and became its Archbishop in 1944. Even before the crisis of the St. Benedict Center, he had received requests seeking a solution to the situation of the Harvard Catholic Club. In 1946, Clement Lee Counts, Jr., a Harvard alumnus and a member of the Harvard Archeological Society, had written, “While we know that the Church would rather not have her men there, the fact remains that they do go, and will go. Consequently, they need proper care and guidance. As a matter of fact, Harvard men are often outstanding leaders, and the Church can well use leaders of strong faith and understanding”[19].

In view of the St. Benedict Center crisis, by 1949 it was clear that a “student center” for Catholics at Harvard was becoming an urgent necessity. In February of that year, Francis J. Milligan, a recent alumnus of the Harvard Law School, wrote to the Archbishop, “We fully realize the difficulties presented by the present situation, and your position, as you explained to us, is not an easy one. But we would like to take the opportunity to tell you again that our interest and energy have not diminished in any respect”[20].

The dialogue between the Catholic Club and the Archbishop continued into the following year. In March of 1950, John J. Trudon, chairman of the Catholic Club Fund Committee, suggested to Archbishop Cushing that, while the ultimate goal would be the construction of a catholic Center, “because of the urgency of the problem” it would be important to find a provisional solution, involving a rented facility and, above all, the naming of a competent chaplain. “He must be -wrote Trudon- eminently qualified to handle the intellectual problems of students on the university level”[21].

The Archbishop, after his experience with the St. Benedict Center, was determined to approach the matter very carefully. In his reply to Trudon, he stated clearly that “in a project of this kind the Archdiocese must have absolute control”. While he insisted that for the moment, he was not ready to respond to these requests, he promised to deal with the matter by the beginning of the following academic year[22]. The two met again before the summer, and the Archbishop expressed his desire to begin a fund drive to as to establish a Catholic Center at Harvard. Once again, he insisted that “this project must be carefully planned”[23].

Archbishop Cushing was, in fact, considering the matter with Fr. Hickey, the pastor of St. Paul’s, who was also the Vicar General of the Archdiocese. In answer to one of Fr. Hickey’s letters, he wrote, “Your letter of July 2 set me thinking again of the character and purpose of the Catholic Center for students at Harvard which you plan to open in the fall”.

The pastor explained to the Archbishop his vision of such a Catholic Center, taking into account the circumstances of the time. It would require room for some 75 people, since “the usual meetings of the Catholic Club are not larger than this number”.

According to Fr. Hickey, the Center should clearly not be a “Club house,” but rather a place “for discussion and progress in knowledge and goodness”. It should be open only when the Reverend director was present; he suggested that, as an experiment, the Center could be open four hours in the afternoon and two or three hours in the evening. Since during the first year the Center would function on a part-time basis, the pastor suggested that two priests (one in charge and an assistant) be assigned to inaugurate the project. He also gave the Archbishop a profile of a future chaplain: “A priest assigned to this work must be intelligent, with academic interest and some academic standing, and with understanding and sympathy for young students. This is why I suggest faculty members of the Seminary”[24].

In fact, the efforts made during the summer of 1950 did not achieve any degree of success, although a few donations were received, including an unspecified amount from a hitherto little-known congressman by the name of John F. Kennedy[25].

With the beginning of the 1950-51 school year, Archbishop Cushing adopted a provisional solution: as chaplain of the Catholic Club he named his own secretary, Fr. Lawrence J. Riley, who was also on the faculty of St. John’s Seminary.

Fr. Riley continued as chaplain through the 1951-52 school year. In a report on his first year in that position, he informed the Archbishop about the status of the programs at the Club, which involved between 30 and 40 people. Fr. Riley added, in an unenthusiastic tone, “for neither activity was there much support from the members of the Club”[26].

In the fall of 1952, Fr. Riley was able to pass on the responsibility for the Catholic Club to Fr. Vincent McQuade, O.S.A., president of Merrimack College, in Andover, MA. Fr. McQuade was obviously deeply involved in matters of the college, which was about 30 miles from Cambridge, and therefore could dedicate even less time to his work as chaplain[27].

Meanwhile Fr. Feeney continued to ignore the warnings given him, until, in 1953, the Holy See excommunicated him[28] As a consequence, renewed efforts were made to alert the Archdiocese to the need for “a well-trained chaplain, and for a social center for Catholics at Harvard”. Thus, in 1954 a Fr. Cotter relayed the concern of a Harvard student with whom he was acquainted: “I hope that something will be done by the Archbishop about this situation in the near future.” This news reached the archdiocese in April 1954[29].

Catholics at Harvard wanted Church authorities to leave behind the Feeney crisis and to provide the pastoral services they needed. “Now, when the word ‘center’ is mentioned around here, the sound ‘Benedict’ is rarely far behind, but, in terms of the student, unjustly so. Objections on the basis of the Feeney failure overlook the fact that it is the student here at Harvard and Radcliffe who is frustrated in his efforts to keep alive in Catholic thought”[30].

In the summer of 1954, the president of the Harvard Catholic Club, Leo Zavatone, wrote to Fr. McQuade, then chaplain of the Club, concerning the need to avoid the situation – the lack of a program – in which they had found themselves the previous year. He added, “I am also working hard to build up the Catholic Club for next year, talking to students I know and various other persons who have an interest in the Club (namely Fr. Nugent at the Newman Center, Dr. Rodgers, Fr. Porras at Opus Dei House & members of the M.I.T. C.C. plus others”[31].

As we have seen, in October of 1954, Archbishop Cushing named Fr. Porras chaplain at the Harvard Catholic Club, when he came to inaugurate Trimount House, the Opus Dei residence mentioned by Zavatone.

b. Fr. William Porras, historian and priest of Opus Dei

Guillermo Jesus Porras Muñoz was born in El Paso, TX on July 22, 1917, and was baptized a few months later in Sacred Heart Church in that city[32]. His parents were from the state of Chihuahua and returned there once young William had finished elementary school. He attended high school in the “Instituto Científico y Literario” operated by the Jesuits. His later studies took place in non-Catholic institutions, generally of a secularist bent. After high school, he attended the “Escuela Libre de Derecho” (Law School), in Mexico City, where he obtained a law degree. At the same time, his interest in history led him to take part in the first “Cátedras de Humanidades” (studies in the humanities) of the “Colegio de México” and to attend classes in the “Facultad de Filosofía y Letras” (humanities department) in the National Autonomous University of Mexico, as well as studies in the National School of Anthropology[33].

Guillermo Porras soon became known as a historian. Between 1944 and 1946, he published articles in the “Revista Chihuahua” and the “Boletín de la Sociedad Chihuahuense de Estudios Históricos”.

In 1946, he moved to Spain, with a scholarship from the Instituto de Cultura Hispánica, to do research in various archives:  The National Archives of Spain, the Archivo de Indias and the Archive of Simancas.

He obtained a Doctorate in History from the university of Seville, with a dissertation on the government of Nueva Vasconia.

While in Spain, he met several members of Opus Dei who were also involved in research on Latin American history. He was attracted to this Catholic organization, which consists primarily of laypersons, and which proposes the goal of seeking Christian perfection in the middle of the world through the sanctification or professional work, contributing in this way to the evangelizing mission of the Church. In July of 1947, Porras requested to be admitted in Opus Dei as a numerary, committed to a life of celibacy[34].

An immediate result of his commitment was his involvement in promoting and directing some of the student residences being established by Opus Dei, such as Moncloa in Madrid and Guadaira in Seville. During summer vacations, he took part in the organization of courses at the Menendez y Pelayo summer  university and the Spanish-American University of La Rábida. His correspondence shows the intense activity that the young man undertook to provide for the human and Christian development of university students, as well as his passion for what was known in those days as “Intellectual Apostolate”. Related to these efforts was his scholarly work, which put him in contact with people involved in Latin American studies, such as the American historian Adele Kibre, whom he met at the Hispanic-American archive known as the “Archivo de Indias,” situated in Seville. She offered to obtain for him an invitation to teach at the University of California, “or more precisely,” as Porras wrote to her, “to remind them of an invitation they had extended to me years ago”[35]. At the time, Kibre, who had worked in the Vatican Secret Archives, was considering her decision to become a Catholic, and wanted to count on the advice of her colleague William Porras[36].

Soon after his commitment to Opus Dei, William Porras had the opportunity to meet its founder, St. Josemaría  Escrivá de Balaguer, who was 45 years old at the time[37]. They met on a number of occasions, at times at the request of the founder himself. “Your letters, which I have read and reread in Rome, have always made me very happy. But I would like to see you and talk with you before I have to get involved in any more running around”[38]. Soon they came to be very much in tune with each other; and in 1948, Porras told the founder that he would be ready to be ordained a priest[39].

Early that year, Porras had written to St. Josemaría, “I was particularly impressed by your insistence that we go to America”[40]. The following October, in Madrid, he was teaching English to a small group of members of Opus Dei who were preparing to move to the U.S. and begin their apostolic work there. The following spring, he spent two weeks in Rome, close to the founder[41].

He had begun his studies in theology while he was still carrying out his research, and, on July 1, 1951, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop José María García Lahiguera, auxiliary bishop of Madrid.

The founder of Opus Dei had been counting on Fr. Porras to help develop Opus Dei’s apostolic activities in the United States, which had begun two years earlier[42]. Thus, after celebrating his first Solemn Mass in his hometown in Mexico, Fr. Porras arrived in Chicago, with the intention of remaining there for a year, as chaplain of Woodlawn Residence, near the University of Chicago.

Fr. Porras, whom young people would soon begin to call “Fr. Bill,” was the second priest of Opus Dei to arrive in the U.S. The first was Fr. Joseph Muzquiz, who had been in Chicago since 1949, and who described the visit he made to introduce the new arrival to the Archbishop, Samuel Cardinal Stritch: “We visited the Cardinal and I presented the petition for faculties, which he granted for a year. He was gracious, and he liked having another priest, who besides had a Ph.D. in history”[43].

A year later, Fr. Porras moved to Boston, and in September of 1952, he met for the first time with Archbishop Cushing. At that interview, he told the Archbishop about the project of establishing a residence for university students in the city: Trimount House[44].

c. Opus Dei in the Archdiocese of Boston – Trimount House

Opus Dei had begun its activities in the United States in February of 1949, with the arrival in the country of Fr. Joseph Muzquiz and three lay members, who had the intention of settling in Chicago[45]. While still in the air, Fr. Muzquiz wrote to the Founder: “We are arriving. In a few minutes we will be landing in New York. (…) A little while ago we were over Boston. We saw Harvard University – a painting of it is in the dining room in Molinoviejo – and we have prayed to its Guardian Angel and to the Angels of all its inhabitants”[46]. Two years later, Fr. Muzquiz suggested to Archbishop Cushing that Opus Dei might begin its apostolic work in the Archdiocese.

It wasn’t the first time that the topic of Opus Dei was mentioned in Boston. Five years earlier, the Spanish Physicist José María González Barredo, who spent six months working at M.I.T., had the opportunity of explaining Opus Dei to the Archbishop’s secretary[47].

Now, in January of 1951, the Archbishop was receptive to Fr. Muzquiz’s message. “He said he was open to ‘anything that would work for the sanctification of lay people’ and that the door was wide open for speaking to people, since many persons ‘wanted to know about these things’”[48].

After meeting Archbishop Cushing, and on his advice, Fr. Muzquiz spoke at length with the rector of St. John’s Seminary, Msgr. Thomas J. Riley. “I had a long conversation with the Rector and I think he understood quite well. The next day he told me that he had spent a half hour with the Archbishop and that, although no additional institutes were admitted in the diocese, he tried to convince the Archbishop that our work is ‘unique’ and very necessary. They were thinking specifically about Harvard, the most prestigious university in America, where the only Catholic group was unfortunately the St. Benedict Center, which continued to oppose the hierarchy of the Church, and the Archbishop had excommunicated those who attended their activities[49]. As we have seen, the excommunication from Rome arrived some two years later.

In the summer of the same year, Archbishop Cushing traveled to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, and was able to visit La Estila, a residence for students that Opus Dei had established in that city[50]. Toward the end of the year, Archbishop Cushing granted permission for Opus Dei to establish its first center in the Archdiocese. It consisted of a small apartment on Commonwealth Ave., where two Spanish scientists – Santiago Polo and Luis Garrido, came to live while pursuing their studies at Harvard University[51].

During the following months, Fr. Muzquiz continued to meet with Archbishop Cushing in Boston. In February of 1952,he was invited by Msgr. Lawrence Riley, secretary to the Archbishop but also chaplain of the Harvard Catholic Club, to give a series of talks about “Sanctifying One’s Professional Work”. Onthat occasion, healso visited the Archbishop, who once more expressed his support for the establishment of a residence for students[52].

As we have already noted, Fr. Porras also took up the subject of a student residence in his first meeting with Archbishop Cushing, in September of 1952. The Archbishop told him that at the moment he could not offer them financial support, but that he hoped to be able to do so in the future. Fr. Porrascommented that the Archbishop told him that “a great amount of good work is being done in the Archdiocese, but that there are many people whom we will be able to reach, with whom nothing is being done at the moment. (…) ‘Really, he said, I don’t know much about the Work, I only visited one of your houses in Spain, but I am with you one hundred per cent’”[53].

In May of 1953, Fr. Porras moved to Boston, residing in a small apartment on Commonwealth Avenue with Polo and Garrido, the two physicists who were already working at Harvard. A few months later, they purchased two adjoining properties at 22 and 24 Marlborough St. in Back Bay, with the intention of establishing a student residence. That same month, Archbishop Cushing gave his permission for a chapel to be installed[54].

Trimount House, as it came to be called, was still in the process of being remodeled and decorated when it began its operation at the beginning of the academic year 1953-54, with a small group of students. An item in the Boston Post, published in February of 1954, mentioned that there were 14 students in residence, both Catholics and Protestants, from a variety of racial backgrounds. The article continued: “The Opus Dei house is set up nicely, with a homelike atmosphere”, and included an interview with Fr. Porras, and also with Luis Garrido, who was working toward a Ph.D. in Physics.

These statements, which appeared in print at the time, give an idea of the goals that Opus Dei was setting as it undertook the unique apostolate described by the Archbishop, as well as the long-range view of the future Harvard chaplain. “The purpose of Opus Dei is two-fold, a way of life approaching perfection for its members that can be demonstrated in the ordinary walks of live, and sanctuary for students of every race and creed during the period of their professional studies, a normal home for the years while they must be away from their own homes”. (…) “Said one of them, a young Spaniard studying physics at Harvard. ‘The end of Opus Dei is the sanctification of the members’”. And Father Porras added: “We are concerned with the adverse influences when our students go to non-Catholic universities. We want to provide students with a place where they can lead a pleasant and decent life, a place for their development professionally and spiritually, no matter what their creed may be. By being better men, they can be better citizens. You can’t go against things which are very negative. You have to give them something positive. I think that many times in this country we go at things too negatively”. The article ended up by saying: “Trimount House, which already has Archbishop Cushing’s approval and encouragement, will receive his formal blessing early this spring”[55].

In June of 1954, at the end of the first academic year that Trimount House was in operation, Fr. Porras met once more with Archbishop Cushing. “I told him that we were very pleased with the development we are seeing. I told him about the days of recollection we have organized and also about the young man from Harvard who made his First Communion. For the first time, he asked me to sit down”. He went on to explain that the only problems that they were having were financial, since they did not have the money to continue remodeling the house and were now thinking about taking out another mortgage. The Archbishop advised him not to incur any further debts, and promised him a grant of $5,000, with a view to further assistance in the fall[56].

In October of 1954, after a delay of some months with respect to the original plan, Archbishop Cushing came to bless the chapel of Trimount House, and to take part in the official opening of the residence. During this event, the Archbishop commented, “I met Opus Dei some years ago, in the residence in Santiago de Compostela. I was so impressed that I began to foster a hope that Opus Dei would come to Boston…There is a urgent need for the Work here in America. I am very grateful for the help you have given, and I expect you will continue helping”[57].

It was some three years since Archbishop Cushing had begun his contact with Opus Dei. During that time, he had kept in touch on a regular basis with Fr. Muzquiz and Fr. Porras, and was aware of the activities they had been organizing with college students in the Archdiocese. He had also received a positive report on these activities from the Rector of St. John’s Seminary, Msgr. Thomas J Riley, in whom he had full confidence. As a consequence, when two influential Catholic laywomen, Mrs. McManus and Mrs. Fitzgerald, who had helped set up Trimount House, suggested to the Archbishop that he name Fr. Porras Harvard chaplain, he agreed to do so on the spot[58]. Thus, as was noted earlier in these pages, it was during the inauguration of the residence that the Archbishop proposed to Fr. Porras that he take over the chaplaincy[59]. Taking into account the recent crisis provoked by the St. Benedict Center, one can conclude that Archbishop Cushing had found a priest who could resolve the problem involving the Harvard Catholic Club.

A few days later, Fr. Muzquiz, who had come from Chicago for the inauguration of Trimount House, wrote about the Harvard Catholic Club to the Founder of Opus Dei: “The Archbishop told us, ‘You people should take it over’. You should take care of it and make sure students come to the residence. Right now they don’t have any place to gather, and the present chaplain lives 30 miles away and can’t take care of them”. Fr. Muzquiz continued: “He wanted a priest of the Work (Guillermo, who is in Boston) to be the chaplain and said he would talk with the present chaplain (who apparently wants to leave the position, since he is now the President at a college), so that the two of them can get together”[60].

2. The new chaplain’s vision, dedication and priorities

Fr. Porras set to work immediately. During his first year as chaplain, he had four meetings with Archbishop Cushing in which he informed him about his projects and sought his advice. He kept up this same rhythm of appointments throughout the following years[61].

In the first report that he sent to the Archbishop on his chaplaincy he said: “I have always considered that this chaplaincy extended to all the Catholics students at Harvard, whether or not they were members of the Harvard Catholic Club which I have taken to be the instrument through which the work can be carried out”[62].

The new chaplain understood that his mission consisted primarily in mobilizing small groups of students and forming them spiritually and intellectually so that they would be able to positively influence Catholics and non Catholics at the University[63]. “We were trying to work with small groups (a Seminar for Freshmen and Sophomores, another for Juniors and Seniors), a monthly D/R [day of recollection]; that (it) is not possible to contact personally the 400 Catholic Students here so it is our idea to work steadily with small groups and (get them) to do something for them”. Cushing supported the new chaplain’s vision. “He said -Fr. Porras noted in reference to the Archbishop- the idea of small groups is very good. The Club has been run like a Holy Name Society trying to get everybody there which is impossible and has failed. Small groups of lay apostolates may work”[64]. In this way, Fr. Porras avoided appearing like the representative of Catholics at Harvard and fostered the sense of responsibility of the laity in the task of making Catholicism present on campus.

It seems that Fr. Porras was able to transmit this vision to some members of the Harvard Catholic Club. This can be seen in an article: “Lay apostolate on the secular campus”, that Robert Derro, one of the members, published in the Harvard Catholic Club magazine two years after the new chaplain arrived: “There is on the campus today a great opportunity for the development and practice of this type of active faith. (…) The results of lay apostolate, although often not noticeable, are certainly the most effective”[65]. Another sign of the fact that this call to the lay apostolate was well received at Harvard and also at MIT was the 20 or so persons who throughout those years decided to join Opus Dei[66].

The vision of the new chaplain can also be seen a year after he arrived there in a letter sent to Fr. John McCabe, an American priest who was doing his doctoral thesis in Rome on “The danger of non-Catholic colleges for Catholic students”[67]. “I believe –Fr. Porras wrote to Fr. McCabe- that secular colleges are fertile field of apostolate for true Catholic young men and women. There is always a number of converts (and also a number of vocations). The danger is to have Catholics with very little formation come here; they are influenced by the environment instead of being an influence on it. The solution as I see it and try to give it, is to help toward their spiritual development, encourage their apostolate, make them active Catholics; then if they get into trouble they have adequate means to overcome it. Any Catholic is apt to lose his faith if he lacks spirituality and lives in a non-Catholic environment, whether it be a college, an office or digging ditches”[68]. This comment emphasizes Fr. Porras’ position with regard to the positive way to confront the process of secularization and the perspective he had in his efforts as chaplain at Harvard Catholic Club.

On the other hand, Fr. William Porras had not moved to Boston to become the Catholic Chaplain at Harvard. He was the only priest of Opus Dei in that area and he frequently had to visit other cities, including Chicago. Nevertheless he did devote a substantial portion of his time to the Harvard chaplaincy. He and the authorities of Opus Dei understood that this work was a way of helping the Boston diocese but also a way to foster the mission of Opus Dei, an institution young in the Church at that time. Four months after beginning that work, he wrote to Rome: “The young people at Harvard make for a lot of work but this is a very important apostolate”[69]. And at the end of his first year as chaplain, he wrote to Fr. Muzquiz who directed Opus Dei in the U.S. from Chicago: “For the next couples of weeks I will be pretty well tied up with the Club. We are having elections Thursday and so have a lot of unfinished business to take care of now and when we get the new officers we’ll have to do all the planning for the Fall term before they leave for vacations”[70].

In addition, he soon established a regular schedule to receive students personally. Fr. Porras explained to the Archbishop that he had set up fixed hours: “one evening and two afternoons per week, leaving me sufficient time to arrange appointments at other hours that may be more convenient to some of the students”[71]. In the various bulletins and other publications of the HCC, when there was a schedule of the office hours of the chaplain, it also stated that he could always be reached in his residence and it gave the address and phone number[72]. In the Newsletter of HCC one could also read: “It might interest Latin-American students to know that Father Porras speaks Spanish fluently”[73]. It is possible to calculate that in those years Fr. Porras dedicated some ten hours every week to the care of the students. Besides, from 1957 onward he began to dedicate three or four fixed hours to MIT and from 1958 on he dedicated the same amount of time to the students at Harvard Business School. Besides attending personally to the students one would have to add the time he devoted to arranging and participating in other activities that were growing rapidly in those first years. When it came to organizing activities his policy was to encourage the Catholic students themselves to organize and participate in them, but this did not mean that he was completely on the side line. “It is my experience in this short time that they not only need guidance but also pushing, as they are apt to leave everything for the last minute”[74].

The vision of the new chaplain can be summed up in the following list of priorities: a) see to it that the Catholic chaplain was “one more person” at Harvard; b) arrange to have a place where he could begin to work; c) create a new more participative, open and inclusive legal setting for the HCC; d) work toward increasing the number of members of the HCC; e) see to it that the HCC and its activities were better known among all the members of the academic community; f) set up a spiritual program that would promote holiness and apostolate and g) promote a cultural program with a strong philosophical and theological content. These were his priorities, ever present throughout his six years as chaplain (1954-1960).

a. One more person at Harvard

Fr. Porras began his work as chaplain just barely three years after he has defended his doctoral thesis in history and his priestly ordination. At that time, he has 34 years old and practically his whole adult life had been lived in a secular university environment, both in Mexico and in Spain. Consequently, Fr. Porras considered it natural to enter into the life at Harvard. He wanted the Catholic chaplain at Harvard to be considered an insider rather than an outsider.

As a consequence, he soon appeared as one more among the chaplains at Harvard. He immediately got in touch with the then president of the United Ministry to Students, a Presbyterian. Porras described him as a “good man, hardworking and well informed”, and he noted that he “offered him an office close to the chapel and even a room in the same building where he could have an oratory”[75]. In the end, there was no need for those rooms since he had already found rooms in Philips Brook House (PBH). Fr. Porras submitted the petition to use those rooms both in PBH as later in the Harvard Business School with the idea that they could be used by all the Harvard chaplains[76].

Just as Fr. Green had done in the 1930’s, Fr. Porras began to attend the meeting of the “United Ministry to Students” which were held periodically in University Hall. As he himself explained to the Archbishop: “This is not an inter-faith group nor is it their purpose to discuss religious matters. Their object is work together in helping the students at Harvard, their one bond in common”[77]. At that time, Harvard had 12 chaplains belonging to different Protestant denominations and one rabbi. Each year one of them was chosen to be president. “Given the nature of this organization -Fr. Porras continued- it is not possible for the Catholic chaplain to be a member. But since it is focused on purely university matters, one can attend the meetings that are held twice a month.” And in 1957 he wrote: “They have been insisting for two years now in my presiding over the group but they understand that is impossible”[78].

In 1956 the United Ministry to Students decided to invite a Catholic to speak before the United Students Forum. At the suggestion of Fr. Porras, Bishop Wright of Worcester spoke about “The Virtue of Hope” and was very well received[79].

At the same time, Fr. Porras established ties with the college administrators. “Little by little, I got to know and deal with the deans and directors of the dorms… These ties resulted to the benefit of the students since there were some problems that I was able to speak with the dean about and that worked out well. They also invited me to be a part of a commission that met weekly to discuss the concrete problems of the students. That was good because in many cases the students ask for -and respect- the chaplain’s opinion”[80]. “Other university authorities also contacted –as he informed the Archbishop- have been: the Dean of the College, of Students and of Freshmen, the Registrar, House Masters, Seniors Tutors, Freshmen Proctors, and also doctors on the staff in the Hygiene Department.” As Fr. Porras would say: all those who work with the students and others “have been very available”[81].

On their part, the administrators at Harvard could count on Fr. Porras. And so, for example, in April, 1958, the Office of the University Marshal asked him to get together with a group of Ecuadorian students. Later, he was asked to meet with Fr. Gustave Ermecke, a well-known Catholic moral theologian and rector of the Catholic University of Padreborn, in Germany[82]. In March, 1960, Eric Culter of the Admission and Scholarship committee asked for his help in getting Stanley G. Mathews, the director of a Catholic school, to support one of his students who was applying to Harvard. That matter failed but the episode is interesting because it shows that Fr. Porras was convinced that a Catholic could study at Harvard without problems for his faith[83].

The active presence of Fr. Porras at Harvard made it easier for the HCC to be integrated into the Newman Club Federation. It already belonged to the Newman Club province, but it had not become an active member until Fr. Porras’ chaplaincy. In one of his notes he explains that “I arranged things with [the] Dean so it could join the federation and at the same time follow the policy of Harvard in these matters. Since then the Harvard students have published Newman and I have encouraged them to take more interest in the matters of the province. We in fact, gave a National President and a Chairman of the province and we hosted a Province Congress while I was there”[84].

The final words at the end of the last report he wrote about his chaplaincy can be considered the best explanation of the integration he had obtained by 1960: “In closing I would like to say that this year the work at Harvard has reached a peak: there is increasing interest and response on the part of the students, and friendly and generous cooperation on the part of the University authorities and members of the Faculty and of the Hygiene Department, and excellent understanding with the members of the United Ministry to Students. I have been very happy to work with the Dominican Fathers and the Jesuit Fathers all of whom have sacrificed their own personal interests, I am sure, in behalf of the students; and I am most grateful to the priests at St. Paul’s Parish, especially to Monsignor Hickey and Father Collins, for the time and interest and effort they have spent in this work. This certainly does not mean that everything has been accomplished. With God’s grace, I am sure much more can be done”[85].

b. An office for the HCC but not a Catholic Center at Harvard

Hardly a month after his appointment as chaplain, Fr. Porras, referring to a meeting that he has just had with the Archbishop of Boston, noted: “Definitely not interested in having a house for the Club”[86]. It seems clear that, for Cushing, the moment has not yet arrived to consider once again the question of the Catholic Center at Harvard. Nonetheless, Fr. Porras thought it was necessary to have a locale, even a small setting, where the chaplain could meet with students and where the staff of the Club could carry on their work. That is why he asked permission to use some rooms in Philips Brooks House[87].

In June, 1955, the HCC was informed that the Faculty Philips Brooks House Committees had voted favorably to allow the use of an office for all the members of Harvard (and Radcliffe) “religious organizations” and that it would be available in September[88]

In this way, the HCC returned to Phillips Brooks House after a gap of almost twenty years and once again had a locale. Even though it was quite small, it was furnished and had a university phone number. With time, other activities -the celebration of Mass, and occasional seminars- would also take place there. But for the majority of its activities, HCC would need larger spaces. They habitually used the Lamont Forum Room in Lamont Library.

The absence of a Catholic Center was constantly felt. That is why in spite of the initial negative view of the Archbishop, the question of the Catholic Center came up again twice more during Fr. Porras’ chaplaincy.

The first time was during the 1955-56 academic year, the second of Fr. Porras’ chaplaincy. In February 1956, Fr. Porras commented to the Archbishop that a property near Harvard that the diocese had acquired and had destined to the Armenian Church could very well have served the HCC. The Archbishop responded that it was “a shame that we did not keep that property,” and added that “it would be possible to get Kennedy interested in a project like that and ask him for $100,000 for a center but he himself [Cushing] would have to carry it out”[89]. After this conversation, Fr. Porras was convinced that the Archbishop “is interested in obtaining a building for the students at Harvard, something that previously he did not consider necessary”[90].

In view of these positive signs, the executive committee of the HCC once again brought up the matter with the Archbishop in April of 1956[91]. And in May, the Alumni Council decided to create a committee that would study the possibility of purchasing a building for the HCC. The committee was made up of Fr. Porras, Thomas Barrette, Thomas O’Connor and David Herlihy[92]. But after the summer, the matter was dropped. The Alumni Council decided in October 1956 that it was more urgent to concentrate their efforts on another project that HCC was pushing: the establishment of a Chair of Catholic Studies at Harvard[93].

The second attempt to set up the Catholic Center came about a year later and was the initiative of the then president of HCC: James E. Manahan. In May 1957 Manahan saw that the matter of the Chair was pretty well defined and he thus thought the moment had arrived to reactivate the project. Consequently, he sent a petition to the Archbishop accompanied by a “Report on the Proposed Harvard Catholic Center”[94]. Manahan explained that this report had been drawn up after a year’s work and referenced the rumors that were circulating about the future of St. Paul’s parish: “I understand that there has been talk of converting St. Paul’s Church into a student Church and Center if and when the parish becomes too small to support itself”[95].

The diminishing Catholic population at St. Paul’s, due to the urban expansion of Harvard in that area, and the consequently financial difficulties (of the parish) were clear to all. But even though Cushing had for some time considered that the HCC could lean more on the parish, he was not thinking about suppressing it. In a conversation with Porras, Cushing had said: “I have been thinking that you could use St. Paul more in the future. This parish is disappearing and Hickey is getting older. He is going to celebrate his 50th anniversary this year. He will never do anything for Harvard. He is a good man but too centered on the parish and not on the diocese”[96].

Consequently Cushing responded to Manahan, supporting the idea of the Catholic Center at the same time that he clearly expressed his ideas for the future of St. Paul’s parish: “No reference belongs in these plans to St. Paul’s Church for the simple reason that this project should be something independent of the Church”[97]. In spite of the urban changes around Harvard Square, Cushing clearly saw that the parish should continue.

On his part, Fr. Porras also offered his words of approval for Manahan’s project. “Your report is highly recommendable. Let us hope and pray that the project will become a reality soon. It would certainly be the satisfaction of the dreams of many generations at Harvard, and certainly of those of us who have battled with many difficulties arising from the lack of a proper set-up day after day and year after year”[98].

At the same time, Chaplain Porras told Manahan about his doubts that setting up the Catholic Center would, of itself, assure a greater knowledge and appreciation for Catholicism at Harvard, especially among non-Catholics. “To my mind further recognition can only be gained through the personal apostolate of the Catholic leaders and the Catholic students at Harvard; for this we need a better prepared laity, well informed Catholics. The center would, of course, be a great instrument in reaching or instructing our own people”[99].

At the beginning of the academic year 57-58, Manahan’s project was still alive even though there were signs that the Archdiocese did not appear to be interested in going ahead with it. Thus, for example, in October, the HCC invited the Archbishop’s secretary and former chaplain of the Club, Msgr. Riley, to the annual reunion of the Harvard Catholic Club Council, which would consider a “discussion of plans for a Catholic Center at Harvard”[100]. The secretary sent a thank you note for the invitation but said that he could not be present[101]. In effect, the project of the Catholic Center did not go ahead and for the next two years, neither Fr. Porras nor other officers of the HCC made efforts to pursue it[102].

The question of the Catholic Center came up again in the spring of 1959. Cushing communicated to Porras: “we will have to wait (…) before doing something definitive with Harvard.” Fr. Porras wrote down that, according to the Archbishop, “this is a matter of naming another pastor who would be interested in the work with students (He asks me if I know such a person).  Then construct a center where Catholics can gather and where I could live, he told me. I don’t want to have a center with a chapel; they should use the parish”[103].

At the end of the 1950’s Cardinal Cushing leaned once again toward integrating more the HCC in St. Paul parish. The ties between the two had grown weaker over the years due, in part, to the lack of interest on the part of Fr. Hickey and on the other hand, because there had been three chaplains: Riley, McQuade and Porras, without any formal linkage to the parish.

Fr. Porras had maintained contact with St. Paul during the years when he was chaplain. “We maintain frequent contact with the pastor at St. Paul,” he wrote. “I visit him often and comment (on) our plans and projects and the progress we are making. (…) We invite him to celebrate the Mass for the beginning of the academic year and he preaches and attends some of the activities.” But, he concluded, “He always considers Harvard a dangerous and sterile terrain”[104].

In any case, the project of a Catholic Center at Harvard had failed once again.

c. New Constitution and new by-Laws for the HCC

The exchange of ideas between Fr. Porras and Manahan about the project of a Catholic Center reveal that the chaplain’s vision on the way to present Catholicism at Harvard gave priority to persons -their formation and motivation- over buildings. “To my mind further recognition can only be gained through the personal apostolate of the Catholic leaders and the Catholic students at Harvard; for this we need a better prepared laity, well informed Catholics. The center would, of course, be a great instrument in reaching or instructing our own people”[105].

In this vein and in keeping with his juridical background, Fr. Porras tried to endow the HCC with a legal framework that would reflect this vision. It was not primarily a matter of changing the legal documents, but of giving a new focus and structure to the Club, a focus and structure that reflected a greater openness. As he informed Archbishop Cushing: “I drafted a new Constitution and by-Laws both of which were accepted by the officers and were adopted by vote of the membership”[106]. The new Constitution and the new by-laws -promulgated in the spring of 1955 and revised and emended in the spring of 1956- expressed the chaplain’s idea of converting the HCC into an instrument to reach first of all the Catholics at Harvard and then the greatest possible number of non-Catholics.

The new Constitution began with the words: “PURPOSE: The purpose of the Organization shall be to bring Catholics of Harvard University into closer relationship with one another and with other students, to foster the religious and cultural development of its members, and to spread better understanding of the Catholic religion at Harvard”[107].

Four principles articulate the new norms: participation, openness, continuity and capillary action.

Participation, more than simply efficiency, seemed to be the reason that led Fr. Porras to reform the previous legal framework. For he wrote the Archbishop: “These provided for only President, Vice President, Secretary, Publicity Director and Treasurer who had to conduct all the business of the Club. It was not only impossible for them to do all the work efficiently but it also excluded a number of members who were desirous to take part in running their organization”[108].

The new organization added three permanent committees, together with the already existing Executive Committee, of which the Chaplain formed a part. These were: Publicity Committee, Activities Committee and Membership Committee. Each of them was composed of 10-12 members[109]. With this new structure there were some 40 persons engaged in the running of the HCC.

At the same time, this reform of Fr. Porras tended toward openness. “Except for a few business meetings to which only the members are called, all of the activities are opened to all the Catholics students in the university and some are held for the University community at large”[110]. This also created new categories of members, making room for non-Catholics who according to the new By-laws could form part of the HCC as Associated Members. Likewise, Faculty and Alumni could become Honorary Members.

In order to take advantage of the experience of the previous generations and to give solidity and continuity to the HCC, Fr. Porras undertook one of the most significant legal changes: the creation of the Harvard Catholic Club Council. This new organism was made up of “honorary chaplains, faculty advisors, and past officers”[111]. Its mission -without having binding value- was to advise the Executive Committee in its tasks. In this way, according to Fr. Porras’ vision one could take advantage of a rich experience which in any other way would quickly be lost because of the rapid succession of the members of the HCC, something characteristic of academic life.

The first meeting of the Harvard Catholic Club Council took place on May 29, 1956. The Council decided to work on two projects: a “Plan for the establishment of a University Chair in Catholic Theology or Philosophy” and “The possibility of a permanent building for the Club”[112]. We have earlier noted the failure of the plan for a Catholic Center. The first project: the Chair, was successful and as we will discuss later. The Harvard Catholic Club Council progressed and grew stronger with the years and in 1960, a reform of the Constitutions foresaw that in the future it would be regulated by its own norms[113].

d. Members and finances

The reform of the statutes carried out by Fr. Porras above all with respect to increasing the categories of members and an openness in most of the activities to non- members, made the HCC anything but a closed, elitist association. In fact, for some people, the very concept of member had lost its relevance[114].

This real risk, something that Fr. Porras had in a way sought, did not keep him from seeking to increase the number of members by means of capillary action. Among other means the new juridical structure allowed for a Membership Committee and the possibility of committees in each House at Harvard and the dorms for the freshmen[115]. At the same time, an effort was made to obtain members from among the graduate students.

This effort was successful.  The figures that Fr. Porras sent to the Archbishop show a growing number of members between 1954 and 1960. Counting only undergrads the year ’54-’55 began with 89 members and ended up with 156[116]; the year ’55-’56 concluded with 205[117]; the year ’56-’57 with 220[118]; the year ’57-’58 with 225[119]; the year ’58-’59 with 239[120]; and the year ’59-’60 with 289[121]. During these years the number of Catholics at Harvard oscillated between 481 and 516, so the HCC grew from 20% of the total number of Catholics in 1954 to 56% in 1960.

The students in the Graduate School of Arts and Science, less traditionally active in the HCC, also increased from 27 members of a total of 160 Catholics in 1958, to 53  of a total of 159 in l960[122].

The increase in the number of members in HCC helped the finances of the Club that were always rather shaky financial. From the beginning, Fr. Porras had decided on “the policy of not seeking any financial profit from the religious activities but (to) try only to cover expenses”[123]. He had also decided to lower the fees in order to increase the numbers incorporated into the HCC.

During the first period when Fr. Porras was chaplain, the HCC income amounted to $449.61 ($312 of which came from fees paid by the members). In the final year that had increased to $2,834.21 ($450.00 of which came from fees of the members; $869 from donations and $1,393.65 from the Registration mixer). As Fr. Porras himself explained: “The registration mixer is a social. This has become the main source of income and has enabled the Club to hold some of its functions with no charge for the members in order to encourage membership”[124].

Most of the expenses of the HCC during these years were for publicity: announcements in the “Current” and the “Crimson”; Posters for the bulletin boards, and post-cards and letters sent out which would allow all the Catholics to know about the activities organized by the Club.

The second most expensive item was expenses for the invited speakers who were a help enriching the cultural program of those years[125].

To cover these various expenses, Fr. Porras encouraged donations, as can be seen in a note from 1957: “The activities of the Club have begun well. We received $900 from the registration dance and a $1,000 donation for conferences, so it seems possible to do quite a lot this year”[126].

There was also an attempt to get in touch with alumni and build up a network with them. “I have been trying to rebuild the files of the Club and would appreciate any information you may give me on your term of office, I.E. (…) Do you have any mementos of interest to the Club that you would care to donate (programs, announcements, etc.)”[127]. In his report to the Archbishop on the year ’59-’60 he makes reference to some of the results in this area: “Three alumni, all past officers of the Catholic Club, in the Boston area have been specially interested and active this year; they are Leo V. Zavatone of Quincy, William F. Looney, Jr. of Arlington, and David Herlihy of Roslindale.” He explained that they had gotten together from time to time to advise the present officers. And they had thought about having an annual fundraiser to support Current, the Newman Lectures and the annual retreat[128]. We will discuss all these initiatives in the following pages.

e. From “Harvard Catholic Club Newsletter” to “The Current”

The new chaplain wanted to give greater visibility to the activities organized by the HCC by publishing a very modest Newsletter of a few pages starting in 1955 n 1956, it changed its name to Current. During the next few years it gradually grew in size and quality and in 1959 it became a magazine.   In 1961 it changed names to The Current[129].

In June of 1955, Fr. Porras wrote to one of the officers of HCC: “(We) are moving our plan for the newsletter.” He expected the first issue to be ready for the beginning of the following semester[130].

The first issue of the Newsletter appeared in October 1955. It was a very simple monthly six page publication, produced on a mimeograph machine.  The publisher was PBH and Jim Manahan, then secretary of the HCC, was the editor. In the following months the number of members of the Editorial Board kept on growing.

During its first and only year of existence the Newsletter came out punctually. It offered information about the organization of the HCC: the list of the officers with their telephone numbers and the office hours for Fr. Porras in PBH. In addition, each issue included the calendar of events for the month, presentation of the upcoming speakers and news about the activities that had already taken place. Some issues also included brief essays with titles like: “The vocation of Jacques Maritain”, “Graham Greene”, “Integration” and also book reviews. “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, by James Joyce, was reviewed in November of  1955[131]. Another section of the Newsletter was the “Catholic of the month,” a brief biography of the person chosen for this honor by the HCC. Among such figures who appeared in this period were Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, and the Democratic governor of Ohio, James M. Cox[132].

In October,1956 the Newsletter while maintaining its same format and content, was given a new name: “Current.” Beginning in December of 1956 the cover bore also the recently created shield of the HCC, with the motto: “Fides et Scientia.” This was the format followed for three years, i.e. until October 1959. Fr. Porras informed the Archbishop about these improvements: “‘Current’ is the monthly publication of the Club, first started three years ago, which is mailed free of charge to all the Catholics at Harvard and some parents and alumni (subscriptions are offered to these at 2.00 a year). One thousand copies are printed and mailed monthly at a cost of $55 per month”[133].

October 1959 brought a new era for “Current.” The brief mimeographed bulletin was converted into a 20-page magazine with better design, better paper and better printing. Fr. Porras informed the Archbishop of all this, adding that for economic reasons they had only been able to publish two issues. He wrote: “We print 2,000 copies that are distributed gratis to all the Catholic students in all the student housing and to some parents and alumni”. “The Harvard Crimson gave considerable attention to the Current this year”[134]. In the presentation of the new publication it was made clear that it was not necessary to be Catholic to collaborate with “Current.” “But the magazine as a whole will deal with current controversies and developments in a manner that is both Harvard and Catholic. These two traditions are not incompatible”[135].

With the new format, the number and scope of the contributions increased. Among the first issues there were for example articles by Cardinal Cushing: “In Sheep’s Clothing,” in which he criticized the recent visit of Khrushchev to the United States. This was followed by an article by one of the students: George Maloof ’62, entitled: “Peace through Understanding” in which he criticized the critique of the Cardinal in the previous article. The issue of February-March 1960 included an article by Christopher Dawson: “A Challenge to American Catholics”.

According to Fr. Porras, the staff of the new publication included two faculty, two graduate students and two undergrads[136]. The first name that appeared in the new Advisory Board was that of Rev. Joseph P. Collins, coadjutor at St. Paul and chaplain of Radcliffe Club. Michael Novak also appeared as a collaborator and literary editor in this new “Current.” “The Current. A review of Catholicism and Contemporary Culture,” under the auspices of the Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club and under the direction of Michael Novak, begins in 1961, after Fr. Porras had left the chaplaincy.

f. A spiritual program aimed at sanctity and apostolate

One of the most characteristic features of the HCC since the time of its foundation was its spiritual program. Already in the early years of the 20th century there were frequent sermons and Benediction on the 3rd Friday of each month. These took place at St. Paul’s, still at its first location. In the era of the Club House (1907-1925) there were Communion Sundays held four times a year. During the 1930’s there were the Annual Communion Breakfasts with Mass at St. Paul and breakfast at Harvard Union. And then there were the Lenten lectures that were begun also in those years. At the beginning of the 1950’s the program included an hour of adoration in the church of St. Clement and a dialogued Mass the fourth Thursday of each month; a retreat at the end of February; a solemn Mass at St. Paul at the beginning of every semester and the Communion Sunday on the fourth Sunday of each month. In addition, a small group participated in a dialogued Mass which was celebrated every Wednesday morning at St. Paul’s[137].

When Fr. Porras took over the chaplaincy the program of spiritual activities continued most of these traditional practices: the solemn Mass and sermon at the beginning of the academic year which was celebrated by the Vicar General and the pastor of St. Paul in that parish; the annual retreat and Communion Breakfast.

In addition to these already habitual practices one could note four characteristic features. The first would be stress on the quest for holiness and apostolate.  Fr. Porras treated all the traditional Catholic practices in that prospective. As we have already seen, the chaplain of Harvard was convinced that the key to helping the lay Catholics exert a positive influence on the secular atmosphere rather than be swept along by it, was: “spiritual development, encourage their apostolate, make them active Catholics.”

For Fr. Porras this spiritual development meant seeking Christian holiness, each one in his or her place. The students who came to the chaplain could frequently hear some ideas which he himself had heard directly from the Founder of Opus Dei: “Your duty is to sanctify yourself. Yes, even you. Who thinks that this task is only for priests and religious? To everyone, without exception, our Lord said: ‘Be ye perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect’”[138]. “An hour of study, for a modern apostle, is an hour of prayer”[139]. “Student: form yourself in a solid and active piety, be outstanding in study, have a strong desire for the ‘professional’ apostolate. And with that vigor of your religious and professional training, I promise you rapid and far-reaching developments”[140]. “You have got to be a ‘man of God’, a man of interior life, a man of prayer and sacrifice. Your apostolate must be the overflow of your life ‘within’”[141]. “You laugh because I tell you that you have a ‘vocation for marriage’? Well, you have just that: a vocation”[142].

In the 1950’s it was not completely unusual to propose holiness to the laity as the way to carry out effectively the mission of the Church. In the years just before the Second Vatican Council, American Catholicism gave rise to a number of lay movements that aspired to a deeper spiritual life and a greater consistency between religion and daily life, along with a greater effort to imbue society with Christian principles. Those involved also hoped to share more fully in the Church’s mission. Examples of this “lay awakening” before the council include initiatives as diverse as Commonweal magazine;Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker movement; the Young Christian Workers; the Christian Family Movement; the Grail[143]. At the same time, these horizons, many of which were still in the line of Catholic Action, were far from being the common patrimony of Catholics. In fact, for many young Catholics at Harvard, to hear their chaplain say that they were called to strive for sanctity and to spread the Gospel, not in spite of being at Harvard, but precisely through their intellectual work and their professional relationships and their friendships on campus was certainly new and attractive[144].

Together with this general stress on holines and apostolate, Fr. Porras focused on three elements in his spiritual program: Mass at Harvard, personal spiritual direction and monthly days of recollection.

Mass at Harvard

Even though the HCC was born without direct connection with St. Paul’s parish, it had promptly and logically entered into its orbit. St. Paul was converted into the natural locale where a good number of the Catholics at Harvard attended Mass. It seems that this continued being the case during the years when Fr. Porras was chaplain there. Thus we read in an article published in 1960: “The Harvard students who are Catholics have their own chaplain, Fr. William Porras of Opus Dei, but many come also to St. Paul’s and at eight o’clock on Saturday mornings they assist at a dialogue Mass with ‘four degree’ participation. One of the students reads the epistle, another the gospel”[145].

At the same time, once he became chaplain, Fr. Porras showed great interest in offering the Catholic students at Harvard the possibility of attending the Mass on their campus[146].

By September 1955, after negotiating with the Archbishop, the pastor of St. Paul and the authorities at Harvard, Fr. Porras succeeded: “The Archbishop gave me permission to celebrate at Harvard. This is quite a victory because there has never been Mass there… For now it is only the case of celebrating there on the First Fridays but the Archbishop left it up to me to decide”[147].

Mass was to be held in a room at PBH. Hence, Fr. Porras’ words “there has never been Mass there” referred to the “old yard” at Harvard, not to the campus in general. In 1917, three days after having received his doctorate honoris causa, the then Cardinal of Boston, William H. O’Connell, had officiated a first Mass in Harvard Stadium[148].

The first Mass Fr. Porras celebrated on campus took place in October 1955. “Yesterday –the chaplain wrote with great satisfaction- we had the Mass at Harvard which I consider a terrific success – 75 communicants. The breakfast afterwards was a good chance to be with them”[149].

What the new chaplain did not accomplish was to hold the Mass in the University Chapel, the Memorial Church, situated in front of Widener Library. Fr. Porras had posed the question to the Archbishop in July 1956. Cushing offered some hope but it did not seem easy to him. “We had to send a report to the Apostolic Delegate about the chapels at MIT and Brandeis[150] -the Archbishop said- but get all the information you can about the matter and write me a letter with the data and we will see what can be done”[151]. In August of 1956 Fr. Porras still had hope: “It was a Lutheran chapel and a Unitarian chapel, etc. But now it doesn’t belong to any Protestant group… We will have to clarify some details but I think we will get it”[152]. In the end, his hopes did not bear fruit and Fr. Porras and the students had to settle for Mass that continued to be celebrated once a month in PBH.

Personal Spiritual Direction

Fr. Porras was convinced that spiritual direction, such as he had experienced with St. Josemaría, was an indispensable help, and he dedicated a lot of effort to it. In offering that spiritual accompaniment, he gave special importance to teaching people to pray[153]. During his first year at Harvard, he got together with students in different locations: his own quarters, in a car parked along the street or meeting them for dinner in their housing at Harvard (which turned out to be rather expensive for the chaplain). As we have seen, once the HCC had a room in PBH, the chaplain set up a schedule for meeting with students three afternoons a week. His notes are full of references to this. “The office hours have also turned out well, no crazy problems but on the contrary spiritual advice and confessions”[154]. “It is not unusual for non-Catholics to come also to ask the priest his opinion on problems that come up in class”[155].

The time dedicated to this work soon proved to be insufficient. “Every year more students come to consult problems and for spiritual direction”[156]. “Office hours at Harvard are now proving to be insufficient. This year more and more fellows are coming for different things –including two for instructions. Maybe later on when we have another priest we can add another day”[157].

From 1957 onwards, he also dedicated one afternoon a week to take care of the students at MIT and beginning in 1958 he began to do the same at Harvard Business School where he had also been able to get a fitting place[158] At the end of 1958 he wrote: “Harvard is a busy place these days. I have scheduled office hours at the Business School this year for the first time in history. The Dean has given the Chaplains the use of a suite of rooms nicely located. There are 198 Catholics there this year”[159].

Fr. Porras himself wrote about his work at the Harvard Business School: “These last few weeks we have seen the miracle of grace acting in these souls; especially in the students in the Business School”[160].

Dennis Helming was one of the students who went to Fr. Porras for spiritual direction. He wrote: “Father Bill was an impressive man, owing to his age (34 in 1956), stolid appearance, discretion and authority. He heard me out without saying so much”[161].

Fr. Porras was clearly aware that this work remained completely outside the statistics of the HCC. As he wrote to the Archbishop: “It is hardly possible to judge the degree of spirituality or of devotion by the statistics given above. Some of the students who come to me regularly for spiritual guidance, and some who are daily communicants, refuse to join the Catholic Club and any other form of organizations at Harvard”[162]. But the Archbishop seemed satisfied with the way Fr. Porras was acting: “You are doing things in the best way possible. Personal contact is the way to really get to know them and do more for them”[163].

Days of Recollection and Retreats

Fr. Porras continued the practice of organizing weekend retreats once or twice a year. At the same time, from the beginning he incorporated monthly days of recollection that he began to organize at Trimount House the third Sunday of each month[164]. He had arranged a part of the house in such a way that this activity of the HCC would not interfere with the rhythm of the residence.

Regarding the impact of these activities we can consider two accounts. Carl Schmitt was them doing his doctorate in History at Harvard. He has left this report: “The retreat, in early February, was at Miramar, the Franciscan house in Duxbury. My roommate was Vince Solomita, a young architecture instructor. Father Bill’s first meditation made a strong impression on me. He pointed to the stained glass windows—a lineup of saints, none of them lay people”[165]. And Vince Solomita wrote to Fr. Porras: “This past weekend retreat has been for me a magnificent grace from God. From the first conference to the last your guidance, inspiration, and presence will remain with my memory for a long time to come, in my heart and soul forever”[166].

Fr. Porras wanted to offer days of recollection also for the professors. “There are 25 Catholics who occupy chairs or important posts at Harvard (a very small number taking into account that there are a total of 1,000 faculty). Some enjoy high standing like the dean of the School of Architecture. I have gotten to know them all. Some have come to the retreat that we organized last year or to one of the days of recollection. In both cases we have at least managed to have them get to know one another and develop friendships”[167].

g. A cultural program with strong philosophical and theological content

In Fr. Porras’ vision the cultural program at HCC had to be inseparably united to the spiritual one since the Christian Faith demands dialogue with reason and this dialogue ought to be carried on at the university level. This was also the desire of the Catholics at Harvard as can be seen, for example, in the words of Trudon written in 1950 describing the profile for a new chaplain at Harvard: “He must be eminently qualified to handle the intellectual problems of students on the university level”[168]. So on this point, Fr. Porras stressed the need for good philosophical and theological formation on the part of the laity to enter without complexes into constructive dialogue with a secularized culture.

In its beginnings the HCC celebrated gatherings with a prominent invited speaker every month and two conferences every year. The greater part of these activities were not directed only to Catholics but were open to the whole university. The rhythm and frequency of these cultural activities had varied throughout its history, oscillating between one to four events each month which could be conferences, seminars or courses of apologetics and doctrine[169].

During Fr. Porras tenure, the cultural program grew like never before, very soon reaching the point of three events every week. These were organized in three different forms: 1. Seminars or lecture series, with the same presenter for an entire semester; 2. Lectures with a presenter -a priest or a layperson- from either Cambridge or Boston and the surrounding area; and 3. Lectures given by “big name” individuals who came from around the country. These last were held in large auditoriums.  The lecture given by the English Jesuit Fr. D’Arcy in February 1957, was attended by 850 persons[170].

In Fr. Porras’ view the priority was not the number of attendees but the quality of the presentations. No matter whether they were lay persons or clerics, what was important was that they were “outstanding intellectuals”[171]. Some names and some of the topics can give an idea of how Fr. Porras made his ambitions a reality[172].

The Seminars touched principally on questions of Philosophy, Theology and the Bible and were held in PBH during an entire semester. In February 1956, for example, Fr. James F. Redding, professor at Emmanuel College and an alumnus of the Harvard School of Education, conducted a seminar on philosophy. Redding was the author of The Philosophic Modernism of Nicholas A. Berdyaev (Boston, 1945) and The Virtue of Prudence in the Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas (New York, 1950). Before he began the seminar the secretary of the HCC contacted the head librarian at Lamont Library, informing him about the book they were going to use -Anton C. Pegis’ translation of the  Summa contra Gentiles– so that there might be sufficient copies available for the students[173].

Rev. Frederick McManus, educated at Catholic University of America and an important leader in the dialogue between Catholics and the Orthodox gave a seminar. Rev. J. Moriarty, S.J., an expert in Sacred Scripture dealt with questions like the “Kerygma,” and “Dead Sea Scrolls,” and “The Divinity of Christ.” Fr. William Haas, O.P. From St. Stephen Priory in Dover gave a course on Thomistic Philosophy during three successive semesters: 1958-1959 and the first semester of 1959-1960. A large number of Catholics and non-Catholics attended.[174]. Fr. Haas had to discontinue the seminars because he was named President of Providence College[175] Ref. Walter J. Furlong, Chancellor of the diocese conducted a series of conferences on Canon Law.

If we move on from the Seminars to the Conferences with local dignitaries, the list becomes much longer and we will only give some of the names. In 1955, Rev. Luke A. Farley spoke about matrimony. (In 1961 he would publish “Saints for the Modern Woman. A United Nations of Holiness for the Woman of Today”.) The Rev. Matthew P. Stapleton who had been rector of St. John’s Seminary, gave a series of conferences on the Bible. In November 1955, Dr. Roy Heffernan of Tufts University, spoke about “Doctors and Dogma”. In March 1957, Felix Talbot, S.J. who later became a professor at Boston College, spoke about Religion: On the American Plan, commenting the book of Will Herberg: Catholic, Protestant and Jew. In February 1956, William Leonard, S.J., noted Jesuit theologian and writer, and founder and editor of the Boston College Liturgy and Life Collection, spoke about “The Dignity of the Role of the Layman in the Church”. In that same month, the Rev. Henry P. Ouellette of Matignon High School, Cambridge, spoke on “Conscience and super-ego”. In October 1956, Dr. John Thomas Noonan, a young attorney and later professor of law and a federal judge, gave a conference entitled: “The Individual’s participation in Developing Natural Law”.

It is also possible to document the impact produced by some of these presentations, like that of Dr. John Doyle, who spoke on two different occasions about how “A Catholic Doctor Looks at Birth Control.” In March 1956 the president of the HCC sent him thanks in these words: “The majority of your audience was comprised of non-Catholics. And from their later remarks, I know that many of them went off with a different attitude towards the Church. (…) Thank you again for taking time from your busy schedule to explain the Church’s position on birth control”[176].

We could add other names to the list of local figures like those of Harvard Dean Jose Luis Sert, Francis Rogers and the former professor and writer Daniel Sargent.

The list of “big names” who were invited to Harvard by the HCC is also very long. We have already mentioned Martin D’Arcy, S.J. who had spent some time in Fordham. We could also cite Dr. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Austrian Catholic and social-political theorist who had spend some years in the USA during the Nazi domination. Rev. Father Henry V. Sattler was the Assistant Director of the Family Life Bureau, for the National Catholic Welfare Conference and the author of the book  Parents, Children and the Facts of Life: A Text on Sex Education for Christian Parents and for Those Concerned with Helping Parents. He gave a conference on “The Challenge of Chastity,” After the conference, the Newsletter published a review which stated that “For a supposedly repressive subject, this talk presented a whole new outlook and stimulated a host of questions and discussion afterward”[177].

Thomas P. McTighe, Ph. D., professor of Philosophy in Georgetown University, spoke on “St. Thomas, Scholasticism and Modern Thought.” John Correia-Alfonso, S.J., a well-known Indian academic, spoke about “Hindu Spiritualism Today. Materialism and Modern India”.

Fr. John M. Osterreicher from the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies, Seton Hall University, and editor of the magazine The Bridge, spoke about “The Heirs of Two Testaments.” Osterricher, a leader in the movement for the reconciliation between Jews and Catholics and one of the architects of the Vatican II document: Nostra Aetate, wrote to Fr. Porras thanking him for the invitation: “I’m sure you realize how much I enjoyed my visit. The fact that I begged to be invited again shows how much I felt at home and how congenial I found the intellectual and spiritual climate of the club”[178].

Anne Fremantle, well-known writer about religion, entitled her conference: “The Holy and the Horrid: Promise and Performance in the Middle Ages”. Doctor Helen C. White, professor of the University of Wisconsin and the first woman to be elected president of the American Association of University Professors and of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), spoke about “The Student and His Religion”. And Charles B. Flood, noted writer, covered “The Current Literary Scene”.

A Harvard alumnus, John LaFarge, S.J. spoke on at least two occasions: “Why Be Social Minded?” and “Mature Faith in a Confused Year.” LaFarge also left his impressions in writing: “I enjoyed every moment of the visit. It was a very delightful experience, especially the talks with some of the men themselves. Let us hope that the brighter look that things have taken on recently may continue to grow. Bests wishes to yourself and Father Porras”[179].

Other names included in Fr. Porras’ reports were Most Rev. John J. Wright and Dr. George M. Schuster. There are other names of persons who were invited but were unable to come because of problems in their schedules. These include: Mrs. Claire Booth Luce, US ambassador to Italy; Thomas E. Murray, of the United States Atomic Energy Commission; John Courtney Murray, S.J. and Walter Kerr of the N.Y. Herald Tribune.

Beginning in 1959, as Fr. Porras relates “a new development has been possible thanks to the help of Jesuit Fathers who are studying at Harvard. This consists in our so-called ‘Houses Meetings’ organized by the students living in each house” As the chaplain went on to explain some students would get together over dinner in the private dining room of their houses, with one of the Jesuit students who moderated their discussion about a topic of common interest”[180].

We conclude our review of the cultural program carried out during the chaplaincy of Fr. Porras by making reference to the Communion Breakfast. In reality this fitted into the religious, cultural and social programs because it consisted of a Mass at St. Paul’s and a breakfast afterwards with a talk by an invited guest at a nearby hotel. In Fr. Porras’ time they were held on the first Sundays of December.

In 1955 they tried in vain to invite Cardinal Spellman but instead they were able to host Hugh Stott Taylor, the David B. Jones Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University and Dean of the Graduate School. The Princeton Dean spoke about “American Catholics and Intellectual responsibilities” and about 250 persons attended[181]. “He’s all for intellectual apostolate” wrote Fr. Porras[182]. The invited guest for 1957 was the noted historian Msgr. John Tracy Ellis from the Catholic University of America.  Another historian was the invited guest for 1958: Carlton J. H. Hayes, respected professor of History at Columbia University. Hayes, a convert, had been very active in the movement of lay Catholics in the ’20’s. He helped start the magazine Commonweal in 1924 and was the first Catholic co-chairman of the newly formed National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1928. In the 1920’s he had also encouraged the growth of research in Catholic Institutions of Higher Learning[183]. In 1959 the speaker was Fr. George Tavard, Augustinian, expert in the history of Theology, ecumenism and spirituality.

The names and topics that we have listed on these pages show the strong presence of Philosophy and Theology in the cultural program at the HCC during those years, but Literature, Law and History were not lacking.

Recounting the cultural contribution of the HCC during these years would not be complete without reference to the creation of the Charles Chauncey Stillman Guest Professorship of Roman Catholics Studies. It is true that this was entirely beyond the scope of the HCC. Nevertheless the HCC was a key factor in bringing it about.

3. The Charles Chauncey Stillman Guest Professorship of Roman Catholics Studies. Christopher Dawson at Harvard

The greater part of the available bibliography on the origin of the Charles Chauncey Stillman Guest Professorship of Roman Catholics Studies agrees in placing the HCC as one of its principal promoters[184]. But what cannot be appreciated in these publications is the role played by its chaplain, Fr. Porras[185] Here I am going to complete these accounts based on the documentation that I have been able to consult.

In March 1956 the HCC formally expressed to President Pusey its interest in promoting a Chair of Catholic Studies at Harvard[186]. In the archive of the Boston Diocese there is a letter that the President of Harvard sent to the president of the HCC on April 30, 1956 in which he said: “I shall hope to be in touch with you later about your proposal”[187].

Before receiving Pusey’s response, Fr. Porras and the Executive Committee of the HCC had visited the Archbishop to explain to him several projects, among which was “the possibility of establishing a chair of Catholic studies at Harvard. He very much liked all this,” Fr. Porras commented[188].

As we have seen after these first positive reactions on the part of the president of Harvard and of the Archbishop of Boston, the Alumni Council, the new institution created by Fr. Porras, considered in its first session, May 1956, the “Plan for the establishment of a University Chair in Catholic Theology or Philosophy”[189].

During the summer of 1956, Fr. Porras commented on the project to St. Josemaria in these terms: “In Harvard we have two big projects for which we almost have the approval of the Archbishop and the university authorities. One is that of using the university chapel to offer Mass [As we have seen, that project never did go ahead.] The other project is further along and we only need the money to carry it out. This is the plan to set up a Chair of ‘Catholic thought.’ The hardest part here is to get the University to support it and we have already received that. This is a victory that will have repercussions all over the country because Harvard is the oldest and the model for many of the smaller universities. It won’t be hard to produce a chain reaction and see that others do something similar”[190].

After the summer, Horgan, the president of the HCC, wrote to the Archbishop: “President Pusey has recently written us that the Harvard Corporation would be desirous of helping the Harvard Catholic Club endow a chair of Catholic Theology in Harvard Divinity School”. He also explained to him that interested Catholics would have to provide the money -some $400,000- and that they had organized a meeting to deal with the fund raising. Horgan ended his letter by writing: “It is our hope that we will be able to include you or your appointed representative in helping us form these plans”[191].

Cushing’s response arrived quickly from his secretary. In October, he let Horgan know that the Archbishop had no objection to their fund raising efforts for the chair at Harvard. But he did point out that, “his own extensive educational, cultural, and charitable program has assumed such proportions financially that (He) will be unable to make any contribution toward drives connected with any of the many non-sectarian colleges within the Archdiocese”[192].

It was clear that the Archbishop was not going to get financially involved in the project even though he did give it his blessing. During that same month of October 1956, Fr. Porras summed up the situation: “The H.C.C. has received a letter from + C [abbreviation used to refer to the Archbishop], authorizing the chair at Harvard… Dr. Rogers has been on this too through some alumni in New York who are in the $5,000,000 budget, who are very intellectual. Two of them are coming to Boston to talk with him and me”[193].

According to Callahan, it was Francis Rogers, former Dean of the Graduate Faculty and advisor to the HCC, who set up contact with Chauncey Stillman through the latter’s attorney[194]. At that time, Chauncey Devereux Stillman, 1929 graduate from Harvard and later convert to Catholicism, had for some time been pondering how to help Harvard and Catholics at the same time and he considered that the project of the Chair seemed the best way to do that.

In a second meeting of the Alumni Council, which took place in October 1956, they once again took up the question of the chair. On this occasion, the Faculty advisor of the Club, Francis Rodgers, was present. The secretary of the Club read the correspondence from the Archbishop and President Pusey and “Father Porras informed the Council of an Oct. 30th meeting which he and Dr. Rogers are to have with certain alumni concerning the financial backing of the Chair at the College”[195].

Ten days later, Fr. Porras wrote: “Had supper with Stillman at his apt. (72nd St. at 5 Ave, beautiful place) and we talked at length on the chair at Harvard. He is definitely planning to endow it on his own… After supper his lawyer arrived and we went through it all over again. I think it will work out much better this way”[196]. And before the end of 1956, the chaplain saw that things were moving even more quickly than they had hoped. “My conversation with + C seems to have precipitated things: Stillman is coming to see + C on Jan 2nd to discuss the Chair- if he is going that far it seems certain that he will give the money. Rogers has asked me to have dinner with him and Stillman that evening”[197].

In this way, in January 1957, the project of supporting the Charles Chauncey Stillman Chair of Catholic Studies was well defined and Stillman and Rogers met with President Pusey[198].

In the first days of January Fr. Porras wrote: “The Chair of theology at Harvard is already a fact. Those who are giving the money have met with the Archbishop who had fully approved the plan so there will not be any difficulties. One can expect criticism of some who will not understand but since that will always be the case, we don’t need to pay much attention to them. This will have great repercussions because it will be a model that other universities will follow”[199]. And a few days later he confirmed that “Stillman’s visit to + C was very successful; since then he has talked with Pusey. Both men are very pleased, the money is ready and only the finishing touches are pending”[200].

We do not know if these details that were still pending coincided with the two topics that, according to Callahan, still needed to be defined in the spring of 1957: the place to erect the Chair and the person who would occupy it. According to Callahan, this opened “one of the great discussions of the century” in Harvard[201].

In any case, having reached this point, Fr. Porras and the HCC stepped aside in order to let President Pusey and the faculty deans from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences y Divinity School take over. Initially, they had thought of placing it in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences but given the opposition of that dean, they began to study the possibility of placing it in the Divinity School. Here they also meet opposition. But during the fall of 1957 the obstacles between President Pusey and the dean of the Divinity School, Douglas Horton, were overcome. At the same time they reached an agreement on the profile of the occupant of the Chair and the duration of his appointment. Even though they did not set any confessional demands, informally, they agreed that the Chair holder would have to be Catholic and that he/she would hold the Chair for five years. According to Callahan, at the beginning of 1958 they also reached a consensus on the person: the English historian, Christopher Dawson[202].

Even though the role Fr. Porras played -from the HCC- in the foundation of the Chair is clear, I have not been able to find documentary evidence that could show his intervention -or that of any other member of the HCC-, in the choice of Dawson. Gueguen seems to understand that Fr. Porras and Dean Rogers proposed the name of the English historian. This had been suggested to them by Carl Schmitt, a graduate student in Medieval History who was then doing his doctorate with Charles Taylor[203]. On the other hand, Christina Scott, the daughter of Dawson, states that Stillman himself, sharing the desire of his friend and advisor, the Jesuit John LaFarge, had leaned toward choosing a Catholic Englishman to cover the post[204]. If we follow literally the two testimonials, both accounts could be made compatible. While the Jesuit could have suggested counting on an English Catholic, others concretely suggested Dawson. The fact is that all the interested parties: Stillman, Pusey, Cushing, Horton, Rogers and Porras, all agreed that the selection of the candidate could not be more appropriate.

In February 1958, the Divinity School inaugurated the Charles Chauncey Stillman Guest Professorship of Roman Catholics Studies, and named Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), as its first Chair, even though the news would not be made public until the final endorsement of the Board of Overseers. Independently of the greater or lesser involvement of Fr. Porras in the selection of the candidate, there is no doubt that the chaplain followed the matter very closely. In March, Fr. Porras knew that they were finalizing the details about the chair, that they had named Dawson and that the news would be made public in April[205]. In effect, on April 19, 1958, “The Pilot” gave the news in all detail. We could add that during the summer of 1958 when some problems arose with the visa for Christopher Dawson, and it was not clear that he would be able to come, Fr. Porras proposed the German philosopher Josef Pieper as an alternative[206]. In the end everything was favorably resolved for Dawson who came to Harvard in October of 1958. Christopher Dawson only stayed for four years because his health prevented him from staying the five years that had been foreseen.

This is not the moment to consider the impact that Dawson and his ideas about the need to recover Christian culture as the basis for Western civilization had in and beyond Harvard[207]. What we can add -because it directly affects the topic of this study- are some lines in which Fr. Porras passed on the news to some Harvard alumni who were in Rome with the founder of Opus Dei deepening their theological formation. “The reaction to the Chair has been very good. A great deal of publicity has come from it, all favorable, and everyone is very happy. One well-known agnostic professor commented: ‘At last Harvard is a University’. The Archbishop is very pleased. There have been interviews, published, with Mr. Stillman, Dean Horton, etc. But the most wonderful thing about it all is that no one has linked it with me and our work at Harvard. This, I think, would be especially pleasing to the Father [he refers to St. Josemaria Escriva]. Years from now, no one (will) even remember I was here at the time, or that I ever had any connection with this”[208].

4. Building bridges between Harvard and the Boston Diocese

The previous pages have shown how Fr. Porras tried to carry out his function as chaplain at Harvard in complete and close contact with Archbishop Cushing.   Cushing was pleased with the chaplain’s work,[209] but he kept his distance from Harvard. His situation had become complicated especially since the crisis at the St. Benedict Center. In the years before President Pusey took over, Cushing had had some unfortunate encounters with the then president, James Bryant Conan, about subsides to the Catholic schools[210].

Fr. Porras tried to help bring the Archbishop closer to the University. He relates that at a meeting with the Archbishop that took place three months after his appointment as chaplain: “He asked me if I had gone to Harvard and how things were going. I told him a few things and that we planned to organize something simple and intimate for him there in the spring. He said that he did not like to go there because of the Feeney people and it would be better to have something at Trimount House. I told him that the plan was to hold something at Radcliffe for the two Clubs and that we could avoid all publicity. I explained to him that part of our apostolate is to bring the faithful closer to the hierarchy so they might have more affection and greater respect. He liked that very much”[211].

At the same time and also from the beginning, Fr. Porras had tried to establish good relations with the Harvard community, beginning with President Pusey. Since the origins of the HCC the president of Harvard had taken part in some of the acts organized by the Club. But it doesn’t seem that the Catholic chaplain had much contact with him. Fr. Porras writes: “When I took over the Club one of the first steps I took was to ask for an appointment with the Rector. They had to do some searching because there was no precedent for that. When they agreed and I went there, his secretary (a Catholic) told me: ‘this is the first time I see a priest come into this office.’ He was very cordial and offered to help in whatever would be necessary”[212].

In this way, Fr. Porras placed himself in a position to build bridges between Archbishop Cushing and President Pusey. The medium to accomplish this was the institution of the Senior Reception within the program of social activities of the HCC.

As we have seen above, Fr. Porras did not want to get personally involved in the social activities. That was his choice and he explained it to the Archbishop: “The fourth Wednesday (there is) a ‘social’ organized by the Club or by one of the women’s college. I do not take any part in organizing, nor do I attend, these ‘socials’ as I prefer to concentrate my efforts on the spiritual and intellectual aspects of the students life”[213]. The Senior Reception was the exception.

The Senior Reception was conceived as a gathering that would take place in April or May with the members of the HCC who would graduate that year and it was hoped that President Pusey and Archbishop Cushing would both attend. In February 1956, Fr. Porras invited the Archbishop and received word that he would be available: “He will attend the reception we have planned. He said he would like to meet Pusey. I hope we will be able to get Pusey to attend”[214]. President Pusey also expressed his agreement and the first edition of the Senior Receptiontook place in April 1956. The president of Radcliffe and the president of the Radcliffe Catholic Club also attended.

As Fr. Porras states in his notes referring to the event and the Archbishop’s comments after that gathering: “About 300 persons attended, many professors and he liked that. As we were leaving he said to me: ‘this was wonderful. I think it’s good to know these people and we ought to do this every year.’”[215]. A little later Cushing himself wrote to a niece telling her about the event: “The President of Harvard was present. It was the first time I had the pleasure of meeting him”[216].

The Crimson also printed this news item: “Over 200 students, alumni, faculty members, and parents yesterday attended the Harvard and Radcliffe Catholic Clubs’ first annual reception for members of the senior class. RICHARD J. CUSHING, Archbishop of Boston, and President PUSEY, meeting for the first time, were the guests of honor. The coffee reception, held in Phillips Brooks House yesterday afternoon, marked the first time also, that either the President or the prelate had appeared before the College religious group”[217].

The reception was held in successive years and after the second edition, Fr. Porras wrote: “Among the social activities we also hold an annual reception. We began that two years ago and at that time both the Archbishop and the Rector attended. (Before that, they didn’t even know one another and now that have become good friends to the point where the Rector has consulted the Archbishop at times on a law that the local Legislature is proposing to adopt.)”[218]. When Cushing died, The Crimson wrote in his obituary: “Cushing had a long connection with Harvard, and was known as a personal friend of President Pusey”[219].

After the fourth edition of the Senior Reception in April 1959, the first of Cushing as Cardinal, Fr. Porras wrote: “Most of the faculty was there and lot of students. He was very happy with it all. The whole thing was on TV on the 11 o’clock news”[220]. Two months later Cardinal Cushing received a doctorate honoris causa from Harvard.

The Senior Reception of 1959 was the last that Cushing attended. As the Cardinal wrote to Fr. Porras, in April 1960, he had the intention to attend it: “Remind me to bring a photo with me for Mr. and Mrs. Pusey. After the Reception I’ll try to call at Follen Street to see the house and break bread with you”[221]. But in the end it was not possible[222].

5. The end of Fr. Porras’ chaplaincy

On June 27, 1960 Fr. Porras met with Cardinal Cushing and following his custom, left some written notes: “Today I was with NAL [Cushing]. The principal reason was to talk about my resignation from the chaplaincy at Harvard. I told him that my superiors wanted me to do my doctorate in theology and that most certainly I would go to Rome in October to see what requisites I would have to fulfill and then to return to Boston. Besides, it seems to us that the work at Harvard had reached the point where the parish could take over this work. It was the most opportune moment for the transition so that a diocesan priest could take care of it”[223]. With a letter of July 5th, Cushing communicated to Hickey that Fr. Joseph Collins would take over  Father Porras  as chaplain of the HCC[224].

These laconic documents could lead one to think that Fr. Bill Porras’ chaplaincy had ended in the same way as it had begun: apparently very rapid and unexpected. But it is clear that the authorities of Opus Dei had reached the conclusion that the moment had arrived -taking into account the circumstances of the dioceses and the HCC- to make it easier for the Cardinal to change the person at the head of the HCC. It is not possible for us here -in this already quite extensive article- to go deeper into the reasons that might have influenced this decision. Consequently, I will limit myself to commenting on the circumstances surrounding the transition. Fr. Joseph Collins, the new chaplain, had been coadjutor at St. Paul and chaplain to the Radcliffe Catholic Club since 1946[225].

That summer, Fr. Porras worked with Fr. Collins to effect the transition. We conserve two long letters in which Fr. Porras explains to Fr. Collins the state of the papers and other documents of the HCC. He gives him the summer addresses of the members of the Club’s directive committees and informs him about the activities that are planned for the following academic year. Among these last, a conference to which they had invited Fr. Weigle, Tillich and Nils Ferre to deal with questions of Christology. In these letters, Fr. Porras also made reference to a future meeting between the two of them to finalize passing on further information[226]. Porras also counted on introducing Fr. Collins to some persons in the administration at Harvard that he had had contact with over the years[227].

At the beginning of the new academic year in September 1960, the president of the HCC informed the members about the change of chaplain and made it clear that during the six years that Fr. Porras had been chaplain the Club grew both in membership and in the quality of the activities[228].

The letter went on to make reference to the Student Center which they could begin to use in October and which was located near St. Paul’s, on Arrow Street[229]. In March 1961, “The Pilot” printed the news about the inauguration of the new Student Center of the recently unified Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club.

By that time, Fr. Porras had already left Cambridge and returned to Boston, to Trimount House where six years earlier Archbishop Cushing had told him of his desire to name him chaplain at Harvard. In September 1962 Fr. Porras did move to Europe to obtain his ecclesiastical doctorate[230].


The chaplaincy of Fr. William Porras (1954-1960) was an important moment for the Catholics at Harvard. They had been going through a complicated situation after the crisis of the St. Benedict Center and the excommunication of Fr. Leonard Feeney in 1953. Archbishop Cushing found in the young priest of Opus Dei -an institution that had begun to work in his diocese a couple of years earlier and that Cushing himself had had occasion to know in Spain- a loyal and effective collaborator. That is why it is not simply anecdotal that the Archbishop would name Fr. Porras chaplain while inaugurating the Trimount House residence in Boston. Throughout the six years of his chaplaincy Fr. Porras fostered an active and integrating presence of Catholics at Harvard and combated any trace of ghetto mentality as well as any clericalism. As Catholic chaplain, Fr. Porras tried to be known as one more -an insider- in the university community, among the students, the professors and the administrators.

Taking advantage of the favorable conditions under the presidency of Nathan Marsh Pusey, a man with great sensitivity toward religious matters, Fr. Porras from the HCC encouraged a series of initiatives that were to have repercussions far beyond the Catholic environment. It is not out of place to affirm that during Fr. Porras’ chaplaincy the HCC attained a numerical growth and a lofty level in its programs and activities that were without precedent. Fr. Porras’ vision was guided by the principles of participation, openness, continuity and capillary action in the HCC on campus. Throughout these pages we have been able to see how his initiatives were instrumental in bringing about the regular celebration of Mass on campus and also the inauguration of the Charles Chauncey Stillman Chair of Catholic Studies; the birth of the magazine Current; and the beginnings of more cordial relations between Harvard and the diocese of Boston, by arranging the meeting between Archbishop Cushing and President Pusey.

At the same time, Fr. Porras understood that his role as priest was not to become the representative of Catholics at Harvard nor to be the main figure in these accomplishments. It seems that he understood that his mission was to promote the spiritual and intellectual growth of the laity and to this effect he planned the spiritual and cultural programs. Fr. Porras did not hesitate to propose to the young students at Harvard the quest for sanctity and apostolic efforts taking advantage of their personal circumstances.

In keeping with the spirit and praxis of Opus Dei Fr. Bill Porras felt that sanctity and apostolic action should be sought above through work, professional relations and in friendship proper to university life. He considered the HCC as a good instrument for this broader but less tangible objective. Even though there were some who did not share this vision there were many who did, as we have been able to point out.

Hence, with this vision, Fr. Porras offered at one and the same time, a positive and constructive response to the process of secularization that many Catholics were aware of and which, on occasions, had led some to isolate themselves. We could say that Fr. Porras assumed a position diametrically opposed to that of Fr. Feeney. He urged Catholics not to isolate themselves from the adverse environment but to offer a positive influence to that environment.

At the same time, the response of Fr. Porras was not that of accepting -assimilating- uncritically a secularized culture and way of life. He did not underestimate the challenges that a secularized culture -in the widely accepted negative meaning given to this term, implying the loss of religious values in the cultural and social scene- represented for the young Catholics at Harvard. His response was to encourage lay Catholics -competent professionals, well formed in doctrine- to be present in all technical, scientific and humanistic sectors. And in this sense, one could say that he tried to promote a process of positive secularization. He also understood this as overcoming certain clerical attitudes and recognizing the mission of the laity.

At the beginning of these pages we referred to the characterization that Gleason made about American Catholicism before Vatican II. He speaks about the conflict between two opposing currents. On the one hand there was the desire to construct a “distinctive Catholic culture” proper to the “Catholic Revival” and on the other hand some “assimilative tendencies” proper to the “New era” that would consider secularization (understood univocally) as something desirable, something that should be sought after. Given this scenario one might think that Fr. Porras’ ideas would fit instead into a third way that sought to overcome the strict dichotomy between “isolation” and “assimilation” and consequently not a vision of a univocal process of secularization. From this perspective I think it would be interesting to study other similar cases in American Catholicism before the Council.

We can conclude saying that during the six years of his chaplaincy Fr. Porras was not able to offer the HCC two of his greatest ambitions: to have a Catholic Center and to have a full-time Chaplain. But at the same time, it is clear that Fr. Porras did manage to lay the foundations for these objectives from the moment in which he helped to overcome, both at Harvard and in the archdiocese of Boston, the distrust provoked by the crisis of the St. Benedict Center.


[1] Article originally published in Spanish  in Studia et Documenta. Rivista dell’Istituto Storico San Josemaría Escrivá, vol. 12 (2018), pp. 317-380.

[2] Cf. Gueguen, John A., Jr., “The early Days of Opus Dei in Boston as Recalled by the First Generation (1946-1956)” in Studia et Documenta: Rivista dell’Istituto Storico San Josemaría Escrivá, 1 (2007), pp. 65-112. The events related are described on pp. 81-85. In the future we will refer to this article as Gueguen, 2007.

[3] The Boston Traveler, Tuesday, October 19, 1954.

[4] Dimitrovic, Brian, “Nathan Marsh Pusey: An Appreciation” in Modern Age, 46  (2004), pp. 278-284.

[5] Harvard’s total enrollment for the fall of 1954 was 10,364, which included 4,430 in the undergraduate College (all male) and 5,934 in the graduate faculties and professional schools (Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Nov. 27, 1954, pp. 205-206. Of the 4,400 undergraduates it is estimated that some 400 were Catholic. Cf. Gueguen, 2007, p. 84.

[6] In Jeffrey Wills’ account of the Harvard Catholic Club in the 1950s (Cf. Wills, Jeffrey, The Catholics of Harvard Square, Patersham MA, 1993, pp. 95-96) Fr. Porras is mentioned only superficially. Something similar occurs in the three accounts of the Harvard Catholic Club that are preserved in the archives of Harvard University (Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club, formerly St. Paul’s Catholic Club, HUD. 3762.5000, General folder. Harvard University Archives). In the latter case, the accounts were redacted toward the end of the 1960s and in the early 1970s and there is no mention of Fr. Porras. One may find references to Fr. Porras as Chaplain in Williams, George H., Divinings: Religion at Harvard from its Origins in New England Ecclesiastical History to the 175th Anniversary of the Harvard Divinity School, 1636-1992, 2014, pp. 286-287. Cf. also Gueguen, 2007, pp. 83-88.

[7] Cf. Gleason, Philip, Contending with Modernity: Catholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century, New York, 1995, 434 pp. Cf. also Hayes, Patrick J., A Catholic Brain Trust: The History of the Catholic Commission on Intellectual and Cultural Affairs 1945-1965, Notre dame IN, 2011, 432 pp. The latter describes in detail the discussion concerning the work of Thomas F. O’Dea, American Catholic Dilemma, 1958; Cf. also, Kelly, Timothy I., The Transformation of American Catholicism: The Pittsburgh laity and the Second Vatican Council, 1950-1972, Notre dame IN, 2009, 353 pp.

[8] The sources we will rely on are principally the Archives of Harvard University (HUA), the Archives of the Archdiocese of Boston (AAB) and the General Archives of the Prelature of Opus Dei (AGP). This last source contains abundant correspondence of Fr. Porras, as well as other writings from his tenure at Harvard.

[9] For the history of the Harvard Catholic Club in its first 50 years, we follow Wills, Jeffrey, The Catholics of Harvard Square, Petersham MA, 1993, 212 pp. Henceforth referred to as Wills, 1993.

[10] Concerning the history of PBH, Cf. Mieras, Emily, “In Search of ‘A more Perfect Sympathy’: Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House Association and the Challenges of Student Voluntarism,” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progresive Era, 16-2 (2017), pp. 163-182.

[11] Wills, 1993, p. 89 and O’Connor, Thomas H., Boston Catholics: A History of the Church and Its People, Boston, 1998, p. 218.

[12] At that time Harvard only admitted men as undergraduates. Women could attend Radcliffe College, also located in Cambridge, MA. From 1906 on, Radcliffe College had its own Catholic Club.

[13] Wills, 1993, pp. 9 and 13.

[14] Wills, 1993, p. 86.

[15] The St. Benedict center had no formal connection with the HCC, but there are documents about the center in the archives of the Archdiocese of Boston. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish. Cambridge MA, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Student Center, Records, 1940-1995. Box 1. In the future, references are indicated as AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[16] Cf. Wills, 1993, p. 15; O’Toole, James M., The Faithful: A History of Catholics in America, Cambridge, MA, 2008, pp. 254-55; Patrick W. Carey, “Avery Dulles, St. Benedict’s Center, and No Salvation outside the Church, 1940-1953”,in The Catholic Historical Review, 93 (2007), pp. 553-75 and Mary Clare Vincent, Keeping the Faith at Harvard: A Memoir, 2010, 258 pp.

[17] Wills, 1993, pp. 123-124.

[18] Cf. Pepper, George B., The Boston Heresy Case in View of the Secularization of Religion: A Case Study in the Sociology of Religion, Studies in Religion and Society, Lewiston, NY, 1988, 209 pp.

[19] These words of Clement Lee Counts Jr. appear in a letter of Paul J. Cuddy (priest of the Diocese of Rochester) to Archbishop Cushing, September 22, 1946. AAB, Catholics at Harvard, M-1616.

[20] Milligan to Cushing, February 25, 1949. AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[21] Trudon to Cushing, March 18, 1950. AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[22] Cushing to Trudon, March 23, 1950. AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[23] Cushing to Fallon, July 25, 1950. AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[24] Hickey to Cushing, July 5, 1950. AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[25] Secretary of the HCC to Robert M. O’Shea, August 24, 1950. AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178. The letter contains the information that had reached the diocese concerning the donations received for the Catholic Center. It includes the names of four persons who had donated a total of $95. The last person named is John F. Kennedy, but it is noted that the amount is unknown.

[26] Report on the chaplaincy at Harvard from Lawrence J. Riley, July 7, 1951. AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[27] This seems to come from the correspondence between the president of the HCC, Leo Zavatone and the chaplain, Fr. Vincent McQuade. This is conserved in the Archive of the Archdiocese of Boston Communities of open MTG, Rev. Vincent McQuade, Chaplain 1954. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[28] St. Benedict Center carried on its activities for some years in Cambridge until in 1958 Fr. Feeney and small group of his followers who called themselves Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary moved to a nearby location. Fr. Feeney was reconciled to the Roman Catholic Church in 1972.

[29] Memorandum to Fr. Riley from Fr. Cotter, April 7, 1954. AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178. Fr. Cotter recounts the complaints that had reached him from a student he knew at Harvard.

[30] Letter from an unknown person to Pat Harrington and Fr. Redding, not dated, but archived with the documents of 1952. Student center report correspondence on a proposed new center, 1952-57. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[31] Zavatone to McQuade, July 30, 1954. Communities of open MTG, Rev. Vincent McQuade, Chaplain 1954. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[32] Porras Muñoz Guillermo, en Diccionario Porrúa de Historia, Biografía y Geografía de México, vol. III, Editorial Porrúa, S. A., México 1995, p. 2771. Y Rubén Rodríguez Balderas, Guillermo Porras Muñoz (1917-1988), a los 20 Años de su fallecimiento. Breve semblanza de un connotado historiador, en Historia Desconocida. Libro Anual de la Sociedad Mexicana de Historia Eclesiástica, México 2008, pp. 272-280.  Gueguen, The Early Days of Opus Dei in Boston, p. 75, speaks of Poras’s having been an atheist in his youth but none of the documentation we have consulted supports that.

[33] Cf. Alfonso Martínez Rosales, “Don Guillermo Porras Muñoz, 1917-1988”, Historia Mexicana, 38 (1988), pp.171-172.

[34] Porras to Escrivá, July 25, 1947. AGP, serie M.1.1. 233-B1.

[35] Porras to Escrivá, February 20, 1950. AGP, series M.1.1. 309-B1.

[36] About Adele Kibre, doctor in History, University of Chicago, and independent scholar, cf. Jane Chance, Women Medievalists and the Academy, Madison, WI, 2005, p. 5.

[37] Porras to Jorge Brosa, August 7, 1947. AGP, series M.1.1. 233-B1.

[38] Escrivá to Porras, April 16, 1948. AGP, series A.3.4. leg. 260, carp. 2.

[39] Testimony of Guillermo Porras on Josemaría Escrivá. AGP, series A.5. 239-1-5.

[40] Porras to Escrivá, January 7, 1948. AGP, series M.1.1. 254-B2.

[41] Cf. Several letters from Porras, May 1949. AGP, series M.1.1. 273-B5.

[42] Muzquiz to Escrivá, January 2,1951. AGP, series M.1.1. 1141-B01.

[43] Muzquiz to Escrivá, August 19, 1951. AGP, series M.1.1. 1141-C01.

[44] Notes of Porras, September 30, 1952. AGP, series M.1.1. 1144-A2.

[45] Regarding the beginnings of Opus Dei in the U.S., see Coverdale, John F., Putting Down Roots: Father Joseph Muzquiz and the Growth of Opus Dei, 1912–1983, New York, 2009 and Federico M. Requena, “’We find our sanctity in the middle of the world’: Father José Luis Múzquiz and the Beginnings of Opus Dei in the United States, 1949–1961”, U.S. Catholic Historian, 32 (2014), pp. 101-124.

[46] Muzquiz to Escrivá, February 17, 1949. AGP, series M.1.1. 1138-D04. Molinoviejo is a country house near Segovia (a little north of Madrid) where the Founder of Opus Dei often met with early members; acquired in 1945, it became Opus Dei’s first conference center in Spain.

[47] Cf. Coverdale, John F., “José María González Barredo. An American Pioneer”, Studia et Documenta: Rivista dell’Istituto Storico san Josemaría Escrivá, 10 (2016), pp. 23-43.

[48] Muzquiz to Escrivá, January 2, 1951. AGP, series M.1.1. 1141-B01.

[49] Muzquiz to Escrivá, January 2, 1951. AGP, series M.1.1. 1141-B01. At that time, Opus Dei had been approved as a Secular Institute. Several decades had to pass before it would receive its current juridical status as a Personal Prelature.  Cf. Fuenmayor, Amadeo de; Valentín Gómez-Iglesias and José Luis Illanes, The Canonical Path of Opus Dei: The History and Defense of a Charism, Princeton, NJ, 1994.

[50] Muzquiz to Escrivá, August 19, 1951. AGP, series M.1.1. 1141-C01. On the relationship of Archbishop Cushing with the figure of the Apostle St. James cf. James F. Garneau, “’Santiago Matacomunistas’? Cardinal Cushing’s Crusade against Communism in Latin America and the St. James Society”, in U.S. Catholic Historian, 22 (2004), pp. 97-115.

[51] Toward the end of 1951, Santiago Polo was accepted into a two-year post-graduate program of studies in spectroscopy at Harvard. In the fall of 1952, he was joined by Luis Garrido, who began his work for a Ph.D. in Physics, also at Harvard.

[52] Muzquiz to Escrivá, February 28, 1952, AGP series M.1.1. 1143-A01.

[53] Notes of Porras, September 30, 1952, AGP, series M.1.1. 1144-A01.

[54] Details about the acquisition and installation of the residence: cf. Gueguen, 2007, pp. 75-83.

[55] Boston Post, February 21, 1954.

[56] Notes of Porras, June 15, 1954, AGP, series M 1.1. 1147-B1.

[57] Muzquiz to Escrivá, October 23, 1954, AGP series M.1.1. 1147-B1.

[58] Gueguen, 2007, p. 84.

[59] Specifics of the inauguration, in Gueguen, 2007, pp. 81-83.

[60] Muzquiz to Escrivá, October 23, 1954, AGP, series M.1.1. 1147, B-1. Fr. Porras’ notes on his appointment are more explicit: “The appointment as chaplain comes directly from the Archbishop, who, in our case, decided to entrust Opus Dei with the position, instead of naming a specific person”. Memorandum of Guillermo Porras, July 17, 1957, p. 6. This is an 8-page document, which – as is stated in the copy kept in the U.S., was sent to Rome by Fr. Porras. I was unable to locate this document in AGP, and thus I am using the copy which is found, together with other papers of Fr. Porras, at Murray Hill Place, location of the regional governing body of Opus Dei n the U.S. In the future we will refer to it as Memorandum (1957).

[61] Besides the information that Fr. Porras gave the Bishop by word of mouth, he also sent him written reports. Cf. Report on Catholic Activities at Harvard University 1954-1958, (Rev.) William M. Porras. Chaplain. AAB. Chancery Office. Catholic Activities at Harvard University, AT M-1322.  There are also other reports from the 58-59 and 59-60 academic years. Henceforth we will quote them as Report, followed by the corresponding years in parentheses and the page number. There is an abundant amount of documentation on the Catholic Club in the archive of the Boston Diocese: St. Paul’s Parish. Cambridge, MA. Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Student Center. Records, 1940-1995. Box 1. In evaluating the amount of activity carried out by Chaplain Porras, it is interesting to note that of the 56 folders that cover the period 1940-1995, 36 correspond to the years of his chaplaincy (1954-1960).

[62] Report (54-58), p 1.

[63] “I considered it impractical to try to contact each student individually, and have concentrated my efforts in training leaders who could be –and have been- an influence not only on other students but on the environment itself”. Report (54-58), p. 1.

[64] Notes of Porras, Boston November 30, 1954. AGP, series M.1.1. 1146-B4.

[65] Derro, Robert, “Lay apostolate on the secular campus”, Current, February 1956, p. 4.

[66] Cf. Gueguen, 2007 y 2009. Throughout these years there were also vocations for other institutions. For example: “During this time two Harvard students, one of whom was the president of the Club, entered the Novitiate of the Paulists. I wholeheartedly supported their decision.” Draft of a letter from Porras to the Chaplain of the National Federation of Newman Clubs, December 15, 1960. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[67] McCabe to Porras, May 13, 1955. Corr. Fr Porras officers, 1954-1955. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[68] Porras to McCabe, June 9, 1955. Corr. Fr Porras officers, 1954-1955. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[69] Porras to Escrivá, February 28, 1955. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[70] Porras to Muzquiz, May 2, 1955. AGP, series M.1.1. 1149-A3.

[71] Report (54-58), p. 2. He had begun with two afternoons every week: Monday and Tuesday, and beginning in October 57, he added Friday.

[72] During those first years he could be found in Trimount House, 22 and 24 Marlborough St., Boston. Then beginning in 1956 he could also be found at Cambridge, in an apartment at the Hotel Ambassador, 1737 Cambridge St. In May 1958 Porras took up residence in Cambridge and could also be reached in the successive centers that Opus Dei had in those years: Auburn Street, n. 45, Cambridge; once again the Hotel Ambassador, 1737 Cambridge St.; and finally, during that last year, in the new residence: Elmbrook, at 25 Follen Street, Cambridge.

[73] Harvard Catholic Club. Newsletter, n.1, vol. 1, October 1955.

[74] Porras to Muzquiz, February 4, 1955. 1955. AGP, series M.1.1. 1149-A3.

[75] Report (54-58), p. 14.

[76] Cf. Cornelius de Witt Hastie (Graduate Secretary) to James McMurphy (president of the HCC), 17 mayo 1955. Corr. Fr Porras officers, 1956-1957. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[77] Report (54-58), p. 14

[78] Memorandum (1957), p. 6.

[79] Porras to Wright, April 13, 1956 and September 29, 1956. Corr. Fr Porras officers, 1956-1957. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[80] Memorandum (1957), p. 4.

[81] Report (54-58), p. 14.

[82] Alice M. Belcher (Administrative Assistant to the University Marshal) to Porras, April 1958. AGP, series M.1.1. 1162-D2.

[83] Culter to Porras, March 25, 1960; Porras to Mathews (Archbishop Spellman High School), March 30, 1960; Culter to Porras, April 20, 1960 and Mathews to Porras, May 13, 1960. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[84] Draft of a letter from Porras to the Chaplain of the National Federation of Newman Clubs, December 15, 1960. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[85] Report (59-60), p. 5.

[86] Notes of Porras, November 30, 1954. AGP, series M.1.1. 1146-B4.

[87] Report (54-58), p. 2.

[88] Letter from Cornelius de Witt Hastie (Graduate Secretary) to James McMurphy (president HCC), May 17, 1955. Corr. Fr Porras officers, 1956-1957. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[89] Notes of Porras, February 29, 1956. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[90] Porras to Escrivá, March 11, 1956, AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[91] Notes of Porras, April 23, 1956. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[92] Minutes of the first meeting of the Alumni Council, May 29, 1956. Harvard Catholic Club, Alumni Council, 1956-1962. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[93] Minutes of the second meeting of the Alumni Council, October 17, 1956. Harvard Catholic Club, Alumni Council, 1956-1962. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[94] “Report on the Proposed Harvard Catholic Center”. Student centers report correspondence on a proposed new centers, 1952-57. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[95] Manahan to Cushing, May 31, 1957. Student centers report correspondence on a proposed new centers, 1952-57. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[96] Notes of Porras, July 23, 1956. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[97] Cushing to Manahan, June 1, 1957. Student centers report correspondence on a proposed new centers, 1952-57. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[98] Porras to Manahan, June 16, 1957. Student centers report correspondence on a proposed new centers, 1952-57. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[99] Porras to Manahan, June 16, 1957. Student centers report correspondence on a proposed new centers, 1952-57. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[100] David E. Herlihy (secretary of the H.C.C.) to Riley, October 1, 1957. AAB. Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[101] Riley to Herlihy, October 10, 1957. AAB. Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[102] Order of the day for the meeting of the Harvard Catholic Club, October 11, 1957, 8 p.m. Among other items we take note of n. 7. “Discussion of the Catholic Center report as presented to Archbishop Cushing by the Harvard Catholic Club on June 1, 1957”. AAB. Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[103] Notes of Porras, April 15, 1959. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[104] Memorandum (1957), p. 7.

[105] Porras to Manahan, June 16, 1957. Student centers report correspondence on a proposed new centers, 1952-57. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[106] Report (54-58), p. 5.

[107] Harvard Catholic Club. Constitutions and By-Laws. Revisions 1955-56. AAB. St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[108] Report (54-58), p. 5.

[109] Harvard Catholic Club. Constitutions and By-Laws. Revisions 1955-56. AAB. St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1. The By-Laws also foresee that “The Chaplain shall be appointed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston”.

[110] Report (54-58), p. 11.

[111] Manahan to Sullivan, May 4, 1956. Harvard Catholic Club, Alumni Council, 1956-1962. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[112] Minutes of the first meeting of the Alumni Council, May 29, 1956. Harvard Catholic Club, Alumni Council, 1956-1962. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[113] Harvard Catholic Club. Constitutions and By-Laws. Revisions 1955-56. AAB. St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[114] Cf. Draft of the message of President Manahan, 1957. Revisions 1955-56. AAB. St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[115] Current, November 1955.

[116] Report (54-58), p. 3 y 7.

[117] Report (54-58), p. 7.

[118] Memorandum (1957), p. 3.

[119] Report (54-58), p. 10.

[120] Report (58-59), p. 1.

[121] Report (59-60), p. 1.

[122] Report (58-59), p. 2.

[123] Report (54-58), p. 4.

[124] Report (54-58), p. 4.

[125] Report (54-58), p. 4.

[126] Porras to José Ramón Madurga, October 1, 1957. AGP, series M.1.1. 1157-B1.

[127] Porras to an unidentified person, February 7, 1958. Corr. Fr Porras officers, 1956-1957 (bis). AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[128] Report (59-60), p. 4.

[129] Almost the complete collection of these publications can be found in the archive of Harvard University. HUA, HUD 3762.5255 A. Catholic Club-Current. Beginning with the issue of October-November 1959 of “Current” and the entire collection of “The Current” can be found in HUA, HUD 3762.5259 Box. 1. Harvard Catholic Club.

[130] Porras to Curtin, Juine 1955. AGP, series M.1.1. 1149-A3.

[131] Harvard Catholic Club. Newsletter, n. 2, vol. 1, November 1955, p. 4.

[132] The appointment was communicated by HCC to the interested parties and they were asked to revise the review that would then be published.  Cf. Manahan to Adenauer, January 17, 1956; Manahan to the Governor of Ohio, February 7, 1956. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[133] Report (54-58), p. 4.

[134] Report (59-60), p. 3.

[135] “About the Current”, Current, October-November 1959, p. 2.

[136] Report (59-60), p. 3.

[137] Wills, 1993, pp. 80-96.

[138] Saint Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, Chicago, 1954, no. 291.

[139] Ibid. 335.

[140] Ibid. 346.

[141] Ibid. 961.

[142] Ibid. 27.

[143] Cf. Chinnici, The Catholic Community at Prayer, 41-51; Hennessey, American Catholics, 255, 265 and 266; Wolfteich, American Catholics through the Twentieth Century, p. 26 and O’Toole, The Faithful: A History of Catholics in America, Cambridge, Mass., 2008, pp.158-198.

[144] Cf. For example, Gueguen, 2007, pp. 75, 100 y 109.

[145] “St. Paul’s Liturgy in 1960”, in Wills, 1993, p. 51.

[146] The first references are from June 55. Cf. Porras to Curtin, July 15, 55. AGP, series M.1.1. 1149-A3. In this letter the question is posed as “a very delicate topic and we don’t want to created any antagonisms”.

[147] Porras to Escrivá, September 30, 1955. AGP, series M.1.1. 1149-B1.

[148] Wills, 1993, p. 211, note 97.

[149] Porras to Muzquiz, October 9, 1955. AGP, series M.1.1. 1149-A3.

[150] Brandeis University had been founded in 1948 by the Jewish community in the United States. At that time there were about 100 Catholic students attending and the bishop had inaugurated a chapel there and entrusted the chaplaincy to the Paulist Fathers. Cf. Porras to Escrivá, March 11, 1956. AGP, series M.1.1. 1152-A7.

[151] Notes of Porras, July 23, 1956. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[152] Porras to Escrivá, August 15, 1956. AGP, series M.1.1. 1152-B1.

[153] In 1935, St. Josemaría wrote: “Prayer. A lot on this topic, because, if you don’t make the boys men of prayer, you have wasted your time.” Escrivá, Instruction, 9-I-1935, no. 133, quoted in Escrivá, The Way: a Critical-Historical Edition prepared by Pedro Rodriguez, New York, 2009, commentary on no. 961.

[154] Porras to Muzquiz, October 9, 1955. AGP, series M.1.1. 1149-B1.

[155] Memorandum (1957), p. 4.

[156] Memorandum (1957), p. 3.

[157] Porras to Muzquiz, October 15, 1956. AGP, series M.1.1. 1152-B1.

[158] In regard to his good relationship with the Paulist Fr. Edward Nugent, chaplain of M.I.T. and of the Law School, cf. Gueguen, 2010, p. 268. For activity in the Harvard Business School, cf. Gueguen, 2010, p. 284-85.

[159] Porras to Burke, November 20, 1958. AGP, series M.1.1. 1162-D1.

[160] Porras to Escrivá, May 1, 1959. AGP, series M.1.1. 1168-A8.

[161] Dennis Helming, in Gueguen, 2007, p. 109.

[162] Report (54-58), p. 10.

[163] Notes of  Porras, September 6, 1955. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[164] Report (54-58), p. 12.

[165]Gueguen, 2007, p. 100.

[166]Solomita to Porras, no date [1955], AGP, series M.1.1. 1149-B1.

[167] Memorandum (1957), p. 5.

[168] Trudon to Cushing, March18, 1950. AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[169] Wills, 1993, p. 80.

[170] Porras to Muzquiz, February 22 [1957]. AGP, series M.1.1. 1157-A12.

[171] Memorandum (1957), p. 4.

[172] The abundant correspondence located in AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1, is of considerable interest to know the names of the persons invited. One can also consult the ads for the activities that are listed both on the posters as well as in the issues of the Newsletter y Current. HUA, HUD 3762.5259 Box. 1. Harvard Catholic Club.

[173] Manahan to one of the librarians at Lamont Library, January 30, 1956. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[174] Report (58-59), p. 1.

[175] One can read in a magazine from Providence College: “[Fr. Haas] is one of the few priests I have met who is able to both understand and communicate with our generation”, The Cowl, March 17, 1965.

[176] Murphy to Doyle, March 14, 1956. Corr. Fr Porras officers, 1956-1957. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[177] Harvard Catholic Club. Newsletter, n. 2, vol. 1, November 1955, p. 4.

[178] Osterreicher to Porras, March of 58. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[179] LaFarge to Dowling, May 16, 1958. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[180] Report (59-60), p. 2. In Wills, 1993, p. 95, these words are introduced as “students reported”, without citing the source.

[181] There is a photo in Wills, 1993, p. 95. (Porras can be seen at the head table.)

[182] Porras to Muzquiz, December 5, 1955. AGP, series M.1.1. 1149-B1.

[183] Gleason, 1995, p. 147.

[184] I have found four publications that contain data on the creation of the Chair. In the first place there are the recollections of Daniel Callahan, assistant to Dawson during his stay at Harvard, published in Harvard Theological Review, 66 (1973) under the title “Christopher Dawson 12 October 1889-25 May 1970”; also Wills, 1993, p. 98.  We also have the recollections of Dawson’s daughter, Christina Scott, A historian and his world: a life of Christopher Dawson, 1889-1970, London 1984 p. 18. It should be noted that fundamentally the account of these happenings previous to his arrival in Harvard depend on Daniel Callahan. Finally we can cite Gueguen, 2010, pp. 255-294, who touches on the question in pp. 269-271.

[185] Only the article of Gueguen, 2010, pp. 269-271, makes reference to the role that Fr. Porras played as a part of the HCC. But like the rest of the works quoted, Gueguen documents the question only by basing himself on private testimonies.

[186] According to Callahan, the idea of a chair of Catholic theology at Harvard was a topic of hopeful discussions as early as 1952, even though it was only in 1956 that, thanks to the push of the HCC, it really began to take shape. Cf. Callahan, 1973, p. 97. It is not possible to know what sources that led Callahan to make this affirmation.

[187] Pusey is responding to a second letter from Horgan since the first one of March 19, never reached the desk of the President. Pusey to Horgan, April 30, 1956. Corr. Fr. Porras officers, 1956-1957. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[188] Notes of Porras, April 23, 1956. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[189] Minutes of the first meeting of the Alumni Council, May 29, 1956. Harvard Catholic Club, Alumni Council, 1956-1962. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[190] Porras to Escrivá, August 15, 1956. AGP, series M.1.1. 1152-B1.

[191] Horgan to Cushing, September 25, 1956, AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178. It is interesting to note that Horgan in this letter makes explicit reference to the Chair being in the Divinity School. According to Callahan the discussion about where to have the Chair did not begin until the spring of 1957.  Cf. Callahan, 1973, p. 163. I have not been able to find the letter of Pusey to Horgan. But it might be the one that Fr. Porras included in one of this reports to the Archbishop. According to the chaplain, President Pusey had written to Horgan: “Let me say at once that the suggestion made by the Harvard Catholic Club is enormously interesting… The idea seems to be a good one. You are to be commended for having based it, and I shall be happy it can be brought to fruition”. Report (54-58), p. 14.

[192] Riley to Horgan, October 1, 1965. ABB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178.

[193] Notes of Porras, October 6, 1956. AGP, serie M.1.1. 1152-B1.

[194] Callahan, 1973, pp. 162-63.

[195] Minutes from the second meeting of the Alumni Council, October 17, 1956. Harvard Catholic Club, Alumni Council, 1956-1962. AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1.

[196] Porras to Muzquiz, October 26, 1956. AGP, series M.1.1. 1152-B.

[197] Porras to Muzquiz, December 18, 1956. AGP, series M.1.1. 1152-B1.

[198] Callahan, 1973, p. 163.

[199] Porras to Escrivá, January 4, 1957. AGP, series M.1.1. 1157-A12.

[200] Porras to Muzquiz, January 9, 57. AGP, serie M.1.1. 1157-A12.

[201] Callahan, 1973, pp. 163.

[202] Callahan, 1973, pp. 164-65.

[203] Cf. Gueguen, 2010, p. 270, note 42.

[204] Christina Scott, A historian and his world: a life of Christopher Dawson, 1889-1970, London, 1984, p. 183.

[205] Porras to Burke, March 30, 1958. AGP, series M.1.1. 1662-D2.

[206] Cf. Notes of Porras, July 14, 1948. Kept in the file: “Boston 51-59”, Murray Hill Place, seat of the regional government of Opus Dei in the U.S. 

[207] An approximation of the topic can be found in Scott, Christina, A Historian and His World: a Life of Christopher Dawson, 1889-1970, London, 1984; Gleason, Philip, Contending With Modernity: Catholic Higher Education In The Twentieth Century, New York, 1995, 434 pp. and Hayes, Patrick J., A Catholic Brain Trust. The History Of The Catholic Commission On Intellectual And Cultural Affairs, 1945–1965, Notre Dame IN, 2011.

[208] Porras to students at Roman College, May 20, 1958. AGP, series M.1.1. 1162-D2.

[209] In addition to his regular meetings with the Archbishop three or four times a year, Fr. Porras would send written reports of his activities and also send information through the officers about the other activities of the Club. These included information on the results of the elections and the minutes of the reunions of the Alumni Club. This documentation is available in the archive of the Boston Archdiocese, for example: Manahan to Cushing, January 15, 1956 and Horgan to Cushing, September 25, 1956. AAB, Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Club. M-2178; Harvard Catholic Club, Alumni Council, 1956-1962. St. Paul’s Parish, Box 1 and Catholic Activities at Harvard University, AT M (Chancery office. Miscellaneous)-1322.

[210] Cf. John T. McGreevy, “Thinking on One’s Own: Catholicism in the American Intellectual Imagination, 1928-1960”, The Journal of American History, 84 (1997), pp. 97-131.

[211] Notes of  Porras, January 12, 1955. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[212] Memorandum (1957), p. 4.

[213] Report (54-58), p. 12.

[214] Notes of Porras, February 29, 1956. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[215] Notes of Porras, May 1, 1956. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[216] Cushing to Kathleen Purcel (London), May 3 1956. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[217] The Crimson, May 1, 1956.

[218] Memorandum (1957), p. 4.

[219] The Crimson, November 3, 1970.

[220] Porras to Burke, April 15, 1959. AGP, series M.1.1. 1162-D1.

[221] Cushing to Porras, April 15, 1960. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1. A few months earlier the residence of Opus Dei in Cambridge had been installed on Follen Street and Fr. Porras was living there. 

[222] Report (59-60), p. 5.

[223] Notes of Porras, June 27, 60. AGP, series E.4.2. 91-1.

[224] Cushing to Hickey, July 5, 1960. AAB, Cambrige. St. Paul’s (1958-1960).

[225] Collins had graduated from the College of the Holy Cross. He had been ordained in 1940. When he returned in 1946, after almost two years in France and Germany during the war, he was appointed coadjutor at St. Paul’s and chaplain to Radcliffe College. In 1965 he became pastor of St. Paul and held that position until 1971.

[226] Porras to Collins, July 29, 1960 (there are two letter with the same date). Corr. Fr Porras officers, 1956-1957 (bis). AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box. 1.

[227] Harvard University. Records of the Dean of Harvard College : an inventory. UAIII 5.33. Harvard College (1780- ). Office of the Dean. Box 492. Harvard University Archives.

[228] Letter from the president of the HCC to the members of the Club, September 19, 1960. Corr. Fr. Porras officers, 1956-1957 (bis). AAB, St. Paul’s Parish, Box. 1.

[229] Ibid.

[230] When he left the chaplaincy, Fr. Porras stayed for another year in Boston. Then in September 62, he moved to Pamplona (Spain) where he worked to obtain his doctorate in Canon Law from the University of Navarre. In April 1964 he returned to the United States and this time, settled in New York. At the end of 1965 he moved to Mexico where he carried out both his priestly and academic work. Outstanding among his publications are Iglesia y Estado en Nueva Vizcaya (1562-1821), Pamplona, Universidad de Navarra, 1966, 695 pp. “La Frontera con los Indios de la Nueva Vizcaya en el S. XVII”, “El nuevo descubrimiento de San José del Parral”. “El gobierno de la ciudad de México en el siglo XVI” for which he won the City of Mexico Prize, and “Personas y lugares en la ciudad de México en el siglo XVI”.  One of the reviewers of his works has written: “William Porras Muñoz is one of the persons with the most profound knowledge of the history of Northwest Mexico” Rosales, Alfonso Martínez, Don Guillermo Porras Muñoz, Historia Mexicana, 1 July 1988, Vol. 38 (1), pp.171-172. He was a member of the Academia Nacional de Historia y Geografía in 1975. In 1987 he received the prize “Tomás Valles.” And the Academia Mexicana de la Historia, corresponding with la Real de Madrid, received him as a Miembro de Número, October 21,1986. He died in México City, June 28, 1988. Cf.

Josemaría Escrivá, Christians and the Temporal City

Despite its title, this is not a philosophical or theological study of Saint Josemaría’s thought. Rather, it is a preliminary analysis of the historical context in which he lived, his views on both the individual and society and on the kinds of temporal action that Christians can carry out that flow from those views. Its goal is not to contribute to the history of ideas, but merely to offer a contribution to cultural and political history that will situate Josemaría Escrivá within his historical context and examine the similarities and differences between him and his contemporaries with regards to his attitude to what is called “the modern age.”

Our main tool is linguistic analysis: a quantitative study of the words Escrivá uses and a reconstruction of the constellations of meaning associated with those terms. We will also try to get some grasp of Escrivá’s mental landscape, looking not only at what is explicitly expressed but also at the broader interior universe manifested by the imagery that he uses and his choice of vocabulary, the allusions and implicit references found in his texts, and even the absence of certain themes and terms commonly used by other authors.

We have based our analysis on a body of work published while Josemaría Escrivá was still alive – Camino [The Way] (1939)[1], Conversaciones con Monseñor Escrivá de Balaguer [Conversations with Josemaría Escrivá] (1968)[2], Es Cristo que pasa [Christ is Passing By] (1973)[3] – to which we have added the posthumous book Amigos de Dios [Friends of God] (1977), composed of homilies preached between 1941 and 1968, some of which were published elsewhere during Escrivá’s lifetime.[4]

Based on this corpus, we elaborated a list of terms that we considered relevant to our study, and analyzed the frequency with which they are used. The table at the end of this article summarizes our findings.

As one can see from the list, there is considerable variation in both the literary genres of these books and the age of the author at the time at which they were written. The Way is not in any way a theoretical treatise, but represents rather a collection of short considerations aimed at helping people pray. It was published in 1939 when Josemaría Escrivá was 37 years old. Conversations is a collection of interviews published in the press in the 1960s which represent an articulated and developed reflection on the spirituality of Opus Dei framed in the terminology of the post-conciliar period. Christ is Passing By and Friends of God are collections of homilies that have an intermediary status.

In choosing the title for this essay, we have preferred to speak of “Christians and the temporal city” and not “Christians and politics” for several reasons. In the first place, Josemaría Escrivá himself rarely uses the term “political” and, when he does, it is to say that he is not talking about politics and wishes to avoid any confusion between politics and religion. In the second place, for Josemaría Escrivá the Christian’s role in the world is far from being centered, either directly or indirectly, on what we call “politics.” The expressions “city” or “temporal city” which he uses evoke a broader vision, that of the relationship between Christians and the world they live in, which is closely linked to Escrivá’s view of history.


A good part of the thinking and activity of Catholics in the 19th and 20th centuries was dominated by a confrontational attitude towards what they called “the modern world.” The meaning of this expression has evolved over time. For our purposes, the modern world refers to the product of successive developments beginning with the French Revolution, moving through the social transformations brought about by the Industrial Revolution and economic liberalism, to which one must add the spread of communism in the world following upon the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.

Outside of the English-speaking world, these new developments were experienced in European and Latin American countries as a profound break with preceding times[5]. In the 19th century many people felt them to be a transition into a new era which overturned not only the social and political order but also the place of religion in public life.

Indeed, the new political situation and the proclamations of human rights were consequent upon the weakening of the old political order, that of the Old Regime, and eventually brought about the complete secularization of the state. Previously seen as a constituent element of the body politic and an essential part of the common good, religion saw itself tendentiously relegated to the domain of private belief, completely separate from the public sphere governed by the state[6].

The changes that this brought with it concerning the presence of religion in the various aspects of social life in the public sphere are perhaps even more important than the changes it introduced into relations between church and state. Further issues resulted from the extension of the sovereignty of the people into the realm of values[7].

Other concerns were added to these basic problems. A virulent form of anticlericalism, which in earlier times was limited to a certain portion of the elite, took root in other social strata and led to an apparent dechristianization of certain social groups, among them the budding working class. The concern of Christians for the “social question” – as the social impact of the Industrial Revolution was called at the end of the 19th century – was further fuelled by feelings of injustice in the face of the misery and marginalization of the working class and, after the Paris Commune, by the fear of socialism, which was being promoted by the revolutionary worker movement.

Faced with all these diverse problems, the attitude of Catholics fluctuated significantly during this period. However, beginning in the second half of the 19th century one saw in the Catholic world a global rejection of the “modern world,” considered as a closed system opposed to Christian principles. Liberalism, both in itself and as a political, economic and philosophical movement, was viewed as the origin of all of these evils. After the revolutions of 1848 and the threats against the papacy in Italy, theoretical anti-liberalism dominated in the Catholic world, a position known in French-speaking countries as “intransigent Catholicism.”[8] This led people to forget that many Catholics had participated in the beginnings of liberalism[9] and to marginalize any Catholics who did not reject the new regime outright or who had a positive view of “modern freedoms.” Anti-liberal attitudes, which existed in the form of counter-revolutionary and traditionalist stances, took on other forms in the time of De Maistre and Bonald. Restoration of the Old Regime was no longer really an objective, but from Louis Veillot and Donoso Cortes on until the early Maritain of Anti-modern[10], rejection of the modern world, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and liberal revolutions were common among the great majority of Catholics.

As numerous studies have shown, there is an obvious relation between these attitudes and later phenomena which might appear quite different on the surface: the social Catholicism of the end of the 19th century, Catholic Action, Christian Democrat parties[11], and more recently liberation theology. In various ways, all of these movements sought to mobilize Catholics for the construction of a new world regenerated by Christianity and opposed to the world born of the various revolutions[12].

In a certain way Catholics took up a position outside of modern society and attempted to create a counter-society by implementing Gospel principles within it. The problematization of the relation between Christians, society and politics is an explicit sign of this dichotomy. Even though it was not an all-embracing, homogenous project – uniformity has never existed among Catholics in this sphere – a number of experiments in the social and political spheres sowed the seeds for the vision of this future ideal Christian society and motivated concerted action by Christians.

The rejection of modern society went hand in hand with nostalgia for a Christian Europe, viewed as the ideal incarnation of Christianity. References to former Christian periods, in general the Middle Ages or, in Franco’s Spain, the 16th-century Catholic kings, was a constant theme, much like myths of the Golden Age. The “new Christendom” of the later Maritain,[13] although it has a different relation to modern politics, continues to propose this ideal.[14] This attitude also explains the hostility, or at least the mistrust, towards many aspects of modern society and economic activity – commerce, industry, finance, economic development of natural resources, agriculture and the rural world. In opposition to individualism, Christians proposed a corporate ideal and subsequently a communal ideal.[15]

In comparison to the features of the dominant trends of Catholic thought in the first half the 20th century which we have just presented in simplified form, the views of Josemaría Escrivá, inasmuch as we can reconstruct them through discourse analysis, are quite unique.

First of all, the whole problem of the “modern world” is never alluded to, either explicitly or implicitly. The term “modern” occurs very infrequently in his writings and when used does not have any negative connotations at all, but is equivalent rather to “contemporary,” as in “the modern apostle” or “modern science”[16]. The same is true of the phrase “the modern world,” which for Escrivá merely means the contemporary world, our own historical period[17]. The “modern world” thus does not refer to a universe that is hostile to Christianity but simply to the world in which the modern Christian lives and in which he is not at all an outsider:

[O]ne cannot speak of adaptation [of Christians] to the world or to modern society. No one adapts himself to what is part and parcel of himself: with respect to what is proper to himself he simply is.[18]

The occurrence of this meaning of the word “world,” signifying the environment in which the majority of Christians live, is very frequent and refers to the central core of his message, the sanctification of Christians in the middle of the world.

This does not mean that Josemaría Escrivá did not have a very clear awareness of the fact that there are many things in the world that are far from God. But this fact is not a consequence of modernity but rather of man’s freedom and is consequently a constant phenomenon running through all human history. The frequent use of the word “world” – without the adjective “modern” – in the sense of “that which is far from God” or “that which separates people from God” is simply a manifestation of the classical multiplicity of meanings of this term in Christian writing and not a reference to any particular historical period[19].

The same thing is true of references to the adversaries of Christianity. Whenever the terms “the enemies of God” or “the enemies of Christ” appear, they are always used in an indeterminate plural form. One finds no occurrences of certain terms which are everywhere in Catholic writings of the 19th and 20th centuries: “revolution,” “liberalism,”[20] “individualism,” “socialism,” “communism.” There is only one reference to Marxism – described as “a very serious error” in a 1963 homily[21]. In Escrivá’s eyes, evil originates not from the system but from man’s misuse of freedom:

We love this time of ours because it is in this time when we are called to achieve our personal sanctification. We will not admit naive longings that lead nowhere – the world has never been any better. From the very beginning, from the cradle of the Church, in the times when the twelve Apostles were still preaching, violent persecutions had already begun, the first heresies were springing up, lies were being spread and hatred was unleashed.[22]

That is why one does not find in Josemaría Escrivá’s writings any allusion to a golden age or to a time or a society that represents the ideal of Christianity. This is truly unique and original if one considers the frequency with which the theme of “a new Christianity” was mentioned by Catholic authors in the 1930s and 1940s and in the Catholic Action movements being organized at that time. Neither are there any allusions to the Middle Ages, which were an idealized reference point for many authors,[23] nor to the Catholic kings or to Imperial Spain, which played a similar role in Franco’s Spain. Contrary to the reference to Spain made by the Bishop of Vitoria in the introduction to The Way in 1939 (“Spain will return to the old grandeur of its saints, of its sages and of its heroes”), the author of The Way himself never speaks in his writings either of Spain or of any period of that country’s history[24]. This is even more surprising in light of the fact that The Way was published at the end of the Spanish Civil War, which the official media, and the clergy along with them, explicitly portrayed as a “Crusade”[25]. From the very outset, the audience that Escrivá is addressing is not from any particular country, but rather made up of Christians in general, with no idea of a golden age or a chosen nation[26].

The only historical reference found in his writings – and it is everywhere – is to the very beginnings of the church, which was precisely not a period of Christian domination or of a Christian society[27]. The occurrence of the phrase “the early Christians” is very frequent and it is they who are presented as the model for all Christians:

Just as observant religious are eager to know how the first of their order or congregation lived, so as to have their model to follow, you too – Christian layman – should also seek to know and imitate the lives of the disciples of Jesus, who knew Peter and Paul and John, and all but witnessed the Death and Resurrection of the Master.[28]

The life of the first Christians is a model not only because of their closeness in time to Christ and the apostles, but also because they sanctified themselves without leaving their place in society, in contrast to the hermits and monks of later periods[29]. In addition, the model of the first Christians is much more in harmony with the society in which people are living in the 20th century than with medieval society or that of the Old Regime. Like the first Christians, present-day Christians live in societies which in the best of cases are not – or no longer are – majoritarian Christian and so they have to bear witness to Christ.

The similarities between the two periods do not stop there. In both cases, the societies are highly urbanized with citizens exercising various trades and professions. Even though Josemaría sometimes refers to work on the farm, he usually gives an enumeration of all of the various kinds of human endeavor:

… [God] wants the vast majority to stay right where they are, in all the earthly occupations in which they work: the factory, the laboratory, the farm, the trades, the streets of the big cities and the trails of the mountains.[30]

As this quote shows, and the frequent occurrence of the word “street” confirms, the author’s world is that of the city with all its agitation, its comings and goings, its variety of social classes. Whenever he speaks of union with God in ordinary life, the expressions that come spontaneously to his pen are phrases like “streets and squares,” “in the middle of the street”:

… when you least expect it, in the street, in the midst of your everyday activities, in the hustle and bustle of the city, or in the concentrated calm of your professional work, you find yourself praying …[31]

He shows no longing for rural society, with its tranquility and immobility, for the calm passage of time, of the seasons, of the slow and plodding work in the fields. His world and his apostolate concern primarily modern society with its diversified activities: factories, workshops, laboratories, shops, services. The society that one glimpses through his writings is a mobile, open, diversified society – a society made up of individuals.

In keeping with this vision which does not seek to restore some long-lost Christian society, one does not find in his writings any program for setting up an ideal society. The theme of “the kingdom,” which in many writings of the same period evokes this ideal, is viewed quite differently by Escrivá. “The kingdom of Christ” or “the kingdom of God” of which he speaks does not have any particular social or political form:

We are celebrating today the feast of Christ the King. And I do not overstep my role as a priest when I say that if anyone saw Christ’s kingdom in terms of a political program he would not have understood the supernatural purpose of the faith, and he would risk burdening consciences with weights which have nothing to do with Jesus …[32]

The word “kingdom” which appears so often in his works refers to a constellation of meanings found in the Gospels and which is classical in Christian writing[33]. “The kingdom of God” is a reality that is both contemporary and eschatological: even though it begins on earth, it is not achieved definitively until the very end of time in heaven. It is a kingdom which is established in the heart of those who follow Christ: “let us not think of human kingdoms…. His kingdom is a kingdom of peace, of joy, of justice”[34]; a kingdom which Christians spread by their apostolate and which, by transforming people, reshapes human relations and facilitates people’s encounter with God little by little:

Jesus reminds all of us: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself.” If you put me at the center of all earthly activities, he is saying, by fulfilling the duty of each moment, in what appears important and what appears unimportant, I will draw everything to myself. My kingdom among you will be a reality! [35]

The power of these words contrasts sharply with the reflections of many authors of his time speaking about the involvement of Christians in society. In Escrivá’s case, he is not offering a theoretical reflection on a social program but a certainty of faith, based on a mystical experience that he had at the beginning of the 1930s and which has been described by his biographers[36]. However, as in the Gospel, the precise form that the kingdom of Christ will take cannot be described. The Christian’s mission is characterized both by the effort to build and spread “the Kingdom” and by the certainty that it is only in heaven that it will be definitively achieved:

God did not create us to build a lasting city here on earth, because ‘this world is the way to that other, a dwelling place free from care.’ Nevertheless, we children of God ought not to remain aloof from earthly endeavours, for God has placed us here to sanctify them and make them fruitful with our blessed faith, which alone is capable of bringing true peace and joy to all men wherever they may be[37].


The society presupposed by this way of speaking is made up of individuals. Contrary to the group mentality, whether it be corporative or communal, and to the anti-individualism of a good number of Catholic thinkers of his time, Escrivá is not afraid to use the word “individual,” which is interchangeable in his vocabulary with the word “person.” He sees individuals as acting by themselves or in association with other individuals, and not as members of a “corporation” or of a “body,” these terms being completely absent from his writings[38].

A comparison of the use of the adjectives “personal” and “individual” with those of the words “collective” and “community” is striking. In our corpus, the first represent nearly 20% of the total, the second less than 1%. It must be added that, except for the word “Church” which is extremely frequent, collective terms represent but a tiny minority compared to plural terms referring to groups of singular individuals: “Christians,” “everyday people,” “men and woman,” “apostles,” “faithful”. Escrivá speaks to – and about – singular persons and not to groups or communities. This is because it is in the conscience of each person that man’s essential struggle is carried out:

We are answerable to God for all the actions we freely perform. There is no room here for anonymity. Each person finds himself face to face with his Lord, and he can decide to live as God’s friend or as his enemy[39].

Freedom’s natural locus is on the individual or personal level. This accounts for his rejection of anonymity in one’s personal relationship with God[40] and also helps explain one of the senses of the word “masses” in his writings. For him the “masses” or the “crowd” has a moral rather than a social meaning: it designates those who allow themselves to be led along by others, who do not exercise their freedom nor their sense of responsibility. These are the people whom the apostle must wake up, must cause to rise like leaven in the dough.[41]

This insistence on the person, on the particular individual, is not just a consequence of a writing style that addresses the reader directly, but the very goal of all of his preaching and his writing: to call each and every Christian to conversion, to correspondence to grace and apostolic activity. That is why his “heroes,” his models, are not men of action or government figures of the Church or the State, but the saints, and first and foremost the apostles – Peter, John, Paul and the others – and a few other saints that he refers to specifically,[42] and all the other saints in general.

The primacy of the individual is not limited merely to the fundamental realm of one’s personal relationship with God, but in Escrivá’s view extends also to the temporal activity of Christians, grounded on their freedom and personal responsibility. These two words – “freedom” and “responsibility”, along with the adjective “personal” – appear together very frequently in passages claiming the right to temporal freedom for Christians and rejecting any official concerted action of Catholics in the social or political fields:

(…) as Christians, you enjoy the fullest freedom, with the consequent personal responsibility, to take part as you see fit in political, social or cultural affairs, with no restrictions other than those set by the Church’s Magisterium [43].

To be sure, Maritain had already formulated the distinction between “acting like a Christian and not as a Christian” – although this distinction was not always so clear in the actions of his Christian Democrat disciples. Josémaria Escrivá’s rejection of any concerted political or social action by Catholics, however, was both loud and constant. A somewhat peculiar terminological practice of his illustrates this point. In Escrivá’s writings the use of the adjective “Christian” is far more frequent than that of the term “Catholic”. In our opinion, the main reason for this is to be found in the fact that the word “Christian” contains a direct reference to Christ, to the fact of following Christ, to the disciples’ being transformed into “alter Christus, ipse Christus, another Christ, Christ himself!”[44] It is also possible however that this usage is a reaction against the instrumentalization of the term “Catholic” for goals which were not strictly religious and in some cases of doubtful repute. Thus alongside highly positive uses of the word “Catholic” in its original sense of ‘universal,’[45] one finds others with a negative connotation rejecting the label “Catholic”:

When you see people of uncertain professional standing acting as leaders at public functions of a religious nature, don’t you feel the urge to whisper in their ears: Please, would you mind being just a little less Catholic? [46]

The greatness expressed by the adjective “catholic” – ‘universal’ – leads the author to reject its use to designate any group, because by definition and even with the best intentions a group will always be particular and can easily mutate into a faction. If this were to happen to the Catholic Church, however, it would undermine the freedom of Catholics and, even worse, introduce a separation between them and their fellow citizens:

[…] I do not usually like to speak of Catholic workers, Catholic engineers or Catholic doctors, as if describing a species within a genus, as if Catholics formed a little group set apart from the others. For that creates the impression that there is a wall between Christians and the rest of society[47].


A corollary of this premise is the frequency of words such as freedom, citizens, and rights in St Josémaria’s works. Few religious writings deal with the theme of freedom, which in the final analysis has a theological foundation. God created man free and therefore able to love, and therein lies our greatest resemblance to Him. To this original freedom is added the freedom that Christ won for us:

The sacrosanct respect for your opinions, as long as they do not lead you away from the law of God, is not understood by those who are unaware of the real meaning of the freedom that Christ won for us on the Cross, qua libertate Christus nos liberavit (Gal 4: 31), by sectarians of all stripes: those who seek to impose their temporal opinions on others as if they were dogmas[48].

Absent from The Way due to its literary genre, the word freedom pervades all three of the other books. The historical, civil and ecclesiastical context accounts for Escrivá’s denunciation of “people who have a one-party mentality, in the political or the spiritual realm.”[49] This type of phrase refers primarily to the political situation in Spain: above all to the totalitarian pretensions of the Falange in the 1940s[50], as well as to the instrumentalization of the faith by the regime – National-Catholicism – and to the tendency of some Catholic groups to use political power as a sort of secular arm. In the sixties, the plea that Josemaría made for freedom corresponds to a defense of the freedom of political choice of members of Opus Dei who held important political positions in the second Franco period – often known as “the technocrats” – or who openly opposed the régime[51].

It is undoubtedly this historical context that explains his increasing use of terms referring to civil rights, citizenship and pluralism[52] during these years. But his defense of freedom was not primarily due to a specific historical context, nor limited to demanding freedom only for Catholics. As we have already said, to be free is the highest attribute of man’s dignity. Freedom must be granted to everyone, both believers and non-believers, because we have all been created free by God:

We have a duty to defend the personal freedom of everyone, in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the one who won freedom for us all (Gal 4: 31); if we do not defend others’ freedom, by what right can we claim our own? […] Conscience, true conscience, discovers the imprint of the Creator in all things[53].

Behind this kind of statement there lies a radical optimism regarding the natural openness of the human soul to God and the value of freedom, which stands in stark contrast to the covert or overt fear of the misuse of civil liberty found in many anti-liberal writings by Christians in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; on the other hand, there is an affinity between Escrivá’s views and the arguments of nineteenth-century Catholic liberals.

The insistence on the freedom of all men and the rights of the citizen place the author squarely in the modern political world where individuals are free to hold and support diverse political opinions, aspire to public office, and criticize the government. But it also refers to justice considered first and foremost as respect for the dignity of the human person and his rights: the right to one’s reputation, to the impartiality of the courts, to equality of all before the law. Social justice follows from this dignity and is built on respect for others’ individual rights:

We must uphold the right of all men to live, to own what is needed in order to lead a dignified life, the right to work and to rest, to choose a particular state in life, to found a family, to bring children into the world within marriage and to raise them, to enjoy security during periods of sickness and old age, to have access to culture, to join with other citizens to achieve legitimate ends and, above all, the right to know and love God in perfect liberty […][54].

Respect for individual rights applies equally to civil society and ecclesiastical society. A large number of the occurrences of the word “freedom” in Conversations with St Josémaria concern the defense of freedom of association of the faithful in the Church, including clerics, “the equal dignity and complementarity of the tasks of men and women in the Church, the need to build legitimate public opinion within the People of God.”[55]

The Christian is a citizen of two cities, the temporal and the eternal (the latter being prefigured by the Church). But this double citizenship does not imply any mixture between the two spheres, and even less any manipulation of temporal matters by the clergy:

All those who exercise the priestly ministry in the Church should always be careful to respect the autonomy which the Catholic faithful need in order not to be in a position of inferiority vis-à-vis their fellow laymen and to effectively carry out their specific apostolic task in the middle of the world. To attempt the opposite, to try to instrumentalize lay people for ends that exceed the proper limits of our hierarchical ministry, would be to fall into a lamentably anachronistic clericalism[56].

The expression “a lamentably anachronistic clericalism” reflects not only painful personal experiences of St Josémaria himself, but also a view of history that rejects the symbiosis between the political and the religious spheres, along with any form of imposed unanimity among Catholics in temporal matters. More than to the Old Regime, these words seem rather to refer to a not-so-distant period when Catholic Action served as the longa manus of the hierarchy in temporal affairs[57]; Escrivá expresses the wish that there be “[…] among Catholics themselves, […] genuine pluralism of opinion and judgment in areas that God leaves open to the free discussion of men […].”[58]

The rejection of even indirect interference by priests in the temporal activity of the laity implies also a rejection of the concerted action of the two. This view is reflected in Escrivá’s pastoral practice; it is also visible in the social universe in which he moved and the kind of social action he was involved in. Although this is not the place to discuss a subject that deserves more extensive development, a few points may be noted. The universe that is Escrivá’s in the 1920s is not that of social Catholicism or Catholic Action. If we adopt the typology and chronology of Yvon Tranvouez,[59] his pastoral activity before and during the early years of the founding of Opus Dei was carried out in lay foundations – the Foundation for the Sick of the Apostolic Ladies, the Foundation of St Isabelle. He dedicated his efforts to assisting the poor and the sick and teaching catechism to children. Compared to the typical career path of his day, it was strange for a young secular priest with a university degree – a rare thing at that time – who was in contact with the Society of Jesus and engaged in their ministry, not to be involved in any of the numerous associations aimed at forming the Catholic secular elite for social and political action. His refusal in 1933 to accept the position of spiritual director of the “Councillor’s House” where most of the top ecclesiastical brass of the newly emerging Catholic Action movement were to be trained[60] is due above all to his determination to devote himself entirely to his mission as founder of Opus Dei. But it was also no doubt motivated by his rejection of any form of clericalism, very much present in the ambiguous status of the laity in the apostolate of Catholic Action: laypeople involved in this movement were not only in a subordinate position with respect to the hierarchy, but also due to their special “mandate” in a position of superiority with respect to the rest of the lay faithful. The means that Escrivá used at the beginning of the Work, and which have hardly changed since then, were aimed at developing the character of the participants on the human, spiritual and apostolic levels: preached meditations, retreats, visits to the poor and the sick, theology courses. While all of these activities had a doctrinal content, their primary focus was increasing the intensity of the attendees’ relationship with God and encouraging their apostolate, so that each person could exercise his responsibilities as a Christian and a citizen. This type of activity did not lead to the formation of associations, but rather to the creation of informal bonds of friendship animated by a spirit of Christian brotherhood[61]. Here there is no trace of the methods of social Catholicism based on collective reflection in order to “see, judge, and act,” and leading to concerted action by members. Citizenship in both cities implies personal autonomy, free exercise of one’s rights, taking responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions:

Fulfil honourably your commitments as citizens, in all fields – in politics and in financial affairs, in university life and in your job – accepting with courage all the consequences of your free decisions and the personal independence that is yours[62].

The vocabulary that Escrivá uses is very modern: personal autonomy, rights, pluralism, opinions, freedom, citizenship. Along the same lines as the “Christian materialism” to which he refers in one of his most famous homilies, one could also speak of “Christian individualism”[63].


This emphasis on what is individual and personal betokens a view of human relations which is the polar opposite of a group mentality, be it corporate or communitarian. This is evident when one analyzes the terms that Josemaría Escrivá uses to express relationships between people and their bond with the community. The most frequent terms are “relationship”, “relationships,” “life of relationships.” The frequency of these terms is very high in books published after The Way and they refer to all sorts of different relationships, from the most sublime and intimate to the most common and ordinary. A “relationship with God” or with “the three Divine Persons” occupies first place on the scale, with a lexical register that includes “spending time together”, “intimacy” and “friendship” – an eminently interpersonal relationship similar to the bond between husband and wife. Radiating out in concentric circles from this center, there are other types of relationships involving kinship, friendship, the workplace, one’s neighborhood, cultural or political affiliations, membership in associations … The type of community which is pictured here is in fact a “civil society” and not an organic whole, a fabric of relations which, although it has permanent core groups such as the family and one’s circle of friends, is essentially mobile, fluid, voluntary:

You who are celebrating with me today the feast of St Joseph are men who work in various human professions; you have your own homes, you belong to many different countries and speak different languages. You have been educated in lecture halls or in factories and offices. You have worked in your profession for years, built professional and personal friendships with your colleagues, helped to solve the problems of your companies and your communities[64].

It is these relationships that Christians are called to sanctify, to christianize, to humanize – in a very natural way, free from any form of organizational imperialism, modelling human relationships according to the divine exemplar of interpersonal relations:

Just as Christ “went about doing good” throughout Palestine, so must you also spread peace in your family circle, in civil society, on the job, and in your cultural and leisure activities[65].

Escrivá’s oft-repeated assertion of the equal dignity of all human work has not only a spiritual meaning – the value of work in God’s eyes – but also a prominent social dimension. Temporal structures are not a rigid framework to which individuals must comply but the result of innumerable personal relationships. Therefore, when Christians strive to live their faith in their daily life they are already transforming social structures. Escrivá’s faith in the value of the most ordinary situations and actions sheds light on the role that politics plays in his preaching and, beyond the political arena, the importance of Christians’ being good citizens of the temporal city. The focus of his message is not the importance of politics in ordering and governing the earthly city, nor to remind Christians of their responsibility in this area. This is not only because of his rejection of anything that bears the slightest resemblance to direct or indirect interference in the political freedom of the laity by priests, but because what is truly important in his eyes is transforming the network of relationships that make up society is made up of. Although Christians must exercise all their rights as citizens, active participation in politics itself is seen as only one of many activities that Christians can pursue as a specific professional vocation. Unlike the stereotypical activist exalted in many Catholic movements, who was often very close to being a political activist, in Escrivá’s view the Christian apostle is an ordinary man or woman who is striving to attain holiness in areas that have little or nothing to do with the political arena:

The marriage union, the care and education of children, the effort to provide for the needs of the family as well as for its security and development, relationships with other persons who make up the community, all these are among the ordinary human situations that Christian couples are called upon to sanctify[66].

This view of citizenship involves an understanding of the temporal city which does not see it as an organic whole, unlike the ancient polis or the Old Regime. It is akin to the modern view of civil society and to the distinction between the conceptions of freedom held in the Ancient and Modern worlds, as formulated by Benjamin Constant in the early nineteenth century[67]. Unlike the ancient republics and revolutionary republicanism, modern citizenship does not mean constant and active participation of everyone in the governance of temporal affairs. Modern participative government only requires of its citizens periodic political participation in elections and possibly in public debates. The rest of their lives takes place outside the sphere of politics, including their most important activities: family life, religious practice, participation in cultural events and in associations of various types.

There is consequently a kinship between the foundational principles of liberalism and modern civil society and the views of Josemaría Escrivá. In the first place, one might say, this is because he is not obsessed with the need for active, professional participation in politics. His preaching includes a call to Christians to exercise their rights as citizens and participate in civic affairs, but it is mainly an affirmation of the primacy of the social dimension of life: the importance of daily life and the potential that the most ordinary activities have for transforming society. In his eyes the “temporal commitment” of Catholic social action movements does not constitute the main thrust of Christians’ activity within society. Mutatis mutandis, we could say that Catholic militancy is more like an avatar of the old “Republicanism,” while Escrivá’s message belongs to the modern view of the primacy of civil society.

In the second place, there is also a kinship with liberal values in Escrivá’s constant rejection of any mixing of politics and religion and of any form of clericalism, not only that typical of the nineteenth century:

One of the greatest dangers threatening the Church today may well be precisely that of not recognising the divine requirements of Christian freedom and of being led by false arguments in favour of greater effectiveness to try to impose uniformity on Christians. At the root of this kind of attitude is something not only lawful but even commendable: a desire to see the Church exercising a vital influence on the modern world. However, I very much fear that this is a mistaken way for, on the one hand, it can tend to involve and compromise the hierarchy in temporal questions (thus falling into a clericalism which, though different, is no less scandalous than that of past centuries) and, on the other hand, it may isolate lay people, ordinary Christians, from the everyday world, turning them into mere mouthpieces for decisions or ideas conceived outside the world in which they live[68].

The rejection of uniformity and the defense of pluralism among Christians goes hand in hand with a clear distinction between the spiritual and the temporal. The condemnation of “a clericalism which, though different, is no less scandalous than that of past centuries” is loud and clear, without however relegating religion to the realm of mere private belief:

[…] Have you ever stopped to think how absurd it is to leave one’s Catholicism aside on entering a university, a professional association, a scholarly society, or Congress, as if you were checking your hat at the door? [69]

While this view is quite far removed from mainstream liberalism in Latin countries, it is quite close to the liberal tradition in Anglo-Saxon countries, and more particularly in the United States[70].

A Christianity practiced all the way down to its ultimate consequences cannot but have a social impact on the ordinary life of a multitude of Christians, some publicly well-known but most unknown and unrecognized.

It is not surprising that when he wished to give an example how this invisible action works Saint Josemaría quoted one of the most eloquent documents of Christian antiquity, The Epistle to Diognetus, which can serve as a conclusion to this essay:

Savour these words of an anonymous author of those times, who sums up the grandeur of our vocation as follows: Christians, he writes, ‘are to the world what the soul is to the body. They live in the world but are not worldly, as the soul is in the body but is not corporeal. […] They work from within and pass unnoticed, as the soul does of its essence. […] They live as pilgrims among perishable things with their eyes set on the immortality of heaven, as the immortal soul now dwells in a perishable house. […] And Christians have no right to abandon their mission in the world, in the same way that the soul may not voluntarily separate itself from the body.’ (Epistola ad Diognetum, 6, PG 2, 1175) [71]


By his insistence on the individual and his rights, by his vision of society as a fabric of interwoven relations constantly modified by the action of its members, by his rejection of any form of clericalism limiting Christians’ freedom of temporal action, Josemaría Escrivá was well ahead of his time. This is all the more true because his appeal to Christians’ civic responsibility was not accompanied by any fanatical call to “political involvement,” but aimed rather at the gradual transformation of the fabric of relations that modern society is made up of.


Frequency of certain terms
  The Way Conversations Christ is Passing By Friends of God
  1939 1968 1951-1971 1941-1968
  N % N % N % N %
world 46 21 105 12 115 14 81 14
structures     17 2 1 0    
society 2 1 60 7 16 2 10 2
temporal     40 5 16 2 11 2
political         10 1 3 1
city 6 3 4   17 2 14 2
street 3 1 5 1 9 1 10 2
kingdom 6 3 5 1 40 5 11 2
Church 16 7 108 12 78 10 51 9
Catholic(s) 6 3 32 4 5 1 4 1
Christian(s) 21 10 61 7 200 25 129 23
ordinary person             1 0
apostle(s) 47 22 2 0 7 1 3 1
saints 19 9 2 0 25 3 25 4
faithful 3 1 17 2 6 1 3 1
layperson/laypeople 1 0 4 0 1 0 1 0
lay 1 0 39 4        
person/personal 25 12 182 21 143 18 128 22
individual 2 1 11 1 7 1 6 1
collective     5 1 2 0    
community     8 1 4 0    
mass/dough 4 2 1 0 7 1 4 1
crowd 3 1 1 0 11 1 6 1
citizen     24 3 5 1 4 1
rights     26 3 7 1 8 1
civil/civic     6 1 4 0 1 0
freedom/liberty     79 9 36 4 47 8
relation(s) 1 0 27 3 22 3 10 2
Middle Ages                
Marxism             1 0
secularism             1 0
individualism         1 0    
modern 2 1 6 1     1 0
Total 214 100 881 100 802 100 573 100
NOTE: The first column of the table gives the absolute number values, the second the percentage of occurrences of the term with respect to the total number of occurrences of all the terms contained in the table. The figures are based on the original Spanish versions of the texts.



[1] A shorter preliminary version of this book appeared under the title Spiritual Considerations, Cuenca, 1934. Our quotes come from the 1994 edition of The Way, Furrow and The Forge, Princeton, Scepter, 2000. We also refer the reader to the recent critical edition: J. Escrivá, Complete Works, I, A, The Way. Critical-Historical Edition, prepared by P. Rodriguez, New York, 2002.

[2] These interviews took place in 1967- 1968. We quote from the 2002 edition, Conversations with Josemaría Escrivá, Princeton, Scepter.

[3] The homilies that make up this work were preached between 1951 and 1971, but we are working from the published versions which presumably differ to some degree from the original preaching. We quote from the 1974 edition of Christ is Passing By published by Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ.

[4] See Msgr Alvaro del Portillo, “Foreword” to J. Escrivá, Friends of God, London, Scepter, 1981.

[5] We refer to both European and American contexts because, although Latin American countries do show certain specific characteristics, they nevertheless share the overall pattern of Latin countries in general.

[6] On the appearance of the modern division between the public and private spheres, see J. Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (1962). On the limits of Habermas’s model, see F.-X. Guerra, “Lo public y lo privado. Aportaciones, ambiguedades y problemas de un nuevo objeto historico,” in Fundacion Mario Gongora, Lo public y lo privado en la historia americana, Santiago de Chile, 2000, pp. 13-39.

[7] This problem will arise particularly in the 20th century. At that time, most of the components of the lay moral program were still quite close to those of Catholic morality, except for the question of divorce which presaged other conflicts in the future.

[8] This term has been adopted as an analytical category in the literature, especially due to the writings of Emile Poulat; for the historical development of this author’s thinking, see Emile Poulat. Un objet de science, le catholicisme, V. Zuber (ed.), Paris, 2001. Although in our opinion the use of this expression is relevant to describe the historical filiation of ideas, its use as a typological term appears more questionable. The refusal to relegate religion to the private domain and deprive it of any social influence does not always go hand in hand with political anti-modernity.

[9] This phenomenon has been particularly strong in the Hispanic world where the liberal revolutions of the beginning of the 19th century did not cause any disruption in the religious sphere, with a strong presence of ecclesiastical figures in many political assemblies.

[10] J. Maritain, Anti-modern, Paris, 1922.

[11] E. Poulat, Église contre bourgeoisie. Introduction au devenir du catholicisme actuel, Paris, 1980.

[12] See J.-M. Mayeur, Catholicisme social et démocratie chrétienne, Paris, 1986, ch. I.

[13] The expression appears in his writing after the condemnation of French Action by Pius XI in 1926 in Primeauté du spirituel, Paris, 1927 and is further developed in Humanisme intégral. Problèmes spirituels et temporels d’une nouvelle chétienneté, Paris, 1936.

[14] For French examples illustrating this topic, see Y. Tranvouez, Catholiques d’abord. Approches du mouvement catholique en France XIXe-XXe siècle, Paris, 1980, 2nd part.

[15] See J.-M. Mayeur, Catholicisme social et démocratie chrétienne, Paris, 1986, ch. I.

[16] The Way, nn. 35 and 338.

[17] See, e.g., Conversations, nn.26, 59, 62.

[18] Idem, n. 62.

[19] See Dictionnaire de la spiritualité ascétique et mystique, doctrine et histoire, Paris, Beauchêne, fascicles LXIV-LXV, p. 1626 ff.

[20] There is just one use of the word “liberalism” in the plural, referring to outdated forms of anticlericalism: “That’s for those who dig up musty, old-fashioned ‘Voltairianisms’ or discredited liberal ideas of the nineteenth century.” The Way, n.849.

[21] “Open to God and Men,” November 3, 1963, Friends of God, n.171.

[22] “Our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven,” May 19, 1966, Christ is Passing By, n.123.

[23] This topic is still present in the 1930s in specialized Catholic Action movements like the Christian Agricultural Youth or the Christian Worker Youth, who in their ceremonies and rallies sang: “We want France to come back to Christianity (…) We are building the cathedral in which our ambitious gaze already sees the triumphant dawn of the people returning to God,” quoted by Y. Tranvouez, Catholiques d’aborde siècle, supra n. 14, p. 120.

[24] Spain only appears as a geographical place.

[25] There is only one reference to the war, considered as an opportunity for personal purification: “(…) War is the greatest obstacle to the easy way. But in the end we have to love it, as the religious should love his disciplines.” The Way, n.311.

[26] See for example: “(…) How many glories of France are glories of mine! And in the same way, many things that makes Germans proud – and Italians and British and Americans and Asians and Africans – are also sources of pride to me. Catholic! A big heart, an open mind.” The Way, n.525.

[27] The only occurrence of the word “Christiandom” refers precisely to this period: “early Christiandom,” cf. Conversations, n.89.

[28] The Way, n.925.

[29] cf. J. L. Llanes, The Sanctification of Work, New York, 2003.

[30] “Christ’s Presence in Christians,” March 26, 1967, Christ is Passing By, n. 105.

[31] The Way, n.110.

[32] “Christ the King,” November 22, 1970, Christ is Passing By, n.184.

[33] cf. See Dictionnaire de la spiritualité ascétique et mystique, doctrine et histoire, Paris, Beauchêne, fascicles LXXXXVI, LXXXXVII, LXXXXVIII, 1987.

[34] “The Eucharist, Mystery of Faith and Love,” April 14, 1960, Christ is Passing By, n.93.

[35] “Christ the King,” November 22, 1970, Christ is Passing By, n.183.

[36] See for example A. Vasquez de Prada, The Founder of Opus Dei: The Life of Josemaría Escrivá, Vol I, The Early Years, Princeton, Scepter, 2001, pp. 220-231.

[37] “The Christian’s Hope,” June 8, 1968, Friends of God, n.210.

[38] The word “corporate” is only used in a technical sense to refer to Opus Dei’s collective works of apostolate.

[39] “Freedom, a Gift from God,” April 10, 1956, Friends of God, n.36.

[40] See for example Idem, nn.159, 160, 378.

[41] See for example Christ is Passing By, nn. 120 and 180. The Spanish word masa means both “mass” and “dough”.

[42] St. Teresa of Avila, St. Teresa of Lisieux, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier,…

[43] “The Richness of Ordinary Life,” March 11, 1960, Friends of God, n.11.

[44] “The Christian Vocation,” December 2, 1951, Christ is Passing By, n.11.

[45] See for example: “Get rid of that ‘small-town’ outlook. Enlarge your heart till it becomes universal, ‘catholic’. Don’t flutter about like a barnyard hen when you can soar like an eagle.” The Way, n.7.

[46] Idem n.371.

[47] “In Joseph’s workshop”, March 19, 1963, Christ is Passing By, n.53.

[48] “The Richness of Ordinary Life”, March 11, 1960, Friends of God, n.11.

[49] Conversations, n.50.

[50] Regarding the hostility and surveillance to which he was subjected by the Phalange in the early1940s, see for example J. L. Rodriguez Jimenez “Falange Spies”, El País, 07.09.2000, from the archives of the Falange.

[51] See for example the testimony of Bishop A. Del Portillo in Immersed in God: Blessed Josemaría Escrivá, Founder of Opus Dei, As Seen by His Successor, Bishop Alvaro Del Portillo, by Cesare Cavalleri.

[52] A chapter “Citizenship” was added by the author to his manuscript of Furrow, which was published after his death.

[53] “Open to God and Men,” November 3, 1963, Friends of God, n.171.

[54] Idem.

[55] Conversations, n.21.

[56] Idem, 12.

[57] We are not referring here to public interventions in exceptional occasions, but to usual practice.

[58] IbIdem

[59] For this chronology, see Y. TRANVOUEZ, Catholiques d’abord…. supra, n. 14 , Conclusion. The typology is similar for Spain, cf. GALLEGO J. A. and A. PAZOS, Histoire religieuse de l’Espagne contemporaine, Paris, Le Cerf, 1998.

[60] Cf. A. VÁZQUEZ DE PRADA, The Founder of Opus Dei, supra n. 36, Vol. I, pp. 375-76.

[61] For examples of these activities in the 1930s, cf. the testimony of P. Casciaro, Dream and Your Dreams Will Fall Short, London/New York, 2008, ch. 2, 4, and 5; P. Berglar P., Opus Dei: Life and Work of its Founder Josemaría Escrivá, Princeton, N.J. 1994, ch. 5.

[62] Conversations, n.117.

[63] “Passionately Loving the World,” October 8, 1967 Conversations, n.115.

[64] “In Joseph’s Workshop,” March 19, 1963, Christ is Passing By, n.46.

[65] “Finding Peace in the Heart of Christ,” June 17, 1966, Christ is Passing By, n.166

[66] “Marriage, A Christian Vocation,” December 25, 1970, Christ is Passing By, 23.

[67] De la liberté des Anciens comparée à celle des Modernes, [1819], in B. CONSTANT, De la liberté

chez les Modernes, Paris, 1980.

[68] Conversations, n.59.

[69] The Way, n.353.

[70] The view of Catholicism as “intransigent,” as well as the association between rejecting the relegation of religion to the private sphere and mixing politics and religion, is found mostly in the Latin world, but does not apply to situations where political modernity and religious viewpoints have always been compatible.

[71] “Working for God,” February 6, 1960, Friends of God, n.63.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s Written Works and Preaching

Abstract: Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s written works and preaching: A compilation of all the writings of Saint Josemaría, both published and unpublished, including notes that have been kept from his oral preaching. The author follows a historical, chronological outline, starting with his first unpublished writings and finishing with works published posthumously.

Keywords: Writings of Josemaría Escrivá – Preaching of Saint Josemaría


The expression “written works,” however precise it may seem, is not necessarily so when one tries to categorize the work of a particular author. The first distinction one might make is between “written texts” and “spoken words,” understanding the latter to include discourses, speeches, lectures, meditations, talks, conferences, sermons, etc., which were not written in advance as texts to be read aloud, but spoken, perhaps on the basis of notes or outlines, or entirely extemporaneously. Such a distinction between what is spoken and what is written is clear in principle, but not so clear in practical reality. Often, classes, conferences, meditations or talks that were given orally are later transformed into written texts. Nor it is infrequent that notes taken by listeners become an amply cited reference text in themselves: it suffices to indicate a few notable examples of this, such as a large number of sermons of St. Augustine and other Fathers of the Church, the reportata of various medieval teachers or a significant portion of the Aristotelian corpus. We might also mention, as a more extreme case, collections of isolated sayings that disciples or admirers take note of and transmit later to posterity; the most well-known of these are the Tischreden of Luther, gathered in the eighth volume of Luthers Werke in Auswahl.

The distinction between “published works” and “unpublished works” can seem more definitive, although there are also cases that fall somewhere in between these two categories. Such is the case of those works which an author leaves prepared for publication, while indicating that they should be published after his death, or perhaps publishing during his lifetime only a small number of copies for a specific group of people, postponing a wider distribution until a later date. There are also cases of diaries or similar texts which may have been written only for the personal use of the author, but in which the idea of eventual publication is frequently present or quite evident. Finally, there are outlines and reflections, or more or less developed notes, written in preparation for a book an author may have planned to write, but for one reason or another did not bring to completion. (Pascal’s Pensées is the most obvious case, although there are many others.)

The above considerations are meant only to introduce the theme of the present article. Specifically, they are intended to suggest the breadth of outlook with which one must approach the task of giving an account of the written work of St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, since, as we will see, it includes many of the varieties described above.

Our intention in the pages that follow is to give a general introductory overview of this body of work. As can be seen from the description of the various series of volumes planned for the collection of his complete works, it is very ample: published works, unpublished works (that is, texts that the author intended for publication that are as of yet still unpublished), collected letters, manuscripts, oral preaching.[1] As can be seen, the division of texts into these series has been made on the basis of their status with regard to publication, rather than on other criteria such as their literary genre, date of origin, intended audience, etc.

In this article we will follow a criterion that could be called historical-biographical. One must remember that St. Josemaría left behind him an ample literary legacy (“Escrivá escribe” [Escrivá writes], he sometimes commented, making a play on words with his last name). This legacy testifies not only to his spiritual strength, but also to his insightful manner of expression, his dominion of the language and his good style. But he was not a writer or an author in the habitual sense of the word. He did not write for the sake of writing or just to produce a literary work, but for the service of that which constituted the purpose of his whole life: his priestly condition and the fulfillment of the mission he received on October 2, 1928, that is, the promotion of Christian life in the middle of the world among men and women of the most varied conditions and cultures. His writings arose, therefore, not only “in connection with” the development of his life and mission, but in strict relation to that which this life and mission demanded of him at each stage of its development.

Analysis of archival documentation allows us to distinguish two periods of especially intense literary production in the life of St. Josemaría: the first from the beginning of Opus Dei until 1946, and the second from the end of the 1950s until his death. Between these two periods, there is a gap during which there was a reduction in the volume of his written work. We will follow this chronological division in our exposition, while keeping in mind the introductory remarks made above. There are two other complementary observations we would make before beginning our exposition:

  1. Our objective is to offer an overview of the work of St. Josemaría, including some basic documental references, but without entering into the sort of detailed analysis which should be reserved for the critical editions in preparation. We will keep in mind the entirety of the work of St. Josemaría, including his oral preaching, leaving aside only two types of writings which, by their nature, demand special treatment: his letters, numbering in the thousands, and juridical documents, i.e. the statutes that have governed the life of Opus Dei over the course of its juridical itinerary.[2]
  2. The deep connection between the life of the founder of Opus Dei and his literary production requires us to make some reference to the historical context of the various texts. We have therefore considered it appropriate to include a brief historical exposition at the beginning of each of the three principal parts into which our study is divided, as well as at the beginning of some of the subsections. Of course, we will limit ourselves to indicating some general lines, so as not to unnecessarily prolong the exposition, while offering succinct bibliographic references in the notes.



The life of St. Josemaría revolved around a crucial event: the moment during the morning of October 2, 1928, in which he perceived the mission for which God had destined him: the foundation of Opus Dei.[3] From this moment on, he dedicated all his energies to this task. The beginnings were not easy: the awareness of call to holiness in the middle of the world was not then widespread, and he had to open a new path. The reality was that, as St. Josemaría himself put it, “souls escaped through my hands like eels.” Nevertheless, it did not take long for him to find some who understood him: the first was one of his former schoolmates from the institute in Logroño, Isidoro Zorzano, who was followed some time later (but still within the 1930s) by others. From the beginning he was also able to count on the collaboration of some priests. And, from February 14, 1930 on, when he understood that women should also form part of Opus Dei, his apostolate also expanded in that direction.[4]

St. Josemaría’s earliest writings arose in this context of the beginning and growth of his foundational apostolic work, as instruments in the service of his priestly and apostolic activity. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War slowed the expansion of Opus Dei, but not its interior growth. The tension of wartime was like a trial by fire that helped to solidify the determination of the first ones: Isidoro Zorzano, Juan Jiménez Vargas, Ricardo Fernández Vallespín, Álvaro del Portillo, Pedro Casciaro, Franscisco Botella… These men would thus become fundamental points of support for the future apostolate. The same did not happen with the women, to whom St. Josemaría had been able to dedicate less time and who were especially affected by the lack of contact with the founder during the war. In fact, he had to begin the apostolate among women entirely anew. As for the priests, already before the civil war, in 1935, St. Josemaría had come to understand that because of the novelty implied by the spirit of Opus Dei in so many aspects of life, the priests needed for its apostolic structure would have to come from among the laymen who already formed part of the Work. Thus, in this field also, he had to make a new beginning.

As soon as peace returned in 1939 and in the following years, the apostolic work not only recommenced but experienced a rapid development, expanding from Madrid to many other Spanish cities. The work with women also participated in this growth. In 1942, the first center for women of Opus Dei was set up in Madrid. In those years some women came to the Work who together with Dolores Fisac, who had already received a call to Opus Dei in 1937, would contribute to its worldwide development: Encarnación Ortega, Nisa González Guzmán, Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri… Parallel to these developments, St. Josemaría was seeking a juridical formula that would allow for the incardination of those who could be the first priests of Opus Dei. He found the solution, not without divine help, on February 14, 1943: the establishment of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross as a fundamental part of the foundational and pastoral reality of Opus Dei. Already before that date, some laymen had begun preparing for the priesthood, including the necessary theological studies, and in 1944 the first members of Opus Dei received priestly ordination in Madrid: Álvaro del Portillo, José María Hernández Garnica, and José Luis Múzquiz. Apostolic expansion to other countries became possible when World War II ended in 1945, and at almost the same time, St. Josemaría moved to Rome, with the intention of establishing there the central seat of Opus Dei.

Although it has been sketched in the briefest outline, such is the historical background presupposed by the first writings of St. Josemaría, to which we now turn our attention.[5]

“Apuntes íntimos”

Any attempt to describe the literary work of the founder of Opus Dei must begin with the consideration of a text that the author himself did not intend for publication, but which nevertheless constitutes the point of departure for several of his later works, and even for the establishment of a method of work that he followed for a great part of his life. We refer, as anyone who knows the work of St. Josemaría will already have guessed, to the text known as Apuntes íntimos [Intimate notes].

At one point in 1930, St. Josemaría was asked to describe the event of October 2, 1928. He recounted how over the course of the previous years the Lord had been opening his horizons and granting him lights that were as if engraved with fire in his heart and in his mind. To make sure that he would remember all this, he had been careful to take some notes. In the morning of October 2, he turned to these notes once again and set about putting them in order so as to reread them and meditate on them. It was then that – in his words – he “saw” Opus Dei.[6] St. Josemaría retained throughout his life this custom of taking notes of the lights received in prayer, of spiritual and apostolic experiences, or of texts from the Gospel that were engraved deeply in his soul. He carried out this practice with particular intensity in the years after 1928 and 1930, that is, in the first moments of the foundation of Opus Dei.

These notes, together with other texts written by St. Josemaría during the first years, were gathered and typed in the 1980s by his successor at the head of Opus Dei, Msgr. Álvaro del Portillo, with the aim of presenting them for his cause of canonization.[7] He gave the title Apuntes íntimos to the volume printed as a result of this work, the title by which these writings of St. Josemaría have been known since then.[8]

The basic core of the Apuntes íntimos is made up of various handwritten “Cuardernos” or “Notebooks”.[9] One earlier Notebook was destroyed by the author. Notebooks II through VII collect notes dated from March 11, 1930 to February 19, 1935. Notebook VIII has two parts, separated by three years: the first includes notes from the period before the Spanish Civil War (Notebook VIII, pages 1-62, with notes spanning the period from February 20, 1935 to June 30, 1936), and the second from the period after the war (Notebook VIII, pages 62v-74, with notes from April 13, 1939 to November 15, 1940). The last Notebook in the series falls chronologically between these two parts of Notebook VIII: St. Josemaría began it in Pamplona on December 11, 1937 and called it, not Notebook IX, but “Duplicate Notebook VIII” [Cuaderno VIII duplicado]. The entries in Duplicate Notebook VIII go from December 11, 1937 to January 29, 1939.[10]

In gathering these texts into a single volume, Msgr. Álvaro del Portillo followed a chronological order, thus situating the content of Duplicate Notebook VIII between the first and second parts of the original Notebook VIII.[11] Just after the first part of the original Notebook VIII, he also placed a small, unnumbered notebook, which the author wrote during his stay in the Honduras Legation.[12] Finally, after the text of the Notebooks, he added fourteen Appendices, in which he transcribed other documents with notes from the spiritual life of the author, usually things written for his confessor.[13]

We pass now from a description of the Apuntes íntimos to the consideration of their content and of the history of their composition, particularly of the Notebooks which form its core. The texts of Notebook II, up to page 43 (Apuntes íntimos, n. 95) were first written on small half-sheets or quarter-sheets of paper, unbound though kept in order. Something analogous seems to have been the case with the missing Notebook I. “At a certain moment during the year 1930,” comments Prof. Rodríguez, “Escrivá decided to record his spiritual and intimate notes not on ‘half-sheets’ (loose pages) but in “notebooks”, which would be more secure. This was not just a decision for the future, but implied also the tedious work of transcribing into notebooks all the points already contained in the collection of loose sheets of paper. He carried out this transcription patiently.”[14]

In page 43 of Notebook II, dated October 25, 1930, the vigil of Christ the King, we have the first entry written directly into one of the Notebooks (Apuntes íntimos, n. 96). Analyzing this Notebook allows us to discover that there were more than 250 small sheets of paper on which the author had noted until then his spiritual experiences and his efforts as founder. In any case, from the vigil of Christ the King in 1930, St. Josemaría was already following the mode of work that would be habitual in the composition of the rest of his Notebooks: he always carried in the pocket of his cassock a small piece of paper – mi cuartilla, he wrote on one occasion – in which he would jot down brief notes, or more extensive points, which would later serve as a guide or reminder to write the texts in the notebook.

Regarding the content, we make one preliminary observation. The entries in the Notebooks follow a chronological order, which can make one think of a personal diary. Nevertheless, this would not be an appropriate description, as St. Josemaría himself commented on several occasions. One could call them a “diary” only in a very broad and partially misleading sense, since they presuppose a methodology and contain a thematic range that transcends the characteristics of this literary genre. St. Josemaría did not write every day in the Notebooks, and if the entries always include an indication regarding the date of their transcription, this date does not always correspond to their original writing on loose pieces of paper. Moreover, in the period of almost twelve years covered by the Apuntes íntimos there are periods with scarcely any entries, or none at all.

More fundamentally, the origin of this work and of each of its entries is not the desire to record the author’s life journey, but to gather with the greatest possible fidelity the inspirations and orientations that God might grant him, as well as the fruits of his consideration in the light of faith of the small and big events taking place in his soul and in the world. And all of this has as a decisive point of reference the call of God, culminating on October 2, 1928, to spread Opus Dei. The Notebooks are thus, more than anything, a light, a stimulus, a reminder – an “alarm clock,” to use a word that St. Josemaría liked to use – for the author himself, who would reread and meditate on what was written there. At the same time and inseparably, they were a tool and a help for the formation of those who, welcoming his call, drew close to his apostolate and gave signs of being able to understand the message of Opus Dei.

Two more observations can complete this summary description of the Apuntes íntimos.[15] In the first place, we note that with relative frequency, as he reread and meditated on what was written in the Notebooks, St. Josemaría would add notes between the lines or at the bottom of the page with considerations to develop or complement the text. In the second place, we note that during the 1950s the Notebooks and other notes and papers from the first years were brought from Madrid, where they had remained until then, to Rome. Once in Rome, they were kept by St. Josemaría in his personal files. Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s the founder of Opus Dei returned from time to time to this material. During the summer of 1968, which he spent in a house located in Sant’ Ambrogio Olona (a town near Varese in Italy), he dedicated himself from the middle of July until the end of August to reviewing this material. During those days he attentively went over what was written there, making some marginal notes, and also indicating some points about which he thought it opportune to add some further explanation or commentary, asking Álvaro del Portillo to prepare this in case he himself would not be able to do so personally.[16]

“Consideraciones espirituales” and “Camino” [The Way]

Much has already been written about Camino and its predecessor, Consideraciones espirituales. In all the biographies of St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer there is a chapter or section dedicated to these books, and there are also numerous studies specifically on this topic. Notwithstanding the value of these studies and biographies, from the perspective of giving the history of the text as well as an analysis of its structure and theological content, they are all completely outdone by the monumental critical-historical edition prepared by Prof. Pedro Rodríguez, to which we have already made reference. With this edition in mind, it can even seem that an article attempting to present the written work of St. Josemaría need do more than refer the reader to this critical edition, without dedicating a special section either to Consideraciones espirituales or to Camino. Nevertheless, in the interest of offering a complete overview of the work of St. Josemaría, we will include some paragraphs summing up what is explained much more fully in the introduction to the historical-critical edition.[17]

The first fact that should be mentioned is the continuity between Consideraciones espirituales and the Apuntes íntimos. St. Josemaría made use of the Notebooks he was writing not only in the context of his personal prayer, but also in the formation of those who took part in his apostolate. He soon realized that this way of proceeding had the drawback of making known some points that had to do with the intimacy of his soul; he therefore decided “to do a re-copying of that which refers to the Work of God,” separating this from “what is personal to me”. [18] He worked along these lines during the summer and autumn of 1932, producing what would constitute the first version of Consideraciones espirituales in December of that year.[19]

This text occupied 17 typed sheets, with no indication of the author’s name. St. Josemaría was able to use hectograph copies of these in his priestly work. Without any separate chapters or sections, these pages included a series of considerations or points, numbered from 1 to 246, proceeding almost entirely from entries contained in the Apuntes íntimos. There is nevertheless a clear difference: in Consideraciones espirituales the author follows a systematic order that is different from the chronological order in which the entries appear in the Apuntes íntimos. St. Josemaría never explained the criterion by which he decided upon this organization of the material, although a careful reading of the points shows that in its basic nucleus, it anticipated the order which would appear in developed form in later versions of the text.

In the beginning of the summer of 1933, St. Josemaría decided to expand the earlier text, adding new considerations. Specifically, he added 87 new points, taken entirely from the Apuntes íntimos. Typed and reproduced on the hectograph, there were seven additional pages, with points numbered from 247 to 333. These copies did not have a cover, but the first page included the following heading: “Consejos espirituales – Consideraciones espirituales (Continuación)”.[20] The intention of continuity is clear. It is also clear that these new points were considered by the author to be a step towards a new edition of the whole work, requiring that the new points be integrated into the structure of the 1932 version, or an eventual modified structure.

St. Josemaría began this task of integration in February of 1934, and finished it within a few months. He did not limit himself to re-organizing the material already reproduced by hectograph, but expanded it further, adding more than one hundred new considerations taken from entries in the Apuntes íntimos, while removing or revising some that had been included in earlier versions. The author carried out this revision with a view to a new step he planned to take with regard to the publication of this material. He was thinking now not just of some mimeographed pages to distribute to those who were already part of or could become part of Opus Dei, but of a book published for a broader audience, including that wider circle of people to whom he was extending his priestly activity: especially university students, but also manual workers and other professionals. This new intended audience required the author to make editorial changes.

This version of Consideraciones espirituales was published by the Imprenta Moderna in Cuenca in the beginning of July 1934, with the name of the author given simply as José María (with no last name). Five hundred copies were printed. The considerations were grouped into 26 chapters, showing the order of the presentation. In contrast to the mimeographed versions, the points were not numbered, but rather separated from each other by a simple line. (It is not known why this change was made; the author went back to numbering the points in Camino.) There were a total of 438 considerations, or perhaps better said, there were 435, since three of them were repeated in the text.

The history of Consideraciones espirituales ends here. The author’s dedication to his apostolic work, which increased greatly in the years 1934-1936, and the outbreak of civil war in July 1936, brought it about (among other developments) that the 1934 book would give way to another book, namely, Camino.

According to Pedro Rodriguez’ reconstruction of the facts, the composition of Camino took place in two phases. The first in 1937, during the period of refuge mentioned above in the Honduran Legation.[21] The second took place in Burgos from 1938-1939. The correspondence and remembrances that have been preserved from the period in the Honduran Legation show that St. Josemaría dedicated a certain amount of time during those weeks to the preparation of new points or considerations, drawing them from notes about his spiritual life, from letters he wrote from the Legation to members of Opus Dei, and from his frequent preaching to those who accompanied him in the Legation. Approximately one hundred of the new points of Camino came from this period.

The definitive text of Camino was developed during the months spent in Burgos, from January 8, 1938 until March 27, 1939. Although he had had the idea of a newly edited and expanded version of Consideraciones espirituales from soon after his arrival in Burgos, intense dedication to this task only began in the middle of November 1938. From this date he began to review letters, preaching guides and other material he had available, gathering thoughts and phrases that could be incorporated into the text. He decided on the total number of considerations he wanted to reach, as a way of giving himself a goal to strive for: 999, a number chosen in honor of the Trinity. To reach this number, he had to add considerably to the number of points that were in the text published in Cuenca, and he worked steadily at this project. Those who lived with him in the apartment in Burgos frequently saw him copying texts, typing them or organizing them by themes in little piles on the bed which, given the lack of space, served him as a sort of counter or work table. On January 22, 1939, the number of points finally reached 999. As far as the content is concerned, the book can be said to have been finished at that point, although there still remained various details to be worked out.

St. Josemaría left Burgos two months later, on March 27, 1939. He had completed not only the total number of points that he wanted to include, but also the structure of the chapters or table of contents. He had also decided that the various points would be numbered sequentially, which would facilitate their citation and the development of a subject index, also in preparation.

Up to this point, the book retained the title of Consideraciones espirituales. Only later, already in Madrid, and at least in part due to considerations about the cover design, did St. Josemaría decide on the more concise and graphic title of Camino. During those months in Madrid he considered where the new book should be printed. The choice fell to Valencia, for technical reasons – principally, the availability of paper of good quality. Thus, the first edition of Camino finally saw the light of day on September 29, 1939, printed by Gráficas Turia with a run of 2,500 copies. Later editions follow this first one in all but minor modifications.[22]

We need not say more here regarding the content, order of exposition, literary style, etc. of Camino. It will suffice to refer the reader to the introduction and the chapter-by-chapter, point-by-point study offered by the critical-historical edition.[23]

“Santo Rosario” [“Holy Rosary”]

“We go to Jesus — and we ‘return’ to him — through Mary.” These words from number 495 of Camino express a conviction that St. Josemaría held all his life. It therefore comes as no surprise that one of his first books – or even the first, since in some aspects it was prior to Consideraciones espirituales – would be a work with a Marian theme: Santo Rosario.

There is a manuscript of this work in the archives of the Prelature, dated December 1931.[24] Through other sources, it is known that he composed those commentaries during the Novena to the Immaculate Conception, in the Church of Santa Isabel, in Madrid; specifically, next to the presbytery after having celebrated Mass.[25] The exact day of the Novena on which he wrote this is unknown, but on the day before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, he read to two young men a text about “the way of praying the rosary,” a phrase that doubtless refers to the work we are considering.[26]

In 1932, he did a hectograph printing of this text, but no complete copy has been preserved. We know of its existence through references and remembrances, and also through an incomplete copy that has reached us.[27] In 1934, a printer called Juan Bravo in Madrid published an edition carrying only the first name of the author, just as the first edition of Consideraciones espirituales had done. In 1939, Gráficas Turia in Valencia, the same press that had done the first printing of Camino, published a new edition. It was in pamphlet format, but with an ample print run, and included the complete name of the author.[28]

Between the manuscript of 1931 and the editions published in 1932 and 1934, St. Josemaría introduced only some minor modifications. In 1945, he decided to publish this in the form of a book, rather than a pamphlet, and towards this end he undertook a new revision of the text. Besides making some stylistic corrections, he expanded the commentaries for various mysteries of the Rosary. Specifically, he completed the description of the biblical scenes that were the focus of each mystery, keeping the original commentary unchanged, and thus keeping also unchanged the fundamental purpose of the book: to help the reader to relive “the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” as indicated in the words “to the reader” with which the book begins, and thus to experience, through faith, the depth and closeness of the love which God shows us in the Incarnation.

The 1945 edition of Santo Rosario, which can be considered the first edition of the expanded text, was printed by Editorial Minerva, in Madrid. The colophon indicates that the printing was carried out during the month of May 1945, and finishes with a Marian aspiration: dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata, which we can translate as “Holy Virgin, allow me to praise you.”[29]

The “Instrucciones” of 1934 and 1935

Already in the early thirties, the development of the apostolate led St. Josemaría to prepare works such as Consideraciones espirituales and Santo Rosario that could be published commercially, and thus placed within the reach of all those who in one way or another approached his priestly work. Within this apostolic expansion, the significant increase in the number of people who were joining Opus Dei – even if the total number was still small – united to the certainty, full of faith, that many more men and women would become part of the Work in the future, brought him also to write texts directed specifically to those who had joined or would join Opus Dei.

In some passages of his Apuntes íntimos written in 1933, he speaks of preparing texts that could be of use to those who would unite themselves to the Work, helping them to grasp more deeply the ideals and horizons that he was presenting to them in his preaching and in personal conversations. On April 24 of that year he wrote, “My God: you already know that I long to live only for your Work, and spiritually to dedicate all my interior energies to the formation of my children, with retreats, recollections, talks, meditations, letters, etc.” Two months later, upon finishing his retreat for that year, he noted: “Resolution: once I have finished obtaining the academic degrees, to launch out with all the preparation possible to give retreats, talks, etc. to those who seem like they might fit in the W. [the Work], and to write meditations, letters, etc., so that the ideas sown in those retreats and talks and in one-on-one conversations will endure.”[30]

The effort to obtain academic degrees, to which he refers as an immediate goal in that retreat resolution, took longer than he thought it would. Among other obstacles, the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and the period of tension that preceded it made it difficult and finally impossible to proceed with his academic goals,[31] but he never wavered in his apostolic desire. With this desire, from which sprang the impulse to prepare new written works, he proceeded to note down ideas that he mulled over later in his prayer, to sketch possible outlines, etc. The two writings composed in 1934 werethe first fruits of these spiritual efforts. The first was dated March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, and was entitled Instrucción acerca del espíritu sobrenatural de la Obra de Dios [Instruction on the supernatural spirit of the Work of God]. The second was dated April 1, the day on which Easter was celebrated that year, and bore the title Instrucción sobre el modo de hacer el proselitismo [Instruction on the manner of doing proselytism].[32]

As is evident, the name St. Josemaría gave to these two writings was not among the categories that he had mentioned in the notes from the previous year – meditations, letters – but a third type deeply rooted in both civil and canonical traditions: “Instruction”. The standard Dictionary of the Spanish language defines “instruction” as a “collection of rules or indications for the sake of some aim”. This is how St. Josemaría uses the word, albeit with the implications proper to the purpose that permeated all his apostolic work: to promote holiness and apostolate among people of the most varied situations and professions. This practical aim is evident in these Instrucciones, which are not limited to orientations and indications of an immediately applicable character, but include also doctrinal and spiritual considerations giving shape and strength to the text as a whole. Nevertheless, St. Josemaría always made clear that the Instrucciones we are discussing here and those that will be discussed later were written keeping in mind theimmediate circumstances, including allusions to passing details or events.

Both of the first two Instructions, and especially the first, presupposed the atmosphere of Spain of those years, which brought about the urgent need for texts that could give practical and doctrinal orientation. Some people were enthused with the fall of the monarchy and the establishment of the republic, while others were left unsettled and anxious. The outbreak of anticlericalism that had taken place, with its more extreme manifestations such as the burning of churches and convents and various assassinations, had left the whole Catholic world deeply worried. There were those who, in the face of these events, fell into an attitude of resigned pessimism. Many others –indeed the majority—were provoked to actiongiving rise among other things to the initiation or development of a wide range of apostolic movements and associations.[33]

In that historical context, St. Josemaría was very aware of the need to emphasize the specific nature of Opus Dei. Opus Dei had not been born and did not develop as a reaction to the events just mentioned, but as the fruit of an inspiration which not only preceded these events, but transcended them. “The Work of God,” he wrote in the Instruction of March 19, “was not dreamed up by a man to resolve the lamentable situation of the Church in Spain since 1931. Many years ago our Lord inspired it in a deaf and inept instrument, who saw it for the first time on the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, October 2, 1928.”[34] From this starting point, St. Josemaría underlined the need for a profound and sincere desire for fidelity, as well as a sense of urgency to present a vibrant call to holiness to many souls, leading them, if this were the will of God, to incorporation into Opus Dei. This sense of apostolic urgency would be the theme of the second Instruction.[35]

The development of Opus Dei at the beginning of the 1930s, especially among the men, put the Founder in a position to promote cultural and apostolic initiatives that would serve as a point of support for the growth of the apostolates. Specifically, the DYA Academy was instituted in December 1933, a center with the mission of fostering study and the Christian formation of university youth. This Academy promptly gave rise, in August 1934, to a more ambitious project: a student residence, keeping the name of the Academy that had preceded it.[36]

The apostolic work carried out in DYA was the background for the third of the Instrucciones written by St. Josemaría: the Instrucción sobre la obra de San Rafael [Instruction on the work of St. Raphael], that is, on apostolic work among youth, dated January 9, 1935.[37] “I am not able to reach everything,” he wrote in the beginning of the Instruction, expressing clearly the motive and purpose of the document: to place in the hands of some of those who were already incorporated into Opus Dei, although they were young and inexperienced – the majority had not yet finished their university studies – part of the work that he had been carrying out personally until that point. This gives rise to the tone and content of the Instruction, which unites exhortations to faith, to confidence in God and to apostolic zeal with norms of prudence and practical indications, frequently based on expreiences from the DYA Academy-Residence.[38]

Some months later, in May 1935, he began to write a new Instruction: the Instrucción para la Obra de San Gabriel [Instruction for the Work of St. Gabriel], intended to present some basic orientations for the expansion of the apostolate of Opus Dei in all social contexts and among all types of people, including those called to matrimony. Nevertheless, he realized that to complete this document it would be necessary to refer not only to the call to holiness in marriage, but also to the possibility of married people (or people with a vocation to marriage, even if still single) being incorporated into Opus Dei. This would require confronting some spiritual and juridical questions that in1935 were still far from being resolved. Thus, there was a lapse of time between the first drafts and the finished composition, which we will take up in a later section of this article.

Three “Circular letters”

The DYA Academy as well as the later Academy-Residence were by their nature conditioned by the rhythm proper to the academic calendar. The work that was carried out there was, therefore, challenged by the interruptions of vacation periods, especially in the summer. When the end of the 1933-1934 academic year was approaching, St. Josemaría thought of a way to overcome or at least alleviate this interruption: to send the students related to DYA a monthly newsletter, printed by hectograph, which he entitled Noticias. These newsletters shared information taken from the letters that they wrote to each other, along with some words from St. Josemaría himself meant to encourage them in their Christian life and in their apostolic efforts.[39] The custom thus initiated continued in the summer of 1935, but was interrupted in July 1936 with the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. In January of 1938, after he had left Madrid and arrived in Burgos, where he was in a position once again to carry out his priestly work in a more normal fashion, St. Josemaría tried to gather as many addresses as possible of former DYA residents and relaunch Noticias right away.

The three Circular letters that he directed to the members of Opus Dei with whom he was able to reestablish contact were written in this context of the recovering an ordinary rhythm of life.[40] They were dated from Burgos, on January 9, 1938, January 9, 1939, and March 24, 1939, respectively. All three are handwritten letters, between 10 and 15 pages in length, preceded by a cover page on which appeared the handwritten expression “Carta circular” [“Circular letter”], followed by the date. The heading was that which was usual in many writings of St. Josemaría: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and of Holy Mary.” The text continued with a greeting full of affection: “May Jesus bless my sons and take care of them for me,” introducing what he wanted to transmit in each occasion.

“My plan,” he wrote in the first of these Circular letters, “is to visit you, one by one. I will try to make this a reality as soon as possible. Until this much desired moment arrives, I am sending you with this Circular letter light, nourishment and means for you not only to persevere in our spirit, but also to sanctify yourselves with the exercise of the discreet, effective and manly apostolate that we live, just as the first Christians did.” Those words give an idea not only of the tone of this particular letter – which is kept up in the two that follow – but also of its content: recommendations and suggestions, written with a firm hand, to encourage their growth in the spiritual life and their preparation for the development that the apostolate would see as soon as the wartime conflict ended. Written during the same months in which St. Josemaría was completing Camino, the three Circular letters together with Camino allow us to glimpse the vibrant supernatural atmosphere animating the founder of Opus Dei in those moments, which were decisive from so many points of view.[41]

The monograph on “La Abadesa de las Huelgas”

In 1918, when the young Josemaría told his father, José Escrivá Corzán, that he had decided to become a priest, his father advised him that without in any way compromising his formation for the priesthood or his later pastoral work, he should pursue studies in Law at the civil university. St. Josemaría did not allow this advice to fall on deaf ears, and in October 1922, with the prior authorization of his ecclesiastical superiors, he enrolled as an independent student in the Faculty of Law of the University of Saragossa. In 1927 he completed his studies for the licentiate in Law.

In November of 1924, José Escrivá Corzán passed away. From this moment on, St. Josemaría’s family became dependent upon him, since he was the oldest son: his mother, his sister Carmen and his six-year-old brother Santiago. A little later, on December 20, St. Josemaría was ordained a deacon, and some months later, on March 28, 1925, he received ordination as a priest, beginning the exercise of his priestly ministry right away. At that time, a series of events that we need not detail here[42] led St. Josemaría to decide to move to Madrid, where he could obtain a doctoral degree, which at that time in Spain was only granted in the University of Madrid.[43] With this purpose in mind he went to see the archbishop of Saragossa, who gave his approval.

In April 1927 he moved to Madrid and right away began making arrangements in the Faculty of Law, so as to enroll in the doctoral courses there as planned. He also looked for a source of income, finding a job as a professor in an academy dedicated to the preparation of Law students.[44] He also began to collaborate as chaplain in a well-known Madrid institution, the Patronato de Enfermos, which offered him the possibility of carrying out an ample apostolic-priestly work.[45] This was the context on October 2, 1928, when he received the light that, clarifying the inklings he had been sensing for years, placed before him the reality of a divine call moving him to spread among people of all social conditions the invitation to seek holiness and apostolate in the middle of the world; in sum, to give life to Opus Dei. It is not surprising, therefore, that his studies for the doctorate in Law proceeded somewhat slowly.

In any case, he completed the necessary coursework in the academic year 1934-1935. During those years he considered possible themes for the doctoral thesis required by the legislation at that time. In 1934-1935, he decided on one among the various possibilities he had considered: the ordination of mestizos and cuarterones in the early years of Spanish evangelization in the Americas. He gathered various materials for this research, but the outbreak of the civil war interrupted his work. He was only able to give attention to the doctoral thesis again two years later, in January 1938, when he set up residence in Burgos after abandoning Madrid and the zone in Spain in which a fierce religious persecution was being carried out.

The material he had gathered in the beginning of the 1930s had remained in Madrid, beyond his reach and possibly having been lost. One of the people he knew in Burgos, the canonist and historian Manuel Ayala, suggested a different theme: the study of the unusual jurisdiction enjoyed for several centuries by the Abbess of the Cistercian monastery in Las Huelgas. This monastery was situated on the outskirts of Burgos, and its archive was available for consultation, allowing for a study of material that was both accessible and well-documented. St. Josemaría welcomed this suggestion. In a short time he was able to complete the research necessary for a brief thesis, as was then required for the doctorate, so that by December 1938 he had finished that phase of work. In April 1939, the civil war ended, and a little later the Central University in Madrid was able to resume normal academic activity. St. Josemaría was thus able to present the doctoral thesis he had prepared. It was defended and approved on December 18, 1939.

His academic journey thus reached its goal. Nevertheless, barely two months later, St. Josemaría resumed his research.[46] Neither the written documentation that has reached us nor the testimonies of those who dealt with St. Josemaría in those years tell us the reasons that brought him to decide to continue his research. Perhaps it is related to the fact that at this time he was taking some first steps towards the priestly ordination of members of Opus Dei who, formed according to its spirit, could give due attention to the various apostolates. More specifically, it may be related to the decision to ask those who were going to take this step to undergo a painstaking intellectual and academic preparation. In this context, it would be logical to surmise that St. Josemaría thought he ought to preach by means of example and do what was necessary to prepare and publish a work that would go beyond the doctoral thesis already presented. The fact is that, whether working in Madrid or on various trips to Burgos,[47] he continued the investigation until he completed a substantial monograph – more than 400 pages – which was published in 1944 and warmly welcomed in academic circles.[48]

Preaching to the faithful of Opus Dei

From the moment on October 2, 1928 when he felt the impulse to spread the call to holiness and apostolate in the middle of the world and in the most varied situations and professions, St. Josemaría began to carry out a broad priestly work along these lines. He dealt with people one on one, through informal conversations or spiritual direction, walking along the streets of Madrid or in the confessional. He also organized gatherings with small groups of people. These meetings, until they had their own location, took place around a table in a quiet cafeteria or in one of the little rooms of the house in which he lived with his mother and siblings. There, in the context of a family talk – of a get-together or tertulia, to use the Spanish expression that he always liked to use – he spoke of themes that were very varied, but which allowed him to open perspectives of holiness and apostolate in professional work and in the hundred-and-one circumstances of daily life.[49]

St. Josemaría always held the task of preaching in very high esteem, as one of the most characteristic tasks of the priesthood. In fact, from the beginning of his priestly activity, he exercised this ministry intensely, directing himself to a very wide variety of people, as we will see later on. Nevertheless, the lack of an appropriate place made it impossible at first for St. Josemaría to make use of this means of formation as part of the specific apostolate of Opus Dei. The first preaching with this purpose took place on January 21, 1933, in rooms that some nuns he knew allowed him to use; there was a talk, after which they moved to the chapel for exposition and benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.[50] Around this time, there were also some recollections and talks that he preached in rooms placed at his disposition by the Redemptorists of the church of Perpetual Help, on Manuel Silvela Street. When the DYA Academy began, and then gave rise to the Academy-Residence, it was possible to make use of the oratory installed there. From this time on, and especially since the day he celebrated the first Mass in DYAth, St. Josemaría preached there often.[51]

Some of the outlines which St. Josemaría used in giving meditations or talks during those first years to faithful of Opus Dei, to residents of DYA and to others who went to the Residence have been preserved.[52] This preaching is also spoken of in the diary that was kept in DYA, and there is reference also in various testimonies gathering the remembrances of some of those who were in attendance. There is less documentation regarding his preaching to the women who were coming closer to Opus Dei in those years, but it is clear that he gave them meditations and talks in the church of Santa Isabel mentioned above. In any case, from this preaching, whether to men or to women, only outlines or brief references or notes have come down to us, which, although they do give a sense of the tone and sometimes of the main points, do not allow us to reconstruct the full text as it was actually preached.[53]

The earliest relatively complete documentation about the preaching of St. Josemaría related directly to the promotion of Opus Dei as such dates from 1937. Specifically, it refers to the meditations that he gave during the stay in the Honduran Legation in 1937, to which we referred in passing when speaking of the sources and composition of Camino.[54] We add now that during those months spent in the Legation, the founder of Opus Dei frequently did his mental prayer out loud, for the benefit of the small group of those accompanying him. Ordinarily, this preaching took place in the morning, whether during a time of prayer before the Mass that St. Josemaría would celebrate afterwards, or as an immediate preparation for Eucharistic communion. Sometimes it took place in the evening, before retiring for the night.

One of the young men who shared this time of refuge with him, Eduardo Alastrué, had an excellent memory, which allowed him to transcribe these meditations in a summarized way soon after they had been preached. With the previous agreement of St. Josemaría, and with the caution required by the situation of religious persecution reigning in the capital of Spain during that time, these summaries were brought to members of Opus Dei who found themselves in other parts of Madrid and even in Valencia. A good number of those meditations – fifty in total – have been preserved.[55] The first is dated April 6, 1937; the last, August 30 of the same year. The themes are very varied, although naturally, given the circumstances, there are abundant references to confidence in God, the communion of the saints, prayer, the desire to bring souls to Christ, and perseverance.[56]

When the Spanish civil war ended in 1939, the DYA Academy-Residence on Ferraz Street – which had been destroyed during the war – was succeeded by another on Jenner Street and later by a third on Moncloa Avenue, very near the university. Soon the members of the Work were making apostolic trips to various Spanish cities. It did not take long for new centers of Opus Dei to be established in Madrid as well as in other cities (Valencia, Valladolid, Bilbao, Zaragoza…).[57] All this offered St. Josemaría, the only priest of Opus Dei until 1944, new and more abundant opportunities to preach. From this era, various guides for meditations and talks have been preserved.[58] There are also note cards and loose outlines, more abundant than those still existent from the earlier period, but also more fragmentary.[59]

Preaching to other audiences

Immediately after his priestly ordination, St. Josemaría was assigned to the parish of Perdiguera, a small town in the Aragonese countryside where he stayed from March 31 until May 18, 1925. No documentation has been preserved from his preaching in Perdiguera, nor from that in Fombuena, another town he took care of during some weeks, nor from his work in the chaplaincy of the church of San Pedro Nolasco in Saragossa, where he lent his services from May 1925 until March 1927.[60]

The move to Madrid broadened his field of priestly activity. First, a little after arriving to this city, as chaplain of the Patronato de Enfermos: home visits to the sick, catechesis, and spiritual attention to the Damas Apostólicas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, on whom the Patronato de Enfermos depended. Later, from the summer of 1931 on, as the chaplain and later rector of the Patronato de Santa Isabel[61]: attention to the Augustinian Recollect nuns of the Monastery of Santa Isabel and to the religious sisters of the Assumption along with the school they ran, Masses and hours of confessions in the Church of Santa Isabel… Thus, already since before 1931, he was in contact with a wide spectrum of people and institutions..

In the first years in Madrid, that is, from 1927 to 1931, he barely exercised the ministry of the word, since the pastoral work that had been entrusted to him and the ministerial licenses that had been granted to him directed his labors towards other aspects of priestly work, and the canonical legislation and practice then in force were very strict in this respect.[62] The situation changed in 1932, the date from which we begin to find preaching outlines, preserved in the collection to which we have already made reference.[63] The oldest of these, from the early 1930s, are guides for meditations or sermons preached in the Patronato de Santa Isabel, or, in other cases, to the Teresians, whose founder, St. Pedro Poveda, he had met in 1931 and with whom he had a deep friendship.[64] From 1938 on, the very numerous outlines that have survived are mostly for preaching to priests, as well as to religious communities and lay institutions.

As the end of the war approached, and even more when the conflict was over, the Spanish episcopate felt the need to promote initiatives to foster the spiritual life of the Christian people in general and of the clergy in particular. For this purpose, they had recourse to priests of recognized prestige, asking them to preach days of recollection and retreats. Among the priests asked to do this was St. Josemaría, who did an abundant amount of work along these lines.[65]

The outlines for some of this preaching are found in the collection we have already cited several times above. However, for much of it, it seems the outlines have not reached us or have not yet been found, although we must keep in mind that on occasions, as is usual for those who speak frequently, St. Josemaría made use of previous outlines, adapting them to the public he was addressing in each case.[66] After the death of St. Josemaría and as part of the work for the cause of his canonization, testimonies from more than fifty people who had attended these recollections or retreats were gathered. . Mostly, these are a matter of very fragmentary remembrances, but in some cases – for example, the references to the spiritual exercises preached to priests of the diocese of León from August 1-7, 1940, and to the seminarians of Valencia from November 2-9 of the same year – are relatively complete.[67] There is even a case of someone who later published the notes he had taken during one of these retreats.[68]

Preparation for future books

Now we leave off discussion of oral preaching and return to the topic of written works. The first printing of Camino took some time to run out – it had been a large print run – but was soon followed by two more, published in Madrid; one in 1944 and the other in 1945. St. Josemaría in no way thought that he could consider his work as an author finished once he had published Camino and Santo Rosario (whose fourth edition, as we said, came out in 1945), nor did he think that further work would be limited to new editions of works already published. On the contrary, he was already thinking about other books, as is shown by the immediate plans of work he charted for himself in 1938, in which references to specific issues alternate with allusions to possible books.[69]

Some of these possible books were to be similar to Camino in their literary genre, as is the case with two that have been mentioned: Surco and Forja [Furrow and Forge]. In other cases they were texts about spiritual questions to be written in a systematic or expository manner, judging by the titles that have reached us and the themes that these titles indicate: En casa de Lázaro; Mujeres del Evangelio; Celibato, Matrimonio y Pureza; Dios con nosotros; Comentarios; Pescadores de hombres [In the home of Lazarus; Women of the Gospel; Celibacy, Marriage and Purity; God with us; Commentaries; Fishers of men].[70]

The context in which these books are mentioned may lead one to think that Surco and Forja, as well as the others just mentioned, were texts intended for commercial publication and therefore for the general public. Nevertheless, it is possible that one or more might have been intended especially for the faithful of Opus Dei. The reality is, in any case, that regardless of the intended audience of these books, St. Josemaría was certainly thinking in those years of writing texts that could be used for the formation of those who were not only coming closer to his apostolate, but becoming part of the Work. Such is the case of the Instructions of 1934 and 1935 which we have already discussed, as well as the other possible texts in the form of meditations or letters, intended to continue and complete the project of writing “meditations, letters, etc., so that the ideas sown in retreats and talks and in one-on-one conversations will endure,” as he wrote in the text from the Apuntes íntimos of 1933 cited earlier.[71]

It is worth remembering that in 1941, St. Josemaría requested the first written approval of Opus Dei from the bishop of Madrid, to complete the verbal approval already given several times. For this purpose he composed a Reglamento [Bylaws], to which were appended five complementary documents entitled Régimen, Orden, Costumbres, Espíritu and Ceremonial [Rules, Order, Customs, Spirit and Ceremonial]. On the basis of these documents, the bishop of Madrid granted approval in a decree dated March 19, 1941.[72] These documents confirm something that was already manifest in the Instructions of 1934 and 1935, as well as in Camino: that the founder of Opus Dei in the 1930s not only possessed a clear and detailed vision of the implications of the light and the mission he received on October 2, 1928, but also was able to express it with breadth and precision. Certainly in later years he would continue receiving new divine lights, making some consequences of the call more explicit and specifying various aspects, but Opus Dei was already present not only in its nucleus or germ, but in its full reality.

In this context it was logical, and even necessary, that he should consider not only writings intended to stimulate a life of prayer and promote an ever more fully Christian existence, such as Camino, but also other writings meant to explain the spiritual message of Opus Dei in a holistic way. Such explanations would no longer – or not predominantly – take the form of brief lines full of great expressive force in which the spirit of Opus Dei was described – “sculpted”, to use the word that St. Josemaría like to use – such as are found in various paragraphs of the Instruction of March 19, 1934 about the supernatural spirit of the Work of God, in the Circular letters of 1938 and in the documents about Customs and Spirit annexed to the Bylaws of 1941. Now there would also need to be thorough expositions including commentary, analysis, and development, without detriment to the direct style that St. Josemaría always preferred.

This second manner of proceeding, of which examples can be found in various passages of the Instructions of 1934 and 1935, was destined to occupy an ever more important place in the literary production of St. Josemaría. For some years already, together with the resolution to write new Instructions, he had on his mind the intention to prepare new writings of a decidedly expositive character, to which he alludes in the texts from 1930 with the generic name of “cartas” [“letters”]. He ends up giving this title to some of his writings, but writing Carta with a capital C, thus giving this word a meaning that we can call technical, analogous to the meaning it has in several authors of the classical era. That is to say, a careful exposition of a theme or of a set of related themes, composed with the tone proper to the epistolary genre, while directed not to a particular individual but to a whole group of people, or even to any possible reader.

Having this ensemble of projects in mind, in a very specific way in some cases or more generically in others, St. Josemaría worked during all this period – and, as we will see, also in the periods that followed – with the methodology that has been described in the pages above regarding the composition of Apuntes íntimos and of Camino:[73] considering the themes in his prayer, taking brief or more extensive notes based on that prayer and on his personal experience, and saving those notes with a view to their later use, often keeping them in envelopes.

These very varied materials: incisive phrases, long, relatively well-developed paragraphs, more or less complete outlines, drafts of meditations… would offer the foundation, and sometimes even the outline or structure for meditations later preached, as well as for written works – Instructions and Letters – which we will discuss later in this article. Nevertheless, the fact is that from 1946 on, for reasons we will indicate in what follows, the publications to which this material was directed were postponed, in such a way that they did not reach their definitive form until years later.


The interruption of St. Josemaría’s work of preparing and publishing written works of one type or another was closely connected to the need he had to dedicate himself to forwarding the expansion of Opus Dei and its juridical configuration. As mentioned above, between 1939 and the mid-1940s Opus Dei developed rapidly in Spain: expansion to various cities, apostolate with men and with women… Moreover, in 1943, a new juridical approval was obtained. This approval was very unsatisfactory as a long-term solution, but not inconsistent with that of 1941, and most importantly, it allowed for the priestly ordination of faithful coming from the ranks of Opus Dei. In fact, on June 25, 1944, the first group of priests of Opus Dei was ordained, a group consisting of Álvaro del Portillo, José María Hernández Garnica and José Luis Múzquiz.[74]

Thus, the foundations were established for the international expansion of Opus Dei, which the end of World War II made possible. In 1945 it began in Portugal, in 1946 in Great Britain and Italy,[75] in 1947 in Ireland and France. In 1948, Pedro Casciaro, who had been ordained a priest in 1946, made a trip through various countries of North, Central and South America, to obtain firsthand information with a view to the extension of the apostolate to that continent. The following year, the apostolates began in Mexico and in the United States. [76]

As we have just said, the juridical configuration that St. Josemaría had been able to obtain in 1943 was unsatisfactory, and even burdensome, since it was not adequate to the nature of Opus Dei. The growth of the apostolates now made it necessary to search for a new juridical solution, something which was beyond the scope of the canonical legislation then in force. There was at that time no juridical figure into which Opus Dei could be fitted without doing violence to its nature. Therefore, together with work related to the expansion of the apostolate, there was this other task, particularly urgent and even imperative: reflection and study so as to find a juridical path that would be consistent with the theological, apostolic and spiritual reality of the Work, or that would at least reflect this reality as closely as possible.

This effort absorbed a great part of the energies of the founder, and led to his decision to live permanently in Rome, where he had arrived for the first time in 1946. He was aided in his efforts by the substantial collaboration of Álvaro del Portillo. As a fruit of his dedication, and of his numerous interviews with various Vatican officials (above all, with Pope Pius XII, who received him in an audience on July 16, 1946, soon after he arrived in Rome for the first time), Opus Dei was granted a first pontifical decree of approval in 1947, which was followed on June 16, 1950 by a decree of definitive pontifical approval.[77]

The juridical form according to which these approvals were granted (that of the Secular Institute) was not ideal. In fact, it was abandoned years later to make way for the current form, that of the personal Prelature. Nevertheless it underlined clearly the secular nature of Opus Dei, and, because it was a pontifical approval, it facilitated the expansion of the apostolates. Thus, in addition to the new countries already mentioned, in short order the apostolates of Opus Dei began in other places: Chile and Argentina (1950), Colombia and Venezuela (1951), Germany (1952), Guatemala and Peru (1953), Ecuador (1954), Uruguay and Switzerland (1956), Brazil, Austria and Canada (1957)…

At first it could seem that the pontifical approvals of 1947 and 1950, which represented the culmination of a stage in the juridical path of the Work, should have made it possible for St. Josemaría to resume his work as an author, without abandoning his attention to the governance and spread of Opus Dei. There is a document preserved in the archive of the Prelature, handwritten by St. Josemaría, dated “Roma, 1949-1950”. It consists of a long list of possible projects – more than one hundred – that the Founder of Opus Dei thought he could tackle in the upcoming years. Some of those possibilities were in fact carried out, and others not, but in any case, the text makes clear the great apostolic zeal that always burned in the soul of St. Josemaría, together with awareness of the broad development of his work made possible by the pontifical approvals.[78]

Most of the possible projects noted on that list made reference to specific apostolic initiatives, to encouraging the international expansion of Opus Dei, to the organization of tasks of government, etc. Nevertheless, there were also references to possible writings, especially texts oriented to the formation of those who were already incorporated or could be incorporated into Opus Dei. Two years before writing this list, in 1947, he had given to the printers a text in manuscript form, directed to all the faithful of Opus Dei, entitled Catecismo [Catechsim]. This text, written in Spanish, was intended to explain the contents of the juridical norms approved by the Holy See and other aspects of the life of Opus Dei in straightforward language, without technicalities.[79] One of the points of the Catecismo was about documents with a formational purpose, among which are mentioned – using a phrase echoing what he wrote at the end of the 1933 retreat – “the spiritual documents, regulations, norms, instructions, commentaries, letters, etc. that are given to the members of Opus Dei for their formation, and for the preservation of the supernatural spirit they ought to have.”[80] Some of the possible projects mentioned in the 1949-1950 list are in continuity with this point of the Catecismo; in a sense, the list contains a sort of prolongation or more detailed enumeration of the documents spoken of in this point.

In the years we are now considering, facing the expansion of Opus Dei, St. Josemaría thought above all about writings for the formation of the faithful of the Work. This did not exclude the development of works directed to the general public – on the contrary. It is no coincidence that in the “Author’s Note” written for the seventh edition of Camino, dated December 8, 1950, St. Josemaría speaks of Surco [Furrow] and expresses the desire to be able to complete its publication within the span of a few months.[81]

Nevertheless, some later events made it impossible for him to carry out that project and other analogous projects. In earlier years, Opus Dei had experienced not only misunderstandings and difficulties that could be explained – at least in part – by the novelty of its spirit and its apostolate, but even calumnies. In 1951 and 1952 these became more insistent and grave. Various indications and a warning sent by the archbishop of Milan, Blessed Cardinal Schuster, who knew and admired him, made St. Josemaría fear that in some parts of the Roman Curia they were thinking of dividing Opus Dei into two institutions – one for men and another for women – and removing him from any relation with its apostolates. His confident prayer to Holy Mary, to whom he consecrated Opus Dei on August 15, 1951, and his rapid and decisive intervention reaching the pope himself, were able to eliminate this danger.[82]

The events of 1951 and 1952 did not slow the spread of the apostolate of Opus Dei, which by the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s not only had consolidated its presence in the countries already mentioned, but had gone beyond the borders of Europe and America to reach various nations of Asia, Africa and Oceania. Nevertheless, they did have important consequences for the Founder’s work as a writer. Because of these events, some of the ecclesiastical authorities with whom the founder of Opus Dei had a special friendship and confidence advised him – in words that made it clear that the advice was really more of a command – to try to appear in public as little as possible, so as not to give even the least pretext to those who might think up new attacks against Opus Dei.[83] St. Josemaría accepted this advice – which happened to coincide with one of his spiritual mottoes: “to hide oneself and disappear, so that only Jesus may shine”[84] – and he concentrated his efforts on the governance of Opus Dei and on attention to the members of the Work, both men and women, who came to Rome to complete their formation.[85] Public appearances and the preparation and publication of new books would have to wait for another moment.[86]

In fact, during this period we can point to only two publications and his preaching. Two of them, a 1948 conference presentation about the Constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia and Opus Dei, and the 1950 conclusion of the Instrucción sobre la Obra de San Gabriel, were written earlier than the events to which we have just alluded. The third, his preaching to the faithful of Opus Dei, covers the whole of this period.

Presentation about the Constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia and Opus Dei

The promulgation on February 2, 1947 of the Apostolic Constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia and the approval of Opus Dei granted a few weeks afterwards caused a considerable ripple in the whole Catholic world, giving rise to numerous articles and commentaries in the press. This is not surprising, since Provida Mater Ecclesia, with all its limitations, represented a significant step towards proclaiming the possibility of holiness in the middle of the world, and thus of the universal call to holiness and apostolate.[87]

Naturally, given this context, the founder of Opus Dei received several requests for official statements or commentaries. St. Josemaría decided to accept an invitation from one of the most well-known Spanish lay institutions: the Asociación Católica Nacional de Propagandistas, in whose offies in Madrid he gave the presentation to which we now turn our attention, on December 17, 1948.[88]

St. Josemaría began his address with a solemn declaration:

The Church, living body that it is, shows its vitality with the immanent movement animating it. Often this movement is something more than a mere adaptation to the environment: we see God intervening in it with a positive and lordly ímpetus. The Church, led by the Holy Spirit, does not pass through the world as along an obstacle course, trying to avoid barriers or exploring paths of least resistance. Rather she treads the earth with a firm and sure step, opening herself the way.

The Founder of Opus Dei thus situated Provida Mater Ecclesia, and the subsequent approval of Opus Dei, in the heart of the profound movement by which the Holy Spirit was preparing the proclamation of the universal call to holiness. He expanded on this theme throughout his address, commenting on some points of the Constitution and speaking about Opus Dei and its approval as a Secular Institute. We cite, from this second part, a passage that can help us understand the importance and meaning of this approval, as well as that of later steps in its juridical path. Opus Dei offers its members, he affirmed, “the solid religious formation required for acting in the world: above all, it sows in them the necessary interior life to be apostles in their own environment.” He continued:

One who cannot go beyond the classic models of perfection will not understand the structure of the Work. The members of Opus Dei are not religious – to give an example – who, full of holy zeal, exercise the professions of lawyer or doctor or engineer, etc. Rather they are simply lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc., with all their professional idealism and their characteristic features, for whom their profession itself, and naturally all of life, takes on a full meaning rich in consequences when completely oriented towards God and saving souls.[89]

The “Instrucción sobre la obra de San Gabriel”

The pontifical approval of 1947 was the beginning of the path that would eventually allow people with a vocation to marriage to be incorporated into Opus Dei, with all this would imply for the growth of the apostolate. However, there were still a few milestones to reach before this possibility would be formally established. Specifically, there were two rescripts of the Holy See (one on March 18, 1948, and the other on September 8, 1949) and finally the definitive pontifical approval granted on June 16, 1950, in which the role of the Supernumeraries of Opus Dei was fully welcomed and sanctioned.[90]

During this time, St. Josemaría had been speaking with some of the married people to whom he had been giving spiritual direction for many years, suggesting to them the possibility of incorporation into the Work. The two rescripts mentioned above allowed them to formalize this step, in such a way that when the pontifical approval of 1950 was granted, Opus Dei already had among its members a certain number of married people, and had extended the field of its apostolate to people of the most varied social conditions, men and women, single and married.

St. Josemaría decided that the moment had arrived to finish the Instrucción sobre la obra de San Gabriel, which he had begun in 1935. Starting with the paragraphs he had written earlier, he rapidly completed this Instruction: it was already finished in September 1950. In the original manuscript that has been preserved, the definitive text consists of one hundred pages densely written, without any margins, and with the broad handwriting that was characteristic of St. Josemaría. As a testimony to the history of the document it carries two dates: May 1935, and September 1950. Typewritten and photocopied, it circulated right away among the members of Opus Dei. In 1967, together with the other Instrucciones and with notes written by Msgr. Álvaro del Portillo, it was printed.[91]

Preaching to the faithful of Opus Dei

St. Josemaría arrived in Rome for the first time on June 23, 1946. From this moment on he considered Rome to be his home city, and also the home of the central government of the Work, although for a while some of its governing bodies – the General Council and the Central Advisory – would have to continue operating in Spain. Between his arrival in 1946 and the spring of 1949, when he was able to move permanently to Rome, St. Josemaría had to divide his time between Spain and Italy, with periodic stays in both countries.

During the months he spent in Spain in those years, St. Josemaría often preached to members of the Work, and on many other occasions enjoyed conversations with them in familial get-togethers. Some of these meditations, talks or get-togethers were tape-recorded.[92] Efforts to tape-record him were interrupted when he moved permanently to Rome, as much because of the difference in their living conditions – the buildings that were to become the central offices of Opus Dei were still under construction[93]– as because of the limitations of the recording equipment available in those years.

Although the tape-recording ceased, St. Josemaría’s preaching did not. If anything, it increased. The establishment of the Roman College of the Holy Cross (in 1948) and the Roman College of Holy Mary (in 1953), already mentioned above, brought many generations of men and women of Opus Dei to Rome, close to the founder. Among them were some of the first men and women to join Opus Dei in the various countries to which the Work was spreading. Once the construction was near enough to completion, the central governing bodies of the Work transferred to Rome as well: the Central Advisory, for the apostolate with women, moved in 1953, and the General Council, for the apostolate with men, in 1956. St. Josemaría poured himself out in pastoral attention to those who were at his side.

Those who heard the preaching of St. Josemaría were not resigned to let his words be lost, even though it was not posible to tape-record him at that time. Whether individually or in an organized way, they made efforts to take careful note of what he said. In the two Roman Colleges they formed teams made up of people who could write quickly or who knew shorthand. They took charge of writing everything down during the meditations or get-togethers, gathering later to compare their notes until they arrived at very accurate reconstructions.[94] Their work has provided us with 115 transcripts of meditations or talks from the period we are discussing (1950 to 1959).[95]


As we pointed out in the beginning of this article, from the end of the 1950s on there was tremendous growth in the literary production of St. Josemaría. Some of the reasons for this change were particularly related to the life of Opus Dei, while others had more to do with historical and cultural development in general.

The first circumstance we should mention – without which the other factors would not have had any impact – was the constant growth of the apostolate of the faithful of Opus Dei. As we have already mentioned, at the end of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties, the apostolate not only had spread to nearly every country in western Europe and the Americas, but had also reached Africa (Kenya and Nigeria), Asia (Japan and the Phillipines) and Australia. The small group of people who gathered around St. Josemaría in 1939 grew in scarcely twenty or thirty years to several thousand. (There were 60,000 by the time of the death of the founder.) And some of the faithful of Opus Dei who were young students in the 1930s or 1940s by now had attained even international reknown in their profession, in culture, in politics, etc.

These facts, and others we could mention, could not pass unnoticed, especially in a world like ours, characterized by ease of communication, rapid transmission of news and the high value placed on transparency. In fact, public interest and media interest in Opus Dei and its founder grew ever more intense, starting in the mid-1950s.

St. Josemaría spent time in England from early August until the beginning of September, 1958. A well-known English journalist named Tom Burns took notice of his presence in the country. Burns worked at that time for the daily newspaper called The Times, and was later director of a weekly publication called The Tablet. He requested an interview. This interview gave rise to a long article appearing in The Times on August 20, 1959, in a section called People to watch.[96] This was the first expression of a relationship between St. Josemaría and the international press, a relationship which would continue to develop in the years ahead.

Almost at the same time – in 1960 – there began another phenomenon, intimately tied to the growth of Opus Dei: get-togethers of St. Josemaría, not just with small groups, but with thousands of people at a time. In 1952, some faithful of Opus Dei, welcoming the suggestion and encouragement of the founder, had started a university-level academic center in Pamplona, the capital of the former kingdom of Navarra in the north of Spain. This center, originally called the Estudio General de Navarra, started small, but grew and developed quickly.[97] The Holy See erected the Estudio General de Navarra as a university on August 6, 1960, promulgating a decree to this effect that was published on the following October 25 in a solemn academic ceremony. Msgr. Escrivá de Balaguer was present at this ceremony as Grand Chancellor of the new university.

Before going to Pamplona, he had stayed some days in Madrid, and then in Saragossa, where the local university granted him an honorary doctorate. Many people went to see him during this trip, even if only from afar, in each of the three cities.[98] Four years later, in 1964, this happened again in Pamplona, on the occasion of the Assembly of the Friends of the University of Navarre. More than 10,000 people gathered in the capital of Navarra for this occasion, attracted not only by the Assembly, but by the possibility of meeting with the founder of Opus Dei. In addition to the official academic ceremonies, St. Josemaría had various encounters with groups of people over the course of those days. The most numerous took place in the largest theater in Pamplona, with the public filling the hall. As was natural for him, the founder was able to transform this multitudinous gathering into a meeting with the atmosphere of a family get-together. He skipped over the usual opening speech, and after a few words, opened up a dialogue with the audience. There was an animated exchange of questions and answers. With his vibrant personality and his capacity for improvisation he was able to keep this conversation at once lively and focussed, the whole time.[99]

We could mention many other similar events in Spain and in other countries, culminating in the large get-togethers that marked his travels through Spain and Portugal in 1972 and in the American continent in 1974 and 1975. Before speaking about these trips, we must mention another factor that was decisive for the period we are considering. This series of events transcended Opus Dei, but had a tremendous influence on its life, as it did on all of Christianity. We are speaking of the changes that began to take place in the Catholic Church starting from the election of John XXIII as Roman Pontiff on October 25, 1958, and above all, the announcement on January 25, 1959 of his decision to call an Ecumenical Council, which would become known as Vatican Council II.

The preparation for the Council, its celebration and the approval of its constitutions, decrees and conciliar declarations, created a new situation in the Church. All this also led to the appearance and spread of various writings on theological and canonical matters – expository works, or works of research and analysis – touching on more than on occasion on themes very close to the heart of St. Josemaría, inasmuch as they were related to the mission he had received on October 2, 1928: the universal call to holiness, the participation of every Christian in the mission of the Church, the value of earthly realities, pluralism and the freedom of Christians in temporal matters, the vocational character of every Christian state of life… In various ways, all these themes had been the object of his preaching for many years, and they continued being so as time went on. This was also the case during the years of the Council, when he had the occasion to speak at length with a large number of Conciliar Fathers.

Without any doubt, throughout the period we are discussing, there were great developments in the life of the Church, but there were also tensions and confrontations, especially beginning in 1968, in connection with the enormous cultural changes that were taking place. This conjunction of realities, both positive and problematic, could not be a matter of indifference to anyone who loved the Church, and St. Josemaría loved it deeply. In the depths of his soul he asked himself what he ought to do, as a Christian, as a priest and as founder of Opus Dei.

Nor should we forget that as the 1950s advanced, St. Josemaría became more and more convinced that Opus Dei should abandon its configuration as a Secular Institute, so as to move towards a juridical-canonical solution more appropriate to its nature. At the end of that decade, he decided to take public steps in this direction. In 1959-1960 he submitted the first formal petition in this regard to the Holy See, and reiterated the request in 1962. Both petitions were well received, although Pope John XXIII pointed out that for a decision of such magnitude, it would be better to wait until after the Council, so as to take its indications into account. St. Josemaría willingly accepted this delay, while pointing out that Opus Dei no longer considered itself to be in fact a Secular Institute, although it continued being so in law. From this time on, with this perspective, he followed the development of the work of the Council with particular interest, especially as it led to the creation of the juridical figure of personal Prelatures, opening the way for a solution like that desired by the founder of Opus Dei. [100]

The conjunction of circumstances we have outlined above gave particular urgency to the task of leaving a clear record, spoken and written, in private and in public, of the theologial, spiritual and apostolic reality of Opus Dei. This was necessary to prepare the ground for when a definitive step could be taken towards the new juridical solution. A rich and detailed testimony of the message of Opus Dei had to be left as a legacy for future generations. St. Josemaría thus felt the need to give new attention to his work as a writer, giving life to texts that were aimed specifically towards the formation of the faithful of Opus Dei, as well as other texts for the general public.

Before turning to consider these various texts, we should dedicate a few brief paragraphs to St. Josemaría’s way of working during the period we are discussing. Although his method was clearly in continuity with the one he followed for earlier works, it went through some changes that should be kept in mind.

The founder of Opus Dei continued preaching and writing in a way closely connected with his spiritual experience and his apostolic activities. He kept up the custom of taking note of lines from the Gospel, of thoughts that arose in his prayer or of events that helped him to go deeper in his misión and in his work. He would review these notes, or those from earlier years, to meditate on them again and apply them to his life and work. From this point of view, there was no change.[101]

From another perspective, there was a significant change in the means at his disposal, with several practical consequences. The move of the General Council and the Central Advisory to Rome and the ongoing development of their organization and work, along with that of the two Roman Colleges, meant that St. Josemaría would never again find himself in a situation like that of Burgos in 1938, where he himself had to type up and organize in “little mountains” the points that were to be published in Camino.[102] In the fifties, sixties and seventies, the context had changed, and St. Josemaría could count on an able secretary to help him in his work in various ways: typing up texts, seeking or checking citations, preparing outlines or notes, etc.

One strictly technical factor completes this panorama: the improved quality of taperecorders and other recording devices. As already mentioned above, this allowed for greater ease and fidelity in recording meditations and get-togethers, avoiding the inconveniences that had made this difficult in earlier years. This had implications that affected his way of working. St. Josemaría himself explained it in a letter he wrote on November 1, 1966 to Florencio Sánchez Bella, who was then Counselor of Opus Dei:

Rereading these papers [he refers to the Letters to which we will turn our attention shortly], I realize that times have changed. I used write things by hand or on a typewriter that was more or less archaic. In either case, I made the corrections by hand. Now, since 1950, more or less, I have used a tape recorder or dictaphone, and I haven’t left you a trace of my handwriting in all this time. For me, it is better, faster and more comfortable to work in this way. I talk, they bring me what I have said typed and double-spaced, and the tape can be re-used many times. Besides, it’s cheap.[103]

We should add one thing regarding the method of work that the founder of Opus Dei explains in the words just cited. The texts that were typed and double-spaced from the tapes, or the outlines developed from texts or ideas of his by those who helped him as secretaries, were reviewed carefully by St. Josemaria, more than once. This meant that a clean copy of the text had to be made between one review and another. Obviously, this took a certain amount of time, and St. Josemaria did not like to give people unnecessary work. Therefore, when he returned the revised texts, he would often comment that it was not necessary to retype the whole thing; it would be enough to retype the lines in which there were corrections, and then, cutting and pasting, put the pages back together.

In the years when I was working in the offices of the General Council, this indication was given to me several times, as it was to others who worked there.[104] There were occasions when it was simpler to retype a whole page, but many other times it was feasible to “cut and paste”, so that is what we did. Certainly, this saved time, but the result was that each successive draft was destroyed in the process. All that remained were the cut-up pieces. It is not surprising that St. Josemaría would indicate – as in fact he did – that those cuttings should be discarded. For this reason, although there is a clear record of the final text of the interview, homily or other writing in each case, there is no record of the drafts that had preceded it.

This way of working allowed St. Josemaría to save time for the people who collaborated with him, and to achieve the large volume of writings to which we turn our attention below. But it also had historical-critical consequences. In effect, although there is abundant documentation allowing one to trace the history of the composition of the writings of this period, it is not possible to do so with the detail with which one can analyze the writings from the 1930s, particularly in comparison with Camino.

The series of “Letters”

On his way to Belgium in 1964, the future cardinal Julián Herranz had a conversation with Gustave Thils, professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Catholic University of Louvain. During the course of their exchange, Herranz explained some characteristics of the spirit of Opus Dei: the value of created reality, the sanctification of work, the profound meaning of the lay vocation…At a given moment, Thils, wanting to get a more complete understanding of what he had been hearing, interrupted to ask: “All of this that you are telling me…in what book is it written down?” Herranz answered that he had simply been reflecting extemporaneously on the life and spirit of Opus Dei. In response to the theologian’s insistence on the need to have all that put into writing, Herranz reassured him by saying that Opus Dei’s founder had, indeed, put it all of it into a series of letters and instructions directed to the faithful of Opus Dei.[105]

As a matter of fact, beginning in the 1930s, St. Josemaría had not only published The Way and the other works spoken of above, and composed various documents for use by the members of Opus Dei such as the Instructions already mentioned. As we have mentioned in earlier pages, he had also been assembling outlines, notes and drafts as well as other materials in preparation for new writings he had in mind. Toward the end of the 1950s and into the early 1960s, St. Josemaría took up this task again in a decided manner, dedicating a substantial portion of his time to the task. Between 1960 and 1965-1966, he undertook the formal editing of a wide collection of texts, getting them ready so that they could be used immediately for the formation of those who formed part of Opus Dei, and so that later, some years after his death, they might be published, if those who succeeded him thought it prudent.

Why did St. Josemaría undertake this task precisely at this time? While there were a variety of reasons, we can trace it back to two that were fundamental. The first is related to the cultural and ecclesial context explained above. One point deserves special mention: toward the end of the 1950s, St. Josemaría decided that the time had come to publicly move away from the figure of the Secular Institute in order to find an appropriate juridical configuration for Opus Dei.[106] This decision, along with the consequent need to present proposals and to engage in juridical negotiations, made it advisable and even necessary for him to set out a clear exposition of the fundamental elements of the spirit of Opus Dei. There were documents for him to start with in which this was already sketched out, but now he would write at greater length, explaining things from the beginning. St. Josemaría also wanted to comment in writing, for the benefit of the Work’s faithful, on the historical development of the juridical-ecclesial configuration of the Work of God, and the constant efforts that had been necessary to safeguard the essence of the spirit of the Work during that process. From this source sprang the two series of closely interrelated Letters we will consider in what follows.

For this project, St. Josemaría would have to have at hand the papers written before his move to Rome. Starting from these, he could tackle the project of finalizing those documents that he had been thinking of for many years, but which he had not been in a position to complete until this time.

This leads us to the second reason that we alluded to earlier. It was a difficulty of a very different order, but as frequently happens with the materials from which finished texts emerge, it was a determining factor. Simply put, until the mid-1950s, it had been impossible for St. Josemaría to access those earlier papers that would form the basis of the texts he wished to compose.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, St. Josemaría, like most of the clergy of Madrid, had been obliged to flee his place of residence. He left all of his papers – the notebooks that would later constitute the Apuntes íntimos, and other documents – in the care of his mother. Doña Dolores Albás guarded them carefully, hiding them in her mattress lest an anti-clerical government official or military patrol find them during a raid. Once the war was over, St. Josemaría had been able to recover these materials, but only temporarily.

Soon enough, it became obvious that continued precautions were necessary to keep these materials safe, for Spain had emerged from a devastating civil war only to find herself on the sidelines of the rapidly developing continental conflict that would become World War II. In the environment of uncertainty bred by these events, persons in some religious and totalitarian political groups initiated campaigns of suspicion against Opus Dei, yet again raising the possibility of searches and raids that threatened the loss or destruction of these documents.[107] As a result, St. Josemaría decided to put a substantial portion of the materials related to the government of the Work, along with his personal papers, into some suitcases to be left with the families of some of the first members of the Work: specifically, the families of Álvaro del Portillo and José María Hernández Garnica.[108] The suitcases remained there until the 1950s, when St. Josemaría had them retrieved by some members of the Work – including Javier Echevarría, his personal secretary.

St. Josemaría’s personal papers – at least the great majority of them – had thus remained in Madrid even after he moved to Rome in 1946. They could not be moved to the Italian capital until an appropriate location for the central headquarters of the Work could be found and adequately installed: Villa Tevere, to which we have already referred above. Renovation of the existing building took several years. During some time, part of the General Council of Opus Dei – with the authorization of the Holy See – remained in Madrid, for lack of space in Villa Tevere. Despite the distance, the Council kept in constant contact with Rome where St. Josemaría worked, always accompanied by Álvaro del Portillo.

In the autumn of 1956, even though construction work on the definitive site of the central offices of Opus Dei was not yet finished, it had advanced enough so that the General Council could move to the Eternal City, near the See of Peter, as the founder had wished from the very beginning[109]. At this point, all of the documents of government as well as all of St. Josemaría’s personal papers could finally be moved to Rome.

When they arrived, the materials related to the government of the Work were distributed to the corresponding offices or to the archive, then situated in a spacious area near the offices of the General Council.[110] St. Josemaría’s personal papers—including those written before 1936—were, in in their majority, placed in an oratory-library situated next to the work room of the founder of Opus Dei,[111] according to the testimony of Msgr. Javier Echevarría, who collaborated in the task. The rest were stored in the archive.

During the following years, St. Josemaría had recourse to the materials in the oratory-library whenever he thought it opportune, including those of earliest origin. At times, he showed some of them to those who lived and worked most closely with him.[112] Logically, as he reviewed these early documents, he added marginal notes and points that had been written in later years. However, it was not until the late 1950s and early 1960s that he took up all these papers again with a more intense effort, in order to complete the Instructions and to give final form to the Letters which we will now consider.

At this time, St. Josemaría thought it opportune to bring together all of his personal papers—both those at hand in the oratory-library and those in the archive. This meant that all the documents in the archive would have to be reviewed in order to find those that were written by the founder himself. The statutes of Opus Dei, in order to maintain close relations between the central government of Opus Dei and the various regions or countries in which its apostolic activities take place, provide for the role of delegates, who live in one country or another but spend time periodically in Rome. In 1963 the delegates—or missi, as they were then called—went to Rome for a period of several weeks, longer than their typical stays. In addition to their usual meetings and work sessions, St. Josemaría asked them to dedicate some time to reviewing the archived materials in order to locate and separate out the texts written in his own hand.[113]

As noted above, the writings kept in the oratory-library as well as those that came from the archive varied widely in their nature and their date of origin. There were some brief notes on a variety of themes; folios or half-sheets of paper on which a thought or teaching in some stage of development was recorded; more or less developed outlines, at times accompanied by complementary texts in a more or less ordered manner; ideas and summaries prepared for meetings related to the St. Raphael work; outlines for meditations and retreats, etc. Some of these documents had no indication of the date of their composition; others had been dated, or at least contained information that allowed their dates to be construed by a careful reader. A number of the older papers, now yellowed with age, had been written as long ago as the 1930s or the beginning of the 1940s; others came from the latter years of the 1940s or the 1950s.

This general description of the content of St. Josemaría’s papers, based as it is on the testimonies previously cited, especially that of Msgr. Javier Echevarría, shows that some of these texts, such as the summaries of circles and outlines for preaching, directly reflect specific, developed pastoral activities; others point towards documents only in their beginning stages, not yet completed. Thus we see that the project of preparing instructions, commentaries, letters, etc. noted by St. Josemaría in his Apuntes Intimos in 1933[114] and reaffirmed in later moments such as the 1947 edition of the Catechism[115] had not been simply a dream or a wish. His intention had already been put into action, as the papers preserved in the oratory-library and in the archive demonstrate. Many of the materials that St. Josemaría was reviewing in the 1960s were clearly intended as the first steps towards texts he had been thinking about for a long time – the Instructions that were still pending completion and the collection of Letters – and he was now going to bring these projects to fruition.

Let us now consider the work carried out in this regard by St. Josemaría during the 1960s, beginning with the series of Letters. [116] As we have mentioned above, it is important to remember here that the concept of Letter, as St. Josemaría applied it to the documents we are about to discuss, evokes the notion characteristic of the classical and patristic tradition that was later adopted as customary in ecclesiastical writing—that is, a document in the form of a letter, expository in tone, sent not to an individual but to a particular group of people in order to explain with some breadth a particular theme or idea. In the ecclesiastical tradition, such letters often deal with philosophical or theological questions, spiritual observances, the orientation of Christian life, etc. The Letters we are considering here deal specifically with the spirit, apostolate and history of Opus Dei.

It is important to note also St. Josemaría’s plan was not to prepare merely one or several separate letters; rather, he intended to write what he himself at times qualified as “the series of Letters”.[117] This was his plan from the beginning, taken up again in the 1960s. These would form an organic ensemble of texts that explained the constitutive features of the spirit and apostolate of Opus Dei, together with the key milestones of its juridical history. Thus, the Letters would remain an inheritance or testimony that would constitute a point of reference for those future generations of people who would come to know Opus Dei.

To develop these Letters, St. Josemaría began with the notes, schemas and outlines that had been preserved, considering their content and their early date of origin. He was moved by a deep awareness of his role as founder, reliving the moments in which his preaching had expressed with special force the various aspects of the spirit of Opus Dei, and at the same time, grasping ever more deeply the implications of its message.

This is not the place to consider in detail the factors that contributed to the breadth of human, spiritual and intellectual development St. Josemaría had attained by this time; that is a task more proper to his biographers, to whose works we refer the reader. It suffices to mention here that this maturation was due above all to his personal prayer and his spiritual experience, but also to other influences related to the development of Opus Dei, and to his meditation, in light of the foundational charism, on the context in which his own life and that of the Work had been unfolding. For example, general cultural developments, the celebration of the Second Vatican Council and the whole movement of ideas related to that Council, as well as other events in the history of the Church and of the world, etc.

The point we wish to emphasize here is that it was from this deep Christian maturity that St. Josemaría took up the task in the 1960s of giving final form to the earliest Letters, which had until then remained merely sketched out, and of writing new ones. In keeping with the goal which he had set for himself as founder, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, St. Josemaría used the materials mentioned above to compose a unified collection or series of Letters. Always respecting the substance of what was written in those early papers, he did not hesitate to complete or expand upon their contents whenever he deemed it appropriate to do so, in order to develop ideas on spirituality or points of doctrine outlined earlier. As a result, the finished versions of the Letters offer an explanation of the message of Opus Dei that reflects the doctrine contained in the older texts, expressed with the precision of language and thought St. Josemaría had achieved through his experience as founder and his deepened understanding of the foundational charism over the course of the years.

During this process, St. Josemaría wrote in Spanish, his native language. Early on, he thought of sending the Letters to the faithful of Opus Dei not only in Spanish, as they had originally been written, but also in Latin, in order to highlight the firmness of the foundational teachings they contained by means of the sense of permanence the Latin language connotes. As a matter of fact, Latin translations of some of the first Letters he finished were sent to the various countries, followed shortly by copies in the original Spanish.

Soon after, however, St. Josemaría abandoned the idea of translating all of the Letters into Latin, along with another related idea: the possibility of titling each letter by its incipit, that is, by the opening words of the Latin version, following a usage frequent in ecclesiastical documents wherein the opening words are chosen so as to express in some way the content of the whole. Having discarded that idea, however, St. Josemaría had to find some other system of citing or referring to each of the texts. He settled upon the method of reference that we have used in this article, i.e., by using the word “Letter” followed by its date.[118]

In the Letters dated from the late 1950s or the 1960s, these dates are simply that of their actual composition. In the Letters that bear older dates, however, they reflect the dates of the materials from which they were developed. In other words, the dates borne by the older Letters are not the dates when they reached their final form – which was between 1963 and 1965-1966 – but rather when the substance of that Letter was not only in St. Josemaría’s mind and in his preaching, but also written down, in those older papers we have been discussing.[119]

The fact is – and here we take up the thread of history once again – that from the late 1950s on, and especially between 1962 and 1965-1966, St. Josemaría worked intensely as an author, without scanting in the least his dedication to the tasks entailed in governing Opus Dei.[120] The result of this effort is the corpus or collection of thirty-seven Letters. The first of these is dated March 24, 1930, at that time the feast of the archangel St. Gabriel; the last is dated October 24, 1965, then the feast of the archangel St. Raphael.[121] The Letter of March 24, 1930 deals with the sanctification of ordinary life and everyday duties, as indicated by its Latin incipit: Singuli dies. The Letter of October 24, 1965 deals with apostolate. The words chosen for its incipit, Argentum electum, are taken from Proverbs 10:20, which describes the conversation of one who seeks God and aspires to make him known to others.

Analyzing the content of the thirty-seven documents that comprise the series of Letters, it is possible to organize them according to various criteria.[122] We will limit ourselves to noting that it is possible to detect two distinct series in this collection of Letters:

  1. twenty-five Letters are written to explain aspects of the spirit and apostolate of Opus Dei;[123]
  2. the other twelve Letters are dedicated to explaining the scope and significance of the various phases of Opus Dei’s juridical itinerary from the first steps in the 1940s, to the papal approvals of 1947 and 1950, and on to preparation for the ultimate juridical solution which would be attained in 1982, after St. Josemaría’s death, but based on his writings and indications.[124]

We will now make some observations to describe the Letters (even if only in summary fashion, as is appropriate for our current purpose) and the distinction between the two series we have just mentioned.

First, the length of the letters varies widely. In a format with pages of 24×17 cm, they range from seven to almost four hundred pages long. On average, they run between some sixty to eighty pages each.

Second, the Letters with the earliest dates deal with aspects or basic points of the spirit of Opus Dei (the Letter of March 19, 1930 speaks, as noted above, of the sanctification of daily life; that of March 24, 1931 with the spiritual life and, particularly with prayer as the foundation of all Christian existence; that of January 9, 1932 with work as a means of sanctification and apostolate as well as the freedom and responsibility with which each person ought to carry out his or her obligations…). Subsequent Letters specify or develop topics already addressed in the earlier Letters. Others open up new perspectives (such as, for example, the priesthood, a topic St. Josemaría deals with in Letters written after the priestly ordination in 1944 of men who had belonged to Opus Dei already as laymen).

Third, although the distinction between the Letters intended to explain aspects of the spirit and apostolate of Opus Dei and the Letters concerned with its canonical itinerary is in itself clear, nevertheless, reading the texts makes clear that these two themes are intertwined, and for a very good reason. From a juridical-canonical perspective, the entire history of Opus Dei is, in effect, the result of the founder’s search for a configuration that would reflect the reality of its spirit. That is why historical-juridical considerations in these texts are always accompanied by extensive development of ideas of a spiritual nature: references to sanctity and apostolate in the middle of the world, considerations regarding secularity, analysis of the virtues and their implications for people specifically called to live in the ordinary conditions of human and social life, etc.

Fourth, and finally, moving from reflection on the content of the Letters to an examination of their style, we can say that all of them have what we could call an epistolary tone, with language that is direct and reminiscent of a family letter. They y certainly follow an outline or specific line of thought, but – as the author pointed out in various moments – they deliberately and decisively avoid all rigidity in their language and any tone of a treatise or exhaustive exposition. In other words, there is nothing about them that could confine their message to a preconceived outline, constraining the free flowing of the spirit.

As previously noted, once St. Josemaría considered the revision of a Letter complete, he sent it to be printed. The process of revision lasted until 1967. Around the middle of 1964, he sent to the Regions the Letters that had been printed until then. Later on, new texts were sent out as they were finished. This first printed edition of the Letters thus circulated, even if only in a limited fashion, among the faithful of Opus Dei.[125]

Some time later, in 1969, St. Josemaría decided to embark upon a general revision of the entire series of Letters. The first editions were consequently withdrawn from circulation. The 1969 revision of the first seventeen Letters – that is, those dated from March 24, 1930 to October 7, 1950 – was carried out by St. Josemaría on texts that had been typed double-spaced on 15.25 x 10.75 cm sheets of paper.[126] The Latin incipit followed by the date of the Letter appears on the first page of each. Comparison of the texts reveals that all of them were typed in the same format, using only two typewriters, both of them manual (i.e., not electric).[127] This leads us to believe that they are the original clean copies prepared to send to the printers once St. Josemaría had finished his editorial work in the period from 1963 to 1965/1966. These original typed texts, according to an annotation by Msgr. Javier Echevarría which we will cite in its entirety later on, are the documents St. Josemaría would have used for his 1969 revision, making a number of handwritten corrections on them that were, in all instances, merely of detail rather than of substance.

Beginning with the Letter of January 9, 1951, and until the end (that is, until the Letter of October 25, 1965).St. Josemaría followed a different method of work: he no longer made his revisions on a typed draft of a text, but rather, on a copy of one of the printed first editions that had been withdrawn.[128] These corrections are also merely alterations of detail, and are similar in number to those found in the earlier Letters. Quite a few of the corrections are in the handwriting of St. Josemaría himself; others, more numerous, are written by Msgr. Javier Echevarría.

These changes in the method of working are explained by Msgr. Echevarría on the cover page of the Letter of January 9, 1951, in a lengthy handwritten annotation, written in red ink and dated May 26, 1969:

After using the first printed edition of the Letters, the Father made some hand-written corrections on the text, which have been copied onto typed sheets of paper. These typed pages therefore contain the definitive text. […] Since the typed final drafts of the Letters from 1951 on were not preserved, the Father has been dictating to me the corrections he wanted to make in those letters so that I could put them into a printed copy.

In this same note of May 26, 1969, Msgr. Echevarría explains that “in order to avoid possible errors in future editions,” St. Josemaría decided to have destroyed all the previously printed copies there were of the Letters in Rome and in the Regions to which they had been sent. The authorized texts of the Letters, then, are the typewritten or printed copies left as they were in 1969 when they had been revised.[129]

The last two Instructions

Among the tasks that St. Josemaría included in the list of possible activities already cited, dated “Rome, 1949-1950”,[130] one finds the preparation of new Instructions, referring to texts other than the Instruction for the work of St. Gabriel, which was finished in 1950. He spoke specifically about a second Instruction of St. Raphael, an Instruction of St. Michael, and an Instruction about the broad range of apostolic initiatives. Making use of earlier texts and ideas, just as he had with the Letters, he took up this project again in the 1960s, and prepared two Instructions: the Instruction for Directors (which, as we will see, can be understood to correspond to the second Instruction of St. Raphael spoken of in the 1949-1950 list) and the Instruction for the work of St. Michael, thus bringing the total number of Instructions to six. The plan of a separate Instruction regarding the variety of apostolic works was either abandoned or incorporated into the cycle of Letters.

The Instruction for Directors is situated in the context alluded to by the phrase in the Instruction on the work of St. Raphael already cited above: “I cannot reach everything.” St. Josemaría had always tried to avoid any possessiveness in the apostolate, since, as he often repeated, the Work was not his, but God’s. Now, just as with the DYA Academy-Residence, so also with the formation of those who were becoming part of Opus Dei, and all that referred to the expansion of the apostolate: he realized that the moment had come to lean on others, and to trust them fully. This meant he had to help those around him feel their responsibility to move Opus Dei forward, and give them adequate formation for the task. This is the purpose and the content of the Instruction, which reflects the experience of government of the founder of Opus Dei. St. Josemaría, as we have already indicated, finished writing this in the beginning of the 1960s, making use of material dating from the 1930s. It is dated May 3, 1936: the end of the academic year that had seen the consolidation of the DYA Academy-Residence, and when St. Josemaría was thinking about the expansion of the apostolate not only to other Spanish cities, such as Valencia, but also to Paris, as a point of support for future developments.[131]

The Instruction for the work of St. Michael has an editorial history analogous to that of the Instruction for Directors: starting from earlier outlines, St. Josemaría completed the text in the beginning of the 1960s. It is dated December 8, 1941, a time when Opus Dei had experienced a marked growth, especially among the men; there were then more than 100 faithful of the Work, and the earliest “study weeks” or “work weeks” (as St. Josemaría usually called them) had already taken place: gatherings of several days directed specifically towards the formation of people in the Work. This is the context, with its own very specific circumstances but at the same time pointing towards broad future horizons, that the founder of Opus Dei had before him as he gathered the earlier materials and finished editing this Instruction. With strong and incisive phrases, he traces out the some of the essential features of the spirit and apostolate of the Work, and of the formation required for its members.[132]

“Conversations with Monsignor Escrivá de Balaguer”

We now turn our attention from writings composed for the faithful of Opus Dei to those directed to the general public, which were also very significant in this period.

Although St. Josemaría preferred to avoid public appearances, not only in the beginning of the 1950s but also in later years, nonetheless he never refused to meet with anyone when the circumstances made these encounters logical and natural, including meetings with large groups or with the press. Jacques Guillemé-Brulon, the Madrid correspondent of the French daily Le Figaro, participated in a gathering that took place in Pamplona in 1964, onthe occasion of the Assembly of Friends of the University of Navarra. A little later, in the middle of 1965, he expressed a desire to interview St. Josemaría, a petition he would later reiterate.[133] The founder of Opus Dei accepted his request, indicating that he would be happy to receive him and answer his questions. He set only one condition: that the questions would be put in writing, so that he could also answer them in writing. In March of 1966, the questionnaire prepared by Guillemé-Brulon arrived in Rome. Some weeks later, on April 1, St. Josemaría received him in Rome and gave him the text of the interview, with the questions answered. It was published in Le Figaro one month later, on May 5.

The impact of the publication of the interview in Le Figaro led St. Josemaría to consider that granting press interviews could be a helpful way to transmit his testimony as the founder about the nature of Opus Dei, and eventually to address doctrinal themes that were very much alive in public opinion, since the recent celebration of the Second Vatican Council. The next two interviews, in the autumn of 1966 and the beginning of 1967, were requested by the Madrid correspondents of the New York Times (Tad Szulc) and the weekly magazine, Time (Peter Forbath). In both cases, St. Josemaría followed the method established for Le Figaro: questions were given and answered in writing, while the interviewer was at some point also received in person.

St. Josemaría answered all the questions that were presented to him in these three interviews. And he did so at length, entering deeply into the topics presented to him and fully explaining his thought. The result was that in these interviews, and in those that followed, the founder of Opus Dei was not only the subject interviewed, but really the protagonist; in other words, he could properly be said to be the author of the resulting texts. While attending to the requirements of brevity and quick deadlines expected by the means of social communication, St. Josemaría calmly and carefully explained his ideas, revising the draft several times – up to seven or eight revisions in more than one case – so as to achieve both precision of language and a polished style.[134]

In October of 1967, there was another gathering of the Assembly of the Friends of the University of Navarre.[135] For this occasion, St. Josemaría granted two interviews: one to Pedro Rodríguez, director of the journal Palabra, which specialized in doctrinal themes, and the other to Andrés Garrigó, director of the university journal Gaceta. Both were distributed widely among the numerous participants in the Assembly of Friends, which began on October 8. The first act of the Assembly was a solemn Mass celebrated by St. Josemaría on the esplanade of the university campus, with more than 30,000 people in attendance. The founder of Opus Dei delivered a lively homily, which was later titled “Passionately loving the world.”

The richness of these texts led to the idea of gathering them together into a book. St. Josemaría was amenable to this suggestion, but advised waiting for some time to pass.[136] In later months, the founder of Opus Dei agreed to two more interviews: one with Pilar Salcedo, the director of Telva magazine, about the role of women in the life of the world and of the Church, and the other with Enrico Zuppi, director of the Vatican weekly publication entitled L’Osservatore della Domenica. The first of these was published on February 1, 1968; the second, in two segments, on May 16 and 19 of that same year.

Shortly before the publication of the interview in L’Osservatore della Domenica, but after it had been requested by Enrico Zuppi, St. Josemaría agreed to publish a book containing all the interviews he had granted, along with the homily given in Pamplona. He also approved the title, Conversations with Msgr. Escrivá de Balaguer.[137] The first Spanish edition was published by Ediciones Rialp in Madrid. It was printed on September 12, 1968, and spread widely right from the beginning, in Spanish as well as in other languages.[138]

Christ is Passing By” and “Friends of God”

In the months that followed the appearance of Conversations, St. Josemaría received various requests for new interviews. At first, he leaned towards acceding to at least some of these requests, even though he thought it would be opportune to let some time pass before doing so. However, when he returned to consider the matter in November of 1969, he decided that for the time being, he would not grant any further interviews.[139]

In the documents that have survived there is no text that offers an explanation of this change in his decision. Nevertheless, we can suggest two possible reasons. On the one hand, St. Josemaría may have seen that he had already given all he could to the interview genre: the questions sent to him tended to repeat themselves or address matters of only secondary interest. At the same time – and this is more likely to have been the determining reason – during those months he had discovered another possible way of connecting with the various means of social communication, one especially suited to his priestly condition: the publication of spiritual writings (meditations or homilies), prepared on the basis of texts from his oral preaching.

This “discovery” took place in the middle of 1968, through a request made to him by the Parisian review, La Table Ronde. The editorial board of this cultural journal, which had just published the homily given by St. Josemaría some months previously in Pamplona,[140] had decided to dedicate a whole issue to Jesus Christ, and they wanted to count on his contribution. The founder of Opus Dei accepted the request, and within a few weeks, sent the text of a homily about the reality and salvific action of the Risen Christ. Translated into French by the Hispanic scholar, Paul Werrie, it appeared with the title “Christ’s Presence in Christians” in La Table Ronde in November of 1968.[141] The original Spanish text was published at almost the same time in the Madrid journal Palabra and in the collection “Folletos Mundo Cristiano”.

The publication of these texts gave rise to a desire among the members of Opus Dei and people close to its apostolate to have access to other meditations or homilies of the founder. He was not insensible to these sentiments and the resulting requests. Over the course of 1969, St. Josemaría had four other homilies published, all with liturgical themes: Christmas, the feast of St. Joseph, the season of Advent, and the month of May as a time especially dedicated to Mary. Each of these homilies was also published in the collection of Folletos already mentioned,[142] after their appearance in the publications that had requested them (one Italian and three Spanish)

After the publication of the homily about the month of May, which took place during that month itself, some time passed before St. Josemaría submitted new texts for publication. In March 1970, the homilies began to appear again at a quicker pace: two in 1970, two in 1971, and nine in 1972.[143] As he had done with the homilies published earlier, St. Josemaría began from meditations or homilies he had preached for which he had more or less complete notes or outlines. These texts were amply revised by the author, who completed phrases or ideas, adding citations of Sacred Scripture or the Fathers of the Church, expanding on some themes…The method of work was that already described earlier in these pages: a careful revision of successive versions, passing from one to the next by means of a system of “cutting and pasting.” Once the text reached the form that St. Josemaría considered definitive, it was submitted for publication in some magazine or collection of pamphlets.[144]

The fact that the first five homilies were more or less related to liturgical seasons or feasts leads one to suppose – and there are texts that confirm this – that there was a unified plan in the mind of St. Josemaría, even if only in implicit form. In any case, sometime between the middle of 1970 and the beginning of 1972, this plan was made explicit and clearly decided upon.[145] This decision explains the increased pace of publication of meditations, especially during 1972. St. Josemaría was thinking of a book of homilies that would encompass the whole of the liturgical year, from Advent until the feast of Christ the King, including also some saint’s days of special significance. Thus came about the eighteen homilies that make up Christ is Passing By, whose first edition, published in Madrid by Ediciones Rialp, was printed on March 19, 1973.[146]

The book met with great success.[147] Nevertheless, St. Josemaría did not consider this so much of an accomplishment as an encouragement to keep making use of this form of “written preaching”, so congenial to his priestly soul. In fact, already in 1973 he began to work towards the publication of another book of homilies, this time not with a liturgical theme, but anthropological-spiritual. Specifically, it would be a series of homilies about the virtues that are fundamental for human and Christian development.

In March of 1973, at the same time that Christ is Passing By was published, the first of this new series of homilies appeared in print, dedicated to humility. Between March and that summer, seven more were published. The last, with a Marian theme, entitled “Mother of God and Our Mother”, was published on August 5, the feast of the dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. St. Josemaría was prevented from finishing the revision of the other meditations he had planned on by various factors: the need to dedicate time to tasks related to the government of Opus Dei, a series of catechetical trips that we will refer to later in this article, and, last but not least, the loss of his strength due to age. By the time of St. Josemaría’s death on June 26, 1975, there were eight homilies in the series that had been published while he was alive, and another ten that were well on their way through the process of development and revision.[148]

Msgr. del Portillo, who had succeeded St. Josemaría at the head of Opus Dei, was faced with the need to decide between two possibilities: to limit himself to continue spreading the homilies that had already been published during the lifetime of St. Josemaría, or to publish also those texts whose revision had already been completed or nearly completed by the founder of Opus Dei, texts which would have been published if God had given him more time on this earth. He decided on the second option, as he himself explains in the foreword to the second volume of homilies of St. Josemaría: “In this second volume of homilies we have gathered together some texts that were published while Msgr. Escrivá de Balaguer was still with us here on earth, and others from the many which he left for later publication, because he worked unhurriedly and kept working to the end.”

The result was a book formed by a total of eighteen homilies, which, as Msgr. del Portillo explains, “present a broad picture of the basic human and Christian virtues for all who wish to follow closely in the footsteps of Our Lord. […] They contain living doctrine and combine a theologian’s depth with the evangelical clarity of a good shepherd of souls.” The work, entitled Friends of God, was published in Madrid, with its first printing on December 30, 1977.[149] Just as had happened with Conversations and with Christ is Passing By, it did not take long for this book to reach a wide audience.[150]

Academic discourses and other writings

In the 1960s and 1970s, St. Josemaría participated in various academic events. For some of these, he was asked to prepare discourses or presentations. The earliest, and one of the most extensive, is the one that he gave at the University of Saragossa, when he was granted an honorary doctorate on October 20, 1960.[151] The five discourses that he gave in Pamplona in his capacity as Grand Chancellor of the University of Navarra should also be mentioned: the first was during the solemn academic ceremony celebrated on October 25, 1960, for the formal establishment of the institution as a University; and the other four when honorary doctoral degrees were granted in 1964, 1967, 1972, and 1974.[152]

Other discourses, not of an academic character, include the one he gave in Pamplona on October 25, 1960, in the ceremony in which the city council named him an adopted son of the capital of Navarra; in Barcelona, on October 7, 1966, when he was named an adopted son of that city; and in Barbastro, on May 25, 1975, when that city granted him a gold medal.[153]

Also in the context of an official ceremony, this time ecclesial rather than civil, he gave a welcoming speech to His Holiness Paul VI when the Roman Pontiff formally inaugurated the Centro ELIS (Educazione, Lavoro, Istruzione, Sport), on November 21, 1965. Centro ELIS is a significant social development project situated in Tiburtino, one of the most densly populated neighborhoods of Rome. It had been entrusted to Opus Dei by John XXIII. His successor, Paul VI, wanted to be there in person for its solemn inauguration.[154]

Finally, to complete this section we will mention three writings of a spiritual nature: one article about Christian freedom published in Los domingos de ABC (Madrid, November 2, 1969) with the title “Las riquezas de la fe,[155] and two articles with a Marian theme, specifically about the devotion that St. Josemaría always had towards Our Lady of the Pillar, as a good Aragonese. These appeared in publications in Saragossa in 1970 and 1976.[156]

Preaching to the faithful of Opus Dei

Just as in the 1950s, so also in the 1960s and 1970s, St. Josemaría dedicated himself generously to the task of preaching to the faithful of Opus Dei who lived in the central headquarters of the Work, as well as to those members of Opus Dei who passed through Rome for various reasons. A substantial part of the content of this preaching – indeed, almost all of it – has survived , in part because of those who took careful notes, and especially because the development of technical means made it possible to record his meditations and get-togethers in a systematic manner from the latter half of the 1960s onwards.[157]

At this time, there are recordings of 15 meditations, 20 talks, and more than 100 get-togethers. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that St. Josemaría preached much more frequently than this. During some time, the practice was to re-use the tapes for new recordings, once the meditations or get-togethers that had been recorded there had been transcribed and typed. Later on, they stopped doing this, and began to preserve each tape. There are 124 transcripts of meditations (10 preached outside of Rome), and a considerable number of transcripts of get-togethers.[158]

Finally, we should point out that throughout the early 1970s St. Josemaría revised the texts of some of the meditations that he had recently preached, and others from earlier years, so that they could be used for the formation of faithful of Opus Dei. Some appeared in the magazines we have mentioned earlier, Crónica and Noticias.[159] After his death, these meditations – 23 in total – were gathered into a book with limited circulation, under the title En diálogo con el Señor.[160]

The “Letters” written after 1965

The documentation we have available leads us to affirm that by 1965 – except for the revision carried out in 1969 – St. Josemaría considered himself finished with the task of preparing and publishing Letters, in the sense mentioned above: ample, expository texts, directed to the faithful of Opus Dei. The events of later years, and more specifically the tension and crisis that the Church underwent in the years after 1967 and 1968, led him to change his mind. His sense of the responsibility that fell on his shoulders as the founder and head of Opus Dei, with respect to the spiritual life of its members, led him to compose new Letters, now directed to strengthening his readers in the faith and Christian life, rather than to explaining aspects of the spirit or juridical history of Opus Dei.

This is the purpose that drove him to write a long letter at the beginning of 1967, dated March 19, the feast of St. Joseph. The Letter opens with the words Fortes in fide, taken from the Latin version of the first epistle of St. Peter (1Pt 5:9), and continues: “this is the way I see you, my beloved daughters and sons: strong in the faith, giving testimony of your faith with this divine fortitude in every corner of the world, moved by the impetuous power of the Holy Spirit in a new Pentecost.” In fact, this entire Letter, which is very long (190 pages, in a version printed in a 24×17 cm. format), is an invitation to firmness in the faith, in the context of the complex situation the Church and society was going through in those years, and with a desire to respond to the Year of Faith convoked by Paul VI one month earlier, on February 22, 1976.[161]

In the Letter we are considering, the founder of Opus Dei begins with an explanation of the intimate connection among the sources of Revelation (Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium), and then continues with a commentary on the fundamental truths of Christian dogma, from the Trinity and creation to the fullness of eschatological consummation, with abundant biblical and magisterial citations throughout the text. He concludes by returning to the opening theme: the need for firmness in the faith, leading one to give witness and carry out apostolate.[162]

For many years, St. Josemaría had the custom of writing a letter to the groups of faithful of Opus Dei who were going to receive priestly ordination. Ordinarily, these letters were brief: one page, or even less. In 1971 he decided to send them a longer text. He also decided that this would be printed and sent to the other members of Opus Dei as well. The resulting Letter is dated June 10, 1971, and is 19 pages long, in a version printed in a 16×12 cm. format. It is written in clear continuity with the Letter of 1967 just described, although the tone and some of the themes are different, as is fitting for a document directed immediately to those preparing to receive the sacrament of Orders.

The Letter to priests of 1971 foreshadowed, in some way, three Letters that he directed to all the faithful of Opus Dei, between March 1973 and February 1974. St. Josemaría called these “the three bells,” alluding to the ancient custom of calling people to Holy Mass by means of three successive ringings of the bell. “Once again I seek you out,” he wrote in the beginning of the third letter, “‘sounding the bell’ anew. I feel it is my duty to alert you, and I do so in the traditional way of summoning the faithful to Christ’s sacrifice: repeatedly ringing the bells. […] This letter is the third invitation in less than a year urging you to face squarely the demands of our vocation, amid the hard trial the Church is undergoing.”

The first of these Letters is dated March 28, 1973; the second, June 17 of the same year; and the third, February 14, 1974. All are several pages long,[163] and though they deal with different questions, at least in part, all manifest the same spiritual attitude and express the same purpose, clearly expressed in the words that we have just cited in the preceding paragraph.[164]

A great catechesis

St. Josemaría was always very respectful of the authority of the various ecclesiastical authorities. Since 1950, therefore, except for responding to specific invitations or requirements, he ordinarily limited his preaching to the faithful of Opus Dei and to those who were close to its apostolates. His deep awareness of the crisis that was brewing during the 1970s, not only in the Catholic Church but in all of western civilization, led him to once again extend his preaching to a wider audience, without in any way encroaching upon the competence of local authorities.

Between 1972 and 1974 he decided to publish three meditations about the Church, intimately related to the cultural situation to which we have just referred. These were not included in Christ is Passing By, probably so as not to break up the thematic unity of that book. The titles with which he submitted them to be printed are very significant: “The supernatural aim of the Church,” “Loyalty to the Church,” and “A priest forever.”[165]

The publication of these homilies was only one of the consequences of the universality of his priestly zeal. And it was not the most important, or at least not the most extensive and significant: in fact, this apostolic eagerness led him to undertake a project to which he dedicated the greater part of his energies in the last years of his life: the catechetical journeys. The first of these (to Mexico) took place in 1970; the last (Venezuela and Guatemala) in 1975. Between these two extremes there were two months of catechesis throughout Spain and Portugal in October and November of 1972, and three months in 1974 (from the end of May to the end of August) in which he was able to travel through many countries in Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela).

During those trips, in small gatherings or with thousands of people at a time, St. Josemaría – who turned 70 years old in January 1972 – gave himself completely, even to the point of compromising his health and endangering his life, to the task of strengthening the faith and encouraging a deeply Christian life among the thousands of people to whom he had the opportunity to speak.[166]

It is not easy to calculate the total number of people who heard him, since the meetings were of very varied size: in some cases, there were fewer than one hundred people; in others, such as those that took place in the Palacio de Convenciones in Parque Anhembi, in Sao Paulo, or in the Centro de Congresos General San Martín, in Buenos Aires– there were between five and six thousand people in attendance. In all of these encounters St. Josemaría ordinarily followed the same pattern: he began with some words of introduction, and then turned to allow the public to ask questions, which he would answer with the quick reflexes and agility of mind that always characterized him. Even in the largest gatherings, he was able to maintain an atmosphere that was simple, friendly and familial, just as he had managed to do in the gatherings that took place during the assemblies of the Association of Friends of the University of Navarra, to which we referred above, and in various gatherings in Rome.

He spoke about quite varied topics, as is to be expected, given his methodology of questions and answers. Nevertheless, there are some fundamental themes that run throughout, giving unity to his catechesis. Above all is love for God, One and Triune, the center of Christian faith; and, as a consequence, a vivid awareness of divine filiation, of identification with Christ and docility to the Holy Spirit. Intimately connected with Trinitarian faith, the Eucharist – the Mass and the Tabernacle – presented as the center of the interior life, along with filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Confidence in the benevolent and merciful love of God, and thus, the sacrament of Confession, in which divine love reaches the depth of the soul of him who, recognizing himself to be a sinner, yet longs to grow in faith, love and hope. And many other realities: the sanctification of work and of the various circumstances of ordinary life; marriage lived as a human and Christian vocation, a school of humanity and of the virtues; the dignity of every human being, called to intimacy with God, no matter what his or her state in life or condition might be; service to others, being builders of justice and sowers of peace and joy; the value of life, from the moment of conception until the moment of death; the Christian meaning of suffering and of self-giving…

The great majority of these get-togethers were recorded; in many cases, they were filmed. There are a total of 857 recordings,[167] of which 115 are also filmed,[168] which has allowed (and continues to allow) generations that came after the death of St. Josemaría to get to know not only his thought, but also his way of speaking and expressing himself, his particular way of being.[169]


This overview of the writings and preaching of St. Josemaría makes it clear that on June 26, 1975, that is, at the moment of his death, the founder of Opus Dei left behind not only a significant number of already published works, but also a much greater number of texts that still could be considered for publication. These writings were left in various stages of development. In some cases, the documents were completely finished, although the author indicated that they should only be published after his death. Other works were almost in their final form. Some texts, coming from his oral preaching, would require the usual revision and elaboration in order to be published. Then there are some isolated sentences or passages taken down by one or more of his hearers, or taken from his preaching outlines, etc. And, finally, there is the abundant fruit of his letter-writing, consisting in several thousand letters directed to people of the most varied conditions and nationalities.[170]

St. Josemaría’s successor, Msgr. Álvaro del Portillo, was faced with the decision of whether or not to publish those texts which St. Josemaría had expressly intended for publication, given that some of them were nearly finished. He was inclined to go ahead, as he did in the case of the volume of homilies entitled Friends of God, to which we have already referred, as well as in the three works we will now consider: The Way of the Cross, Furrow and Forge.

“The Way of the Cross”

“The Way of the Cross. Here indeed you have a sturdy and fruitful devotion! Spend a few moments each Friday going over those fourteen points of our Lord’s Passion and Death. I assure you that you will gain strength for the whole of the week.”[171] This point of The Way, which unites two traditional devotions – accompanying Jesus along the way that led to Calvary, and dedicating Fridays to commemorating the passion and death of Our Lord – testifies to how deeply St. Josemaría meditated and encouraged others to meditate on the life of Christ, especially his self-giving on the Cross. His preaching on many occasions revolved around these transcendent moments in which Jesus, passing through death, led humanity to Life. In fact, he had reflected and commented on practically every passage of the gospel narratives about the Passion in one or more of his meditations.

It is therefore not surprising that those who worked on the editorial board of Crónica,[172] at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, thought of the possibility of developing some commentaries on the Way of the Cross, bringing together various paragraphs taken from the preaching of St. Josemaría about these scenes. When this suggestion reached the founder of Opus Dei, he welcomed the idea and asked that the texts be prepared for him to review and approve for publication. This was done, although the commentaries did not appear in Crónica, but in another similar magazine directed to the men of Opus Dei: Obras, published every two months, giving news about the apostolic initiatives carried out in different countries. The commentary on the first station of the Way of the Cross appeared in the February 1960 issue of Obras; the last, in the April 1962 issue.

Some time later, in the Roman College of the Holy Cross they thought of preparing a simple publication – some typewritten pages – that would include the commentaries on the fourteen stations, in such a way that it could be used as a devotional for the Way of the Cross. St. Josemaría had no objection to this, although he made it clear that no one should feel obliged to make use of this text. Nevertheless, soon after this was put into use, it became clear that the text in its current state was too long to be used for this purpose. Therefore, in 1964, following indications from St. Josemaría, an abbreviated version was developed. There is no indication that this abbreviated version had received his approval. In fact, the final revision of the text of The Way of the Cross had been left for later. The tasks that occupied St. Josemaría in the following years – including the revision of texts that we have discussed above – delayed the completion of this project, and it was left unfinished at the time of his death.

In 1977, Msgr. Álvaro del Portillo decided to take up the project where St. Josemaría left off, so that the book could be completed and published. He was not able to give full attention to this effort, so it was not ready to send to the printers until 1980. [173] As Msgr. del Portillo says in the prologue, The Way of the Cross is a work which is intended “to help people to pray and, with the grace of God, to grow in a spirit of reparation – of love-sorrow – and of gratitude to Our Lord, who has rescued us at the cost of his Blood.” For this reason, as he prepared the text for printing, besides introducing some changes that had been indicated by the founder, the successor of St. Josemaría also decided to include five “points of meditation” after the commentary on each station. These points were taken from the oral preaching and conversations of the founder of Opus Dei, which as Msgr. del Portillo continues in the prologue, “reflected his zeal to speak only about God and about nothing but God.”[174]

The Way of the Cross finally appeared in 1981. The first Spanish edition was printed on February 2 of that year. This was an especially elaborate edition, in which the different startions were accompanied by scenes painted in 1747 by Giandomenico Tiepolo for the Via Crucis in the Venetian Church of San Polo. Later Spanish editions, and translations into various other languages, include illustrations from a wide range of other painters.[175]

“Furrow” and “Forge”

As we have already indicated, as soon as The Way was completed, St. Josemaría began to think about other books with points for meditation. As a first step, he chose two titles, titles that already give a fairly clear idea of the purposes he had in mind: Furrow, evoking the depth with which the divine call should mark the soul and lead one to a growth in the virtues, and Forge, which points to the way that God, through the ordinary events of daily life, tempers the spirit of the one who welcomes the inspirations of grace.[176]

We begin to hear of Furrow again in the beginning of the 1950s, in the author’s notes published in the seventh and eighth editions of The Way.[177] The first of these speaks of this book as possibly appearing soon, while the second indicates that its publication has for the moment been put on hold. It would be kept on hold for years, even though St. Josemaría still had this project in mind, and, in fact, in accordance with his usual method of work, continued gathering and putting order into notes towards this end.

At the moment of his death, the project was very much advanced, so much so that in the foreword, Álvaro del Portillo writes: “Furrow could really have been brought out many years ago.”[178] He continues, adding that the intense dedication of St. Josemaría to the government of Opus Dei and to other pastoral tasks “prevented [him] from making that last final revision of the manuscript with leisure.” Immediately after these words, he describes in detail the state of the text as St. Josemaría left it at the moment of his death: “Furrow had been finished, however, for some time, including the titles for the chapters into which it was divided. All that needed doing was to arrange the various entries in numerical order and a final style-edit. ”[179]

In these paragraphs and in the foreword as a whole, Msgr. del Portillo aims to describe the work carried out by St. Josemaría, and to sketch out the fundamental lines of the message that the founder of Opus Dei transmits in Furrow. Indirectly, he also describes the task that he himself undertook when, in the middle of the 1980s, he decided to finish preparing the book for publication: to organize the points within the chapters and to go over the whole text to give it any necessary stylistic touching up, while entirely respecting the work and intention of St. Josemaría. The first edition of Furrow was printed in Madrid by Ediciones Rialp on October 2, 1986, and put on sale right away.[180]

The projects of Furrow and of Forge were conceived by St. Josemaría at the same time. There is evidence that a possible cover for Forge was prepared already in 1940; and in 1944, St. Josemaría commented that he was working on organizing the material that he wanted to include in that book.[181] Álvaro del Portillo, in the foreword to the first edition of the book, refers to the fact that “those of us who had the good fortune to be living by his side often heard him refer to this book, which had been taking shape gradually over the years.” And, referring to the state of the text at the time when St. Josemaría died, he continued: “Apart from putting the book into its finished order, he had intended to read over each point carefully, so as to put all his priestly love at the service of his readers. He was not interested in embellishing these points. What he wanted was to enter into the intimate world of each person and, while he waited for a suitable occasion to carry out this task…God Himself called him into His own intimacy.”[182]

Here, just as in the foreword to Furrow, we can see a reflection of the work carried out by Msgr. del Portillo: he was the one who proceeded to read and revise the points, to finalize the selection of material and put them into their definitive order.[183] Given to the printers a few months after Msgr. del Portillo wrote the foreword, in December of 1986, Forge was printed for the first time in Madrid, by Ediciones Rialp, on October 2, 1987.[184]

In his foreword, Msgr. del Portillo indicates that many of the 1055 points of Forge “are clearly autobiographical. They come from notes written by the founder of Opus Dei in some spiritual copybooks, not exactly a diary, which he kept in the 1930s.” To identify the exact source of the different points of Furrow and of Forge, a task that will have to be tackled when the critical editions of these works are prepared, will not be easy. The archival sources give some information about this, but it will be necessary to fill in the details by going through all the notes that are preserved of the preaching and the conversations of St. Josemaría. The words just cited of Msgr. del Portillo give us a clue regarding Forge: one preliminary search, already carried out, concludes that almost a third of the points of Forge are taken from the Apuntes íntimos.[185] This fact is important for the work of the historian, and is in itself significant: we cannot fail to note that the last published work of St. Josemaría brings us back to texts that have their origin at the very beginning of his foundational efforts.

José Luis Illanes Maestre is Professor Emeritus of Moral and Spiritual Theology in the School of Theology of the University of Navarra, of which he was the dean for several years. He has been director of the Instituto Histórico St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer since its institution. Honorary Prelate of His Holiness and member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, as well as of various international scholarly associations. His published works include, among others, La santificación del trabajo (Madrid, 1966), Historia y sentido. Estudios de Teología de la historia (Madrid, 1997), Ante Dios y en el mundo. Apuntes para una teología del trabajo (Pamplona, 1997), Jalones para una reflexión teológica sobre el Opus Dei (Pamplona, 2003), Tratado de Teología espiritual (Pamplona, 2007).



[1] A more detailed explanation of these series can be found in the critical-historical edition of Camino, prepared by Pedro RODRIGUEZ, Madrid, Rialp, 2004, pp. XV-XVI (cited hereafter as Camino, crit. ed.)

[2] Ample information regarding the history and context of the various juridical documents can be found in Amadeo DE FUENMAYOR, Valentín GÓMEZ IGLESIAS, José Luis ILLANES, The Canonical Path of Opus Dei, Scepter Publishers, 1994.

[3] For more about this foundational moment, see José Luis Illanes, “Dos de octubre de 1928: alcance y significado de una fecha”, in Scripta Theologica, 3 ( 98 ), pp. 4-45 (reprinted in José Luis Illanes, Existencia cristiana y mundo. Jalones para una reflexión teológica sobre el Opus Dei, Pamplona, Eunsa, 2003, chap. 3) and Andrés Vázquez de Prada, El Fundador del Opus Dei, Madrid, Rialp, 1997-2003, vol. I, pp. 288ff.

[4] For this and other biographical details we will ordinarily refer to the biography of A. Vázquez de Prada mentioned in the previous footnote, though we will still make use of other sources as appropriate. Of course, readers may also consult other biographies: Salvador Bernal, Mons. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. Apuntes sobre la vida del Fundador del Opus Dei, Madrid, Rialp, 1976; François Gondrand, Au pas de Dieu. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Fondateur de l’Opus Dei, París, France-Empire,1982; Peter Berglar, Opus Dei. Leben und Werk des Gründers Josemaría Escrivá, Salzburg, Otto Müller, 1983; Hugo de Azevedo, Uma luz no mundo: vida do Servo de Deus Monsenhor Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Fundador do Opus Dei, Lisboa, Prumo-Rei dos Livros, 1988; Ana Sastre, Tiempo de caminar. Semblanza de Monseñor Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Madrid, Rialp, 1989; Pilar Urbano, El hombre de Villa Tevere. Los años romanos de Josemaría Escrivá, Barcelona, Plaza y Janés, 1995. One can also consult Federico M. Requena – Javier Sesé, Fuentes para la historia del Opus Dei, Barcelona, Ariel, 2002

[5] There were some writings earlier than those considered here, such as school assignments or things he wrote for amusement that have not survived , but which are referred to in some of the memoirs of his fellow seminarians. We might mention one of these: the essay written in honor of the auxiliary bishop of Saragossa and the president of the Priestly Seminary of San Carlos, Miguel de los Santos Díaz Gómara, built around the episcopal motto of the man being honored: Obedientia tutior; see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., pp. 145-146. There is also still extant an article he published in 1927 in a magazine edited by an institute in Saragossa, the Instituto Amado, entitled “La forma del matrimonio en la actual legislación española,” in Alfa-Beta, 3 (March 1927), pp. 10-12. The text of the article, with ample commentary, can be found in Miguel Ángel ORTIZ, “La primera publicación de Josemaría Escrivá,” in Fernando DE ANDRÉS, Figli di Dio nella Chiesa, Rome, Edusc, 2004, pp, 63-91; volume V/2 of the Acts of the congress entitled La grandeza della vita quotidiana, organized on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of the Founder of Opus Dei and celebrated in Rome, January 8-11, 2002. Regarding the Instituto Amado, see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., Vol I., pp. 231-232, as well as the article by Constantino Ánchel published in this volume of Studia et Documenta.

[6] This is the expression that he always used. Various references along these lines can be read in the biographical texts cited in footnote 3 above.

[7] The cause of canonization of St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer was introduced by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on January 30, 1981, and culminated on May 17, 1992 with his beatification and on October 6, 2002 with his canonization. For more about this process, see Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. Itinerario de la causa de canonización (Presentación de Jesús Urteaga), Madrid, Palabra, the commemorative volumes of Javier Echevarría – Flavio Capucci – Rosa Maria Echevarría et al., Crónica de la beatificación de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Madrid, Rialp, 1992, and José Ramón Pérez Arangüena (ed.), La canonización de Josemaría Escrivá, Madrid, Rialp, 2003, as well as Flavio Capucci, Josemaría Escrivá, santo: L’iter della causa di canonizzazione, Milano, Ares, 2008.

[8] Msgr. Del Portillo also added marginal numbers to the text presented to the Congregation, by which points from the Apuntes íntimos are usually cited. The most thorough description published so far about the Apuntes íntimos is that written by Professor Pedro Rodríguez as part of the Introduction to the critical edition of Camino, pp. 18-26. We base our study on this critical edition, quoting it directly in many points and keeping it present throughout our presentation.

[9] The “Notebooks” are kept in the General Archive of the Prelature (AGP), serie A-3, leg. 88, carp. 1-8.

[10] From what is said, it seems clear that St. Josemaría, upon his return to Madrid at the end of the civil conflict, realized that the notebook he had had to leave in the capital of Spain still had various blank pages, and so he continued writing his notes there rather than beginning a new notebook.

[11] Although he did not say so explicitly, it is possible that on this point and on others having to do with the presentation of the volume containing the Notebooks, Msgr. del Portillo proceeded according to indications he received from St. Josemaría, when he gave him the task of adding the explanatory notes we will refer to later on (cf. footnote 16).

[12] St. Josemaría took refuge in the Honduran Legation in Madrid, together with some of those who followed him, during the period of religious persecution that accompanied the Spanish Civil War in that area. This time of refuge in the Honduran Legation began on March 14, 1937 and continued for some months; cf. A. VÁZQUEZ DE PRADA, op. cit. vol II, pp. 62ff, and the critical edition of Camino, pp. 52-60 and 136-139.

[13] A helpful summary of the preceding information can be found in the synoptic table presented by P. Rodríguez in the critical edition of Camino, p. 19.

[14] It is not possible to determine the exact date on which he began to transfer the collection of loose pages into the Notebooks. Nevertheless, it is clear when he finished this operation, since in Notebook II the author himself indicates it in an entry dated October 23, 1930 (Apuntes íntimos, n. 95, in Notebook II, p. 43v; cf. the critical edition of Camino, p.20.)

[15] For more information, we refer the reader once again to the critical edition of Camino prepared by P. Rodriguez.

[16] The current Prelate of Opus Dei, Msgr. Javier Echevarría, who lived with St. Josemaría during those years, remembers (though without recalling precise details) that the founder of Opus Dei picked up and reviewed these points at various moments before 1968 as well; he has a vivid memory of the joy expressed by St. Josemaría at the beginning of this period when he saw the Notebooks again, since he had feared that they had been lost. Regarding the 1968 stay in Sant’Ambrogio Olona, see P. Urbano, op. cit., pp. 396-406, although the attention of the author is centered above all on the family atmosphere of those days. Msgr. Del Portillo fulfilled the task mentioned in the text when he prepared the edition of the Apuntes íntimos to which we referred earlier; with a view to the cause of canonization of St. Josemaría.

[17] This Introduction comprises pages 1-206 of the cited edition.

[18] Apuntes íntimos, n. 713; the entry is from May 10, 1932 (cited in the critical edition of Camino, p. 27). One should also note that he never let anyone read Notebook I, the contents of which were more intimate and which he later destroyed.

[19] There are copies of this version of Consideraciones in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 96, carp. 3, exp. 1.

[20] This can be found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 96, carp. 3, exp. 2.

[21] See note 12.

[22] That which can be called the original definitive manuscript, that is, the final copy typed by the author and brought to the printer, is found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 95, carp. 5, exp. 1. A description of this manuscript and of the following edition can be found in the critical edition of Camino, pp. 140-143 and 117-118.

[23] Regarding the multiple editions of Camino, the reader may refer to the listing, practically exhaustive up until the year 2002, published in José Mario Fernández Montes – Onésimo Díaz – Federico M. Requena, “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras de St. Josemaría”, Studia et Documenta 1 (2007), pp. 441ff.

[24] AGP, serie A-3, leg. 102, carp. 3, exp. 1.

[25] Cf. A. VAZQUEZ DE PRADA, op.cit., Vol I, p. 409.

[26] Apuntes íntimos, n. 454, note 382 (A. VAZQUEZ DE PRADA, ibid.)

[27] This was kept by one of the young men whom St. Josemaría dealt with during those years, Rafael Roldán. It consists in the last two pages of a total of eight, containing the commentary on the three last glorious mysteries and the litanies, and the final paragraph with which St. Josemaría closed the book. Testimony of Rafael Roldán, Córdoba, June 14, 1977, AGP, serie A-5, leg. 1427, carp. 1, exp. 7.

[28] [Translator’s note: In this footnote, and throughout the rest of the article, the author follows the Spanish usage which generally does not distinguish between a “printing” and an “edition.” In Spain a new print run without any substantial changes in content, format or presentation is called a new edition rather than just a new printing.]An invoice has been preserved for a print run of 4000 copies (AGP, serie A-3, leg. 102, carp. 3, exp. 4). It is not possible to clarify the exact order of the first three editions. It is most probable that the one printed in Madrid in 1934 was the first edition; and that the 4000 copies printed in Valencia in 1939 were printed in two batches, that could thus be considered the second and third editions. Another possibility – less probable in our judgment – is that two printings were made of the edition produced in Madrid, in rapid succession and with the same format, which would imply that the Valencia edition was the third. In any case, the following edition, to which we will refer now, appeared as a fourth edition. From that moment on, there is no question about the sequence of the editions.

[29] The book includes a brief prologue written by the author on the occasion of his first visit to the sanctuary of Fatima in February of 1945, as well as some illustrations for each mystery, the work of the architect Luis Borobio. Copies of this first edition are found in AGP, serie A 3, leg. 102, carp. 1, exp. 1. About the visit of St. Josemaría to Fatima, see Hugo de Azevedo, “Primeiras viagens de S. Josemaría a Portugal”, Studia et Documenta 1 (2007), pp. 24ff. The prologue written then was modified by the author in October 1968; this is the version that is included in later editions (AGP, serie A-3, leg. 102, carp. 4, exp. 1). A listing of the various editions of Santo Rosario up until 2002 can be found in J. M. Fernández Montes et al., cited above, pp. 428-431. Finally, we would point out that when John Paul II modified the structure of the rosary in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (October 16, 2002), completing it with five “mysteries of light”, the Prelate of Opus Dei, Msgr. Javier Echevarría, thought it opportune to add to the book some commentaries on these mysteries taken from writings of St. Josemaría referring to these moments in the life of Jesus. These commentaries were published for the first time in the 47th Spanish edition, which appeared in 2003, and in later editions. At first they were included as an appendix, but later they were moved to the place where they would naturally fall in the succession of the decades, with an initial note explaining their origin.

[30] Apuntes íntimos, nn. 1723 and 1735.

[31] About the history of his obtaining these academic degrees – specifically, the doctorate in Law and the doctorate in Theology – see the studies of P. Rodríguez and Francesc Castells, published in Studia et Documenta 2 (2008) 13-103 and 105-144, respectively.

[32] Original manuscripts of both texts written by St. Josemaría have been preserved (AGP, serie A-3, leg. 89, carp. 1, exp. 1 and 3).

[33] Regarding the situation in Spain of those years, one can read descriptions in the biographies of the Founder of Opus Dei already mentioned (cf. note 4) which, although cursory, are adequate for our present purposes.

[34] Instrucción cited above, n. 6; for the bibliographic and archival details, see the following note.

[35] The two Instrucciones, typed and copied, circulated widely among the members of Opus Dei. In later years they were printed, first in separate booklets and later, in 1967 and together with later Instrucciones, in two volumes, with notes written by Msgr. Álvaro del Portillo. The two Instrucciones of 1934 are in the first volume. The Instrucción acerca del espíritu sobrenatural de la Obra de Dios is divided into 49 numbers, and occupies pages 7-38; the Instrucción sobre el modo de hacer el proselitismo is divided into 101 numbers, on pages 43-83.These volumes are found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 89, carp. 3, exp. 1 and leg. 90, carp. 6, exp. 1.

[36] Some historical information about the DYA Academy (officially, Derecho y Arquitectura [Law and Architecture]; in the mind of St. Josemaría, Dios y Audacia [God and Daring]), can be found in A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 508-511, 514-518, 521-528, 533-548.

[37] In 1932, during some days of spiritual retreat in the convent of the Carmelites in Segovia, where the mortal remains of St. John of the Cross lie , St. Josemaría saw that the apostolate of Opus Dei could be summed up in three great works: the first, directed to the formation of young people in awareness of the Christian vocation, and in this context, the call to Opus Dei; the second, directed to the care of the formation of people who joined Opus Dei and committed themselves to live celibacy so as to be fully available for the apostolic needs that might present themselves; the third, intended to spread the apostolate among people, single or married, of the most diverse social, cultural and professional conditions. During this same retreat, he placed these three tasks under the patronage of the Archangels St. Raphael, St. Michael, and St. Gabriel, respectively. About these days on retreat in Segovia, see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit, vol. I, pp. 476-477.

[38] At first, he gave this document the title Instrucción para los Formadores; nevertheless, since the word “formadores” was not much to his liking, he changed the name, adopting the title indicated in the text. The original text, consisting of 103 handwritten pages followed by two brief appendices, is found in has been AGP, serie A-3, leg. 89, carp. 2, exp. 1. In the 1967 edition it is found in the first volume and is divided into 306 numbers, occupying pages 87-217 (AGP, serie A-3, leg. 89, carp. 3, exp. 1).

[39] About the beginnings of these Noticias from DYA, see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 520-521.

[40] St. Josemaría is the one who categorized these as Circular letters. They are very much related with the circumstances surrounding their composition, as we will see in what follows. They are therefore very different from the Letters spoken of in the 1933 annotations in the Apuntes íntimos (cf. note 30) and from those which we will discuss later on in this article. In contrast, they resemble, at least in some respects, the Instrucciones of 1934.

[41] The originals of the three Circular letters are preserved in AGP, serie A-3.4, leg. 254, carp. 5 and leg. 256, carp. 2.

[42] Regarding this point, as well as the preceding and following details, we refer the reader to the biography of A. Vázquez de Prada and the other biographical studies previously mentioned.

[43] Regarding St. Josemaría’s doctoral studies in Law, see the article of P. Rodríguez mentioned above in note 31.

[44] This institute was called Academia Cicuéndez; about this academy, see the study of C. Ánchel published in this volume of Studia et Documenta, already cited in relation to the Instituto Amado, in Saragossa.

[45] About the work in the Patronato de Enfermos, in addition to the information offered in various biographies, see the study of Julio González Simancas, “St. Josemaría entre los enfermos de Madrid (1927-1931)”, en Studia et Documenta 2 (2008), pp. 147-203.

[46] So we learn in a letter written to Manuel Ayala on February 23, 1940, asking him to facilitate access to the bibliography and documentation of which they had spoken (AGP, serie A-3.4, leg. 256, carp. 4).

[47] These efforts can be seen in the annotations St. Josemaría made in his liturgical calendar (AGP, serie A-3, leg. 180, carps. 1 to 5), as well as in his correspondence with the Monastery of Las Huelgas (AGP, serie A-3.4, leg. 258, carp. 2), and in the remembrances of someone who accompanied him on one of these trips (Testimony of Amadeo de Fuenmayor, AGP, serie A-5, leg. 251, carp. 4, exp. 2).

[48] La Abadesa de las Huelgas: estudio teológico-jurídico, Madrid, Luz, 1944, 415 pp. Years later, in 1974, a second edition was carried out (reprinted in 1988), substantially the same as the first: the changes consisted in some details of composition, in the revision of the Latin and Spanish version of the documents cited, and in the preparation of an interesting prologue in which St. Josemaría explained some of his ideas about the investigation and its historical-juridical interpretation (Madrid, Rialp, 1974, 421 pp.). General documentation about this work, in its two editions, can be found in AGP, serie A-1, leg. 16, carp. 1, exp. 1; serie A-3, leg. 103 and leg. 104; serie A-5, leg. 251, carp. 4, exp. 2). Information about the reviews published about the first edition can be found in José Mario Fernández Montes – Onésimo Díaz Hernández – Federico M. Requena, “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras sobre St. Josemaría (I)”, Studia et Documenta 2 (2008), pp. 474ff.

[49] About these first moments in the priestly and foundational work of St. Josemaría, see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 308-310, 444-454, 480-482, 488-494. See also, with specific reference to his preaching, José Antonio Loarte, “La predicación de St. Josemaría. Descripción de una fuente documental”, Studia et Documenta Vol 1(2007), pp. 221-231, which we will have present throughout this section and in some of the following sections.

[50] Apuntes íntimos, n. 913; more information about this meeting can be found in A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 481-482.

[51] About this first Mass, which was celebrated on March 31, 1935, see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 544-546.

[52] These form part of a collection of meditation outlines that was begun early in 1932 and continued until the beginning of the 1940s; this collection can be found in AGP, serie A-3, legs. 185 and 186. Some of the outlines explicitly mention the intended audience of the preaching; others develop their theme without any reference to who would be the audience, although in some cases it can be deduced from the content. One can get an idea of the broad work of formation carried out by St. Josemaría in the DYA Academy-Residence from the correspondence preserved by one of the residents of that time: cf. José Carlos Martín de la Hoz – Josemaría Revuelta Somalo, “Un estudiante de la Residencia DYA. Cartas de Emiliano Amann a su familia (1935-1936)”, Studia et Documenta 2 (2008), pp. 299-358.

[53] Cf. J. A. Loarte, op cit., p. 225.

[54] Cf. note 12, with the bibliography cited there.

[55] These can be found in AGP, serie A-3, leg.107.

[56] In the 1960s, St. Josemaría began to review these meditations, making some notes on the text in his own hand, but soon interrupted this task when he realized that the texts were incomplete. (I owe this fact to the memories of the current Prelate of Opus Dei, Msgr. Javier Echevarría, expressed in personal conversations I had with him while this article was being prepared.) Years after the death of St. Josemaría, in 1997, a book was printed for the faithful of the Prelature which gathered the summaries that had been preserved. Keeping in mind point 294 of The Way, which itself was based on the situation they were living out in the Honduran Legation, the book was given the title Crecer para adentro [Growing on the inside]. (For more information, see the commentary on this point in the critical edition of Camino, pp. 475-477.) This book was very carefully prepared; although it is not meant to be a critical edition, it will constitute a great help when the time comes to undertake a critical edition. There is a copy in AGP, P12.

[57] Some historical details about the expansion in those years are covered in A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 394-409, 417-427, and 553-563. Among the centers that were established, we may mention only two of the most significant: on in Madrid, in a building on the corner of Diego de León and Lagasca Streets, in which St. Josemaría resided, and the first center of women of Opus Dei, also located in Madrid, on Jorge Manrique Street.

[58] These are included in the collection mentioned in note 52.

[59] A description, with an indication of the work of organization that was being carried out, can be found in J. A. Loarte, cit., pp. 225-226 and 230.

[60] For an overview of his pastoral activity in these places, see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 199-208 and 217-223, for what refers to Saragossa, and pp. 274-286, for what refers to Madrid.

[61] In 1931 St. Josemaría began to work as the chaplain for the Patronato de Santa Isabel; later on, in 1934, he was named rector. The church of Santa Isabel, open to the public, allowed him also to attend to people who were not dependents of the Patronato. Regarding the relations between St. Josemaría and the Patronato de Santa Isabel, see A. Vázquez de Prada op. cit., vol. I, pp. 374-379 amd 528-533; cf. also the article by Beatriz Comella published in this same volume III of Studia et Documenta (2009)

[62] Nevertheless, this fact did not impede him from preaching in some cases, with the opportune permission. Specifically, we have record that on June 13, 1930, he gave a talk for a large group of Catholic workers in what was called the Bishop’s Chapel, which shared a wall with the church of San Andrés in Madrid. About this talk, see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. I, p. 329.

[63] Cf. note 52.

[64] We refer the reader, regarding what we have just said and what follows, to the details presented by P. Rodríguez, Camino, critical edition, pp. 133-134. Some information about his relation to St. Pedro Poveda, although fragmentary, can be found in A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 504-505, 540, 588.

[65] A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 722-729, where, in a long appendix, there is a list of 67 retreats, recollections and other analogous events that were preached between August 1938 and September 1946, in the most varied Spanish dioceses.

[66] For example, there are the outlines prepared by St. Josemaría for the retreat preached in Vitoria in August 1938 (to religious sisters, in the episcopal palace) and in Vergara, in September of the same year (to priests, in the seminary building), in both cases at the request of the apostolic administrator bishop, Msgr. Xavier Lauzurica. St. Josemaría began to prepare the outlines for this preaching during some days he spent in Ávila and completed them during the retreat in Vergara; later he used them again, retouching them on more than one occasion (cf. P. Rodríguez, Camino, critical edition, p. 135, note 21).

[67] These remembrances are preserved in AGP, serie A-5, leg. 210, carp. 2, exp. 1 and serie A-1, leg. 328, carp. 2, exp. 39.

[68] This was the case with the Augustinian Félix Carmona, who published the notes he personally took from the retreat St. Josemaría preached to the Augustinian community in El Escorial in 1944: Félix Cármona Moreno, Apuntes de ejercicios espirituales con St. Josemaría Escrivá, El Escorial, 2003.

[69] Regarding those plans, as well as what we speak of in what follows, see the critical edition of Camino, pp. 64-66.

[70] These names appear in a handwritten note of St. Josemaría, written at the time when he was studying the possible cover of the first edition of Camino (cf. Camino, critical edition, pp. 114-115, note 74). The book about Celibato, Matrimonio y Pureza is spoken of in Camino, n. 120. Of the one entitled Comentarios, the handwritten note mentioned offers no further information; from other references from the time one can suppose that St. Josemaría may have been thinking of a series of commentaries on texts of the Gospel. (Perhaps it is appropriate to relate this project to the list of 112 “Frequently Meditated Words from the New Testament – June 1933”, published with an introduction and notes by Francisco Varo in Studia et Documenta 1 (2007), pp. 259-275.) Besides the books mentioned in this note, we ought to mention one other: a liturgical devotional, to which St. Josemaría alludes on various occasions. This was almost finished in 1940, but at a particular moment, the author decided against publishing it (see details about this matter in the critical edition of Camino, pp. 65-66, 78, 84-86, 90). Part of the materials for this project are found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 177 carp. 5. There is no document in this folder that explains why St. Josemaría abandoned the project; the explanation offered by Pedro Rodríguez (Camino, critical edition, p. 84, note 93) – the desire to avoid anything that could give the impression that Opus Dei had its own liturgy – has been confirmed by the testimony of Msgr. Javier Echevarría, who remembers having heard St. Josemaría say this on various occasions.

[71] Cf. note 30.

[72] Regarding these texts, their historical-juridical context and their content, see A. de Fuenmayor et al., op. cit., pp. 89ff.

[73] This method has also been described, in much greater detail, in the sections that Pedro Rodríguez dedicates to this theme in the critical-historical edition of Camino, already cited many times above.

[74] About juridical matters, we once again refer the reader to A. de Fuenmayor et al., op. cit., pp. 115ff. For a historical perspective, see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 594-611, 626-638.

[75] In this country, and specifically in Rome, there had been two faithful of Opus Dei since the academic year 1942-1943 (Salvador Canals y José Orlandis), even though the wartime situation made the apostolic expansion difficult, and even impossible. José Orlandis has given an account of his years living there in two books of remembrances: Memorias de Roma en guerra (1942-1945), Madrid, Rialp, 1992, and Mis recuerdos. Primeros tiempos del Opus Dei en Roma, Madrid, Rialp, 1995.

[76] More information can be found in the various biographies, especially in A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. III, pp. 179-184 and 313-359.

[77] The first of these decrees of approval is dated February 24, 1947, a few days after February 2 of that year, the date on which Pius XII promulgated the Apostolic Constitution Provida Mater Ecclesiae creating the figure of Secular Institutes, which Opus Dei came under. The second of these pontifical decrees, which – as is affirmed in the text – has the form of definitive approval, is dated June 16, 1950. Regarding these juridical-canonical steps, see A. de Fuenmayor et al., op. cit., pp. 145ff, 195ff. and 235ff.

[78] This document is found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 176, carp. 2, exp. 10.

[79] This edition of the Catecismo is found in in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 318, carp. 1.

[80] Catecismo, n. 53, edition of 1947, p. 32. This text is already found, with the same wording, in n. 45 of a previous version of the Catecismo in the form of a typewritten booklet, dating from 1945 or 1946 (p. 17 of this booklet), which is also found in AGP.

[81] This note, which was included in that seventh edition, is reproduced in the critical edition of Camino, p. 1059.

[82] About this point, see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. III, pp. 195-211.

[83] This advice is spoken of by P. Urbano, op. cit., pp. 127-128, and A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. III, p. 165, drawing from the remembrances of Msgr. Álvaro del Portillo, and specifically his declarations in the cause of beatification of St. Josemaría (Positio super vita et virtutibus, Summarium, n. 782. In that declaration Msgr. del Portillo does not specify the date on which the narrated incident took place, but from the context it can be inferred that it took place in the years 1951-1952).

[84] Regarding this motto, see the critical edition of Camino, commentary to nn. 647, 648, 848 and the introduction to chapter 41.

[85] In 1948 he had erected the Roman College of the Holy Cross as a center of formation for men of Opus Dei from various countries, and in 1953 he erected the Roman College of Holy Mary, for women.

[86] The “Editorial note” to the eighth Spanish edition of Camino, dated May 28, 1952, gives some evidence of this situation when it says, not without a certain note of regret, that “the author has not had the time needed to make the final touches to Furrow, the upcoming appearance of which was announced in the previous note.” (The text of this note is reproduced in the critical edition of Camino, p. 1066.)

[87] In fact, the Second Vatican Council mentions this document among the immediate Magisterial antecedents to its solemn proclamation of the universal call to holiness: Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, n. 40, note (4).

[88] During those same years, the founder of Opus Dei undertook to write a second, briefer piece about Secular Institutes: the contribution sent to the Congress about “states of perfection” celebrated in Rome in 1950; this text can be found in the Acta et Documenta Congressus generalis de Statibus perfectionis, Roma, Pia Società San Paolo, (1950, pp. 272-276). Regarding the 1948 conference presentation, we point out that shortly after it was given, it was published in the Boletín de la Asociación Católica Nacional de Propagandistas, 427 (1949), pp. 1-5. It was later printed in the form of a booklet. Until the middle of the 1950s this booklet was given, along with other documentation, to bishops from whom permission was being requested to begin the apostolate of Opus Dei in their diocese. In the mid 1950s St. Josemaría realized that it was necessary to distance himself from the confusion that had been created regarding the concept of the Secular Institute and that the moment had arrived to take new steps in the juridical process. He began to express in a more public manner that Opus Dei was not in fact a Secular Institute, even if it was so in law. As a logical consequence, this booklet was no longer distributed.

[89] A more detailed analysis of this conference is given in A. de Fuenmayor et al., op. cit., pp. 217-219. In this work one can also find documentation regarding the events alluded to in the second part of the previous note.


[90] Regarding this point of the juridical-canonical history of Opus Dei, see A. de Fuenmayor et al., op. cit., pp. 197-202 and 252-257; see also A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. III, pp. 153-163.

[91] The original manuscript of the definitive text finished in 1950 can be found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 90, carp. 5, exp. 1; it is not divided into numbers, which were added later. The pages or paragraphs written in 1935 have not survived. In the 1967 edition of the Instrucciones (cf. note 35), it is on pp. 195-384 of Volume II, divided into 175 numbers.

[92] Some of these tapes (24 in total) have survived: cf. J. A. Loarte, cit., p. 228.

[93] This is a building situated on the corner of Bruno Buozzi and Villa Sacchetti streets, named Villa Tevere. Although the work of remodeling began right away, it took quite some time. About the development of the construction, and about this period of the life of St. Josemaría in general, see A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. III, pp. 23ff., 100ff., 118ff., 169ff., 211ff. and 273-276.

[94] We refer the reader once again to J. A. Loarte, op. cit., p. 226-227.

[95] To the great number of such compilations of get-togethers, sometimes brief and sometimes more extensive, we have to add a large collection of notes taken by individuals. One final detail will allow us to complete our overview of the preservation of the preaching of St. Josemaría. The expansion of the apostolic activities, with the subsequent geographic dispersion of the members of Opus Dei, made the founder feel the need for a channel of communication to fill out what was shared in correspondence crossing in the mail. The outcome was the publication of a newsletter (Hoja informativa), a simple monthly publication started in 1949, photocopied with news about the apostolic work all over the world, sent from the central offices of Opus Dei to the different centers of the Work. In the beginning pages, in a section called “Del Padre” (“From the Father”), some brief, pithy lines would be included from the founder. The last issues of the Hoja informativa were published in 1953, to be substituted by new publications, still simple, but of somewhat higher quality, using new equipment they had available. Thus, two new magazines were launched in 1954: Crónica, for the men, and Noticias, for the women (AGP, P01 and P02, respectively). Both publications kept the custom begun in the Hojas informativas: beginning with a section entitled “Del Padre”. The texts printed in this section, along with others which were included in other articles in the magazines with greater or lesser frequency, were sometimes written directly for this purpose, but ordinarily they were taken from the oral preaching of St. Josemaría, who would review them carefully before they were published. We therefore have explicit approval of the author for written versions of part of his preaching: a small part in relation to the whole, but still significant.

[96] The portrait of St. Josemaría was the tenth in this series, which included also such figures as Indira Gandhi, Giorgio La Pira, Konrad Adenauer and Léopold Sédar Senghor.

[97] Regarding the beginnings and the later development of the University, one may consult Onésimo Díaz – Federico M. Requena (eds.), Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y los inicios de la Universidad de Navarra (1952-1960), Pamplona, Eunsa, 2002, and José Antonio Vidal-Cuadras (dir.), 50 años de la Universidad de Navarra (1952-2002), Pamplona, Eunsa, 2002.

[98] The events in Saragossa and Pamplona – and especially in Pamplona – had a great echo in the Spanish press, both regional and national. Among other reasons, this was because the establishment of the Estudio General de Navarra as a university implied a rupture in the monopoly that the Spanish government had held until then over univeristy instruction. Gathering together the various articles, in 1961 the university published a volume of more than 300 pages. (Among other places, this volume can be consulted in the Fondo Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Biblioteca de la Universidad de Navarra, FBJE 151.736.) Regarding the academic acts in Pamplona, there is of course ample additional information to be found in the archives of the University of Navarre.

[99] Just as in 1960, the University of Navarre published a volume collecting almost everything that appeared in the press during those days. (Among other places, this volume can be consulted in FBJE 151.669.) Various regional and national daily newspapers offered their own syntheses of the animated dialogue with the audience that filled the Gayarre theater, to which we refer in the text: El Alcázar, Madrid, December 1, 1964; Arriba España, Pamplona, December 1, 1964; La Gaceta del Norte, Bilbao, December 1, 1964; La Vanguardia, Barcelona, December 1, 1964; Diario de León, December 2, 1960.

[100] Cf. A. de Fuenmayor et al., op. cit., pp. 365ff.

[101] The only exception is one habit that began, or at least was consolidated, during his years in Rome, and of which the author of these pages can give testimony from the second half of the 1950s: that of incorporating into his work some paragraphs and ideas taken from his reading of the newspaper. Ordinarily, Msgr. Escrivá de Balaguer celebrated Mass first thing in the morning, at the same time as Álvaro del Portillo did. Usually they would have breakfast together afterwards, and take advantage of this time to read the newspaper. While reading, St. Josemaría would often mark paragraphs or articles in which there were phrases, stories, graphic expressions, or ways of saying things that seemed effective or attractive. I began to work in one of the offices annexed to the General Council of Opus Dei in the 1950s, and St. Josemaría requested that one of us should pass by the living room at the end of each afternoon and look through the paper. Almost every day we would find one or two articles marked with some very characteristic strokes. Our assignment consisted in cutting these passages out and passing them to him the following morning. More than once he commented – showing his great concern not to interfere in any way with the intellectual freedom of others – that he had marked them not because he was in agreement with what was said there, but because he had liked some phrase or expression and thought that at some point it could be useful for his preaching.

[102] For a detailed description of this way of working, to which we already alluded above, see the critical edition of Camino, pp. 61-76.

[103] Letter of St. Josemaría to Florencio Sánchez Bella, November 1, 1966, AGP, serie A.3-4, leg. 285, carp. 5. This letter, together with other details of the life of St. Josemaría in these years, is discussed in A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. III, pp. 461ff.

[104] Cf. note 101. The testimony that I wrote when the time came, together with other testimonies which make reference to this and other aspects of the work of St. Josemaría as an author, are preserved in AGP, serie A-5, leg. 251, carp. 4, exps. 1 and 3.

[105] Herranz, Julián Nei dintorni di Gerico. Ricordi degli anni con san Josemaría e con Giovanni Paolo II. Milan, Ares, 2005, pp. 115-117.

[106] Cf. Comments made above and, for a more general explanation, A. de Fuenmayor et al., op. cit., pp. 365ff.


[107] More information on these events can be found in A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 9 ff., 380 ff. and 509 ff. I am also grateful to Msgr. Javier Echevarría for sharing information and other details about the preservation of St. Josemaría’s papers in the personal conversations with him to which I have made reference above.

[108] It is not possible at this point to be precise about whether St. Josemaría took this course of action on his own initiative or at the suggestion of the families mentioned, but, in both cases, the documents were carefully protected.

[109] This move to Rome was decided upon in the General Congress of Opus Dei held in Einsiedeln, Switzerland during the summer of 1956; for information on this Congress, cf. A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. III, pp. 256-260.

[110] This area was two floors high with compartments especially prepared for the conservation of documents. Later on, the archive was moved to another location and this area was renovated to accommodate a series of rooms.

[111] The oratory-library, which was completed in 1954, is a room approximately 10’x23’, at the end of which there is an altar dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The sides of the room are lined with shelves and cabinets. In one of the cabinets to the left of the entrance there is a storage unit with 12 drawers, each divided in half. It was here that St. Josemaría had the personal papers mentioned above stored so that they could be organized according to their dates and topics.

[112] Msgr. Javier Echevarría recalls that, during a get-together with members of the General Council of Opus Dei in 1958, St. Josemaría read some passages from the Instruction for Directors­, a document we will discuss below. The sheets of paper on which the Instruction was written were clearly from a much earlier time, and the first page of each—as was usual in many texts written by St. Josemaría—carried the invocation “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and of Holy Mary”. The depth of faith and sense of the future with which St. Josemaría expressed himself on those sheets of paper from as long ago as the 1930s impressed itself deeply on Msgr. Echevarría’s mind, as he himself testifies. The same was true of the others who were also present, as was corroborated by a later commentary of one of the other persons in attendance.

[113]References to this workshop (which took place January 21 to March 12, 1963) and, specifically, to the task St. Josemaría entrusted to the delegates, are made at various points in the diary of the General Council from that period (AGP, D 430-IV), although these entries don’t go into much detail. Although some of the delegates who participated in the task are now deceased, it has been possible to reconstruct a picture of what was accomplished based on the memories of those still living (their testimonies are preserved in AGP, serie A-5, leg. 251, carp. 4, exp. 8) as well as on the remembrances of some of those persons who were members of the General Council at that time, and particularly on the recollections of Msgr. Javier Echevarría.

[114] Cf. note 30.

[115] Cf. note 80.

[116] Although St. Josemaría simultaneously carried out the task of completing the Instructions and preparing the Letters, it seems better to separate the discussions of these two different types of texts. We will start with the Letters and leave consideration of the Instructions for the next section of this chapter. Some of the considerations we will make about the Letters will also be applicable to the Instructions, as will be evident when we deal with them below.

[117] Prof. Pedro Rodríguez remembers that in January of 1967, when he went to Rome to begin a trip related to his studies through various countries of Europe, St. Josemaría remarked that he had finished “the series of Letters” (after having completed the Instructions). He then gave Rodriguez printer’s proof copies of two Letters—those dated August 15, 1964 and October 10, 1965, respectively—asking the young man to read them slowly and attentively. This is just one example among many—including personal memories of my own—of St. Josemaría’s use of the phrase “series of Letters” or analogous expressions to refer to this group of documents.

[118] It is important to note, however, that, even for those Letters not later translated into Latin, St. Josemaría wanted to make use of a Latin version of a letter’s opening phrase so that, should it in some case be opportune, the letters could be cited by their Latin incipit.

[119] St. Josemaría’s decision to use the earlier date for those letters was influenced, as already pointed out above, by his desire to underline the divine initiative in all that had to do with the origin and spirit of the Work, as well as to follow the motto that he meditated on and cited frequently: “to do and disappear, that only Jesus shine forth”. At a particular moment he thought about (and discussed with Álvaro del Portillo and Javier Echevarría) the possibility of putting two dates on those Letters whose content originated early on, as he had done in 1950 with the Instruction on the Work of St. Gabriel and again in the 1960s with the Letter of December 29, 1947. He soon discarded that idea, however, because, although the final editing took place later, the substance or skeletal structure of those documents dates from the 1930s and 1940s. He considered that putting two dates on those letters would, in effect, create the false impression that the substance of their content had developed in his mind as a result of his personal reflection during the years in which he finished preparing them for publication rather than—as was actually the case—as the fruit of the foundational charism he had received.

[120] In order to accomplish all this work, while always maintaining the full authority corresponding to him as founder, St. Josemaría counted on the collaboration of the two people who were constantly with him—Álvaro del Portillo and Javier Echevarría, as well as, in some cases or at particular moments, the help of some other person. One additional point to keep in mind: with the Letters, as with other texts, St. Josemaría followed the criterion of destroying any outlines, drafts and notes once he had created the final version of a document. This means that, as far as the oldest Letters are concerned, it is impossible to reconstruct the various stages of their development. In other words, it cannot be determined which paragraphs or phrases came from the earliest texts and which St. Josemaría altered as he completed the final version. Nevertheless, when the moment comes to prepare a critical edition, one thing that could be done is to compare the texts of these Letters with that of the first Instructions, The Way and Holy Rosary, as well as with the outlines of meditations, days of recollections and circles that date from the same era, since the nucleus of what is said in the Letters is also found in these documents. Recourse can also be had to the testimonies of those who knew and dealt with St. Josemaría during the 1930s and early 1940s. In regard to the final version and the preservation of these letters in the archive, we refer the reader to what will be said below about the revision of the entire collection by St. Josemaría in 1969 as well as to the archival references in note 129.

[121] In 1967 and the years following, St. Josemaría composed other Letters that are not part of the series we are now considering. We will discuss these other letters below.

[122] Documentation about these Letters can be found in AGP in the files to which we will direct the reader at the end of this section (note 129). Though we have already referred to this documentation and will continue to do so throughout the rest of this section, using the archival reference to best advantage requires having at hand both the information we have already provided as well as information to be provided below.

[123] The dates of these Letters are: March 24, 1930; March 24, 1931; January 9, 1932; July 16, 1933; October 2, 1939; March 11, 1940; October 24, 1942; May 31, 1943; February 2, 1945; May 6, 1945; April 30, 1946; October 15, 1948; February 14, 1950; January 9 1951; August 15, 1953; March 28, 1955; August 8, 1956; September 29, 1957; January 9, 1959; June 16, 1960; October 2, 1963; February 14, 1964; August 15, 1964; July 29, 1965; October 24, 1965. Though it is not properly speaking a letter, we could add to this list a talk given by St. Josemaría on June 9, 1965 which was first published in Noticias (cf. note 95) and later as a pamphlet, about the women of Opus Dei who exercise the profession of those who, at one time, were referred to as dedicated to domestic service and later as household employees (AGP, P02, VI-1965, pp. 5ff).

[124] Letters of February 14, 1944; December 29, 1947/February 14, 1966; December 8, 1949; October 7, 1950; September 14, 1951; December 24, 1951; December 12, 1952; March 19, 1954; May 31, 1954; October 2, 1958; January 25, 1961; and May 25, 1962. These Letters formed the hermeneutic background for the book The Canonical Path of Opus Dei, in which they are abundantly cited.

[125] The existence of these Letters was soon made more widely known through their being cited in publications on theology, spirituality and canon law written by faithful of Opus Dei. In 1965, two lengthy theological essays were published in which the Letters were also frequently cited: “La santificación del trabajo, tema de nuestro tiempo”, by José Luis Illanes (published in Italian in the journal Studi cattolici, 57 (1965), pp. 33-59, and in the original Spanish in the collection “Cuadernos Palabra”, Madrid, Palabra, 1966; this work, later expanded and acompleted has been published in a number of editions and translations), and “«Camino» y la espiritualidad del Opus Dei”, by Pedro Rodríguez (published in the review Teología espiritual, 9 [1965], pp. 213-245, as well as later included in the book Vocación, trabajo, contemplación, Pamplona, Eunsa, 1986). Still later than these is the essay by Justo Mullor, La nueva cristianidad. Apuntes para una teología de nuestro tiempo, Madrid, BAC, 1966, which also makes frequent reference to the Letters, as other still later publications have done.

[126] The one exception is the Letter October 29, 1947/February 14, 1966, the text of which is typed, double spaced, on 21.5 x 34.2 cm foolscap.

[127] Apart from the exception just noted.

[128] St. Josemaría used the method of writing his corrections on a printed copy of the text in the revision of an earlier letter as well, the Letter of December 8, 1949.

[129] Both the typewritten and the printed copies of Letters discussed above, with the corrections introduced into them, are preserved in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 91 (Letter 24-III-1930 to Letter 24-X-1942); leg. 92 (Letter 31-V-1943 to Letter 30-IV-1946 and Letter 15-X-1948); leg. 93 (Letter 29-X-1947/14- II-1966 and Letter 24-XII-1951); leg. 94 (Letter 8-XII-1949 to Letter 8-VIII-1956); leg. 95 (Letter 29-IX-1957 to Letter 29-VII-1965); leg. 96 (Letter 24-X-1965).

[130] Cf. note 78.

[131] The materials on which St. Josemaría based his work were still extant at the end of the 1950s – as Msgr. Echevarría testifies in his remembrances, already cited above (cf. note 112) – but later the founder had them burned. Only the final versiónhas survived. It consists of 69 small typewritten sheets of paper, on which St. Josemaría handwrote some corrections. The text is divided into 103 numbered sections (AGP, serie A-3, leg. 90, carp. 6, exp. 2). It is included in the first volume of the edition of the Instructions printed in 1967 (cf. note 35), in which it occupies pages 221 to 352.

[132] An envelope has been preserved on which is written “Instruccion S. Mig.”, containing a series of notes, some handwritten and others typed (AGP, serie A-3, leg. 90, carp. 6, exp. 3). The final version consists of 94 typed pages, with some corrections noted in St. Josemaría’s handwriting. It is divided into 132 numbered sections (AGP, serie A-3, leg. 90, carp. 6, exp. 4). It is included in the second volume of the 1967 edition of the Instructions (cf. note 35), on pages 7-190.

[133] Ample documentation regarding this interview and the others we will refer to can be found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 105; serie A-5, leg. 251, carp. 4, exps. 1 y 3, and serie K-6, leg. 852.

[134] In this task, going from one version to the next, he wanted those who served as his secretaries to follow the method of cutting and pasting mentioned earlier. This was certainly a timesaving method, although the result is that only the final version is found in the archive, without its precedents. The only exception to this is the interview in Le Figaro, of which one of the earliest versions has been preserved, with abundant handwritten corrections.

[135] Regarding this assembly see AGP, serie A-2, leg. 58, carp. 1, exp. 2; one can also find ample documentation in the archive of the University of Navarra.

[136] Documentation of this can be found in AGP, serie K-6, leg. 852.

[137] Documentation can be found in AGP, as cited in earlier notes.

[138] A list of editions published through 2002 can be found in J. M. Fernández Montes et al., “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras de san Josemaría”, op. cit., pp. 441-443.

[139] Documentation of this can be found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 105, carp. 9, and serie K-6, leg. 851. In fact, in the time between the publication of Conversations and the decision mentioned in the text, he granted only one interview, for what can be qualified as family reasons: it was granted to the weekly publication El cruzado aragonés, which was published in the city where he was born, Barbastro. This interview appeared on May 3, 1969. After November of 1969, he made only one exception, also for personal motives: the friendship that united him to a well-known Spanish journalist, Julián Cortés Cavanillas, the Rome correspondent of the Madrid daily ABC. This was published on March 24, 1971. Documentation regarding both these interviews can be found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 105, carps. 7 and 9.

[140] This had been published in the December issue (pp. 229-242), with a title different from that which it had in Spanish: “Le matérialisme chrétien” [“Christian materialism”], an expression taken from one of the passages of the homily.

[141] One can find documentation regarding this text and the collection of homilies that ended up together in Christ is Passing By in AGP, serie K-6, legs. 852, 853 and 857 and Serie A-5, leg. 251, carp. 4 exps. 1 and 4. More detailed information, together with the opportune historical and theological notes, can be found in the critical edition of Es Cristo que pasa, currently in preparation by Antonio Aranda, professor of Theology in the University of Navarra.

[142] In the preceding paragraphs and in what follows, we use the words “meditations” and “homilies” interchangeably, switching between these terms as needed to reflect the work and intention of St. Josemaría. In many cases, the majority, the point of departure was not a homily in the strict sense of this word – that is, a text preached in the heart of the Mass after the reading of the Gospel – but rather a meditation preached before the Eucharistic celebration or at other moments, but always with a clear reference to the Gospel. Thus, it is fitting to use both words.

[143] Information about the exact dates and places of the publication of each of these homilies can be found in J. M. Fernández Montes et al., “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras de san Josemaría”, op. cit., pp. 460ff.

[144] The consequence in this case, as with the interviews in Conversations, is that the earlier versions are not preserved. Nevertheless in some cases St. Josemaría, on re-reading the texts published in magazines or in booklets, sometimes added handwritten corrections of detail, and these texts are found in the archive.

[145] Documentation of this can be found in AGP, serie K-6, legs. 853 and 857.

[146] The title Christ is Passing By, chosen by St. Josemaría himself, reflects one of the fundamental affirmations of Christianity: Jesus Christ, living and resurrected, makes himself present in history through the Church and through Christians. Since its first edition, this book has included a foreword written by Álvaro del Portillo.

[147] For information about the editions and translations that followed until 2002, see J. M. Fernández Montes et al., “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras de san Josemaría”, op. cit., pp. 443-445.

[148] The eight homilies published during St. Josemaría’s lifetime are the following (cited by title in the order of the date of their publication): Humility; Human Virtues; Life of Faith; So that All Might be Saved; Time: a Divine Treasure: Life of prayer; Towards Holiness; Mother of God and Our Mother. For the specific date and place of publication of each homily, see J. M. Fernández Montes et al., “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras de san Josemaría”, op. cit., pp. 480-492. About these eight homilies, and in general, about Friends of God, see documentation in AGP, serie K-6, legs. 855 and 856, and serie A-5, leg. 251, carp. 4, exps. 1 and 4.

[149] We owe to Msgr. del Portillo, boththe decision to continue publishing homilies until the work already begun by St. Josemaría had been completed, and the determination of the order in which the homilies would be placed and the choice of their titles, based in some cases on the express indications of the founder of Opus Dei, and in other cases, on the deep familiarity that Msgr. del Portillo had with the spirit, language, and way of focusing topics proper to St. Josemaría.

[150] For information about successive editions and translations, through the year 2002, see J. M. Fernández Montes et al., “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras de san Josemaría”, op. cit., pp. 443-445.

[151] This was titled “Huellas de Aragón en la Iglesia Universal” and published in Universidad: Revista de cultura y vida universitaria, 37 (1960), pp. 733-739. Documentation can be found in AGP, serie A-2, leg. 30, carp. 4 and serie A-3, leg. 106, carp, 5, exp. 4.

[152] All are included in the book Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y la Universidad, Pamplona, Eunsa, 1993. There is abundant documentation in the General Archive of the University of Navarra about the events granting doctoral degrees honoris causa in Pamplona. There is also documentation in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 106, carps. 5, 8, 11.

[153] The first was published in the book mentioned in the previous note. Regarding the second, documentation can be found in AGP, serie A-2, leg. 32 and serie A-3, leg. 106, carp. 5, exp. 10. The third appeared in the daily publication, Nueva España (Huesca), on May 27, 1975; documentation can be found in AGP, serie A-2, leg. 31, carp. 6 and serie A-3, leg. 106, carp. 5, exp. 13.

[154] A substantial representation of the episcopate, gathered in Rome during those days for the last segment of the Second Vatican Council, participated in this event. On November 22-23, 1965, L’Osservatore Romano published an extensive article about it, including the speeches of Paul VI and of St. Josemaría. The Spanish version of St. Josemaría’s presentation is included in the book Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y la Universidad, cited above in note 152. More documentation can be found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 106, carp. 5, exp. 9.

[155] Documentation can be found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 106, carp. 5, exp. 15.

[156] The first of these appeared in El Noticiero, Zaragoza (Spain), on October 11, 1970. The second was printed in Libro de Aragón, Zaragoza, Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad de Zaragoza y Rioja, 1976. Although this book was published after the death of St. Josemaría, the text had been submitted earlier. Documentation can be found in AGP, serie A-3, leg. 106, carp. 5, exp. 12 y 14.

[157] For more information about this whole theme, see the article by J. A. Loarte cited in earlier notes.

[158] These numbers do not include other spoken words of St. Josemaría for which there are notes or compilations, just as there were from earlier years.

[159] Regarding this point, see the article cited above by J. A. Loarte. See note 95 about Crónica and Noticias.

[160] En diálogo con el Señor was published in 1995 with a brief prologue written by the prelate of Opus Dei, Msgr. Javier Echevarría. There is a copy in AGP, P09.

[161] This Year of Faith was convoked by means of the apostolic exhortation Petrum et Paulum, AAS 59 (1967), pp. 193ff. With the occasion of the celebration of the nineteenth centenary of the martyrdom of the Apostles, the opening date of this Year of Faith was set for June 29, 1967, to be closed on June 30 of the following year. In the apostolic exhortation, Paul VI invited the whole Christian people, and particularly those entrusted with pastoral tasks, not only to strengthen their own faith, but to encourage a broad work of catechesis. At first, it did not seem that the Roman Pontiff was thinking of proclaiming the text of a new profession of faith or Creed, but later on he decided to do this, and the Year of Faith closed on June 30, 1968 with a solemn liturgical ceremony in which Paul VI proclaimed the profession of faith known as the “Credo of the People of God,” AAS 60 (1968), pp. 433ff.

[162] In AGP, serie A-3, leg. 95, carp. 6, there is a typed text with abundant corrections in St. Josemaría’s handwriting. Although it is not expressly indicated, one can see that there were earlier drafts, and that this was the version that was to be printed; nevertheless, St. Josemaría himself says in a marginal note dated March 1967 (without indication of the exact day) that there still might be a need to touch it up when the time came to review the printers’ proofs.

[163] In the text printed with the indicated format (16×12 cm.), the Letter of March 1973 is 28 pages long; that of June 1973, 51 pages; and that of February 1974, 48 pages.

[164] AGP, serie A-3, leg. 96, carp. 2, contains some printers’ proof copies of the 1971 Letter to priests, with handwritten corrections from St. Josemaría. Only the definitive printed text of the two Letters from 1973 and the one from 1974 have been preserved. (AGP, serie A-3, leg. 96, carp. 1)

[165] The homily entitled “The supernatural aim of the Church” is dated May 26, 1972, and published in the collection called “Folletos de Mundo Cristiano” in 1974. “Loyalty to the Church” is dated June 4, 1972, and “A priest forever” is dated April 13, 1973; both were published in the same collection, also in 1974. After St. Josemaría had died, in 1986, Ediciones Palabra (Madrid) gathered these homilies into a book, to which they gave the title Amar a la Iglesia [In love with the Church]. This book also included two articles by Msgr.Álvaro del Portillo, intended to outline some aspects of the figure and message of St. Josemaría. Regarding the various editions and translations of “Amar a la Iglesia” up until 2002, see J. M. Fernández Montes et al., “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras de san Josemaría”, op. cit., pp. 450ff

[166]All of the published biographies include descriptions of these trips, to a greater or lesser extent. We refer the reader, as we have in earlier notes, to the most extensive of these: that of A. Vázquez de Prada, op. cit., vol. III, pp. 585-588, 646-660, 694-731 y 747-752. For an overview, see also F. M. Requena – J. Sesé, op. cit., pp. 146-149.

[167] Specifically, there are 70 recordings of the catechesis in Mexico in 1970; 281 of the catechesis in Spain and Portugal in 1972; 389 of the catechesis in the Americas in 1974 (some of which correspond to gatherings in Spain, when he was on his way to and from America); and 87 of the catechesis in the Americas in 1975 (some of which also are from when he was passing through Spain on his way back).

[168] Specifically, 59 from the catechesis in Spain and Portugal in 1972; 45 from the catechesis in the Americas in 1974, and 11 from the catechesis in the Americas in 1975. There are also a much smaller number of films taking in other moments – only three in total.

[169] In the year 2002, with the occasion of the congress organized to celebrate the centenary of the birth of St. Josemaría and his later canonization, a series of documentaries about some of these get-togethers was published, showing various segments. Specifically, these documentaries covered six encounters: in Spain on November 26, 1972; in Brazil on June 1, 1974; in Argentina on June 26, 1974; in Chile on July 5, 1974; in Peru on July 13, 1974, and in Venezuela on February 11, 1975. The preparation of these documentaries was entrusted to the production company called Betafilms (Madrid); the choice of segments was made with attention to both the content and the length, in such a way that each film would be no longer than thirty minutes long.

[170] In the process of beatification, which reached its culmination in 1992, there were presented six thousand letters which had been found up until that point. In later years, many more were found, so many that the number of letters written by St. Josemaría is in excess of ten thousand.

[171] The Way, n. 556. The commentary on this point in the critical edition of Camino, pp. 686-687, offers some details about the presence of this devotion of the Via Crucis since the beginning of the priestly life of St. Josemaría.

[172] About this magazine, see note 95.

[173] In this task, he counted on the help of one of the members of the editorial board of Crónica and Obras.

[174] The prologue is dated September 14, 1980. Documentation can be found regarding the first publication of the text in 1960 and 1962, as well as the final revision by Msgr. Álvaro del Portillo, in AGP, serie A-5, leg. 251, carp. 4, exps. 1 and 6, and serie D-2-2, leg. 4952.

[175] For information about successive editions and translations until the year 2002, see J. M. Fernández Montes et al., “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras de san Josemaría”, op. cit., pp. 447-450.

[176] Documentation about Furrow and Forge can be found in AGP, D-2.2, leg. 4951 and serie A-5, leg. 251, carp. 4, exps. 1 and 5.

[177] See notes 81 y 86.

[178] The presentation is dated June 26, 1986.

[179] Even though Msgr. Álvaro del Portillo does not explicitly mention it in the presentation, we note that St. Josemaría, many years previously, had left ready the “Author’s Preface” and decided that the book should be ended with a point number 1000, written as a humorous commentary directed to those who had tried to find a cabalistic meaning in the 999 points of The Way, rather than understanding this number for what it was: a way of paying homage to the Blessed Trinity – three times three, thrice repeated. (Regarding the number of points in The Way, see the critical edition of Camino, pp. 70 and ff.)

[180] For information about successive editions and translations until the year 2002, see J. M. Fernández Montes et al., “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras de san Josemaría”, op. cit., pp. 450-453.

[181] More information can be found in the critical edition of Camino, p. 15, note 14, y p.114, note 74.

[182] This presentation is dated December 26, 1986.

[183] Although Msgr. del Portillo does not give these details in the presentation, it could be opportune to point out once again that, according to the documentation we have, the “Author’s Preface” and the titles of the chapters come from St. Josemaría.

[184] For information about successive editions and translations until the year 2002, see J. M. Fernández Montes et al., “Bibliografía general de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer: Obras de san Josemaría”, op. cit., pp. 453-455.

[185] I owe this calculation to Prof. Pedro Rodríguez, the author of the search mentioned.

Netherhall House, London (1960-1984): The Commonwealth Dimension

Netherhall House, London (1960-1984): The Commonwealth Dimension[1]

Abstract: The 1960s projected expansion of Netherhall House, an international hall of residence for students in London, took place at a time when the British Government was particularly concerned with the formation of the intellectual and political elites of its colonies or former colonies. This was also one of the aims of Netherhall House, and the hall would attract official help for its expansion plans. The article also examines, through an analysis of its operation, to what an extent the hall achieved those objectives.

Keywords: Netherhall House – British Council – Opus Dei – Josemaría Escrivá – Residences – London – 1960-1984

Abstract: Il progetto di ampliare la Netherhall House, una residenza universitaria internazionale con sede a Londra, è nato negli anni ’60, in un momento in cui il governo britannico era particolarmente interessato alla formazione delle élites intellettuali e politiche nelle colonie e nelle ex-colonie. Questo era altresì uno degli obbiettivi della residenza, che avrebbe potuto beneficiare dei contributi pubblici per il suo progetto di sviluppo. L’articolo esamina inoltre, attraverso un’analisi delle attività svolte, in qual misura la residenza ha conseguito i suoi obbiettivi.

Keywords: Netherhall House – British Council – Opus Dei – Josemaría Escrivá – Residenze – 1960-1984

The history of Netherhall House from its foundation to the present might perhaps be conveniently divided into three periods. The first could cover from 1952, when the hall of residence for university students was set up, to the year 1960. In this latter year plans were set in motion to increase the capacity of the hall and develop its international dimension. The completion of this project, involving substantial building works, was to be carried out in two phases over a long period of time, and these can be used to define the second and third periods of Netherhall’s history. The years 1960 to 1984 saw the building of the first phase of the new Netherhall (completed in 1966) and the extraordinary development of its international dimension. The academic year 1983-84 marked the start of a new period in the history of the hall of residence, when reduced capacity and mounting costs made it imperative to complete the project with the building of a revised second phase.

The present article concentrates its attention on the second period of Netherhall House’s history (1960-1984) and in particular on its Commonwealth dimension. The historical context in which the development of Netherhall took place and the influence it had in defining the aims of the project are described in the first part of the article. This includes a section covering the contacts with the British Council and its involvement in the project. A second part studies how and to what an extent the hall of residence in the years 1966 to 1984 served the aims, both general and particular, inspiring the project[2].

On Bank Holiday Monday, 4 August 1958, Saint Josemaría Escrivá— accompanied by Fr Álvaro del Portillo, Fr Javier Echevarría and Armando Serrano—stepped onto British soil for the first time. He was to stay in England till the middle of September. This was his first prolonged residence away from Rome since his arrival to the Eternal City in 1946, and part of the reason for his visit to England was to be able to work in a temperate climate, away from Rome’s oppressive August heat. He would return the following summers, the last being that of 1962. At the time of his visit, there were only three centres of Opus Dei in the country. Netherhall House, a student hall of residence set up in 1952, and Rosecroft House, a residence for women started in 1956, were in Hampstead, northwest London. The house rented for his stay was near these two places, and the morning following his arrival the Founder paid short visits to both of them. From the outset he encouraged the members of Opus Dei to expand their apostolate, reaching out of London to places like Cambridge, Oxford and Manchester. St Josemaría’s great interest in the apostolic work of his sons and daughters in Great Britain was long-standing. He was conscious of the importance and influence of the country’s metropolitan status as a centre for peoples from all over the world and also of the usefulness of the English language as a means of communication. Netherhall House had been from the first the result of his direct encouragement and he had expressed a hope that those students and trainees, who had come to take degrees and achieve professional qualifications in Great Britain, might also learn and take back with them to their own countries the true faith, and help spread the spirit of Opus Dei worldwide[3].

His walks around London reinforced in him the impression of the cosmopolitan character of the city. The streets were thronged with people of all races and customs, originating from the four corners of the world-wide British Empire and the Commonwealth: London was a “crossroads of the world”, he came to say from this moment onward. Those peoples were a constant reminder for St Josemaría of the many nations Opus Dei had not yet reached, and in his walks along the city he prayed that the people of those countries might find the true faith. Already in August he could write to Michael Richards, a lawyer, the first English Numerary member of Opus Dei, then in Rome: “This England, you rascal, è una grande bella cosa [is a wonderful thing]. If you help us—you specially—we will do some solid work in this crossroads of the world. Pray and offer little mortifications with joy”[4]. It was a theme that he would touch upon often in the following months, encouraging the members of Opus Dei to pray for the Work in Great Britain. As he wrote to his children in Spain, to do so was to pray for the Work in the whole world[5]. At the practical level, several projects were the result of his direct encouragement: the expansion of Netherhall House and a residence for students at Grandpont House, in Oxford, being the most representative. The first was an obvious development: those in charge of Netherhall House already had considerable experience in running an international hall of residence for students; the second was facilitated by the finding of some convenient property in Oxford which the Catholic hierarchy had an option to buy, but which it had decided not to exercise.

Netherhall House had been set up in April 1952 in 18 Netherhall Gardens. The property had been recently renovated, and, together with 22 Netherhall Gardens, was going to be used as a hotel. It came onto the market at that time because of a disagreement between the owners. St Josemaría had been encouraging the members of Opus Dei in London to set up a hall of residence and this property was just right for the purpose; the only drawback was that there was no money to buy it. Michael Richards convinced Mr H. Neville, who with Mr Shaw owned both properties, that, in order to facilitate the purchase and speed it up, Mr Neville could obtain a mortgage on both 18 and 22 Netherhall Gardens. The hall of residence would undertake the repayment of the mortgage on both properties, and the freehold of n. 18 would be transferred to a charitable trust once the mortgage was finally repaid[6]. Mr Neville agreed to the proposal, and the Abbey National Building Society provided what amounted to a hundred-per-cent mortgage for the purchase of the property. They took possession in April 1952, and started operating a students’ hall in the summer term of the 1951-52 academic year; the first residents coming from an advert published in The Tablet, a Catholic weekly, and through the recommendation of Mgr Gordon Wheeler, the then Catholic Chaplain of London University. The following summer, 16 Netherhall Gardens, the property of Westminster Catholic Archdiocese, was offered at very favourable terms: the Archdiocese guaranteeing a mortgage with the National Bank for the purchase of the property[7]. The new buildings increased the number of places available in the residence to about sixty (mainly in shared rooms, as was then normal in students’ residences). There was a good intake of students in the academic year 1953-54, and this was to continue in the following years. The interest of the Archdiocese in the project went beyond the facilities offered for the purchase of the property. The diocesan bishops were very supportive of the enterprise and visited the residence on several occasions: Cardinal Griffin did so in December of 1953; his auxiliary, Bishop Craven, the following May, and would do so often from then onwards; Cardinal Godfrey paid a visit to Netherhall in June 1958 and his successor, Cardinal Heenan, went to see the newly built Phase I in 1967; Bishop Casey, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, consecrated the altars of the new oratory in January 1969.

Netherhall House international character was evident from the outset. Among the first residents were Kinichiro Saito, from Japan, and Michael Britomotumayaga, a Christian Tamil from what was then Ceylon. In the first eight years of operation it offered accommodation to over three hundred students from nineteen countries. Almost two thirds of the residents were British; among the others there had been Irish (fifteen) and Spanish (twenty) students, as well as a good number of students coming from subSaharan Africa: Kenya (ten), Nigeria (ten) Ghana (twelve) and Uganda (six). The Far East was also well represented—Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan—and there were smaller contingents from both South and North America, and from Australia.

In 1958, and on subsequent visits, St Josemaría encouraged the members of Opus Dei in Great Britain to enlarge the hall of residence and to pay special attention to students coming from developing countries and from the new ones resulting from the process of decolonization. In the following years he was to send to Great Britain some people who had had experience in similar projects to help with the planning (architectural, economic, and so on) and with the negotiations necessary to get the project off the ground. The lawyer Dr Juan Masiá, who first came to Great Britain in 1960, had been involved in the setting up of the Residenza Universitaria Internazionale (RUI), which had opened in Rome in 1959. The RUI aspired to provide residents of all countries with a place to live in a friendly community of students, offering a programme of integral education that incorporated human, academic and professional formation. Masiá’s experience would play an important role in early approaches to the British Council and other government bodies.

Mgr Escrivá’s ideas were contemporary to important geopolitical events. In the late 1950s the process of decolonization was well advanced in South East Asia and West Africa. The general consensus, however, was that colonial rule in East Africa would continue into the 1970s and that European settler leadership would carry on for decades to come. Such predictions could hardly have been further off the mark. By 1964 most British dependencies in Africa had received independence on the basis of black majority rule: Ghana in 1957, Nigeria in 1960, Tanganyika and Sierra Leone in 1961, Uganda in 1962, Kenya in 1963, Zambia and Malawi in 1964. Both external and internal pressures had helped accelerate the process. An influential reason for granting independence to Malaya in 1957 and to the above African countries was the desire to gain the good-will of local politicians, and so to secure British economic interests and political influence in the newly independent nations. A peaceful and friendly transfer of power to nationalist groups was seen as the best way of achieving this. The logic of this position implied that effective and sustained nationalist pressure would prompt the British Government to concede their demands in order to avoid alienating popular nationalist sentiments and the emerging political leaderships.

The USA, as a matter of general policy, was in sympathy with and supportive of movements of self-determination, without taking much into consideration British responsibilities in preparing those countries for independence. As the Cold War intensified the competition between the two superpowers, American officials—without toning down their anti-colonialist rhetoric—came gradually to view the British Empire in a different light. In the wake of the Maoist triumph in China and stalemate in the Korean War, Washington came to rely more and more on the colonial powers, Britain and France in particular, to block Sino-Soviet expansion in Asia and in Africa[8]. This was a major theme of the 1959 government policy discussion paper “Africa: The Next Ten Years”. It was difficult to predict accurately the character of the emerging nations. It was obvious, however, that the political and social configuration of the new countries would depend in good measure on the ideological and political outlooks of those of their leaders who had had access to higher education. Government Minutes would therefore stress the importance of promoting education, whether by encouraging institutions of higher education in Africa or by welcoming African university students to Great Britain[9]. The importance of educating those new elites had not been lost on the Communist bloc, and Western and Eastern countries were to find themselves in competition to attract students from the emerging nations. Great Britain had a vital role to play in this process, as students from the fast-decreasing Empire and growing Commonwealth came to study in this country in increasing numbers.

Such themes would continue to occupy the minds of British and American strategists in the years to come. In this respect, it is interesting to note that from 12 to 14 June 1962 took place, behind closed doors, a longplanned Anglo-American Conference on UK/US Policies in Tropical Africa, organised by the Ditchley Foundation, and attended by officials, members of the respective governments, parliamentarians and experts from academia and elsewhere. The Conference, under the chairmanship of Lord Perth, articulated succinctly what had been for some time the general consensus of experts and policy makers. Of the four areas singled out for consideration— defence, economic matters, African votes in the UN and Soviet/Communist infiltration—the last topic received greatest attention. Sir Roger Stevens, Britain’s Deputy Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, would affirm that although the results for the first two years of African independence were not too unfavourable, the “Russians started with the advantage of being able to represent their own post-revolutionary development as a model for independent African states to follow, and their anti-colonial propaganda was very much in line with African aspirations”[10].

Those attending the conference were generally agreed that education was a key factor in retaining intellectual influence in the newly created nations and in helping to resist Marxist penetration. There was a need to satisfy the aspirations of those who were looking for higher education abroad: if they were not offered it in the West, they would look elsewhere. Russia and its satellites were already trying to attract university students in competition with Western countries (USA, Britain and others) in order to form or to influence a generation of future leaders with their respective ideologies. Besides, the influence of Communism was not confined to those who studied behind the Iron Curtain: Marxist ideas were also being absorbed by students in French, British and other European universities[11]. It was also noted that competition to attract students to overseas universities had resulted in a dearth of students for institutions of higher education set up in their countries of origin. Everyone was trying to draw on the same pool of people: the small number of those with A-level passes or their equivalent (final secondary school qualification). This situation made even more obvious the need for further training at lower academic level, in particular at the level of secondary education. As a result, there was a need for teachers from overseas until those countries could produce their own. So far, most teachers had been provided by religious bodies but the conference thought that these were bound to be fewer in future[12]. Still, the conference’s final press-release would stress the importance of non-governmental organisations in shaping the development of the newly independent countries, singling out in particular the role of the churches in education[13].

The conference also brought up a question often considered by the British government: the need to improve the attention and care provided for those who came to Britain for their studies. Bringing Empire and Commonwealth students to study in the metropolis, or at American universities, would not necessarily produce positive results. African students in the USA might be negatively impressed by coming into contact with the reality of American racial segregation, while in Britain students from former or present colonies might feel neglected if they were to live in inadequate accommodation, lack proper attention, and so on. It was obvious that the treatment of students in their host countries would have considerable influence on their later attitudes towards them.

The welfare of Empire and Commonwealth students had been in the late 1950s a particular object of concern for the departments of British Government more directly involved. Numbers of overseas university students in England and Wales almost doubled between 1954 and 1965, keeping pace with the growth in numbers of United Kingdom university students. In the academic year 1953-54 there were 6,837 full-time overseas students in England and Wales (10.3% of the total university student population); in 1964-65 the number of full-time overseas students was 12,378 (10.9% of total)[14]. This growth took place at a time of general crisis in the provision of student residential accommodation. It had not kept pace with the growth in the student population[15], and the need was particularly felt in London, which was naturally a favoured destination for most overseas students.

The Netherhall Project and the British Council

It was within this general atmosphere that Dr Masiá and Fr Cormac Burke approached the Colonial Office and met Lord Perth, Minister of State for Colonial Affairs and a prominent Catholic, on 9 August 1960. The memorandum they handed in to Lord Perth stressed the experience of Opus Dei in the cultural, spiritual, social and scientific formation of university students. According to the memorandum, Opus Dei was now intending to pay particular attention to university students from Africa and Asia, and two large halls were being planned in Oxford and London to accommodate a mix of home and overseas students. They emphasized that the hostels would be open to students of all races, nationalities and religious affiliations. The aim was to foster human, professional and spiritual development in an atmosphere of freedom, and to encourage in the students a sense of social responsibility towards the communities of which they were part. Significantly, the memorandum emphasized the importance of this task at a time when Communism was actively engaged in promoting Marxism among Afro-Asiatic students[16]. It added that the presence of those students in Western countries did not guarantee their absorption of Christian values and ideas, as a negative experience in the host countries—poor accommodation, racial prejudice—might have the opposite effect[17].

Those proposals found a warm welcome, and this atmosphere was maintained in subsequent meetings with different officials, including Sir Christopher W.M. Cox, the influential educational adviser to the Colonial Office[18]. Although they received encouraging words from all the officials they met, the possibilities of financial assistance for those two projects looked rather remote at that stage. The government’s resources, they were told, were limited and facing great demands. Dr Masiá and Fr Burke tried to form some sort of estimate of the chances of securing either capital or recurrent assistance at the present time or in the future but the officials they met, although manifesting a desire to help, were unable to give them any clear indication in that respect and could only suggest in vague terms different sources of possible finance: the British Council helping out of their budget for looking after students, obtaining funds from the Colonial Development Welfare Fund and so on[19]. Lord Perth continued to show interest in the project and, at a meeting in February 1961 with Fr Burke and Masiá, mentioned that the Government was considering plans to provide finance through the British Council for more residential accommodation for overseas students. During the meeting, Juan Masiá mentioned that the Italian government was very happy with the work being done in the RUI, and Perth encouraged them to make their work known to officials at the British Council[20].

Lord Perth also made reference to the recent proposals of a Ministerial Committee recommending the Cabinet to budget several million pounds for hostel building. The official announcement was made in the Commons on 2 March 1961: the Government had decided to spend three million pounds to provide additional accommodation for five thousand overseas students[21]. The plan counted on a partnership between the Government and voluntary organisations, and the programme, under the name Overseas Students Welfare Expansion Programme (OSWEP), was to be administered by the British Council.

The programme seemed to offer the best possibility of public funds being granted for the London hostel. By then, however, the panorama had somewhat changed. The Oxford project had run into heavy weather, through a campaign aimed at changing the initial favourable disposition of some officials of the University, and the Hebdomadal Council had decided not to grant the licence for the hostel. The application had been withdrawn. After those events, Dr Masiá and Fr Burke approached the Colonial Office again and, in a meeting with Sir Christopher W.M. Cox, said that they would now concentrate on enlarging the capacity of their present hostel in London to two hundred places[22]. Unfortunately, events at Oxford had changed the Foreign Office’s perception of Opus Dei. The unfavourable climate was reinforced by an article which appeared in The Spectator on 25 November 1960 and the letters published in response to it. The Foreign Office asked its representatives in Madrid and the Vatican for information about Opus Dei, and Lord Perth himself made some parallel enquiries of his own[23]. Foreign Office Minutes at the time began to build up a case against granting public funds for the London project. The reasons adduced were of various types: Opus Dei “evidently does not need money”; the hierarchy is not supportive of the work of Opus Dei; the organisation is aggressively proselytistic (a charge laid against Opus Dei at Oxford), and so on[24].

Another development impinging indirectly on the progress of the plans for Netherhall House took now place in the Autumn of 1960. Mgr Coonan, the National Catholic Chaplain for Overseas Students, had contacted British Council officials with a project to acquire a hotel and equip it as a residence for overseas students. Although Mgr Coonan was fully supportive of the Netherhall House proposal, the two projects were now to some extent in competition with each other in the search for government financial support. Grants were to be distributed proportionally among the different denominations[25], and the official feeling was that Mgr Coonan’s project should be given priority over Netherhall House. In the meantime, Lord Perth had met Cardinal Godfrey and asked him about Opus Dei. In the Minute he wrote on the meeting he reported that the Cardinal denied the rumour that the hierarchy in England viewed Opus Dei with disfavour or suspicion, adding that newspapers’ reports of secrecy and so forth were very wide of the mark; Opus Dei, the Cardinal had said, was working closely with Mgr Coonan, and the Cardinal would like both projects to receive government financial help. In Lord Perth’s opinion, however, the Cardinal would probably favour Mgr Coonan’s if, because of denominational competition, there were to be a question of financial support for only one Catholic project[26].

The plans for the Netherhall House project were ready in the early months of 1961, and planning permission was obtained from the London County Council (LCC) in April of the same year. Subsequently two proposals for OSWEP financial assistance were submitted in September 1961: one for a hostel of two hundred beds in London; the other for a hostel of twenty beds in Manchester. The application for the Netherhall project, re-drafted with help from the British Council[27], was made by Fr John Anthony Galarraga and Richard A.P. Stork, an engineer. It asked for a grant of a hundred thousand pounds[28]. In conversations during the Summer with Mr Bach, at the British Council, this official mentioned that although the Netherhall project was the best project that had come up under the OSWEP programme, he was concerned about how the adverse publicity over Oxford might influence the minds of members of the Committee[29].

In the following months, the urgent need to increase accommodation for Commonwealth and other overseas students made for a rather rapid process of dealing and approving the proposals from assorted voluntary bodies[30]. The application for the Netherhall project was considered at the end of October and beginning of November in successive meetings of OSWEP, the interdepartmental body set up to administer the funds made available by the Government. The British Council, as was its custom whenever an OSWEP application concerned the University of London, had written beforehand to Sir Douglas Logan, Principal of London University, asking for the University’s opinion[31]. There is no available record of the University’s answer but it would seem that it did not recommend the project[32]. The Minutes of the meetings of OSWEP dealing with the Netherhall application repeat some of the objections mentioned above, including, despite Lord Perth’s Minute of his meeting with Cardinal Godfrey, that the Catholic hierarchy was antipathetic to Opus Dei. The applications, according to OSWEP, could not be faulted on technical grounds. The recommendation on 7 November, however, was that the application should be rejected on the basis that Opus Dei could be regarded as a proselytising body, and that this would be contrary to the requirement that students should be entirely free from any interference in religious matters. OSWEP acknowledged that “it would be extremely difficult to give Opus Dei reasons for the refusal”. On the other hand, it was likely that Ministers might be called upon to defend in public their decision, positive or not, and OSWEP considered that a refusal was the better alternative, “as Opus Dei might well prefer to keep quiet the fact that they had been unable to obtain official support”[33].

Mr B. Cockram[34], Director of Information Services of the Commonwealth Relations Office, had a meeting with Fr Burke and Richard Stork a few days later. Cockram, aware of the recommendations of OSWEP to the Ministers who were to take the final decision, suggested—off the record and unofficially—that it would be good to reinforce the application with a letter from the Archbishop of Westminster showing his support for the project, adding that it could also be useful to inform those who—like Lord Perth and Sir Christopher Cox—had shown real interest in the Netherhall development about the progress (or otherwise) of the application[35]. On 2 December, Fr Burke sent to Cockram a letter from Cardinal Godfrey to Fr Burke supporting the project[36]. It was circulated to the different departments involved. C. Walsingham from the Treasury, in a letter of 8 December to J.H. Brook, of the Ministry of Education, considered that the letter did not affect the decision taken by OSWEP on 7 November. Brook, in his response of 12 December, confessed

to finding it difficult to draw a valid distinction […] between an application under the OSWEP scheme by, say, a Wesleyan organisation—which we have granted—and the current submission from Opus Dei. Are we entirely sure that the former is quite disinterested and that the latter are not, and are we approaching the hostel proposition in the spirit of “avowed intent”? The Herranz document says quite categorically, on page five[37], that its institutions “are open to every race and social class, on the basis of absolutely equal rights, and without any type of discrimination, whether on grounds of religious belief [,] or any other grounds.” Are we then to say that we just do not believe this? And, if so, are we prepared to say as much in public?[38].

By 25 January 1962 no decision had been communicated to the charitable trust in spite of Fr Burke’s repeated requests for information. The Netherhall project had been brought up again in the OSWEP (62/1) meeting of 5 January 1962. The Minutes registered, somewhat grudgingly, support for Opus Dei “in part at least of the Catholic hierarchy”. The action proposed in the meeting of 7 November had by then obtained ministerial approval from the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office. The Colonial Office Ministers had not yet seen the submission. The Minutes added that, “as Lord Perth had been approached personally by Opus Dei it would be unwise to act on the assumption that he would necessarily approve the proposed course of action”. The Colonial Office ministers were to be informed[39]. This was done.

On 13 February 1962, Fr Cormac Burke and Enrique Cavana had met Lord Perth, who by then must have been aware of the OSWEP recommendations and their approval by the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office. The interview was a serious and open discussion, and Lord Perth made it clear in the course of the conversation that he did not hold much hope of success for the application. Perth, leaving to one side the fact that Netherhall House had been running as an international hall of residence in London for almost ten years, advised that it would be better to try for a smaller project. This would have a double advantage: to show their competence in running a hall of residence for overseas students and to remove the prejudice against it of “aggressive proselytising”, the flag waved by those who in Oxford had opposed the Grandpont project. Then, in his opinion, it would be the moment to present a new application to OSWEP for financial support[40].

Perth’s official opinion, as reported in the Minutes of the next meeting of OSWEP on 1 March, followed similar lines. Lord Perth’s views on the matter, as “broadly” recorded in the Minutes, were: i) Opus Dei’s operations in the UK were not as narrow and bigoted as those in Spain and in parts of America; ii) Opus Dei should be told that they had to convince the Universities of their bona fides; iii) any grants should be conditional on “non-praselytisation” [sic]; iv) any form of Christian anti-Communist organisation should be encouraged. Lord Perth’s contacts with Fr Burke had made clear that the charitable trust did not have the funds to realise the project without government assistance. Perth wanted a definitive decision on this application to be withheld, and for the charitable trust to be told that a grant could not be approved until the anxieties expressed had been resolved. The Minutes speculated that the objections of National Catholic Chaplaincy might have been drawn from their knowledge of how the residences in both London and Manchester were run. The meeting suggested that Lord Perth could recommend Opus Dei to withdraw their present application and obtain the support of the universities before presenting a new one. If Lord Perth wanted to change the decision of the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office, he should contact the appropriate ministers in those departments[41]. The Minutes were dated 13 March 1962. By that time, Lord Perth had resigned, or was on the point of resigning, his position as Minister of State for Colonial Affairs.

Lord Perth did, however, follow up the Netherhall project after his departure from the Colonial Office. In April, he got in contact with Sir Hugh Fraser, parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, also a Catholic, to talk about the Netherhall project. He wrote subsequently to the Archbishop of Westminster, informing him about the meeting, and asking whether he could meet the Cardinal to discuss the situation[42]. The meeting was not possible but Mgr Derek Worlock, the Cardinal’s private secretary, met Sir Hugh Fraser, and, in a subsequent letter, Fraser repeated the substance of their conversation: in his opinion there was nothing to be gained in pursuing the matter until the projects had won the support of the Universities, with the help of the Catholic chaplaincies. In his response Worlock mentioned that Mgr Tomlinson, the Catholic Chaplain of London University, and Mgr Coonan, the Chaplain for Overseas Students, supported the project, and that the Cardinal had done so all the way along[43]. Sir Hugh Fraser and Mgr Worlock met on 2 July to talk about the issue, and Fraser mentioned that if the present application were pressed to a definitive decision, this would be a rejection. There was, he said, opposition within the University to the proposal, based on the events at Oxford, although he asked Worlock not to mention this point[44]. His advice was to withdraw the application and to re-apply after a discreet period of time. Worlock offered to pass on his recommendations, and he did so in a meeting with Fr Burke and R. Stork on 12 July[45]. The Netherhall application for the OSWEP grant was withdrawn that same month.

The preparation of a second OSWEP application started soon afterwards, and involved a re-study of the 1961 design. The original application had been for a residence of two hundred places to be built in two stages and the initial 1962 study inclined to keep that number. A later re-appraisal settled on applying for a grant for a hall of a hundred places in its first stage with the possibility of adding a further hundred places (and a further OSWEP application) at a later time. The plans involved preserving the old buildings for residential accommodation and building of a new block to provide fortyeight new individual rooms (together with a Social Centre including library, reading room, oratory, auditorium and other facilities), plus a new block for the domestic staff, freeing some areas of the old buildings for residential accommodation.

By that time, the Commonwealth Relations Office and British Council review of the OSWEP programme in early 1963 had found that the provision of hostel accommodation for overseas students was making very slow progress. While the overseas student population had experienced a large increase since 1961, only some one thousand five hundred new beds had been provided of the original target of five thousand. A severe need for student accommodation continued to be felt, especially in London. The slow progress was blamed on several factors: voluntary bodies were experiencing difficulties in raising their share of the funds, while the guarantees required by OSWEP caused long delays in paying the grants. Both the Commonwealth Relations Office and the British Council recommended speeding up the procedure in order to accelerate the progress of the applications[46].

As far as the Netherhall application was concern, one of the first steps in spring and summer of 1963 had been to form a Development Committee of influential public figures, Catholic and non-Catholic, supporting the project. The Earl of Perth was to act for a time as Chairman of the Committee[47], and he was involved in drafting the application to OSWEP[48]. Some members of the Development Committee had been involved in their official capacity in the initial approaches to government bodies and in the study of the previous application for financial assistance from OSWEP and the planning application. Some of them seemed to have agreed to support the OSWEP application out of a feeling that the Netherhall project had not been treated fairly in 1961-62. A meeting took place in the House of Lords on 23 May 1963, involving Lords Perth and Longford, Mgr Wheeler and Tom Burns, plus Cormac Burke and Richard Stork. Their conclusions were: to ask first for the support in writing of the new Archbishop (when appointed), the Chaplain of London University and the Chaplain to Overseas Students (the latter had already promised his support), and to get in contact with some university authorities and government officials[49]. It was thought that a great deal depended on the support of the University of London. Fr Burke and Richard Stork had a meeting with Sir Douglas Logan, the Principal of London University, and Mgr Wheeler reinforced their visit with a personal letter. Sir Douglas, who had visited Netherhall during the study of the first OSWEP application, mentioned that he had always been behind the project, and was to write to the British Council in support of the Netherhall application on 12 August 1963[50].

The application, after some changes suggested by the British Council, would be presented in November 1963 by Netherhall Educational Association, the charity owner of Netherhall House, asking for a grant for seventy-five thousand pounds to be able to proceed with the project. There was no immediate response to the application, although there had been some encouraging unofficial reports saying that it had been approved in an OSWEP meeting in November and that in January 1964 the only step left was the approval of the Treasury[51]. Lord Perth approached the Treasury in January to enquire about the progress of the application but there was no positive response. Nothing more was heard for another couple of months. In March 1964 Perth made a personal approach to Lord Carrington, then Minister without Portfolio, who in his response made a reference to the reasons for not granting the previous grant application and mentioned that further information had been asked before giving the project their blessing[52].

The letter is misleading, as the process of the application must have been well advanced by then, and might have been approved already[53]. The approval in principle of a grant for seventy-five thousand pounds was communicated verbally on 1 April 1964, and the solicitors acting for Netherhall Educational Association, Titmuss, Sainer & Webb, received written confirmation in a letter from the British Council of 16 April 1964. The letter also specified the conditions under which it was granted[54].

The grant, however, was very small compared with the financial outlay involved in the project. In search of new sources of financing, the Development Committee had considered the possibilities offered by the Housing Act 1957, under section 120, which contemplated financial arrangements between a local authority and a housing association for the provision of housing. In London, the grants were administered by the London County Council. This body had been approached in December 1963 with a request for a loan to help finance the project. The final decision was delayed. The London County Council, concerned at the amount involved and over whether a hall of residence for students (not a housing association) fell within the object of the Housing Law, referred the matter to the Ministry of Housing[55]. The response was in the affirmative and the London County Council approved the loan in June 1964, pending final ministerial confirmation[56]. On the note sent to Rome to communicate the news and the imminent start of the building works St Josemaría, who had followed very closely every step of the project, wrote: “Deo gratias! 17-VI-64[57].

The works started soon after and were completed in 1966. On 1 November of that year Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, officially opened the new buildings in her capacity as Chancellor of London University. In her speech she mentioned the need for proper residential accommodation for the large numbers of students from all over the world coming to study in London: a place where they could find mutual respect and support, where beliefs and standards could be learned and practised. “I cannot imagine”, she added, “a better place to foster such standards than Netherhall House, which is based on Christian traditions—above all the tradition of service”[58].

An International Constituency

In 1966, with the completion of Phase I of the Netherhall House project, the residence had a capacity of some hundred places, an increase of some thirty places on previous years. There was also a considerable reduction in the number of shared rooms in the hall of residence: the new building contained only individual rooms and the number of shared rooms was further reduced by the lease of n. 16 Netherhall Gardens for use as a private school, thus providing a regular income to help balance the finances of the hall of residence. The shared rooms in n. 18 were at times used as single ones, given that students, as time went on, were more and more reluctant to share. Those rooms, however, could revert to multiple occupation if need arose.

During the 1960s, and especially after completion of the new block, the already international character of Netherhall House was further reinforced. The increase in the number of residents from Commonwealth countries at Netherhall was one of the conditions of the British Council grant: it stipulated that, “as far as reasonably practicable”, at least sixty-five places should be available to overseas Commonwealth students and fifteen to overseas students from other countries. The Directors’ Committee, in charge of the day-to-day running of Netherhall, made a determined effort to foster a rich variety of peoples and cultures in the hall of residence, and tried hard to keep to the quotas set by the agreement. It was not always easy. The demand from British students remained high, and many applicants had to be turned down; the proportion of British residents stayed more or less constant at about 40% of the total. The number of African students living in Netherhall continued being high during the 1960s: Kenya (twenty-two), Nigeria (nineteen), Uganda (twelve), and Ghana (ten) were the best-represented countries, with many others nations in single figures[59]. Perhaps the most significant change in the origins of residents during the 1960s, with respect to the previous decade, was the considerable increase in the number of students from South East Asia, the Far East and the Indian subcontinent. Malaysia was the bestrepresented country (thirty-two), followed by India (twenty-five), Pakistan (eighteen), Hong Kong (fifteen) and so on. In 1967 there were students from thirty-two different countries living at Netherhall, and thirty-five different nationalities were represented in 1968.

Another of the requirements for halls supported by OSWEP grants was the setting up of a Management Committee, including a British Council representative, notionally responsible for the overall policy of each particular establishment. The Netherhall Committee started its regular meetings in 1967, and its Minutes are an important source for the study of the hall’s operation during the following twenty years. The Minutes show that, in spite of increased numbers of Commonwealth students in Britain, it was not easy at times to keep exactly to the agreed quotas. This was due to diverse factors: few students being directed by the British Council to Netherhall in particular years, travelling costs from hall to more distant colleges, etc. There were, on the other hand, increasing numbers of applicants from other developing countries, especially from South America. The Netherhall Committee raised the question of whether these students could also be considered as part of the OSWEP quota. The official answer was formally in the negative: the programme was not capable of broadening its scope to include them[60].

In the late 1970s and early 1980s there were several significant changes in the numbers and nationalities of overseas students applying to Netherhall House. This in fact reflected a general trend experienced by British universities and institutions of higher education during those years. The main reason for the changes was a progressive and dramatic increase in the scale of fees to be paid by overseas students. There were three major instances of fee rises during those years, and each of them had an impact on numbers and on the provenance of students. Up to 1967 there had been a strong upward demand for places at British universities from overseas students. The Crosland[61] fee increases of 1967 halted that growing demand and temporarily depressed the number of overseas applications. A subsequent recovery was in turn slowed down by the introduction of creeping increases in the years 1975 to 1979. The most dramatic impact, however, resulted from the introduction in the academic year 1981-82 of “full-cost” fees for overseas non-European[62] students by the Conservative Government of Mrs Thatcher. It took place against the advice and wishes of the universities, and, depending on the type of degree, involved between three-fold and nine-fold increases in fees charges. As predicted since the change had been first mooted, this started a sharp decline in numbers of overseas applicants[63]. The number of new postgraduate entrants from overseas countries fell by 16% in 1980-81, while the number of undergraduate entrants (excluding European Economic Community students) fell by 19%. The percentage of accepted undergraduate entrants who failed actually to enter university was another indicator of the same phenomenon: it rose to 29.7% in 1980-81. There was also a tendency for grants awarded not to be taken up by students of poor and very poor countries because of a variety of circumstances, mostly of a financial character. In some cases, political conditions in their nations of origin also played a part in that decline, as in the fall in the number of Iranian students coming to Britain during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Study of the provenance of Commonwealth university students at undergraduate and graduate level coming to Britain in those years shows a dramatic decrease in the number of applicants from poor and very poor countries, while poor but developing countries seem to have maintained their numbers. Nigeria had been by far the country sending more students to Britain for most of the 1960s, followed by India, Jamaica and Malaysia (with less than half the Nigerian number of students). In the 1970s and early 1980s, there was a substantial reduction in the number of Nigerian, Kenyan, Indian and Pakistani students, overtaken by substantial increases in the number of those coming from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Middle Eastern countries, and specially those from the emerging South East Asia and Far Eastern Tiger Economies of Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Particularly significant in the late 1960s and during the 1970s was the increase in the number of Malaysian students coming to study in Great Britain: by 1968 it had become the country with most students in the UK, a position which it would maintain during the first half of 1980s, being briefly overtaken by Hong Kong afterwards[64].

The general decline in numbers of overseas students in the years 1979-81, together with a further reduction in the number of places in the residence in the 1980s, had a predictable influence on the number of different nationalities represented at Netherhall, although at its lowest ebb it never dropped below twenty[65]. The impact of the university fees-increases was also clearly reflected in the origin of the students living at Netherhall during those years. In the late 1970s and early 1980s there is a dramatic drop in the number of African students living in the hall, proportionally greater than the general reduction of the numbers of students from those countries in the UK[66]. The Kenyan, Nigerian, Zambian, Ugandan and other African students, so well represented at Netherhall in the first half of the 1970s, almost completely disappeared from the residence. The Kenyan residents had been the most numerous group of African residents in Netherhall in the 1960s, and Kenya continued providing the largest number of African residents in the years 1970 to 1977, reaching a maximum of thirteen in 1975-76. This state of affairs was to soon change. By the academic year 1979-80 there were only three Kenyan residents and the number never rose above that figure during the 1980s. Something similar might be said of other African countries like Ghana, Uganda, the Sudan, Tanzania and so on: after 1980, most of those countries would go unrepresented or have sporadically a single student; the numbers of Nigerian residents held up a bit longer but reached similar levels by 1984. As a result, the African nations represented in Netherhall went down from seventeen in the academic year 1975-76 to six in the year 1980-81.

Something similar may be said of the students coming from the subcontinent. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka had a significant presence in the residence, especially the first. There were eleven Indian residents in 1971-72 and eight in the academic year 1976-77. The number of residents from those countries, however, would be substantially reduced from 1977 onwards: in 1980-81 there was only one Indian resident in Netherhall[67]. The trend was markedly different in the case of the fast emerging Tiger Economies of the Far East. Malaysia continued well-represented at Netherhall during the 1970s reaching peaks of seventeen and thirteen residents in 1970-71 and 1979-80. But in the second half of the decade they were overtaken by students from Hong Kong, with twenty-one of them being at Netherhall in the academic year 1978-79 and eighteen the following one.

Among non-Commonwealth countries, Spain and Italy were best represented in the hall of residence from 1960 onwards. This was a natural consequence of the extension of the apostolic activities of Opus Dei had reached in those countries: many of those who applied to Netherhall from them had already had some previous contact with Opus Dei in their nations of origin. The number of residents from Italy and Spain, however, was never big and always far lower than the number of applicants. The number of Spanish students reached its peak in 1983-84 (fourteen), but for most of the period did not go beyond single-figures. Most European countries were represented in the residence—including some from the other side of the Iron Curtain—as were all American countries: Mexico (twenty), Argentina (thirteen) Chile (twelve), and Colombia (twelve) being the Latin-American developing countries sending more students to Netherhall in the years 1970 to 1984.

From a professional point of view, although the residents coming from the Commonwealth took a great variety of degree courses, medicine, engineering, economics, and accountancy were the studies attracting most students from the developing countries. Whatever their degree, the message that the hall of residence tried to imbue in the students combined the importance of serious study and the responsibility of acquiring the professional expertise necessary to make a positive contribution to the societies in which they were to live and work in the future. The atmosphere of serious study fostered in Netherhall contributed to good academic results over the years, the performance of the residents being consistently above average. It is difficult to form a clear picture of the professional paths followed by Netherhall residents during the period under study, and it is obviously even more problematic to quantify their contribution to the economic, cultural and social development of their respective countries. Still, as one former resident from Hong Kong would put it in an interview for the video “Home from Home”, made about Netherhall in 1996: over the years “many Netherhall residents have gone on to achieve positions of responsibility”. A former resident was struck by this line when watching the video:

[That] night the quote kept coming back to me: surely he had meant positions of power? But no, he hadn’t. It was in that one word that the whole Netherhall experience became clear to me. The whole reason that Netherhall came into existence […] is to help people to awaken to the fact that we are part of something far bigger than ourselves […]. As the years pass by, I start to think, not about what I have received from my parents, my country, my friends and in my life, but about what I should be giving as a person in a position of responsibility[68].

There are no records giving complete details of the professional careers of all or most former Netherhall residents, but those kept offer glimpses into the professional paths taken by them. In those years, the formation of medical doctors tended to be a priority for developing countries, and they were well represented in Netherhall. Among the many medical students in residence during the 1960s and 1970s, Peter Sinabulya (1967-68), one of a number of East African medical students during those years, was the first East African to gain the Fellowship of Ophthalmic Surgery and went on to run his own hospital in Uganda. Another, Nanda Amarasekera (1969), was President of the Sri Lanka College of Physicians in the 1990s, while, in Thailand, Suthi na Songkhla (1974), became head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine at a hospital in Bangkok, and Kanit Muntarbhorn (1969) went on to occupy the chair of Otolaryngology at Bangkok University. Still within the area of general health, Anthony Chan became Chief Pharmacist of Hong Kong. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Netherhall hosted a sizeable and active group of lawyers, mostly from Malaysia, who organized a law group in the hall and edited their own law magazine. From among this group, Denis Chang QC CBE (1968-69) would later become Chairman of the Bar Association of Hong Kong (1985-88), and also a member of the Executive Committee of Hong Kong set up by Chris Patten, its last British Governor. Another member of that group of lawyers, Mah Weng Kwai (1968), after a distinguished career in the Malaysian Judicial and Legal Service, was President of the Malaysian Bar for a time and is currently President of the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific and a Judge. Ian Carlson (1967), another law student, would become a judge in Hong Kong. Others would be partners of large law-firms or run their own. Engineering was also well represented among Netherhall students. Two engineers from among them would be involved in running the railways of their respective countries: Jo Maduekwe (1965), Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation from 1991 to 1995; Peter Mbunu Kigira (1976) would be in charge of a section of Kenyan railways. Others ran engineering firms, like Max Walumbe (1973) who was in charge of Geomax engineers in Nairobi, or Chow Kok Fong (1978), from Singapore, who, as head of projects for City Developments Limited, would be in charge of the construction of the tallest building in Singapore.

Many Netherhall residents studied economics. The late Godfrey Kassim Owango (1969-71), became head of the Agricultural Society of Kenya, and later President of its Chamber of Commerce, while in charge of Milligan & Co in Nairobi. Yeoh Eng Khoon, who lived in Netherhall in the late 1970s, went on to run the largest private Palm Oil firm in Malaysia. Investment and banking would also attract a good number of Netherhall students, many although not all, from the Far East. The late Ghulan Rahman (1968) was Chief Financial Controller for the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. A few residents became active in politics. Alfred Diettre Spiff (1965), who had studied Naval Architecture, was Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria; the late Sailoisi Kepa, from Fiji, was for a while his country’s High Commissioner in London, later Attorney General and by 1999 Ombudsman; Anu Patel (1971-72), another Fijian resident, became a Senator; while Tan Seng Giaw (1973), a doctor, became a Malaysian Member of Parliament, and Freddie Long (1969-71), a barrister, would be for many years a Member of Johore State Legislative Assembly and until recently Minister of Tourism and the Environment there; Prof. Peter Nyot Kok (1975), Chairman of the South Sudan Law Society, was Minister of Higher Education until 2007; and Mak Sai Yiu (1977) became Assistant Commissioner of Labour in Hong Kong.

Netherhall former residents who followed a career in academia include Gilbert Onwu (1965), Professor at Ibadan University, Nigeria; Mohan Ranaweera (1977), who went on to teach law in Colombo; Augustine Chong (1960), the first Singaporean resident, who became Professor of Physics in Singapore, where other residents, like Louis Ta (1970-74), Joon Eng Chua (1979 & 1982), and Steven Chew (1976) also taught at the University. In South Africa, Prof. Francis Antonie (1973) was for some years Head of the School of Public Management at the University of Witwatersrand, and has been recently appointed Director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, founded in honour of the celebrated anti-apartheid campaigner of that name with the aim of strengthening South African democracy by promoting liberty and equality, individual human rights and respect for the needs of the poor and powerless.

“A Home from Home”

In an interview of 7 January 1967 with Tad Szulc of the New York Times, St Josemaría spoke about the work of Opus Dei in some Englishspeaking countries. He mentioned the work carried out by university halls of residence run by Opus Dei, providing “not only a place to stay but numerous activities to complete students’ human, and spiritual training”. He went on to single out Netherhall House for special mention because of its international character: “students from more than fifty countries [close to a hundred, in fact] have lived there. Many of them are non-christian, since Opus Dei’s houses are open to all without any racial or religious discrimination”[69]. This had been very much the case of Netherhall since it first opened its doors, but it was particularly so from the mid-1960s onwards. The efforts of the Directors’ Committee had been focused, from the start, on trying to create a family atmosphere, and integrating people from very diverse cultures, races and religious beliefs. The remarkable success of Netherhall in so doing was due to many different factors. The Management Committee, and visitors to the hall, noted and remarked upon the effect that sharing meals together and the care of the material conditions of the house played in bringing people together[70]. The residence offered full board at a time when halls of residence for students in London were often not doing so, and many were not even providing breakfast or were contemplating the possibility of not offering it[71]. Netherhall House provided a “home from home”, and the students from overseas were, perhaps, the ones to appreciate it best, as the most likely to experience isolation in Great Britain because of the separation from family, friends and habitual environment. The holiday periods made an important contribution to helping them feel particularly at home and to deepening cohesion in the diverse body of Netherhall residents. During the years under consideration, few overseas residents returned to their countries of origin for the Christmas or Easter holidays because of the high cost of air transport and their own economic situation. The result was that, at times, there were over fifty residents staying for the holidays, and the festive atmosphere and increased contact among them served as a very powerful integrating factor.

In a sense, although Netherhall did not provide directly academic teaching and training, it resembled more a traditional college in a collegiate university than a mere hall of residence offering sleeping accommodation for students, as tended to be the case elsewhere in London. St Josemaría insisted that from the first the residence should have an intense cultural life, and that adequate facilities for it—common rooms, auditorium and so on—should be provided[72]. The hall organised from the very beginning a wide range of activities to help broaden the students general outlook on a whole range of topics and to overcome the often narrow specialization of their university or professional studies: seminars and talks on specific topics, discussion groups, music recitals and so on. As the 1965-66 brochure put it, the policy of the residence was “to foster as far as possible frequent contact between the students and those who have made headway in the world, particularly in the professions.” This took place specially through the Evening Guest Speakers—more after-dinner talks than formal lectures—that were organised on weekly or fortnightly basis. Prestigious personalities from academia, the political and business worlds, the arts, sport and other fields shared their experience and knowledge with the residents in an informal setting that fostered a lively exchange between speaker and students. These talks tended to be both informative and formative, insofar as the speakers served as inspiration for professional work done with competence and concern for ethical standards. They were normally well attended, and numbers naturally increased considerably in the case of some particularly important or popular personalities[73]. The list of speakers invited over the years is a very large one indeed and it includes former residents returning to speak to their successors in the hall. The members of the Directors’ Committee were immediately involved in the invitation and follow-up of the speakers. The Management Committee, conscious of the formative importance of this activity, followed with great interest the list of speakers and progress of the talks, making suggestions and providing contacts with new possible invitees.

The students themselves played an important role in organizing activities in and from Netherhall, especially through the House Committee elected by the residents themselves. It worked as a channel for the initiative of the residents with respect to the operation of the residence and for planning and running many different activities. Among them, in the international atmosphere of Netherhall, the House Committee organised traditional national celebrations like those for the Chinese and Iranian New Year or for the Hindu Deepawali. By the initiative of the law students there took place in the 1970s and 1980s some mock trials involving most of the house and presided over by a senior barrister or even a Queen’s Counsel acting as judge. A particularly interesting one was a re-enactment jointly by historians and law students of the State trial of Charles I of England. This involvement of the residents in the running of the hall could not fail to be noticed by outsiders, and, in the June 1970 meeting of the Wardens of International Halls hosted by Netherhall, the other wardens, having remarked upon the excellent material care of the residence, expressed their admiration for the number of tasks undertaken by the House Committee[74].

The students’ attachment to Netherhall was shown in different ways over the years, besides and beyond their participation in the life and activities of the hall. In 1964, the house diary speaks of a couple of residents of modest resources from the West Indies and Ghana who, wanting to remain in Netherhall “because of the homely and good atmosphere”, were working nights at the Post Office in order to pay for their stay[75]. At other times, the names of the residents appear in the diary because of their involvement helping with the organisation of many activities, doing repairs around the house or assisting in the running of Netherhall Boys’ Club. The picture, as might be expected, is not uniformly bright. The diaries also mention that when demands were being made of the residents, some rose to the occasion while others did not respond positively. In June 1965, when the new buildings were soon to be occupied and Netherhall was to receive a considerable number of foreign students, it was put to the existing residents that, if they wanted to return the following academic year, they would be expected to make a greater contribution to the integration of residents from overseas, contributing to the family atmosphere of the hall, participating more fully in the activities being organised, and so on. The diary, rather laconically, adds: “some said they did not wish to return”[76].

A few years later, in 1968, while the second phase of the Netherhall development was being prepared, a group of oriental students wrote in support of applications for funds being made to some companies connected with the Far East, stressing that what “strikes residents and visitors to the House is the truly informal family atmosphere one finds here, an atmosphere which has succeeded in transforming it from a mere Hall of Residence to a home”, contributing to an important work of international understanding[77]. Another telling instance of the residents’ appreciation and support for Netherhall took place in 1982, when the hall found itself in a serious problem of liquidity because of a deficit for the year of some twenty thousand pounds. The directors asked students to make loans to the house, raising over six thousand pounds in less than twenty-four hours[78].

The letters of individual residents tend to be more personal and less formal in the expression of their indebtedness to Netherhall House. An Iranian former resident, when sending Christmas greetings, would write: “I always loved the Christmas atmosphere in Netherhall. I wish I were with you. Although I left Netherhall over fifteen years ago I still have strong sentiments toward, what I call, the Netherhall family”[79]. Peter Nyot Kok, from Sudan, manifested his appreciation for the “most gentle and friendly attitude you have shown to me. I certainly regard all this as a valuable enrichment of my experience in the U.K. in the face of which I have not yet found how to express my thankfulness adequately”[80]. The words of the dental surgeon Jacob Kaimenyi, writing from Kenya to tell of his promotion to a senior lectureship in Nairobi (he is now Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nairobi), encapsulate what many had found in the residence: “I am sure that whoever comes to Netherhall House gets a golden chance of seeing UNITY in diversity and also LOVE IN PRACTICE. People from different parts of the world are exposed to how they should live as brothers, despite their differences in COLOUR, CREED OR RACE”[81].

This respect for diversity has always been particularly noticeable in the field of religious beliefs. The application forms of Netherhall residents show a great variety of religious affiliations. A majority tended to be Christians, mostly Catholic, but other religious denominations have been well represented (Muslims and Hindus in particular), and the catering staff of the residence undertook the task of providing for the different dietary requirements of each particular religious group: no beef, no pork, after-dark meals in Ramadan, and so on. There were also a fair number of students who claimed not to have any religion, and it is significant that the majority of these tended to be from the Far East, mostly of Chinese or Japanese origin[82]. The Summer term of 1971 might serve as a sample of the religious diversity to be found in Netherhall: there were forty Roman Catholic residents; the second largest group, with ten, had no religion; there were nine Hindu students and as many Muslims; seven Anglicans and eight Christians of other denominations; four Buddhists; two Sikhs and two Zoroastrians; lastly, one of the residents described himself as a freethinker and another as indifferent. The years 1965 to 1977 were the period of the greater number of non-Catholic and non-Christian residents, with substantial numbers of Muslim and Hindu students: 1975 to 1977 registered the largest numbers of Muslim (thrity-two) and Buddhist (fourteen) students, while 1971 to 1973 saw the peak of Hindu residents (twenty-one). After 1977, the general fall in numbers of overseas students in British Universities, because of rising fees, also had some impact on the religious composition of Netherhall. All Christian denominations and non-Christian religions were still represented but the number of non-Christian students was dramatically reduced. These numbers, as might be expected, fell even further when the closing of n. 18 in 1984 reduced the capacity of the residence to forty-eight[83].

Perhaps the aspect that non-Catholic and non-Christian residents seem to have appreciated most from a spiritual point of view was the fact that Netherhall offered an atmosphere in which religious and spiritual values were highly prized and religious differences respected, creating a favourable environment in which to live one’s faith, Christian or otherwise. Harry Gunasingham (1973), a Hindu from Sri Lanka, stressed the atmosphere of religious respect in the residence, and wanted to replicate it in the Hindu Tamil communities of Southern India, with which he is deeply involved. I.K. Turay, from Sierra Leone, while thanking the residence for their assistance during his stay at Netherhall, added how he appreciated that “regardless of the religious differences, you accommodated me and made me feel at home”[84]. On his part, Ali, a Shia-Muslim from Pakistan, back in his country, would write to the director of Netherhall wanting to share with his friends in the residence the joy at his good fortune in having become engaged to a girl, also a devout Shia-Muslim[85]. A Hindu resident, Shanji Gatsuyaka, after leaving the residence, wrote to say how during his stay at Netherhall, he had “very much enjoyed the holy days of Easter. Although I’m not a Christian, I like the religious atmosphere and the pious people”, adding that, having stayed at Netherhall during Christmas, he would like to stay at Netherhall during Easter, if that were to be possible[86].

The hall offered Catholic spiritual and doctrinal activities which were open to both residents and non-residents, Catholic or not. The students were free to attend, if they so wished. Many did so. A sample study of the Netherhall diary shows frequent references to non-Catholics and even non-Christians attending classes of Catholic doctrine, either in groups or individually, and being present at Midnight Mass at Christmas or at the Easter Triduum ceremonies. The custom of paying a pilgrim visit to a shrine of our Lady during May—saying a part of the Rosary on the way, another in the shrine itself, and a third on the way back—seems to have attracted people of most faiths, including an atheist Bulgarian lecturer resident for a time in the hall. In such an atmosphere, it was to be expected that some residents would become interested in the Catholic faith. The Netherhall diary mentions the names of a good number of them and also permits following the progress of particular individuals from an initial show of interest in the faith to the moment when they were baptized or received into the Church. Other names disappear from the pages of the diary and, in these cases, it is difficult to know whether they continued receiving instruction in the Catholic faith and whether or not they were received or baptized in Netherhall or elsewhere. From the early 1960s to the present there are records of about thirty-seven people being baptized or received into the Church, although there is good reason to doubt whether this is in fact the full number of residents and friends who converted during their association with the hall. Looking at the converts, it appears that the majority were originally non-Catholic Christians, and a good number of them British. As far as the overseas students are concerned, there is a great variety of provenances and original religious convictions but most of converts are from the Far East—from Hong Kong in particular—and, before becoming Catholics, they seem to have nominally professed a traditional (mostly Buddhist) non-Christian faith or no faith at all.

There are no records extant of Hindu or Muslim residents being baptized during their stay at Netherhall. Hindu ideas about the validity of different religious experiences and beliefs made it relatively easy for Hindu residents to take a general interest in Christianity and participate in Christian religious events or celebrations, particularly at Christmas and Easter. On the other hand, this same religious philosophy might also tend to make conversion difficult. Muslim residents, for their part, seem to have been much more reticent in this respect. Both the exclusivity of Islam and the fact of being in close contact with other coreligionists in Netherhall may have contributed to a certain aloofness on their part from Christian doctrinal or spiritual activities[87]. The influence of the hall’s Christian atmosphere, however, did not seem to end with students leaving it. The record is, by its very nature, incomplete but a few stories may serve to illustrate the point. Almost forty years after leaving Netherhall, a Muslim resident of the 1960s, coming in contact with one of the Directors of Netherhall, mentioned that he was now a Christian and that he owed his faith to Netherhall. Ilyas Khan, a resident in 1980, would write thirty years later announcing his conversion to Catholicism: “The purpose of this e-mail is to say that the very very small flame that was ignited during those times has finally achieved its purpose of guiding my spirit to its rightful home. […] I have often thought of contacting someone at Netherhall […]. I doubt if anyone is still there from those days, but if so, I would be delighted if you could pass on my special thanks to them”[88]. The story of another former resident is perhaps more singular. Rajadurai Rajasingham, a Hindu by religion, had been a resident in the early 1970s. He was met in Kuala Lumpur in the mid-1990s by Neil Pickering who, after being a resident himself in the late 1960s, became secretary of Netherhall House (1973-77). In their conversation it transpired that during his stay in the residence, encouraged by Louis Ta, Rajadurai had started to visit the Oratory regularly: “the best thing in Netherhall”. Since leaving the hall, although not a Christian, he had been attending Holy Mass daily, unaware of the fact that another of the daily Mass-goers at the same church—Thomas Poh—was also a former resident. That fresh encounter with people from Netherhall crystallised his decision to receive Baptism. In order to do so, he wanted to go back to Netherhall, where his faith had first begun to grow. After spending a few weeks in London, receiving formal instruction, he returned to Kuala Lumpur, and, when everything was ready for his baptism, he flew back to London and was baptized in the Oratory of Netherhall on 3 November 1999, Louis Ta and Thomas Poh being godparents by proxy[89].

St Josemaría had said that to pray for Great Britain was to pray for the world. That was true in more than one sense. As mentioned above, Western governments, Great Britain and the United States in particular, viewed education as a key factor in the social and economic development of newly independent countries, and as a means to retain their influence in those nations, while resisting Marxist penetration. It was obvious that the number of students from post-colonial countries in Western universities were not enough to create the educated base necessary for national development at all levels. The Ditchley Foundation meeting, quoted above, also stressed the shortage of students with A-level qualifications in Eastern Africa and in other parts of the continent, and how this fact restricted the supply of students from those regions to overseas universities and also tended to depress the local institutions of higher education set up in their countries of origin. The situation was such that in the early 1960s Makerere University in Uganda and Royal College in Kenya were accepting students for A-level studies. The dearth of well-qualified teachers underlying this problem required foreign teachers to supply this need until those countries could provide their own. Members of Opus Dei, while trying to expand Netherhall residence to accommodate more overseas students, were also promoting Strathmore Sixth Form College in Nairobi. Strathmore aimed at bridging the gap between school education and the university, affecting in particular African students. The college, the first interracial school in East Africa, obtained the backing of the pre-independence Kenyan government and started its operations in 1961[90]. Netherhall House was involved to a certain extent in the early years of Strathmore. The international atmosphere of Netherhall put British and other European students in contact with those coming from newly independent countries and with their social and economic needs, and this awoke in some a desire to contribute to the development of those new nations. Jeremy White was one of the first to move to Nairobi. He had been received into the Church at Netherhall on 15 August 1960, while still a student at Cambridge, and he expressed his desire to join Opus Dei immediately afterwards. He was then told to wait for a while, as he had only just become a Catholic. Jeremy’s desire to join the staff of Strathmore College, however, was not subject to delay. He went to Strathmore in January 1961 and it was there that he joined Opus Dei. After working at Strathmore for a good number of years he moved to Nigeria, where he taught history at university, to help start the work of Opus Dei in that country. Strathmore also attracted other British people connected with Netherhall. Patrick Bennett David joined Jeremy at Genoa, while about the same time David Hogg, a Supernumerary, had set off on his journey to Nairobi by land. Peter McDermott, who had been attending means of spiritual formation at Netherhall around 1960-61, and would later become a Supernumerary, went for the start of the second academic year in March 1962, as did Jim Cavanna, a graduate from Oxford, and Santos Amer, a Numerary who had done his PhD in Physics at Cambridge. Both Jim and Santos would die in Nairobi in July 1963, in a car accident, while coming back from a rugby match. Other people associated with Netherhall would follow them over the years. In June 1980 Lars Nilson, a Swede who had been received into the Church at Netherhall, went to teach at Strathmore College Accountancy School (opened in 1966). Santiago Eguidazu, another Netherhall resident, joined Strathmore in 1983. He would die in August 1987, during a school trip to Mombasa, trying to save a pupil in difficulties while swimming in the sea. In time, a number of former Strathmore students would become residents of Netherhall House during their university studies in London.

St Josemaría had foreseen that the residents would also grow in appreciation for the spirit of Opus Dei and that some of them would help the expansion and development of the Work in their countries of origin or elsewhere, whether simply as friends or as members of the Work. This would in fact be the case from the very beginning. Professor Saito, one of the earliest Netherhall residents, was the one who received at the airport the first member of Opus Dei who went to Japan to start the apostolic work there. In other cases, the students themselves would be the ones bringing the spirit of Opus Dei to their countries of origin and asking the Work to start apostolic activities there. Thomas Poh, who had joined Opus Dei before his return to Malaysia, was protagonist of the first steps of the Work in that country, together with other ex-Netherhall residents. Stephen Lee and Anthony Chan, from Hong Kong, joined Opus Dei while in Netherhall and, the first already ordained a priest, were among those who took part in the early years of the apostolic work of the Prelature in Hong Kong. Michael Chan (1978-80), from Malaysia, after studies in Rome and ordination as a priest of the Prelature, returned to South East Asia, working first in the Philippines and later in Singapore. In more recent times, Peter Herbert, who had been director of Netherhall from 1988 to 1996, went to Hong Kong, where he worked in a school; he then moved to Taiwan, and, after some years there, has recently returned to Honk Kong to be headmaster of the school where he had previously taught.

Although an attempt to complete the second phase of Netherhall House had been made immediately after building the first phase of the project, the result of the fundraising drive at the time had been disappointing and the realisation of the second phase had had to be postponed. In the 1980s it could not be put off any longer. In 1983, the number of available places in the residence was reduced because of the structural conditions of n. 18 Netherhall Gardens. Some rooms were put out of use in order to carry out repairs in them and the capacity of the hall of residence was cut to seventy-five places. Worse was to follow. A structural investigation of the building reported that n. 18 was no longer safe for occupation because of subsidence and related problems. In the Autumn of 1984 Netherhall House was left, therefore, with only forty-eight study bedrooms, in the new building. As a result, the precarious economic situation of the residence in the previous fifteen years became now untenable, and only substantial subsidies from the parent charity helped keep it afloat. The building of second stage was imperative, and the planning for it started as a matter of priority. The years of planning for the second phase, the campaign to obtain the financial means for building it, its opening, and the life in the hall of residence after 1984 are beyond the scope of this article and will be told elsewhere. The strong Commonwealth dimension of Netherhall House, however, has continued during what we have called its third period, and it is significant in this respect that the first stone of the new building project was laid by Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, on 1 November 1993 (the anniversary of the opening of the first phase of new buildings in 1966 by the Queen Mother), in the presence of a number of Ambassadors and High Commissioners[91] from the Commonwealth and other countries.

The years 1960 to 1984 witnessed the development of a truly international and multicultural community of students at Netherhall House. The analysis of the provenance of the students and the functioning of the hall of residence appear to show that during those years the Commonwealth dimension of Netherhall had fulfilled to a considerable degree the original expectations of the British Council, the London County Council, and of the promoters of the hall.

James Pereiro. Member of the History Faculty of Oxford University. He has published extensively on ecclesiastical history of the nineteenth century. Among his main publications are Cardinal Manning. An intellectual Biography (OUP 1998) and Ethos and the Oxford Movement (OUP 2008). At the moment he is coediting The Oxford Handbook of the Oxford Movement.



[1] Until 1949 the expression British Commonwealth was used to describe the group of countries which were united as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and owed allegiance to the British Crown. In 1949 India’s recent independence and its constitution as a republic, while intending to continue as a member of the Commonwealth, led to the introduction of a change of name and character by the “London Declaration” of 26 April 1949: from then on it was to be officially known as the Commonwealth of Nations.

[2] The article is based mainly on archival material and also on oral interviews of former directors of Netherhall House. The records connected with the present subject are far from complete, particularly those of Government and other official bodies. Gaps in the archival record have been noted in the footnotes. In the search for materials the author has incurred many debts of gratitude. Dr Andrew Hegarty made available to the author some of the results of his archival research; Richard Temple, the Archivist of London University, offered friendly help in tracing particular documents and in searching for others, some of them untraceable; Miss A. Carter did a similar job at the British Council. Thanks are also due to the archivists at The National Archives, London (TNA), and the General Archive of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei in Rome (AGP). I must also thank the Regional Commission of Opus Dei in Great Britain, the directors of Netherhall House and of Netherhall Educational Association for allowing me to use documents in their keeping. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography contains entries on some of the individuals mentioned in this article.

[3] See Testimonials of Juan Antonio Galarraga Ituarte and of Richard A. P. Stork, AGP A-212-3-1 and AGP A-243-3-14.

[4] “Esta Inglaterra, bandido, è una grande bella cosa! Si nos ayudáis, especialmente tú, vamos a trabajar de firme en esta encrucijada del mundo: rezad y ofreced, con alegría, pequeñas mortificaciones” (AGP A.3-4, 271-3, c-580800-3).

[5] “Rezad, poned como siempre a Nuestra Madre Santa María por intercesora, y veremos grandes trabajos de nuestro Opus Dei realizados en esta encrucijada de la tierra, para bien de las almas de todo el mundo” (AGP A.3-4, 271-3, c-580813-1).

[6] See Letter of R. O’Brian to Mr Neville, 29 February 1952, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain.

[7] It was later arranged that the final transfer of the title deeds was to take place when the bank mortgage had been repaid or the guarantee given by the diocese released (letter of R. O’Brian to M. Richards, 11 November 1953, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain). Although the acquisition of numbers 16 and 18 had been facilitated by the favourable conditions offered by the sellers, the mortgage repayments would be in future years a heavy burden on the hall of residence.

[8] See William Roger Louis – Ronald Robinson, “The Imperialism of Decolonization”, in William Roger Louis (ed.), Ends of British Imperialism. The Scramble for Empire, Suez and Decolonization, London, Tauris, 2006, pp. 459-60.

[9] The British government considered that Christianity had a fundamental role to play “in keeping Africans orientated towards western ideals”. The churches were deeply involved in education in those countries (PREM 11/2587; PREM 11/2586 and PREM 11/2588, Macmillan Cabinet Papers 1957-1963, Digital Edition, TNA, London); see also the essay by Philip Murphy, “Decolonisation under Macmillan”, in the same digital edition.

[10] CO 1027/357, p. 7, TNA, London. The National Archives catalogue the documents preserving the reference given them in their departments of origin, in this case the Colonial Office; T (followed by a numeric reference) stands for the Treasury, ED for the Department of Education, BC for the British Council and FO for the Foreign Office.

[11] As Amadou Hampaté Ba would put it: “It is not the old wise Africa which is talking to you today but the Africa which is the product of your thinking. Our leaders only repeat what you Europeans have taught them”. Quoted in Walter Kolarz, “Religion and Communism in Africa”, The Heythrop Journal 3 (3), 1962, p. 222.

[12] See CO 1027/357, pp. 9, 21, 23, 34, TNA, London.

[13] See The Times, 15 June 1962, p. 8.

[14] See Statistics of Education. Part 3: 1965, London, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1967, pp. 120 and 133. In 1953-54 there were also 2,551 overseas part-time students (24.3% of the total); in 1964-65 the number was 4,065 (28.1 % of total). These figures were subject to adjustment in later statistical studies.

[15] It is difficult to get an accurate picture of the situation. In 1967 London had a full-time university student population of 30,396. Of these, after a considerable effort in previous years to promote halls of residence, only 7,485 students were resident in colleges or halls. Statistics of Education: Universities, 1967, Vol. 6. London, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office. 1969, p. 11.

[16] During the 1950s and 1960s, the expansion of atheistic Communism was a concern generally shared by Christian churches and, within the Catholic Church, by the Vatican, Catholic Bishops, clergy, and laity. For an introduction to the subject see Dianne Kerby (ed.), Religion and the Cold War, Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2003.

[17] The Memorandum is attached to Lord Perth’s minute of 9 August 1960, CO 1028/98, TNA, London.

[18] Mr T.H. Baldwin, at the Treasury, met them on 12 August, writing in his memorandum: “The little I know of ‘Opus Dei’ has led me to expect a high calibre and Dr Masiá did not disappoint expectations. To meet a cultivated European of his sort induces regret that the influence of Europe in world affairs should have declined in favour of East and West” (Memorandum 17 August 1960, CO 1028/98, TNA, London); see also Minute of interview of Fr Burke and Juan Masiá with Mr Cockram, of the Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO) (Minute 60/16-9, dated 16 Sept 1960, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain), who insisted on the importance of welcoming students from the Commonwealth and praised the Netherhall project; see also Minute of interview of Fr Burke with Mr Stone, of the Colonial Office, in charge of the colonial students, who said that that the project would have the wholehearted support of his office (Minute 60/28-9, dated 28 September 1960, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain). Fr Burke and Dr Masiá also met some officials at the British Council, specially Miss Nancy Parkinson (Home Controller) and Mr Stephen Bach (Assistant Home Controller).

[19] See Minute of meeting with Mr. T. H. Baldwin, of the Colonial Office, on 12 August 1960, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain.

[20] See Minute of meeting on 26 January 1961, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain.

[21] See Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 1960-61, vol. 635 (February 20 to March 3), cols 1724-1725.

[22] See Minute of C.W.M. Cox, 1 November 1960, CO 1028/98, TNA, London.

[23] See D.M. Smith’s minutes, 19 and 27 January 1961, CO 1028/98, TNA, London.

[24] See CO 1028/98.

[25] Mr Cockram had already mentioned in the interview of 1 September that the funds would be distributed among the different denominations in such a way as not to give rise to complaints of favouritism. As a matter of fact, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and the Methodist Church would absorb close to fifty per cent of the funds in the first couple of years of operation of OSWEP.

[26] See Minute by Lord Perth, 16 March 1961, CO 1028/98, TNA, London.

[27] Sent to Fr Burke with a covering letter from R.Washbourn (Assistant Controller III, Home Division) dated 15 September 1961, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain.

[28] See documents filed in the Regional Commission of Great Britain. The Netherhall development intended to provide some 130 new places. The project involved the demolition of the Victorian buildings used since 1952-53 for the hall of residence.

[29] Report to Card. Godfrey (November 1961), Godfrey Papers, Westminster Diocesan Archives, London.

[30] Thirty three applications had been approved in principle by March 1962 (T 277/1162, TNA, London).

[31] See Nancy Parkinson to Douglas Logan, 13 October 1961 (Uncatalogued Box 236, file 4, London University Archive). The file contains the correspondence of the British Council with the University about the OSWEP applications. The above letter has a note pencilled on it, saying that a copy of the letter was in the Opus Dei file. In spite of the efforts of the Archivist, Richard Temple, we have not been able to locate this file.

[32] In the case of Mgr Coonan’s application to OSWEP, London University consulted Mgr Tomlinson, the University Catholic Chaplain; a report of his positive answer may be seen in the folder mentioned in note 31. Mgr Tomlinson must have also been consulted in respect to Netherhall, as this was the procedure followed by the University.

[33] See Minutes of OSWEP Meetings (61) 7th and (61) 8th, T 277/1065, pp. 1-2 and ED 46/1041, pp. 1-2, TNA, London.

[34] B. Cockram, in February 1961—before the plan for expanding the provision of accommodation for overseas students had been announced by the government—had already mentioned the possibility that the publicity surrounding the Oxford project could adversely affect the application for funds to the British Council (Minute 27 February 1961, AGP G-793).

[35] See Minute 1 Dec. 1961, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain. See also the report sent to Card. Godfrey (undated), Godfrey Papers, Westminster Diocesan Archives, London.

[36] See Card. Godfrey to Fr Cormac Burke, 30 November 1961, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain.

[37] The “document” referred to was in fact an article first published in Studi Cattolici 24 (May-June 1961) and later in English, in pamphlet form: Julian Herranz, Opus Dei. The pamphlet had been sent together with a reprint of an article by José Luis Illanes, “The Political Activity of Catholics in Modern Spain”, published in the Wiseman Review (Autumn 1961).

[38] Both letters can be found in ED 46/1041, which also contains a photocopy of Card. Godfrey’s letter to Fr Burke.

[39] See OSWEP (62/1), T 277/1163, p. 1-2, TNA, London.

[40] See Minute Brit 48/62, dated 21 February 1962, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain.

[41] See OSWEP (62/2), T 277/1163, pp. 1-2, TNA, London. The National Catholic Chaplaincy did not exist as a corporate body. Some chaplains—Oxford and Manchester—had expressed their objections; others, like Coonan, were openly supportive, and the Cardinal thought that the chaplain of London University was in favour of the Netherhall project.

[42] See Lord Perth to Card. Godfrey, 25 April 1962, Godfrey Papers, Westminster Diocesan Archives, London.

[43] See Sir Hugh Fraser to Mgr Derek Worlock, 5 June 1962, and Worlock to H. Fraser, 8 June 1962; both in Godfrey Papers, Westminster Diocesan Archives, London.

[44] OSWEPhadalsorecommendednottomentiontheopinionoftheuniversity,asithadbeen obtained in confidence. Mgr Tomlinson had officially maintained a positive approach to Opus Dei, seemingly because of the Cardinal’s interest in it, and had told Mgr Worlock how pleased he was “to find all the residents of Netherhall House at the University Mass at Soho each Sunday” (Mgr Worlock to Bishop of Salford, 16 Dec. 1960, Godfrey Papers, Westminster Diocesan Archives, London). He seems to have acted differently in private. Although we have found no documentary evidence in this respect, it might be assumed that he did not recommend the Netherhall project when asked about it by London University in 1961. Later, in 1963, he refused to provide a letter in support of the new application for an OSWEP grant. Archbishop Heenan, although disappointed at Tomlinson’s refusal, felt that to write personally to the University would leave Tomlinson in a bad light; he intended to write to Tomlinson, saying that he considered the project important (Minute of meeting of J. Masiá and C. Burke with Archbishop Heenan at the English College (Rome), 14 October 1963, AGP G-793).

[45] See Minute of Mgr Worlock, 12 July 1962, Westminster Diocesan Archives, Godfrey Papers.

[46] See Report of CRO and BC, T 317/298, TNA, London. The problem had become evident already in 1962 (see ED 46/1041, TNA, London).

[47] Lord Perth had agreed to be Chairman of the Committee for the appeal to the British Council but he felt that sponsoring fundraising outside the British Council would involve him in a conflict of interests vis-à-vis fund raising for Hinsley House (Lord Perth to C. Burke, 30 April 1963, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain). During its early years the Committee would also include Bernard Audley (Businessman), H. BartSmith (Solicitor), John Branagan (Vice-Chairman LCC), Thomas F. Burns (Publisher), Sir William Carron (Trade Unionist), Professor C.E. Dent (University College London), John Harvey (Barrister, Middle Temple), Eileen Hoare (LCC), Sir Hugh Linstead (Conservative MP), the Earl of Longford (Lord Privy Seal), Robert Mellish (Labour MP, Housing Minister), George F. Taylor (Banker), Sir Philip de Zulueta (Private secretary for foreign affairs to three consecutive Conservative Prime Ministers, 1955-64).

[48] See Cormac Burke to Lord Perth, 27 May 1963, and Perth to Burke, 10 June 1963, which are kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain.

[49] See Minutes (undated) which are kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain.

[50] See Sir Douglas Logan to Miss N. Parkinson, AGP G-798.

[51] See Minutes 8 November 1963 and 15 January 1964, AGP G-793. The delay seems to have been due to the fact of its being an application with a “past history”.

[52] See Lord Carrington to Lord Perth, 13 March 1964, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain.

[53] No records of the meetings of OSWEP dealing with the second Netherhall application have been found in TNA. The search in the British Council Archive, under the Freedom of Information Act, did not produce positive results: the OSWEP box entitled InterDepartmental Committee was almost empty; it only contained two folders unconnected with the Inter-Departamental Committee and OSWEP meetings.

[54] See John Frankenburg to Titmus, Sainer & Webb, 16 April 1964, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain. The agreement between the British Council and Netherhall Educational Association was signed on 27 October 1966. As it has already been mentioned, the delays in finalising the grants were due to the many details to be sorted out and the guarantees required by the British Council; these delays had been blamed for the financial difficulties encountered by some of the approved projects.

[55] See F.W. Lucas (LCC) to C. Burke, 23 January 1964; Burke to Lord Perth, 6 January 1963 [sic], Netherhall Educational Association, Wallet 5.

[56] The ministerial approval was communicated to LCC on 18 August 1964 (J. Mills to Clerk of LCC, Netherhall Educational Association). The original application was for £475,000. The LCC loan was £275,000 for the first phase of the project, and a further £200,000 for the second.

[57] AGP G-793.

[58] Netherhall House brochure 1977, p. [3].

[59] Both the Biafra war in Nigeria in the late 1960s and later the Idi Amin regime in Uganda in the 1970s created considerable problems for the students coming from those countries and Netherhall tried to help them in their plight.

[60] See Minutes of the Management Committee 1967-85, Netherhall House.

[61] Anthony Crosland was then Secretary of State for Education and Science in the Labour Government.

[62] The European Community regulations meant that students from its member countries were treated as nationals in all countries of the Community.

[63] See The Times, 6 February 1981. Prof. Ralf Dahrendorf, Director of the London School of Economics, speaking at Netherhall in 1979, had criticised the university policies of the Thatcher government and warned about a dramatic drop in the number of overseas students if the government were to go ahead with further increases in fees (Hampstead and Highgate Express, 26 October 1979).

[64] See University Statistics, vol I: Students and Staff for 1980, 1985-87 and 1993-94, University Statistical Record, London and Cheltenham, 1982, 1987, 1994; see also Richard Layard and Emmanuel Petoussis, Overseas Students’ Fees and Demand for Education, Centre for Labour Economics, London School of Economics, Discussion Paper n. 108, February 1982.

[65] See Director’s Report to Management Committee, December 1968, Netherhall House. The reasons for the reduction of places in Netherhall House in the 1980s are described on p. 50.

[66] See Residents Application Forms 1967-1985, Netherhall House.

[67] As was to be expected, un-sponsored students were to be the ones more affected by the rise in fees. The official bodies had been for a long time seriously concerned about the precarious situation of un-sponsored or private students, particularly from Africa. The number of scholarship students seems never to have been more than some 17-20% of the total number (a sample for 1963 may be found in the Report of the Colonial Steering Committee, T 317/298, Annex A, TNA, London).

[68] Aidan Morley, Netherhall News (Autumn 2000), p. 9.

[69] Josemaría Escrivá, Conversations with Mgr Escrivá de Balaguer, Shannon, Ecclesia Press, 1972, n. 56.

[70] Mr de Groot, from the British Council, who spoke at Netherhall on Tuesday 9 November 1971, mentioned how impressed he had been by the way the staff was run, while constant staff changes were a serious problem in other London halls of residence (Netherhall Diary, August 68 and May-November 71, AGP M 2.2-286-15). The Management Committee had remarked that the financial effort involved in providing high standards of meals and cleaning was high but was more than compensated by the catering department’s vital contribution to the general atmosphere of the house (Minutes of the Management Committee, 15 March 1983, Netherhall House).

[71] See Minutes of the Management Committee, 30 March 1976, Netherhall House.

[72] See AGP V-4927.

[73] Therearenodetailedrecordsofattendance;theonlyprecisenumericalreferencewehave found mentions that the talks attracted regularly some twenty-five to forty residents and friends in the early 1980s (Management Committee Minutes, 10 March 1983, Netherhall House).

[74] See Netherhall Diary, 19 April 9 September 1970, AGP M 2.2-440-11.

[75] See Netherhall Diary, 5 September 1964 6 March 1965, Dec 22, AGP M 2.2-286-10.

[76] Netherhall Diary, 7 March 28 September 1965, AGP M 2.2-268-11.

[77] Letter to J.F.E. Gilchrist, 5 April 1968, which is kept in the Regional Commission of Great Britain. The letter was signed by fifteen students from Singapore, Malaysia (Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak), Hong Kong, Korea and Burma; one of them was a member of the Executive Committee of the Great Britain Tamil Hindu Association.

[78] See Minutes of Management Committee, 15 March 1983, Netherhall House.

[79] Christmas card (no date), Netherhall House.

[80] Letter quoted in the 1977 Netherhall brochure.

[81] J. Kaimenyi to A. Hegarty, 3 August 1987, Netherhall House. The capital letters are Kaimenyi’s.

[82] See Residents Application Forms 1967-1985, Netherhall House.

[83] For the nationality and religion of the Netherhall residents see the application forms for the respective years in Netherhall House.

[84] I.K. Turay to B. Marsh, 20 May 1982, Netherhall House.

[85] See Ali R. to P. Herbert, 21 September 1990, Netherhall House.

[86] See Shanji Gatsuyaka to A. Hegarty, 20 May 1987, Netherhall House.

[87] The students committed themselves not to change the decoration of the bedrooms. This included a crucifix and an image of our Lady. Some Muslim residents did remove them on occasions; one of them is on record as having asked for permission to remove the crucifix in his room when kneeling in prayer towards Mecca, as the crucifix was on his line eastwards. Information received from Fr Bernard Marsh.

[88] I. Khan to P. Brown, 2 August 2010.

[89] I owe these two accounts to the oral testimony of Mr Neil Pickering, who was in contact with both former residents in question.

[90] The Times Educational Supplement published an article on Strathmore College on 30 March 1962, stressing the educational advantages of a sixth-form college, particularly in a Kenyan context. It presented a positive picture of the College, of its early success and integration policy. It is likely that this article, together with a pamphlet about Strathmore sent by Fr Burke to S.C.G. Bach on 17 January 1962, might have been brought to the notice of OSWEP when it was studying the second Netherhall application.

[91] Commonwealth nations exchange High Commissioners rather than Ambassadors.

The Early Days of Opus Dei in Boston as Recalled by the First Generation (1946-1956)

Abstract: This is a documentary account of the first trips members of Opus Dei made to Boston and Cambridge, Mass. (U.S.) and the subsequent development of the apostolate there, primarily among students and professors at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It covers the period between 1946 and 1956. The primary sources are personal recollections of those who met the Work there. These are supplemented by relevant material from Opus Dei’s internal publications and selected secondary works which provide the necessary cultural, intellectual, and religious context.

Keywords Josemaría Escrivá – Opus Dei – Harvard University – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Trimount – 1946-1956

Abstract: È la relazione del primo viaggio dei membri dell’Opus Dei alla volta di Boston e di Cambridge, Mass. (U.S.), e del successivo sviluppo del lavoro apostolico in primo luogo tra gli studenti e i professori dell’università di Harvard e del Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Il periodo preso in esame va dal 1946 al 1956. Le fonti primarie sono i ricordi personali di coloro che conobbero l’Opera in questi luoghi, completati da informazioni tratte dalle pubblicazioni interne dell’Opus Dei, e selezionate da altre opere che forniscono il necessario contesto culturale, intellettuale e religioso.

Keywords: Josemaría Escrivá – Opus Dei – Università di Harvard – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Trimount – 1946-1956


Concept and Method

The object of this study is to present in detail the beginning of the apostolate of the men of Opus Dei (Work of God) in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts. It relies primarily on first person accounts, specifically the recollections—obtained between April and December 2004—of 24 of Opus Dei’s faithful who helped to establish the first men’s centers, Trimount House and, later, Elmbrook Residence, in metropolitan Boston. Their recollections were obtained mainly in writing, but also through oral interviews[1]. Contemporary articles and secondary materials provide supplementary and contextual information.

As most of the on-campus activities in the first years took place at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), this study focuses primarily on them. Some early residents of Trimount and Elmbrook attended other schools nearby and helped Opus Dei’s apostolate to expand in the Boston area and adjacent cities and states.

The sometimes extensive, sometimes brief recollections used in this study influence the narrative in many ways—most importantly, perhaps, in the emphasis given to persons who eventually felt a call to Opus Dei and asked for admission. But Opus Dei’s apostolic activities reached many more persons along with and through its early members. While most of those do not appear in this account, their participation helped them to live a more intense Christian life. By their own testimony in subsequent correspondence with friends in Opus Dei, many continued to benefit from the formation they received as residents or as visitors to Trimount House and Elmbrook, at activities the members of Opus Dei organized on campus, or simply from personal conversations.

Even at the time it would have been difficult or impossible to describe and calibrate the effects of all those apostolic efforts. It is not surprising, then, if many people merge into the background as this story is told fifty years later, while the recollections it weaves together come to life once again as their authors recall incidents in their own lives and in the lives of others with whom they associated[2].


A few introductory words need to be added about the period in American cultural, educational, and religious history that coincided with Opus Dei’s arrival in Boston. Historians have described the 1950s as a transition from the relative confidence and optimism that followed the Second World War to a “new age” that would bring insecurity and disruption to the nation, especially higher education.

American universities—notably those in the Boston area—shared conspicuously in the postwar prosperity. “It is important to recognize [this period] as… a unique chapter in the history of American higher education, when [Harvard] clearly understood and dutifully fulfilled its mission to acquire, deposit, and propagate genuine knowledge”. It was “the one moment in the twentieth century when Harvard succeeded in bringing together the best of instruction and the best of students”[3].

Something comparable occurred throughout academe in that period, and in a particular way, in Catholic educational circles. The long evolution of Catholic intellectual thought seemed to reach a kind of maturity and widespread acceptance in the middle of the twentieth century.

Metropolitan Boston was a logical place to “put out into the deep” soon after Opus Dei’s approval by the Church made it feasible to expand the apostolate to North America. When Bishop Álvaro del Portillo, the first successor of Opus Dei’s Founder, spent several days in Boston (Feb. 23-27, 1988) during a two-month visit to the United States and Canada, he could look back on 35 years of apostolic development: “I am very happy and grateful to God to be in Boston. From here, from its universities, have come people who did great good for your country—and others less so. You can be sure that I keep them very close to my heart”[4]. While in Boston, Bishop del Portillo prayed at the grave of Father José Luis Múzquiz (Father Joseph, as he was known in America), referring to him as “a solid foundation for the work of Opus Dei in this country”. Father Múzquiz was the first priest of Opus Dei to celebrate Mass in Boston’s first center (Trimount House, Christmas Eve, 1953).

In the 1950s the Boston metropolitan area numbered about three million inhabitants, most of them members of large families descended from Irish, Italian, German, and Portuguese immigrants, and dozens of other European, American, and Asian nationalities, along with a growing number of African Americans. Catholics comprised nearly fifty percent of the population and were immersed in the city’s cultural, professional, social, and political life; parishes with schools staffed by religious men and women were prominent in every neighborhood. It had been many generations since the first French Canadian bishop and priests arrived in the 18th century (Today two million Catholics live in greater Boston, about half of the four million total).

The Charles River, scene of recreational and competitive rowing, sculling, and sailing, separates the city of Boston from Cambridge, a community first settled at the same time as Boston in 1630. It was named for Cambridge, England, where its Puritan founders had studied. In 1950, the population of 120,000 ranged from distinguished professors to recent immigrants and included thousands of international students[5]. Some of those professors and students would play a prominent role in starting Opus Dei centers in the United States and other countries[6].

An Areopagus

Karol Cardinal Wojtyla came to Cambridge in the summer of 1976 to lecture on medieval Polish mysticism in the Harvard Divinity School[7]. He returned to Boston Common just three years later as Pope John Paul II during his first pastoral visit to the United States (Oct. 1, 1979). Later he began to use the concept “Areopagus” to indicate concentrations of intellectual and cultural influence like Cambridge where he thought a missionary outreach by members of the Church was especially needed: “After preaching in a number of places, St. Paul arrived in Athens, where he went to the Areopagus and proclaimed the Gospel in language appropriate to and understandable in those surroundings. At that time the Areopagus represented the cultural center of the learned people of Athens, and today it can be taken as a symbol of the new sectors in which the Gospel must be proclaimed”.[8]

Four years later the Pope reiterated: “The more the West is becoming estranged from its Christian roots, the more it is becoming missionary territory, taking the form of many different ‘areopagi’”. The younger generation must play a key role in this new evangelization, he added[9].

Fifty years earlier, José María González Barredo (Joseph, as he was known in the United States), was the first of Opus Dei’s members to arrive in the North American “areopagi” (1946). Barredo visited a number of cities, including Boston, before taking up residence in Chicago to prepare for the stable opening of the apostolate three years later when Father Múzquiz and Salvador Martínez Ferigle arrived from Spain. The first residence, Woodlawn, opened near the University of Chicago in September 1949 to begin the apostolate there and at nearby Illinois Institute of Technology.

Opus Dei’s apostolate expanded to Boston in 1952. Besides Harvard and M.I.T., eighty more colleges and universities attract thousands of students from throughout the United States and the world to metropolitan Boston—all the more reason, as Bishop del Portillo observed, for Opus Dei to work with the young people there.

The first steps—1946-53

Joseph Barredo

José María González Barredo visited Boston shortly after his arrival in the United States in March 1946 while searching for a place to use a three-year fellowship in theoretical physics granted by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. St. Josemaría had advised him to pursue his work in the United States so that he could make contacts and investigate the possibility of establishing Opus Dei centers in American cities.[10]

After a brief stay in New York City, Barredo spent the rest of the month traveling, getting to know a country still celebrating the return of peacetime, only to discover that a new kind of “cold war” darkened the prospects of peace. After meeting Msgr. Francesco Lardone[11], a specialist in canon law, at the Apostolic Delegation in Washington, Joseph made brief stops in Chicago and Boston before deciding to make New York his research base. He took a room at Columbia University’s International House and began to meet faculty members. Among them was historian Carlton J.H. Hayes[12], former U.S. Ambassador to Spain, who alerted him to the Boston area’s superior research facilities in his field.

Barredo followed this advice and made a trip to Harvard and M.I.T. He was warmly received and given a research position in the M.I.T. physics department, where he spent the remainder of the spring and summer, residing at Graduate House. Among others he met there was a professor of chemistry from Barcelona, Dr. Amat, also doing work at M.I.T. Barredo introduced himself to archdiocesan authorities, beginning with the secretary of Archbishop Richard Cushing, Msgr. John J. Wright, who would soon become Auxiliary Bishop (June 1947). What Barredo told Msgr. Wright about Opus Dei struck a chord with him, and the future Cardinal became a loyal friend and supporter of the apostolate in the United States[13].

In April, 1946 Barredo went to St. Benedict Center, located next to Harvard Square, to meet Father Leonard Feeney, S.J. who at the time had a large following among Catholic students and professors, and was famous for making converts. Through Father Feeney Barredo met Daniel Sargent, a well-known Catholic biographer and lecturer, who took a keen interest in Opus Dei and became one of its earliest friends and benefactors in the U.S. Father Feeney invited Barredo to speak about Isidoro Zorzano (1902-1943), one of the first members of Opus Dei, in the St. Benedict Center’s lecture series. This was an occasion to meet Harvard faculty members and students, and to distribute prayer cards for private devotion of Zorzano, whose cause of canonization was about to be introduced in Madrid. Barredo had known Zorzano in the early years of Opus Dei.

In the fall of 1946, Barredo moved to Washington and secured a research position at the National Bureau of Standards. He remained there about a year before taking a position in the laboratory of Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago in October 1947 (returning to Cambridge in spring 1948 as invited participant in a physics symposium at Harvard). On April 18, 1948 Barredo welcomed don Pedro Casciaro and two companions who had been sent to the U.S. by St. Josemaría to prepare the ground for Opus Dei’s apostolate in North America. Barredo accompanied them on some of their visits to various cities, including Boston.

Father Joseph Múzquiz

Fr. José Luis Múzquiz was the next member of Opus Dei to visit Boston— a few days after Barredo met him and Salvador Ferigle (known in the United States as Sal, and later Father Sal) upon their arrival in New York, Feb. 17, 1949[14]. While Ferigle remained in New York City, Barredo accompanied Father Múzquiz to Boston, where they spent two days calling on persons Barredo had previously met, including Bishop Wright. After similar visits in Washington, they rejoined Ferigle in New York and on Feb. 22 traveled by train to Chicago to begin the organized apostolate in the United States.

On numerous subsequent trips to Boston, Father Múzquiz continued to develop and broaden those initial contacts, assist with the apostolate, and become acquainted with the city, its universities, their students and professors. These trips were part of many journeys to meet people and deepen friendships wherever the apostolate would eventually spread.

The Pioneers

When the next members of Opus Dei arrived from Spain to take up residence in Boston at the beginning of 1952, a good number of persons had already learned of the Work and were hoping to see it open a center in Boston. Dr. Santiago Polo (who soon became known as Jim) was the first “permanent settler”. He took lodging near Harvard University—at 12 Ellery St. in Cambridge—in the boarding house of Mrs. Sullivan. Polo had received a two-year post-doctoral appointment to pursue research in spectroscopy at Harvard[15].

A few months later, Luis Garrido (who would be known as Louie) arrived from Spain to pursue a doctorate in physics at Harvard. Garrido and Polo rented an apartment on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, just across the Charles River from Cambridge. By then, John Loria, a married graduate student at M.I.T., had become friends with Polo, and helped find furnishings for the apartment. Loria was intrigued by the way these newcomers cheerfully reacted to the unfamiliar environment. Among other things, “they had very little to eat. Once when I went shopping with Louie, he bought only two large jars of marmalade; later I learned that bread and marmalade was their staple”[16]. They were on a limited budget because they were sending as much of their stipends as possible to help relieve the financial needs in Rome where construction of Opus Dei’s international headquarters was under way.

By fall 1952 Polo and Garrido had gotten to know several Harvard students including Bernard Law, the future Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, whose fluency in Spanish facilitated a friendship. Law introduced them to a number of his friends, including Bill Stetson, a junior in pre-law, and Bob Bucciarelli, a first year student in history[17]. Bucciarelli liked to talk with Polo and sometimes visited him in his lab. He recalls that one time they talked about why the Catholic Church should have schools of its own in the United States.[18] During that first year, Bucciarelli also met Stetson and some of his friends, primarily through gettogethers at Adams house where Stetson was living[19].

Polo and Garrido explained Opus Dei to Law. Around Christmas 1952 he decided to enter a diocesan seminary, which he did soon after his graduation in spring 1953[20]. In later years, he jokingly attributed his decision to follow a call to the priesthood instead of to Opus Dei to a poor meal he had been served in the Commonwealth Avenue apartment[21]. Before leaving Harvard, he asked Bucciarelli to “take care of” his two Spanish friends.

Meanwhile, Loria was continuing to meet regularly with Garrido and Polo at their apartment and in his home. Loria credits his wife Maria, whom he had met on active duty in the Philippines, with having kindled in him a new commitment to practice the faith, thus laying the groundwork for what was to come. He found in his new friends’ simple, ordinary path to sanctity exactly what he had been searching for: “I had a strong feeling that this was the answer to my search… Everything Jim said about Opus Dei seemed so clear and obvious… I was already going to daily Mass, but something was missing—an overall plan for my spiritual life. My wife and I had often spoken about the need for spiritual direction for lay people… It was Our Lady who heard these pleas and answered them”[22].

The Lorias had made their home in Cambridge—“by coincidence” at 13 Ellery, just across the street from Mrs. Sullivan’s boarding house—shortly after he returned from military service in 1947 to complete his program in aeronautical engineering at M.I.T. (B.S., 1950; M.S., 1952). Their third child was on the way.

One day in 1953, Loria asked Polo how many supernumerary members there were in the United States. “You would be the first one”, Polo responded. By then, Loria had met Father Múzquiz on one of his trips and was encouraged to pursue his formation. A few months later Loria decided to ask for admission. Father Múzquiz urged him, in a letter from Chicago, Nov. 6, 1953, to “talk with Jim. He will explain more things to you—and the more you know the more you’ll love it. Father Bill [Porras] is going to Boston in a few days and I’ll be going a little later”.

The First Residence

Polo and Garrido, assisted by John and Maria Loria, had begun sometime in 1952 to look for a suitable building to serve as a student residence but had made little progress, primarily for lack of money. The arrival in Boston of Fr. Guillermo Porras Muñoz, a recently ordained (1951) Mexican member of Opus Dei known in the United States as Father Bill, triggered a series of rapid steps that would lead to the opening of the first center of Opus Dei in the city[23].

Father Porras contacted Sol Rosenblatt, a Jewish attorney with a warm spot in his heart for Hispanic culture; Father Múzquiz had met him on an earlier trip to New York[24]. In the course of that meeting—the start of a long friendship with Opus Dei—Rosenblatt had offered to be of any help he could.

Father Porras phoned Rosenblatt to ask whether he knew anyone who might be willing to provide a second mortgage in order to buy a house. Rosenblatt asked the logical question: “How much money do you have to start with?” One can imagine his astonishment on hearing the young priest’s reply: “About a hundred dollars”. But when Father Porras heard Rosenblatt’s response: “Father, you can’t buy a house for a hundred dollars”, he retorted: “That’s why we need a second mortgage”. Recalling Father Múzquiz’s optimism and daring, and musing to himself that Opus Dei must really be a work of God if it operated on faith like that, the attorney put Father Porras in touch with a Boston colleague, Mrs. Louise Day Hicks, who might be able to help[25].

Mrs. Hicks, who belonged to an Irish Catholic family, was well connected and inclined to assist people in need[26]. She met with Father Porras, was impressed by his combination of seriousness and sincerity and by the importance of his mission, and put him in touch with the chancellor of the Archdiocese, Msgr. Walter Murphy, who the very next day sent a friend of his, Mildred Baird, a realtor, to meet with Father Porras. Miss Baird, too, was ready to help this idealistic young priest who wanted to bring a Catholic presence to the secular life of the community and its universities. She was undaunted by the fact that the members of Opus Dei had so little money. It was enough to see their intentions and to know that they had come with the blessings of the Archbishop[27].

In late November, Ms. Baird showed Father Porras two connected town houses at 22 and 24 Marlborough St., well situated in the Back Bay a short distance from the Public Garden and just across the Charles River from Cambridge and M.I.T. Members of Opus Dei had looked at this property earlier but rejected it as too expensive. Now however, Ms. Baird offered to donate her commission on the sale as part of the down payment and Msgr. Murphy provided the rest of the down payment. With that, the bank mortgage arranged by Rosenblatt, and a second mortgage from Mrs. Hicks, they were able to purchase the adjoining houses in December 1953[28].

This first center of Opus Dei in Boston would be called Trimount House[29]. It comprised two 5-storey brownstones with basements that had been in use as a boarding house. The 34 rooms and 15 baths were fully furnished, although many furnishings were so dilapidated they had to be discarded[30]. The first floor had high ceilings, and a long, broad staircase led to the second floor landing that opened into what would become the oratory in front and the study room in back.

The First Mass

Boston’s Archbishop, Richard J. Cushing, was “enthusiastic about the project and wrote to say that he saw a ‘real need’ for the apostolate of the Work and wanted to bless the house and say the first Mass”[31]. That ceremony was not to take place until things were better settled—in October 1954, after the oratory was properly installed.

Holy Mass was celebrated for the first time in Trimount House on Christmas Eve, 1953 by Father Múzquiz, who traveled from Chicago for the occasion. It took place in the study room and was attended by several former residents of the boarding house who had stayed on, students from four universities, and early friends and benefactors, some of whom provided sacred vessels and vestments. The universities represented were Harvard, M.I.T., Boston University, and Tufts University Medical College[32]. As a reredos, John Loria’s sister-in-law, Joan Loria, painted a large copy of a classical painting of the Flight into Egypt[33].

Father Porras’s observations are reported in a written account, which concludes:

Some new fellows are coming around, and the apostolate increases day by day as we are able to give them the attention they deserve. From now on, our work… will be more stable. Among those who are closest, we are thinking we can start days of recollection. We have spoken with them, and soon they will form a select group… It’s a great feeling to be getting started in the city of Boston, although we were already here for some time. Trimount House is a great step forward in the apostolate—made possible by everyone’s prayers. It won’t be long before you hear more news from us, and it will fill you with joy to see how things are developing in the old capital on the three hills[34].

Getting organized—1954

Trimount House

Acquiring the house was a major step forward, but much remained to be done both to refurbish it and to organize the apostolic activities. José Manuel Barturen (first known in the U.S. as Mel and later as Manolo) arrived from Spain early in 1954 to serve as director[35]. About the same time, Dick Rieman arrived from Chicago to help put the house in order and meet students. A recent graduate of DePaul University and a Navy veteran, Rieman had become the first member of Opus Dei in the United States on July 15, 1950. After six months in Boston, he moved on to Rome to spend three years in Opus Dei’s international center of formation, the Roman College of the Holy Cross[36]. After his ordination in 1958 he returned to Trimount as “Father Dick”, the second chaplain of the residence. It was the beginning of his long and continuing association with the apostolate in Boston.

It was beyond their means to hire professional labor, except for the most indispensable tasks such as plumbing[37]. To do most of the work, the residents and their friends had to acquire new skills—restoring and repairing used furniture, masonry, painting, and varnishing. Throughout the spring of 1954, Barturen, Father Porras, Garrido, Polo, and Loria put a number of helpers to work. These included several Harvard students, among them Bucciarelli and Stetson[38].

Pedro (Peter) Ejarque arrived in the summer from Spain to join the work effort. Even Father José Ramón Madurga Lacalle (known in the U.S. as Father Ray), was pressed into service as he passed through Boston on his way to Chicago (he became the second Counselor of Opus Dei in the United States the following year). As Father Múzquiz put it, “since they were in a hurry to finish the remodeling, they greeted him with one hand and handed him a paintbrush with the other”[39].

The remodeling was well under way by late spring, but greatly hampered, as usual, by lack of money. Fund raising was a high priority. Many people were invited to visit the residence, in the hope that they would become interested enough to help financially. In April a prestigious Boston engineer introduced more than a dozen business associates to Trimount and encouraged them to help. They gathered in the sparsely furnished living room, shared a meal in the dining room, and before an informal get-together were given a tour of the house. Such “get-acquainted” sessions were repeated several times that year with a growing number of friends and benefactors[40].

One of the people met in that way was a used furniture dealer. He personally selected items he thought would give the residence an agreeable tone and a few days later returned with a truckload of dining room and parlor chairs, curtains, and other furnishings. Then another truck brought a dining room table, six sofas, and small items such as vases. “When we visit the store”, a contemporary account narrates, “we follow this procedure: ‘That piece is nice’. ‘Can you use it in the residence?’ ‘It might look nice in the hall’. ‘Well then, take it’”. Similar “negotiations” took place at other used furniture stores. Prices came down, and some pieces were donated: “If you don’t mind, we’ll send these right over”[41].

Sometimes help came from entirely unexpected quarters, apparently chance acquaintances whom they had no reason to expect help from. These were referred to as “angels”. One owned a plumbing company. Contacted for assistance in stopping leaks, he replaced defective bathroom fixtures at his own expense. Another was the president of an advertising company that maintains billboards along highways and on buildings. When they phoned him he promised to send painters, but then a late August hurricane damaged 340 billboards they had to repair or replace. Nevertheless, three African-American painters volunteered to help at night after their regular hours.

One way or another, when the fall semester began in September, Trimount had been renovated and refurnished by the people of the Work, friends, and “angels”. “Angels” also found new residents—among them, Jean Duvivier (from Quebec), Vincent Solomita, and Lou Mazzola.

A major source of support was a “ladies auxiliary” that formed under the enthusiastic leadership of Mrs. Helen McManus and Mrs. Jim Fitzgerald; eventually it had about forty members, some well known in the city. Among them were the professional women who had found the house and begun furnishing it—Ms. Baird and Mrs. Hicks. Bishop Wright’s mother was also among them, and lived out her days as an active cooperator[42]. Each member asked friends for $50 contributions (the equivalent of $500 today). One of them approached the owner of a factory and several lumberyards in Boston. She was a widow supporting the education of ten nieces and nephews, but she agreed to make a large contribution for the oratories and sent over an adviser on chapel installations (Mr. Hayes)[43].

Virginia Paine and several other ladies contacted the priests who supplied vestments for Mass and Benediction, sacred vessels, altars and benches. These priests became lifelong friends of Opus Dei: Msgrs. Murphy, Murray, Lawrence Riley, and Thomas Riley. Msgr. Murphy was chancellor, and Msgr. Thomas Riley rector of St. John’s Seminary[44] (Both Thomas and Lawrence Riley subsequently became auxiliary bishops[45]).

Spiritual activities had begun while remodeling was still in progress. A day of recollection took place on Sunday Feb. 7, 1954 for residents and their friends and continued thereafter each month[46]. In midyear, the first American edition of Camino (The Way) appeared and immediately became an important resource. Father Múzquiz was the chief translator, and William Doyle Gilligan, first director of Scepter Press, saw it through publication[47]. This first book of St. Josemaría to become available in English was the “primer” of the spirit of Opus Dei for the young Americans who came into contact with the Work in the early years. A corrected second printing was published in 1956[48].

Monthly evenings of recollection for married men began in September for people already in touch with the Work. One of the participants was Jacques Bonneville, a graduate of McGill University in Montréal who had come to M.I.T. from Quebec in September 1950 with his wife and young children to pursue doctoral studies in mechanical engineering. “I first learned of Opus Dei when Father Múzquiz gave a talk at M.I.T.’s Newman Club in 1953. A friend who accompanied me, Roger Langlois, spoke for me as well when he commented, ‘I could go for this if I weren’t already married’. I was set straight on that score when I met John Loria in 1954. He invited me to the evening of recollection where I met Father Bill Porras. He was always cheerful, and had a fine sense of humor”[49].

The Official Opening

The formal beginning of the apostolate in Boston took place on October 19, 1954 when Trimount House was inaugurated and the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the oratory. The events of that day were reported in a written report. The account is worth reproducing at length:

Opening day had been anticipated with great eagerness. Just a few hours earlier, the house seemed to be in complete disarray. But when the actual moment came, everything was sparkling. The preparation had occupied us for months, but on October 18 a thousand details still awaited attention—even in the oratory, as we moved the altar forward in order to hang a drapery behind the reredos [in the bay window of the former ballroom]. A little later in the day the benches arrived, and a couple of men laid the carpet. A seat and a kneeler for the Archbishop were placed on the Gospel side… Another kneeler was placed on the Epistle side for the Counselor [Father Múzquiz] who came from Chicago to be with us.

Carnations and roses graced the oratory, living room, and library—the gift of a Jewish florist. The oratory was resplendent. Above the altar shone our ivory 15th-century Gothic triptych—a gift of Daniel Sargent, one of our first cooperators. He had received it from the previous Archbishop, Cardinal O’Connell, who had received it in his turn from a member of the Spanish royal family. An ejaculation in gold letters outlined in crimson had been added: on the upper part “Sancta Maria” [Holy Mary] and on the sides “Spes Nostra, Sedes Sapientiae” [Our Hope, Seat of Wisdom][50].

The Archbishop had been looking forward to this occasion ever since we acquired the house. As he was not feeling well, it took a special effort for him to celebrate this Mass for our friends and benefactors, especially the ladies auxiliary. The doors leading to the hallway were opened, and from there residents and students attending our spiritual activities sang the Mass responses[51].

At the end of Mass, the Archbishop said: “I met Opus Dei in Spain some years ago, in the residence in Santiago de Compostela. I was so impressed that I began to foster a hope that Opus Dei would come to Boston. The reality we see here only increases that hope; it is just a beginning”[52]. Archbishop Cushing went on to speak of the country’s need for a Catholic culture and said to those present, some of them his personal friends: “There is a tremendous urgency for the Work here in America. I am very grateful for the help you have given, and I expect you will continue helping”[53].

The contemporary account continues:

After Mass we went to the dining room for breakfast. The Archbishop kept speaking of the great mission Opus Dei has begun in the United States. In the afternoon there was an open house for 300 to 400 guests—including officials of the archdiocese and the city[54]. The ladies auxiliary arranged everything: the table with its elegant tablecloth, and as a centerpiece an antique silver vase filled with red roses. One of the ladies brought a crystal bowl and encouraged her friends to leave donations; eventually everyone made a contribution. The residents guided our friends through the house in small groups amidst many compliments. That day everyone was drawn closer to the Work.

For many days we received phone calls and visits from people wanting to donate articles for the various rooms. One of the callers was Msgr. [Walter] Murphy: “The chalice Mrs. McManus gave you needs a rich ciborium in the same style. Tell me the price; I want it to be in my name”. A retired professor offered books for the library. An article with photos appeared in the press. And so our residence has officially opened with residents from five universities. One of the visitors spoke for all of us when she told her young son, “I want you to remember this day well because one day perhaps you will also live in this house when you are older and love God more”[55].

A New Chaplain for Harvard

In the course of Trimount’s inaugural reception, Archbishop Cushing appointed Father Porras chaplain of Harvard’s Catholic Club. At the time, Harvard had about 400 Catholics among its approximately 4400 undergraduates[56]. Their spiritual care was entrusted to a Catholic Club, Harvard’s equivalent of the Newman Clubs that exist on the campuses of most secular universities in the United States. The Club was housed in St. Paul’s parish. From 1952 to 1954, the chaplain, Rev. Vincent McQuade OSA, had not been able to function effectively since he was simultaneously president of Merrimack College, 90 miles away in Andover, New Hampshire. When he resigned from the chaplaincy in spring 1954, the Club was virtually defunct[57].

Several influential Catholics, including Mrs. McManus and Mrs. Fitzgerald had previously observed to the Archbishop that Father Porras would make a good chaplain[58]. Now at the reception, the appropriate moment seemed to have arrived. According to Msgr. Bucciarelli, “Mrs. McManus, whose son was a classmate of mine, turned to another classmate, Leo Zavatone, and me: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if Father Porras were chaplain of the Harvard Catholic Club?’ Upon receiving our affirmative reply and without further hesitation, she turned to the Archbishop and asked him to make the appointment”[59]. Dr. Schmitt adds: “Spontaneously, on impulse—the Archbishop’s characteristic way of acting—he walked up to Father Múzquiz and asked if he would like to be appointed; slightly flustered, Father Múzquiz replied, ‘I think you mean that priest across the room’. Then the Archbishop went up to Father Porras and repeated the proposal”[60]. Upon his agreement, the Archbishop made the appointment on the spot[61].

Father Porras lost no time beginning his duties as Harvard’s Catholic chaplain, although he had no office on campus at first. He also increased his efforts to acquaint himself with the University. At the December meeting of the Club’s officers (the president was Leo Zavatone) he helped them lay plans for the new academic year. Among other things it was decided to begin a monthly day of recollection at Trimount, separate from the scheduled activities of the house[62].

The Harvard Setting

Harvard is the oldest center of higher education in the United States (1636). Originally an undergraduate College, graduate and professional schools were added in 1870 and thereafter. Like most American universities, Harvard experienced unprecedented growth in every measurable statistic in the twenty years following World War II. Already the country’s most prestigious and wealthiest university, a new dynamic began to drive Harvard in the early ‘50s— precisely when the apostolate of Opus Dei arrived to help give it direction and substance in the lives of many students and professors. A recent historian has termed Harvard in that period an “Eden, a truly collegial place where the life of the mind was valued and everything needful was at hand”[63].

In spite of growing ethnic and religious diversity during the 1950s, a distinctive self-conscious socio-academic culture still characterized the student body. According to one historian, “the prevailing social style was polite arrogance—spare, dry, cautious, and angular… Most undergraduates of the fifties and early sixties appear to have reveled in the heady mix of high status and social and intellectual vitality”[64]. A “proudly male” undergraduate population was complemented by a feminine presence at neighboring Radcliffe College (its gradual absorption into Harvard began in the 1950s at the graduate level, and was completed in 1999). Admission of women to Harvard’s graduate and professional programs began in the 1950s, and to the faculty in the 1960s.

When the apostolate of Opus Dei began at Harvard, Catholics accounted for 12% of the student population in a largely Protestant environment (52%)—a smaller minority even than those with no religious affiliation (20%) and Jewish students (15%). The religious environment had gradually evolved over three centuries from strict adherence to Congregational (Calvinist) tenets through a long period of Unitarianism (a softer and more tolerant form of Protestantism) to the semi-dogmatic secular humanism of today. Under President Charles W. Eliot (1869-1909) “the last vestige of the Puritan seminary disappeared”; compulsory chapel became voluntary and Harvard’s original crest (Veritas – Christo et Ecclesia) was simplified to a purposely ambiguous “Veritas[65].

Catholics steadily gained intellectual respect at Harvard throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. As at many secular colleges in America, many conversions took place there, and some converts became scholars of the first rank. By mid 20th century, significant shifts had occurred both in Protestant and in Catholic conceptions of higher education and its relationship to the study and practice of religion. A 1957 study by the Harvard Student Council found that the institution “nurtures a vague but pungent faith of its own which can be characterized roughly as humanitarian, democratic, and scientific”; within that context, formal “religion has largely shifted for itself”. But the study questioned the common perception that the Harvard experience tends to weaken the faith of students. Assuredly, the secular academic fear of advocacy had led most teachers to omit religious topics, but this was offset by a “wave of religious interest” that began with World War II[66].

Nathan Marsh Pusey, appointed President of Harvard in 1953, was a powerful influence in giving religion a more prominent place in the life of the university and in promoting a greater integration of faith and the humane disciplines. Like his predecessors, Pusey was descended from an old New England family and a Harvard graduate (B.A. ’28, Ph.D. in classics ’35)—the last president with that distinction. As would become apparent in later decades, Pusey guided Harvard “to one of the highest points in its history”. Under his leadership “departments, faculty, course offerings, and so far as one can tell, the classroom experience reached the crest of an historical wave… It was the first time in many decades that the Harvard undergraduate was virtually guaranteed a comprehensive education”, with access to “argument, exposition, contemplation, and camaraderie” that made “Pusey’s Harvard” unique in the land[67].

As these factors coalesced during the chaplaincy of Father Porras, Catholic culture flourished more than at any other time in Harvard’s long history; “the chaplain and students in the fifties were less defensive […] and more intent on establishing the spiritual and material means to nourish and fortify Catholic students”[68]. Harvard’s age-old “white Anglo-Saxon Protestant” character began to fade as the faculty and student body became more cosmopolitan. “Pusey had an ecumenical sympathy with Catholics, substantially reciprocated. And Catholics themselves became more ready to send their sons to Harvard” during his tenure[69].

Like Harvard’s new president, Father Porras linked student success to the quality of their formation. As everywhere, he observed, students who come to Harvard with poor formation “are influenced by the environment instead of being an influence on it”[70]. The solution was to make solid formation more accessible and attractive through the Club’s chaplaincy and programs. At the initiative of its officers, an office was secured on campus in Phillips Brooks House, and the chaplain kept regular hours. In 1955 the Catholic Club was one of 78 active undergraduate organizations with university recognition. Its membership rose slowly to about 200 in 1958-59 (the second largest student religious group after Hillel, which had 700). To reinforce the development of future leaders, the Club brought to the campus in the mid-‘50s distinguished speakers (most of them converts and laymen)[71].

New Friendships

At a lecture by Catherine de Hueck Doherty in September 1954, Carl Schmitt (just back at Harvard to pursue a doctorate in history)[72] was introduced to Bob Bucciarelli by James Murphy. The three of them had grown up in the vicinity of New Canaan, Connecticut. Schmitt and Murphy were also friends of members of the family of Malcolm Kennedy, a freshman from New York City, who would soon join the blossoming friendship.

Such meetings of like-minded students would occur over and over at the lectures and frequently develop into lasting friendships. “During that school year”, Msgr. Bucciarelli recalls, “Carl and I saw one another often because we took some medieval history courses together. Carl joined St. Paul’s choir, of which I was also a member. We traveled together between school and home, sometimes hitchhiking or in a car I would borrow from home. From time to time we went to a movie or some cultural event in Boston and to get an Italian meal in the North End”[73].

At the end of 1954, Father Porras received a unique opportunity to form a friendship that would also put his work on a strong supernatural footing when God sent the best “angel” of all. Bishop Wright, now in the neighboring Worcester diocese, was visiting a 17-year-old high school athlete (from Canterbury College in Worcester) confined to an iron lung in a Boston hospital, a victim of poliomyelitis that left him paralyzed from neck to feet[74]. Bishop Wright asked Father Porras if he could bring daily Communion to this student, whose name was Richard.

That very afternoon, when Father Porras arrived at the hospital, Richard identified him as the Opus Dei priest who was giving spiritual direction to two of his teachers. Richard began the conversation: “Earlier I had wanted to ask some questions, but the opportunity hasn’t come until now. If you are up for it, we could talk a while every day”. After agreeing on a regular time for his visits, Father Porras left, as Richard smiled and called out, “Sorry I can’t accompany you to the door”.

Father Porras tried to make the daily visits entertaining and cheerful gettogethers. Often Richard mentioned the Work. One day Father Porras asked if he would like to take part in the Harvard apostolate by offering his forced inactivity for that and other intentions as well: “for the Father, for the Roman College of the Holy Cross, and the expansion of the Work in Boston and everywhere”. This suggestion met with great enthusiasm as a way to make good use of his confinement: “Yes, yes, I’ll pray a lot all the time. I promise!”. The next day, Father Porras brought Richard a relic of Isidoro, which had just arrived from Spain. From now on, he will be “very close to all of us”[75].

Developing the apostolate—1955

The Harvard Front

The pace of the apostolate quickened after the official inauguration of Trimount House, thanks in part to a recently published brochure. The number of residents increased, and each day brought some new development. One day a lady came to the door with $15 in coins. Her husband (probably John Loria or Jacques Bonneville) had helped to work on the house during the renovation. When their small children and playmates heard about the lack of money to pay workers, they decided to help out by skipping candy bars and saving the money. Another time a group of Catholic students from various Latin American countries including Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Panama, and Peru asked to make a day of recollection at Trimount, following the typical schedule of meditations and talks. After Benediction they asked many questions about Opus Dei in the course of a long get-together[76].

Before the new semester began in January 1955, freshman Malcolm Kennedy returned from vacation and went to Kirkland House for Sunday dinner with Carl Schmitt, now back at Harvard after a three-year post-graduate absence. Bob Bucciarelli joined them just as they were finishing, and Bill Stetson arrived shortly thereafter from his job as organist at a local church. Bucciarelli introduced Stetson to Schmitt, and the four of them decided to go downtown to a movie. “It was an Anglo-Italian production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the Beacon Theatre—a beautifully photographed film which I learned later had provided St. Josemaría with ideas for designing and decorating a room in Villa Tevere [the central house in Rome], then under construction”[77].

After the movie, since it wasn’t dark yet, we went out of curiosity to the nearby Common. Bob suggested we walk over to Marlborough St., which was nearby; he said he knew some people there. He rang the bell at the front door of Trimount House with some insistence, but no one came. Finally, a window on the third floor opened and a heavily accented voice informed us that no one was home. I suspect they were away on retreat. The interesting thing about this incident is that the four of us would be in the Work not long thereafter[78].

Msgr. Bucciarelli recalls that a month or so later a flu confined him to the student ward of Mt. Auburn Hospital for a couple of days. “The word reached Father Bill, who came to visit me. That kindness impressed me very much. Later that year I brought a number of friends to Trimount for Sunday dinner and get-together”[79]. Although Bucciarelli had been in contact with members of Opus Dei for some time (helping out at Trimount and introducing friends), he had not attended spiritual activities. By contrast, Stetson (another helper) had begun attending Saturday meditations and Benediction and was bringing friends along.

In the opening months of 1955 the apostolate was getting into full swing. The few members of the Work began organizing seminars on different topics of spiritual as well as intellectual interest for the members of the Catholic Club. In addition to their intrinsic value, the seminars offered one more occasion to get to know other students and to build friendships. A number of those initially contacted in this way began joining members of the Work on excursions and going to Trimount for the Saturday meditations and get-togethers, as well as days of recollection one Sunday a month. In many cases, they found themselves attracted by the family atmosphere of the residence and by the simple, unpretentious friendship they observed among the residents. Other members of the Catholic Club, such as George Rossman, a first-year student from New Hampshire, would meet Opus Dei later.

Among the Catholic Club’s spring activities, Father Porras inaugurated a weekend retreat during Lent at Campion Hall, North Andover, Mass. Among the forty students who attended was Michael Curtin, a sophomore in physics from southern California. Shortly afterwards, he recognized this as an extraordinary opportunity to begin speaking with a priest about the direction of his studies and his life. He began attending the family and spiritual activities at Trimount, and a little before the semester ended, he became the first Harvard student to ask for admission as a numerary member of Opus Dei. Father Porras was often heard to remark in later years, “Mike joined the Work and then left for his summer job at home—life-guarding at a swimming pool!”[80].

As the spring semester drew to a close, students began reserving rooms at Trimount for the following school year, including some from other universities where they were Newman Club leaders. On his application, one of them wrote: “We need a solid interior life in order to raise the tone of our club”. In June, Manolo Barturen left Boston to “break ground” in the country’s largest city, leaving the residence in the hands of Peter Ejarque, Jim Polo, and Louie Garrido. For the rest of his life, Barturen conducted his business in New York, welcomed newcomers, and helped start the first centers in the metropolitan area[81].

Meanwhile at M.I.T.

Early in the spring of 1955, Dominick Fortunato, a co-op sophomore at M.I.T.[82], was introduced to the Work at Trimount. He spoke briefly—just long enough for a seed to be planted—with Father Porras before leaving for several months of work experience with the Ford Motor Co. in Detroit. That year Dominick was serving as spiritual activities coordinator of M.I.T.’s Newman Club and had organized its student retreat at Miramar, the Franciscan center in Duxbury on the South Shore. Ed O’Brien, Club President, had become a good friend of Dominick, who later introduced Ed to Trimount[83].

Jacques Bonneville, the Canadian graduate student at M.I.T. who had first learned about Opus Dei in 1953 and had been attending evenings of recollection for married men, joined the Work as a supernumerary in January, thereby becoming the first Canadian member of Opus Dei[84]. He was followed by Trimount residents Harold “Nick” Nicholson, a guitarist and folk singer from suburban Wellesley, whose Volkswagen was handy for excursions; Alberto Mazzolini, a medical intern from Milan, and Don Coyne, who entered the Navy shortly thereafter.

Expanding the Apostolate

During the summer, student networking continued in Boston and elsewhere. In New Canaan, Bucciarelli renewed his acquaintance with Schmitt’s younger brother, Chris; they had attended high school together. Most of the Trimount residents who remained during the summer were international students. Some of them decided on their own to beautify the living room with a new set of furniture[85]. There was an air of expectancy about the fall term at Harvard, M.I.T., and other universities, as well as the possible expansion of the Work in the Eastern United States, primarily Washington, D.C. and North Carolina. Bishop Waters of Raleigh had visited Chicago in 1952 to express hope that the Work would establish a student residence in his diocese. Father Múzquiz reciprocated by traveling several times to meet potential members of the Work in North Carolina[86].

In the fall semester Father Porras began attending the meetings of Harvard’s campus ministers in University Hall to explore common interests. Under the presidency of Dennis Looney, the Catholic Club continued to attract new members and began a newsletter edited by John O’Reilly. One of the new members was a freshman from Boston, Paul Donlan. Another member, George Rossman, now a sophomore, met the Work when he visited Trimount House on Oct. 2, anniversary of Opus Dei’s foundation in 1928, at the invitation of his Lowell House roommate, Jim Manahan, an active member of the Catholic Club who would be its president the following year.

The club, still without a meeting place of its own, used facilities in various parts of Harvard Yard. The officers usually met in Father Porras’s office in Phillips Brooks House[87]. The chaplain used the office at stated hours for appointments with students who came to consult him about moral and professional questions. Some of them began to see him for regular spiritual direction and Confession, and some he invited to visit Trimount House, which was twenty minutes away by subway.

Father Porras recorded at the time an important event, the celebration of the first Mass on the Harvard campus:

October 7, 1955 was a landmark day for us at Harvard. For the first time, Mass was celebrated on campus [in a large meeting room on the top floor of Phillips Brooks House]. As we began to plan it, there were not a few difficulties to overcome. One was the lack of precedent; all Catholic services had been confined to [St. Paul’s] parish. The Archbishop had not thought it opportune to permit Mass to be celebrated in a secular institution long hostile to religion. The university authorities also had to grant permission.

But everything worked out, and on the first Friday of October, which coincided with the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, [I] celebrated Holy Mass at Harvard. A large crucifix was mounted on the wall above a portable altar. Students filled the room and followed the Holy Sacrifice devoutly. It was Our Lord’s first visit to a place where for many years disrespectful silence has offended Him. How we begged Jesus that morning never to leave again! We offered Him our lives once more and told Him we wanted many vocations from Harvard. When Mass was over, the room was arranged for breakfast and we began to meet new fellows. Some have already come to the house and are starting to be our friends[88].

By fall, Carl Schmitt (graduate study in history), and Bill Stetson (secondyear law) had become actively involved in activities at Trimount. Together with Mike Curtin, they started inviting newcomers to the Saturday meditations, monthly days of recollection, and spiritual direction. Bob Bucciarelli (senior in history), began seeing sophomore Malcolm Kennedy more frequently, but came only occasionally to the residence for social activities. These five were becoming good friends; Father Porras had a way of facilitating such friendships among the Club members, which also helped them to get better acquainted with him[89].

On Two Fronts

A “two-front” effort got under way that fall to provide students with challenging opportunities for intellectual formation. It also aimed to increase their awareness of notable achievements by Catholic laymen in several fields of endeavor—something many of the faithful were unaware of at the time. One front, a Professional Orientation Course in the residence, was aimed at bright secondary students in Boston schools; the other front was a series of colloquia on the Harvard campus organized by the Catholic Club to supplement its lecture series.

The first front opened at Trimount with a prestigious Harvard professor who surprised the students with his clear ideas and sound judgment, and even more when he remained to pray the Rosary with them. At the Catholic Club, which had often sponsored talks by priests, the surprise was in listening to prominent lay professors. The first speaker was Dr. Heffernan from Tufts University, who spoke on “Doctors and Dogmas”—an exposé of the widespread campaign to promote birth control under way in the United States at that time[90].

The campus series continued with Dr. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddhin of the University of Vienna, who commented on the contemporary intellectual and religious atmosphere in Europe. Dr. Taylor, a Princeton University dean, spoke on the responsibilities of American Catholic intellectuals, and Dr. Francis Rodgers, Dean of Harvard’s Graduate Faculty, addressed the same topic in the context of his research in Portuguese history. He had become a friend of Father Porras, who asked him to serve as informal faculty adviser of the Catholic Club[91].

A contemporary account concludes: “What excites us the most” about this initiative is the way it is “facilitating friendships that will lead to many more discoveries, both for the students and the professors”[92]. In sum,

the apostolate at Harvard goes forward. We are reaching further as we get to know the fellows better and have more friends. Some who have already graduated are surprised because they had pretty much given up on Harvard and didn’t think much could be done here. A few days ago 250 students attended a Catholic Club rally. Something like that hasn’t happened before, but it’s just the beginning. We are looking for generous souls who want to give themselves completely, and many of them are responding[93].

One such person responded shortly before Christmas. Bob Bucciarelli had been in contact with the Work since Bernard Law introduced him to Jim Polo shortly after both arrived at Harvard in 1953 but was not taking part in the days of recollection at Trimount. On Dec. 7, Polo explained to him the vocation of supernumerary members of Opus Dei. “It may have seemed to him that I was waiting to be asked, because I took that step the very next day—December 8”, feast of the Immaculate Conception[94]. After receiving some talks about how to live the vocation to Opus Dei, and concretely the norms of piety that Opus Dei members try to live, Bucciarelli went to his family’s home in New Canaan for Christmas. During the vacation, he visited Carl and Chris Schmitt, who lived nearby.

A reduced number of residents remained to celebrate Trimount’s second Christmas. Father Porras gave the Christmas Eve meditation beside the Crib in the living room and said the three Masses beginning at midnight (as was customary at the time) with a number of guests in attendance. A get-together followed. On Christmas day, gifts were opened during the afternoon get-together; in the free time until the evening get-together, there was a movie, and on television a concert of holiday music.

The day after Christmas, some residents decided to go skiing. The meditation, Mass, and breakfast on St. John’s day, Dec. 27, took place very early so the skiers could head for the slopes. Connie, a Swiss by birth who had lived in South America before coming to Boston, provided an old Chrysler for the trip in addition to “Nick” Nicholson’s Volkswagen Beetle—at the time a novelty in the American market, still dominated by large American cars. Another resident, Dick, was born in Lithuania and had experienced wartime privations and religious persecution before coming to the United States with his parents in 1948. Like Connie, Dick studied engineering at M.I.T.

The group arrived at Laconia, N.H. about two hours later after much “talking, singing [Christmas carols in several languages], praying the Rosary, and reading from The Way”. Before long, they were at the slopes, and the “experts”— Dick and Nick—provided instructions and warnings before taking the rope tow and going off to ski. The beginners—Louie Garrido and Mike Curtin among them—took a few spills, but learned the basics on a gentler slope. After another two hours of song and prayer, the adventure ended back in Boston[95].

Wynnview in Vermont

The history of Trimount’s second year concludes with the story of Wynnview, a country place that would soon become the first conference/retreat center of Opus Dei in the United States and host future ski trips, as well as summer camps and courses.

The story begins on August 20, 1955 at 11 a.m. when Francis Kervick, a retired architecture professor at the University of Notre Dame, arrived at Woodlawn Residence in Chicago after a 90-mile trip from South Bend to offer Opus Dei his family’s 60-acre (25 hectare) farm near the town of Randolph in central Vermont[96]. Before moving to Boston to study and begin his career, Kervick had spent much of his early life on the farm. The idea of donating it to the Work had recently occurred to him upon reading an article about Opus Dei. “The farm”, he said, “belonged to my grandparents, and I want to give it to someone who will use it to bring a Catholic influence to that part of the country, where a Protestant atmosphere predominates. What little I have read about Opus Dei pleases me a lot—lay people dedicated to God. And so I’ve come to see if you would like to accept it”.

Three months later Father Múzquiz phoned Kervick to discuss the matter. The professor further specified his purpose: “My only condition is that it be used to benefit the Church, even if only some professional men and students come to play golf nearby. That would already be a good influence. In Randolph there isn’t a single Catholic professional man”. Kervick wanted to show him the farm as soon as possible, even in the winter “when the landscape is so beautiful”.

Father Múzquiz took advantage of a trip to several places in the East to visit the farm on Dec. 12 in the company of Ejarque and Garrido, who drove up from Boston. A contemporary account describes the property, as “of substantial size, with a fine view of the Green Mountains. A small stream crosses the back of the property, which has an abundance of trees and meadows. A rise across the road affords a panoramic view of the area. The snow-covered landscape gave us a sense of new life”.

The town of Randolph (pop. 4000) has a train stop that brings it within four hours of Boston and three of Montréal. A small college, Vermont Technical, is a few miles away, and a Catholic college—St. Michael’s—a bit further[97]. After visiting Wynnview, Father Múzquiz returned to Chicago through Burlington, to visit Bishop Joyce[98].

The acquisition of Wynnview concluded in Chicago on Jan. 18, 1956, in a LaSalle Street law office where Kervick transferred the farm. According to legal custom, he was paid $1 and “other valuable considerations” in this case “gratitude for his generosity and wishes that the word of the Lord be heard in Vermont”[99].

Fruition and promise—1956

An Apartment in Cambridge

The distance of Trimount House from the Harvard campus was becoming an obstacle to regular contact with many Harvard students whose busy lives did not permit them to get to the residence regularly by subway. Someone suggested renting a small apartment in the neighborhood of the campus that could provide a base for the students. When Bucciarelli returned from Christmas vacation in early January 1956, he “was asked to help search for an apartment where Harvard students could study. I asked Carl to go with me, and someone from Trimount [most likely Garrido], to look for a place”[100]. They found an apartment on the second floor of a residential hotel, the Ambassador, at 1737 Cambridge St., very near the Harvard campus. It had a living room, and two bedrooms.

A contemporary account describes the first days in this new location, which would play a major role in the flurry of vocations about to take place during spring semester:

On the first day, its living room and two study rooms were nearly empty—a single table and several chairs. We obtained another table and eight [captain’s] chairs from the University at a reasonable price. In spite of these rudimentary conditions, we wanted to begin using the apartment right away when classes resumed after the holidays. As has always happened, we decided to begin with the little we had; the rest would come later as the apostolate grew. Our expectation was not disappointed. When the apartment still lacked nearly everything, the Lord sent what we most wanted”—people[101].

Little by little, students began to assemble in larger numbers for evening study sessions. One of them, George Rossman, describes the routine as it developed during the semester:

People were given a key to come and go. On weekdays we got good crowds studying there. When the reading period came in May, the place was packed every night. We would take a prayer break for fifteen minutes at 9 p.m. During that time, Father Porras would make a brief comment on some points in The Way, read at intervals. This was followed by a short Coke break, and then back to the books. Father Porras usually received people in the other room. It was amazingly simple, but so effective[102].

“The apartment was convenient to visit because it had a kind of private entrance—a stairway right off the street. Father Bill used one of the rooms many evenings to talk with our friends; when he wasn’t there, Louie used it. When it was free, we could use it for group study projects”[103]. “The study room was narrow, with room only for the table and four chairs on each side. If someone got up, everybody else had to move to let him out. That was an incentive to keep working until the break”[104].

Besides activities at the apartment, Father Porras continued to celebrate the first Friday Masses in Phillips Brooks, and the Catholic Club continued to sponsor lectures. In the spring semester, the first speaker was John T. Noonan, a prominent attorney and future law professor and judge. Then came Father Martin D’Arcy SJ, whose series on modern philosophers was exceptionally well attended. Dorothy Day followed with a talk on her Catholic Worker Movement. Bishop Wright lectured and also addressed the club’s Communion breakfast[105].

Dr. Schmitt recalls a “memorable (and historic)” spring reception at Phillips Brooks House organized by Father Porras as club chaplain for Archbishop Cushing and President Pusey. It was the first time a Harvard president had met an archbishop of Boston. “At Father Porras’s insistence, the Archbishop came in full regalia. The affair was a great hit”[106].

The “Explosion” of the Apostolate

Bob Bucciarelli had been friends with Carl Schmitt since Carl returned to Harvard in the fall of 1954. During the following academic year, Bucciarelli turned to him for help with his senior thesis in history. In late January 1956, Schmitt accompanied Bucciarelli to Trimount for dinner and get-together.

On that first visit I wasn’t impressed by the ‘non-Harvard’ style of the residents… But when Louie took me aside to explain Opus Dei, I was completely taken by what he said; it was exactly what our times needed and completely in line with everything I believed in and hoped for. I learned of plans for the apartment when Louie and Peter drove Bob and me back to Harvard. I was reluctant at first when they asked me to help select it. But this enabled them to explain its purpose more fully. What was going through my mind was ‘holy envy’ that these guys were actually doing such a thing with holy conviction and determination.

A little while later, Bob informed me that Louie was organizing a retreat for Harvard faculty and asked me to attend (I hadn’t made one since the winter of 1953-54 at Chicago). As a proctor and adviser in a freshman house, I wasn’t really a faculty member, but Louie assured me that was no problem. The retreat, in early February, was at Miramar, the Franciscan house in Duxbury. My roommate was Vince Solomita, a young architecture instructor. Father Bill’s first meditation made a strong impression on me. He pointed to the stained glass windows—a lineup of saints, none of them lay people. Louie’s talk also impressed me—the need for a plan of life, especially including daily Mass and prayer, as a way for laymen to do everything with a prayerful spirit.

Unlike my previous retreats, when this one ended, I was eager to start living what it had been about. In place of the subtle pessimism of previous retreats, here was a new optimism and confidence. I immediately looked for Bob to inform him of my enthusiasm, and the same day he told me Louie wanted to speak to me.

The next day, February 22, I went to see him in the new apartment—the very day the rent started. By then it had a foldout sofa bed; there we sat as Louie put the question [of my vocation as a numerary member of Opus Dei]… I resisted (I was going with a girl at the time)… [but eventually] I said OK. The only writing surface was the small glass table at the base of a lamp. As it was close to the floor, I had to kneel in order to use it. We drove over to Trimount, where I spoke to Peter and stayed overnight. In a day or so I informed my girl and kissed her goodbye when she responded, “Any good Catholic girl knows very well that she has one Rival that she must yield to”[107].

Less than a week later, the next person to request admission as a numerary member was Bucciarelli himself. He attended a retreat given by Father Cormac Burke at the Passionist retreat house in Brighton. During the retreat, he spoke with Fr. Burke about becoming a numerary member, and did so on the last day of February[108].

About the same time, Schmitt wrote to his younger brother, Chris, a graduate of Syracuse University (where he had studied geography), now back home in Connecticut following a stint in the Army.

I had been encouraging Chris to begin a graduate program in cartography (his main interest) at the University of Wisconsin, where Randall House, an Opus Dei student residence, had just opened. But as I planned to spend the Easter break at Trimount, I invited him to come and spend the week with me there. He did, and after only a few days—on [March 25], Palm Sunday—decided to join the Work. He wrote our parents that he was going to stay a while and look for a job in Boston[109].

The next person to join Opus Dei was John Debicki, a Harvard freshman. Bucciarelli “met John one morning after Mass at St. Paul’s. He lived in Wigglesworth, in the Yard. Shortly afterwards, he went with me to Trimount House and started coming to the apartment. It was in March or April when I spoke with him about the Work—a cold afternoon or early evening. We walked around the block near the apartment. He was ready from the start to give himself to God”[110].

Debicki “had returned early from Christmas break and decided to begin attending daily Mass. There I saw Bob Bucciarelli, Mike Curtin, and a couple of other people I had already met”. At first, Debicki declined Bucciarelli’s invitation to visit the apartment, but “sometimes I would join him and Carl for breakfast at the Union”. Occasionally Bucciarelli invited him to Eliot House to listen to music.

The turning point in Debicki’s story appears to have been the Catholic Club’s regular Lenten retreat at Campion Hall where he shared a room with Rossman.

After that I started to pray on my own at St. Paul’s. I knew that I had some kind of vocation and prayed to St. Joseph to discover it. It was around his feast day (March 19) that I started coming around to the apartment. Bob talked with me about a vocation to Opus Dei on the evening of April 23 as we walked around in a cold drizzle. When we got back to the apartment, I talked with Father Antxon [Antonio] Ugalde[111]. All I knew was that this was what I was supposed to do; I would learn [the details] as I went along. In May, Carl, Bob, and I drove to Washington, where my parents lived. Father Joseph was there, and I introduced them to him. He accompanied us back to Boston, stopping in New Canaan on the way so he could also talk with Bob mother[112].

Debicki was the most recent member of Opus Dei for only one day. Like Bucciarelli, Bill Stetson had been introduced to the Work by Bernard Law during the 1952-53 school year, when he was a junior. Little by little he met other people connected in one way or another with Opus Dei and began to form friendships with Bucciarelli and Schmitt. On occasion, he would drop by Trimount for dinner, but took little or no part in spiritual activities at the residence until more recently. By the time the apartment opened, he was immersed in his law studies[113]. Then came the breakthrough: Bucciarelli and Schmitt “got together with Bill at an all-night cafeteria in Harvard Square (Hayes Bickford) to discuss the Work and his vocation”[114]. On April 24 “I asked to be admitted, and in May moved to Trimount House”[115].

Two Harvard sophomores joined Opus Dei early in May. George Rossman had visited Trimount for the first time the previous October, invited by his roommate, Jim Manahan. He had made the Catholic Club’s February retreat with Debicki, and had been invited to the apartment by Mike Curtin. Ever since he arrived at the College from his home in nearby Concord, New Hampshire, Rossman had taken part in Catholic Club activities, but like Debicki it was the February retreat, followed by conversations with Father Porras and Curtin, that made him get serious about the direction of his life and his studies[116].

A few days later, Malcolm Kennedy asked for admission to the Work. He has recorded in detail the story of his vocation:

I first heard of Opus Dei during my freshman year when Gil (“Jolly”) McManus, a fellow alumnus of Portsmouth Priory, entertained us at a dinner hosted by Dom Aelred Wall, O.S.B., Portsmouth’s headmaster, when he visited us in Cambridge. Gil told amusing stories about some Catholic laymen his mother had met who spoke little or no English. It was not until a year later that Carl clarified matters for me about the Work; I had known him my whole life because of the friendship between our families. At first I declined his invitations to visit the apartment because I was busy with a production of “The Merchant of Venice”. When that was no longer an excuse, I did go. It was a Wednesday evening, and Father Porras’s meditation was on St. Joseph. When we talked afterwards, I told him I didn’t think I had any faith. He made me understand that what I meant was that I wanted more faith.

After that conversation, I began to frequent the apartment because it was one of the few places where I could study well, and I had a great deal of catching up to do because of the play. I got into long conversations with Carl about history, the significance of Opus Dei, and the adventure of seeking sanctity in the middle of the world. To me it seemed a radical, exciting way beyond what is now called “the cutting edge”.

Early in May I agreed to make a pilgrimage with Carl[117]. When we went to Trimount to get a car, it was my first time inside the residence. What a revelation! What struck me was how happy everybody was, even if they were engaged in a rather silly game that seemed inappropriate entertainment for Harvard intellectuals. But here they were—physicists, doctors, historians—having an uproarious time. How much they enjoyed one another’s company!

The pilgrimage was to a Marian shrine outside Boston; though the shrine brought together the worst excesses of 1950s tackiness, the prayers brought me to ask to join the Work a few days later after a long conversation with Carl and then Louie at the apartment. It got very late, so I suggested coming back at 8 the next morning to give him my answer. During that whole semester I may never once have been out of bed that early, but there I was at the apartment at 8 o’clock sharp to say “yes”. We went straight over to Trimount. Father Múzquiz happened to be there. He told me he had been praying for me, and that now I should look forward to studying philosophy in Chicago the following month[118].

The new members of the Work needed to learn more about the details of their vocation and to acquire a deeper life of piety. As a small step in that direction, a weekly meditation for them began in May.

“We began going to Trimount on Wednesday mornings for a preached meditation and Mass. It was very early, long before the usual rising hour for students even at that time. We used Bill’s car. At first there were Mike, Carl, Bill, and I [Bob]. But when Chris, John, and George started to attend, a portable altar was set up in the apartment so the meditation and Mass could take place there. Sometimes one of us would stay overnight on the sofa, when we had to study late—as when I was working on my senior thesis with Carl’s help”[119].

Meanwhile at M.I.T., Dominick (Dom) Fortunato had returned to Boston in February from his internship in Detroit. Having a difficult time readjusting to the routine of classes, he went to see the Newman Club chaplain, Father Edward Nugent CSP, in early April. When the chaplain learned of his previous contact with Trimount, he suggested that Fortunato resume his visits with Father Porras, who was out when he came by. Father Antxon welcomed him and suggested he get in touch with Garrido, who phoned him a few days later. They chatted about his concerns, and Fortunato was delighted to learn that he could “continue in engineering and serve God at the same time”. This led him to ask for admission as a member of Opus Dei then and there.

That same day in mid April, Fortunato met Father Múzquiz, who was visiting from Chicago. He began walking the six blocks from his fraternity house to Trimount for daily Mass and began attending the days of recollection and Saturday meditations. Sometimes he would take the subway to the apartment in the Ambassador Hotel[120]. When summer began, he returned to his hometown in New Jersey to work in his father’s construction business. Father Burke, on a trip to Washington, stopped to visit him. Fortunato returned to M.I.T. in July to take two courses, moved to Trimount, and attended the second summer course of formation at Wynnview in late August.

Summer Courses

The fullest opportunity for the new members of Opus Dei to develop their understanding and practice of the vocation came in the summer when they joined older members at several family-style courses lasting between three weeks and two months, depending on their availability. Emphasis was on piety, family life[121], and study[122].

The largest of three courses was a “philosophy semester” at Woodlawn residence in Chicago. Bucciarelli (a June Harvard graduate), Carl and Chris Schmitt, Stetson, Rossman, and Kennedy joined newer members from other cities for an intensive schedule of philosophy and formation while working at summer jobs to support themselves. Bucciarelli worked on a Coca Cola delivery truck. Rossman found a job at the Illinois Institute of Technology metallurgy lab[123]. Debicki arrived late for the course and had a hard time finding a job, but eventually landed one loading trucks for a paint wholesaler. He recalls the typical daily routine: “We would have a meditation, Mass, and quick breakfast before going off to work. Most of us said the Rosary and did our spiritual reading on the el [rapid transit]. After work, dinner was followed by a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, an informal get-together, a talk on some aspect of the spirit of Opus Dei, and two classes, with half an hour free time”[124].

Father Kennedy, a New York native, provides a fuller account:

A summer of philosophy—in Chicago, of all places—was a rude shock. Bob met me on arrival and gave me a quick orientation to family life in the Work, about which I was, as he realized, without a clue. That evening, Father Jay Meroño gave the first of a series of impenetrable talks on the “conceptus universalis[125]. They were funnier to me than the silly games at Trimount House. Next day I started the job search. First, I was hired as a machinist, of all things—the only white person in a sweatshop on the south side. After two weeks, the man who hired me realized his terrible mistake, and I was given an unconditional release. There was an opening at the north side metal chair factory where Mike Curtin and Jim King were working. The fact that the work clothes they were issued were beyond laundering and had to be discarded every other day was not a good omen. After two days, I was out on the street again. I finally got lucky and found a job on the staff of the Engineering Corps that was designing the Eisenhower Expressway. All I had to do was indicate on large maps the nature of each property in its path. When summer ended, I was given an elegant certificate proclaiming me a valued member of the team designing Chicago’s highway system.

Other memorable things about that summer: weekend trips to St. Louis and Madison where the first residences were being furnished. It all ended too soon, and for me the scene soon shifted to Randolph, Vermont, and then Rome[126].

The First Wynnview Courses

The other two summer courses took place in August at Wynnview. To get things ready, members of the Work and friends from Boston had made several trips in early summer bringing furniture and working on the house. Father Al (Fr. Gonzalo Díaz, borrowed from Woodlawn, where he had been serving since 1953) stayed in Randolph at the parish rectory (Sts. Rogation and Donation, named for late third century martyrs in Gaul) while installing the oratory in the attic under the rafters. A moderately tall person could stand upright only in the center of the room. Because the roof was steeply pitched, the ceiling sloped down sharply on either side[127].

Dr. Schmitt recalls one of the trips: “Louie and several residents loaded furnishings into a pick-up truck and trailer and headed for Wynnview. Along the way, just at nightfall, the pick-up broke down and this delayed their arrival. The first order of business was to call service men to hook up the plumbing, telephone, gas and electric utilities, and to locate a local carpenter”[128]. Several more weekend excursions followed (in the old Chevie and Stetson’s Buick) to make the house habitable. As before, the ladies auxiliary and priest friends provided everything needed for the oratory—“very simple, but adequate”[129]. “The water supply was minimal. It reached us by gravity through an underground pipe from a spring in the meadow up the hill across the road, trickling continuously into a metal-lined wooden tank at the rear of the attic. From there it fed the plumbing throughout the house. There were no showers. People bathed in the stream behind the house”[130].

Accounts of these first Wynnview summer courses give an impression of fun and formation in a crowded and rustic setting. The first course ran concurrently with the Woodlawn semester and seems to have been primarily for younger men. Besides the formational activities, they continued to work on the house. Sal Ferigle, Woodlawn’s director, was in charge, and Father Múzquiz was the priest of the course. Dr. Barredo and Father Meroño drove with them from Chicago[131].

The second course, August-September, followed the Woodlawn semester, allowing those returning to the Boston area (Curtin, Carl Schmitt, Debicki, and Kennedy) an opportunity for more concentrated formation without daytime jobs. “We drove cross-country to get there. Father Cormac was present. Four people slept in the living room and the rest of us in two very multiple bedrooms. We had two bathrooms (which couldn’t be used at the same time without exhausting the water supply), did all our cooking, and planted some small pines around the house”[132].

Also driving from Chicago for this course were “older” members—John Duffy and Bill Gilligan—[133]. Those who had spent the summer working at home also attended this course. Dom Fortunato recalls that “some fellows came and went at various times during those three weeks, as their schedules required. When Malcolm arrived, he was much too tall for the oratory. Father Joseph spent time with us and gave us meditations. He took me for a walk and asked about my health. We went to a nearby farm to get milk, and made a sort of swimming hole of the stream behind the house”[134].

Several of the new American members of Opus Dei went to Rome at summer’s end to study at Opus Dei’s international center of formation for men, the Roman College of the Holy Cross, and to learn the spirit of Opus Dei directly from the Founder. Bob Bucciarelli and Chris Schmitt departed in late August to join five American students already studying in Rome. Malcolm Kennedy interrupted his Harvard studies to join them a month later. Other Americans who went to the Roman College that fall included Bob Rice from Chicago.

How was all of this explained to the families? Father Múzquiz had done Bucciarelli

the great favor of talking with my mother some weeks before, explaining the Work and the Roman College to her. This, along with the fact that Chris Schmitt would be going with me, reassured her (our parents were acquainted). My father was not as convinced, but he had already driven out to Chicago during the summer course to see how I was getting on. Both our parents accompanied Chris and me to the dock on New York’s East Side for the transatlantic crossing, and would come over four years later to attend my ordination to the priesthood and Chris’ Mass of Thanksgiving[135].

Kennedy informed his parents about joining the Work and going to Rome on the way from Woodlawn to Wynnview in late August. Because they expressed reservations, Carl Schmitt went with him to visit them at their summer home in Altamont (near Albany), N.Y. Carl was already acquainted with the Kennedys since the families had long known each other when the Kennedys lived near the Schmitts in Connecticut. In June, Carl had gone with Malcolm to the ordination and first Mass of his brother in New York[136]. Eventually “my parents had no objection if it was what I wanted; although understandably they were puzzled about my leaving Harvard so precipitously, without graduating first”[137].

Second Wind

The departure of three members of the Work was only a temporary setback to the apostolate at Harvard, and the new academic year began with ambitious plans there and at M.I.T. Returning Harvard students looked forward to resuming the apostolate in a second Ambassador Hotel apartment, a little more accommodating than the first (which was vacated in June). “In September we rented a furnished apartment on the fifth floor and followed the same routine as before”[138]. George Rossman, a junior and resident of Lowell House, looked after the apartment. President Jim Murphy and Father Porras planned the Catholic Club program; the chaplain saw students every Tuesday and Thursday in his office.

More M.I.T. students came to live at Trimount, which was under “new management”. Peter Ejarque moved to Chicago in August, and after some months would return to Spain. Having completed his post-doc, Jim Polo took a position at Princeton University. In their place, Carl Schmitt and Bill Stetson assumed major responsibility for the residence, with the partial assistance of Louie Garrido, now nearing completion of his doctorate and planning to take a position in Barcelona. “The only real continuity was Father Bill, who practically single-handedly had to educate Carl and Bill in their tasks”[139].

“Father Bill was a solid rock behind both of us at every turn. That September I began tutoring on the committee overseeing the honors program in history and literature. Besides group tutorials with sophomores and individual tutorials with juniors, we directed senior theses. What a great encouragement Bill was [busy himself with the final year of law school] in moments when I felt overwhelmed as director of a residence of 35 people and being young in the Work”[140]. Mike Curtin, a senior in physics, could also be relied on for assistance, as well as Trimount’s first director, Manolo Barturen, who visited regularly from New York.

For the first time Trimount reached its capacity. Among the newcomers were John Debicki, entering his sophomore year, Dom Fortunato, and his brother, Enrico (Rico), a freshman at M.I.T. Stetson organized a choir for residents and friends from several universities. Sal Ferigle spent a few days at Trimount in early September on his way to Rome to prepare for ordination after directing Woodlawn since it opened in 1949, completing his doctorate, and teaching physics at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

New denizens of the apartment in Cambridge included David Sperling, a graduate student in Arabic Studies. He had entered the Church the previous Easter at St. Paul’s. At that “historic” spring reception, Father Porras had introduced Sperling to Carl Schmitt. “We became friends and began having lunch together fairly regularly”[141]. Another newcomer was an unusually “fresh” Harvard freshman from North Dakota, Dennis Helming:

My first knowledge of the Work came in late October when I went to see the Catholic chaplain with some troubles. Father Bill was an impressive man, owing to his age [34 in 1956], stolid appearance, discretion and authority. He heard me out without saying much. When he asked if I had met the Work, my negative response drew from him a few broad brushstrokes and an encouragement to meet some congenial students at an apartment nearby. That night I visited it, but without any books.

Bill Stetson took me aside prior to the prayer break, and for an hour told me about Opus Dei and the vocation, ending with encouragement to consider it for myself. I begged off, saying that it seemed like a fine idea, but I didn’t know if it was for me or not; there was a lurking possibility of the priesthood. I stayed for the meditation and break, and returned to my room with the thought of further rubbing elbows with those like-souled young men. I started to frequent the apartment; the study atmosphere was winning and very helpful, as were the quickie meditations. Most impressive was the fellowship and the interest put forth by older students in a small-town greenhorn [someone lacking experience][142].

An equally “fresh” graduate student named Bob Yoest entered M.I.T. that fall, having completed his undergraduate studies in chemistry at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, his hometown. Although he had attended a Catholic university, it was not until he arrived in the M.I.T. atmosphere that he began to recognize the importance of daily Mass at the Newman Center on campus “if I was to uphold and practice my faith”[143]. The president of the Newman Club was Ed O’Brien; others Yoest met there were Dom Fortunato and several other residents of Trimount. He turned down every invitation to attend a day of recollection. O’Brien, too, continued to show no interest in activities at the residence.

Fortunato, now a senior, embarked upon his studies with renewed vigor and turned a dismal junior year into dean’s list quality in one semester. About mid-term he assumed secretarial duties at Trimount, “which consisted mainly of fixing things and typing 4 x 6 notes”. Noticing his brother’s increased involvement in the residence, Rico began “asking questions”, and on October 11 he asked to be admitted to the Work[144]. “As soon as I decided to stay at Trimount, I started attending daily Mass and Saturday meditations, but knew nothing about Opus Dei. After a couple of weeks Bill Stetson had a long conversation with me, explaining the Work and inviting me to join. I resolved the ‘vocational crisis’ in three days after a couple of conversations with Father Bill”. The next day (the Columbus Day holiday) he joined the others in an excursion to Mount Monadnock in the southwest corner of New Hampshire[145].

In late November the Trimount apostolate received pastoral reinforcement with the arrival of recently ordained Ignasi Segarra (Mossèn Ignasi), who immediately assumed his “American” name of Nick. Besides his duties in the residence and at M.I.T., he assisted at the apartment. During his first Mass, on arrival in New York, “I reminded the Virgin that we are ready for everything, with her constant help, knowing that she will always open to us new fields among the activities of these people”. At Trimount, Father Nick’s first adventure was an excursion with Bill Stetson and two residents to Wynnview. On the way back, they visited Stetson’s parents and grandmother in Greenfield, Mass[146].

By Christmas, another new priest had arrived at Trimount from Spain, Fr. Fernando Acaso (who became Father Mark). Taking stock of the increasing pace of life in Boston and Cambridge as the year drew to a close, Stetson simply remarked, “It was an exciting time”. The following August, he himself would be moving to Rome with Paul Donlan and Dennis Helming[147].

The departure for Rome of these first new members of the Work left more work for the others, but already in the next academic year, the apostolate continued to grow and produce fruit. By 1959 the Cambridge apartment gave way to a new student residence in Cambridge—Elmbrook Residence. But the story of these developments must await a future article.

John A. Gueguen, Jr. Professor Emeritus in Illinois State University and resident scholar in Wespine Study Center, St. Louis, Missouri. Born in Independence, Missouri (1933); educated at the University of Notre Dame (BA 1956; MA 1958); University of Chicago (PhD 1970). Taught at Notre Dame (1958-1966), San Francisco State University (1966-1968), University of Chicago (1968-1972), Illinois State University (1972-1996). Publications: primarily edited volumes, anthologies, study guides, articles, and reviews growing out of course research and conference papers.


Trimount House, the first university residence of Opus Dei in Boston, located on Marlborough Street.
Trimount House, the first university residence of Opus Dei in Boston, located on Marlborough Street.
On October 19, 1954, the archbishop of Boston, Richard James Cushing, blessed the house and celebrated Holy Mass for the official inauguration of the residence.
On October 19, 1954, the archbishop of Boston, Richard James Cushing, blessed the house and celebrated Holy Mass for the official inauguration of the residence.
A panoramic view of Harvard University in the 1950s, where many of Trimount House’s residents studied.
A panoramic view of Harvard University in the 1950s, where many of Trimount House’s residents studied.



[1] Contributors of Personal Recollections:
JBa     Dr. José María (Joseph) González Barredo (deceased)
JBo     Dr. Jacques M. Bonneville, Brossard, Que., Canada
RB     Msgr. Robert P. Bucciarelli, Dublin, Ireland
JD     Rev. John P. Debicki, Washington, D.C.
PD     Rev. Paul A. Donlan, Los Angeles, Calif.
DF     Dominick (Dom) Fortunato, Media, Pa.
RF     Enrico (Rico) Fortunato, New York, N.Y.
JG     Dr. John A. Gueguen, St. Louis, Mo.
DH     Dennis M. Helming, Washington, D.C.
MK     Rev. Malcolm Kennedy, New York City
JLo     John Cecil Loria, Reston, Va.
HM     Henry Hardinge Menzies, New Rochelle, N.Y.
JM     Rev. José Luis (Joseph) Múzquiz (deceased)
GR     Msgr. George M. Rossman, Sydney, Australia
CS     Dr. Carl B. Schmitt, Jr., Washington, D.C
WS     Rev. William H. Stetson, Washington, D.C.
IV     Ismael Virto, Washington, D.C.
RY     Rev. Robert L. Yoest, Lagos, Nigeria

[2] Another reason for concentrating on those who found in Opus Dei their lifelong calling has to do with the nature of Opus Dei and its apostolates. Their goal is to spread the message of the universal call to sanctity in the middle of the world and to provide those who wish to heed that call the formation and spiritual assistance they need to follow it in their everyday lives. There are, of course, many other paths to holiness in the world; only a small percentage of those who take seriously Christ’s invitation to sanctity do so as faithful of Opus Dei. Nonetheless, it is natural that vocations to Opus Dei are likely to arise within its apostolic context and then serve to sustain its ability to spread the universal call to sanctity.

[3] Brian Domitrovic, “Nathan Marsh Pusey: An Appreciation”, Modern Age, 46 (summer 2004), pp. 278, 281.

[4] General Archive of the Prelature (AGP), Sec. P04 1988, p. 538.

[5] Catholic families began to settle in Cambridge in the early nineteenth century; their numbers were greatly augmented by Irish immigrants in the 1830s and ‘40s. The first parish, St. John’s (later Sacred Heart) opened in 1842. St. Peter’s followed in 1848, and then St. Paul’s, near Harvard Square (converted from a Congregational meetinghouse in 1873). The original St. Paul’s was replaced in 1923 by an imposing Italian Romanesque structure. The pastor, Msgr. Augustine F. Hickey (1884-1965), was in his 40-year tenure when the first members of Opus Dei arrived at Harvard. A History of St. Paul’s Church, <> [visited on April 30, 2005]; Jeffrey Wills (ed.), The Catholics of Harvard Square, Petersham, Mass., St. Bede’s Publications, 1993, p. 165.

[6] Opus Dei is interested in spreading the universal call to sanctity among people of every profession and social position. In places where Opus Dei has begun to reach mature stature, a large percentage of its members are working class people with no particular educational attainments. When Opus Dei starts in a country, however, it concentrates at first on the college educated because of their ability to assimilate its message and pass it on quickly to people of all social strata.

[7] Jeffrey Wills, op. cit., p. 101.

[8] John Paul II, Litt. enc. Redemptoris missio, Dec. 7, 1990, n. 37, AAS 83 (1991), p. 284.

[9] John Paul II, Ep. Ap. Tertio Millennio Adveniente, Nov. 10, 1994, nn. 57-58, AAS 87 (1995), pp. 39-40. As if by anticipation of those visits of Pope John Paul II in 1976 and 1979, a frieze of St. Paul preaching to the Athenians was placed in the parish church adjacent to Harvard—St. Paul’s—during its construction in the early 1920s.

[10] This section draws upon the recollections of Joseph Barredo, Mar. 12, 1977, pp. 1-8 (AGP, Sec. A, Leg. 81, Carp. 3, Exp. 3). Dr. Barredo was born in Asturias (Spain) in 1906. While studying physical chemistry at the University of Madrid, he met the Founder of Opus Dei and became one of its first members on Feb. 11, 1933, four years after its founding (Barredo, like the others who came from Spain to start Opus Dei in the U.S., was what Opus Dei refers to as a “numerary member”, i.e. someone whose vocation includes apostolic celibacy and who normally, although not always, lives in a center of Opus Dei together with other numeraries. The majority of Opus Dei faithful are “supernumeraries”, whose vocation does not involve a commitment to celibacy and who normally live with their families). After the harrowing experience of the Civil War in Madrid, Barredo resumed his teaching and research at the University of Zaragoza. He is remembered by early members of Opus Dei in the U.S. as a sprightly, eternally optimistic man, often with a song on his lips, undaunted in approaching people on the street, in public transit, and especially in the schools and colleges he frequented in order to meet colleagues and students. He was able to outpace younger persons even after a train accident in Chicago (1967) left him with a leg prosthesis, which he designed himself. “Joseph delighted in conversation and often spoke about St. Josemaría and the early history of Opus Dei”. After helping to develop the apostolate in Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., he returned to Spain in the mid 1980s and died in Pamplona in 1993. Recollections of Dr. John Gueguen; hereafter JG.

[11] Msgr. Lardone (1887-1980) became a Bishop when he began his long career as Papal Nuncio in Caribbean and Latin American countries in 1949 (cfr. Annuario Pontificio 1979, p. 789).

[12] Professor Hayes (1882-1964), a devout Catholic historian, spent World War II as U.S. Ambassador to Spain (1942-45). He was well known as a professor and author in the field of modern European history. In 1945 he served as president of the American Historical Association (cfr. J.L. Morrison, “Hayes, Carlton Joseph Huntley”, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Washington D.C., The Catholic University of America, vol. 6 [1967, repr. 1981], pp. 957-958).

[13] John Joseph Wright (1909-1979) was a Bostonian who served the Archdiocese as priest and Auxiliary Bishop from 1935 to 1950. When the neighboring Worcester Diocese was created in 1950, he became its first ordinary and served there until appointed Bishop of Pittsburgh in 1959. He was elevated to Cardinal in 1969 when he became Prefect of Clergy in the Roman Curia (the first American to head a Vatican congregation). He spent the remainder of his life in Rome. Besides his service to the Church as pastor, theologian, and arbitrator, Cardinal Wright wrote several books; his discourses and addresses (1939-1969) have been published in two volumes entitled Resonare Christum. He was esteemed for the warmth of his personality, his witty and well-informed conversation, and his deep interest in people and in the contemporary world (cfr. D.W. Wuerl, “Wright, John Joseph”, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Washington D.C., The Catholic University of America, vol. 18 (1989), p. 558.

[14] José Luis Múzquiz de Miguel was born near Badajoz in Extremadura (Spain) in 1912. He met Opus Dei in Madrid prior to the Civil War and asked to be admitted upon his return from Germany in 1939. He earned doctorates in civil engineering and in history from the University of Madrid. While teaching at Madrid’s School of Engineering, he prepared for the priesthood under the supervision of St. Josemaría and was one of the first three members of Opus Dei to be ordained (1944). Five years later he came to the U.S. to begin the stable apostolate in Chicago and spent 13 years there as “Counselor”, the head of Opus Dei in the region, and as Regional Delegate (Since Opus Dei’s erection as a personal prelature in 1982, the head of Opus Dei in a region holds the title “Vicar” of the Prelate). In 1962, Father Múzquiz moved to Rome to assist the General Council of Opus Dei. Later he did pastoral work in Switzerland and Spain. He returned to the U.S. for a second period as Counselor (1976-1980) in New York City. Thereafter, he did pastoral work among lay people and priests in the Boston area. He suffered a heart attack while teaching at Arnold Hall Conference Center, Pembroke, Mass., and died nearby in Plymouth on June 21, 1983, shortly after his 70th birthday and Bishop del Portillo’s first visit to the U.S. “It is easy to picture Father Joseph’s bright face and spare figure, somewhat bowed in later years. There was a ready smile and word of affection or encouragement in his soft but persistent voice. His enthusiasm was contagious. His eyes sparkled with a cheerful optimism that never abated. A patient, gentle manner was his way of imitating St. Josemaría’s desire to ‘pass unnoticed’, never wanting to cause anyone an inconvenience or ask for special consideration. His humility, childlike simplicity, naturalness, affability, industriousness, and sense of order provided a basis for tireless dedication to priestly and administrative duties. The first American members noticed these traits primarily in his preaching and conversation, and they saw him constantly making notes and keeping current a large file of information about individuals and families he tried to stay in touch with. He had the historian’s propensity to preserve things for future use, and the engineer’s knack of knowing what could be useful” (JG).

[15] Recollections of John Loria; hereafter JLo. Shortly after his arrival, Polo met John’s father, Claudio, as both were returning home on a bus crossing the Harvard Bridge.

[16] JLo.

[17] Stetson and Law had met at the Harvard Catholic Club in fall 1950, shortly after Stetson entered Harvard College. Law introduced Stetson to other Catholic students, including Carl Schmitt, then a senior.

[18] Recollections of Msgr. Robert Bucciarelli; hereafter RB.

[19] RB. Law, Stetson, Bucciarelli and others met frequently at the early Mass at St. Paul’s, the parish that served Harvard students. Several of them sang in the choir.

[20] Recollections of Rev. William Stetson; hereafter WS.

[21] Recollections of Dr. Carl Schmitt; hereafter CS.

[22] This section relies primarily on Loria’s recollections. These first two supernumeraries in the Eastern U.S. raised seven children; there were 30 grandchildren when Maria departed this life on Dec. 28, 2003.

[23] Guillermo Porras Muñoz was born in El Paso, Tex. on July 17, 1922, into a family whose remote origins were in Chihuahua, Mexico. About 1940 he went to Mexico City to study history and jurisprudence at the National University. Advanced research took him to the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, Spain, where he met Opus Dei about 1945. Not long after converting to Catholicism (he had been an atheist), he became the first Mexican-American member of Opus Dei and went to Madrid to study philosophy and theology. While preparing for the priesthood, he added canon law to his previous studies. After helping to lay the foundations for the Opus Dei apostolate in Boston (1953-1960), Father Porras returned to Spain to complete his canon law degree, and then helped to establish the apostolate in New York City (1963-1965) before returning to Mexico City to resume his scholarly work in historical and legal studies. He died June 28, 1988. Cfr. Romana. Bollettino della Prelatura della Santa Croce e Opus Dei, 4 (1988), p. 167. Henry Menzies recalls Father Porras as “a tall, stately aristocrat, a real ‘southerner’ even before ‘the South’ existed. His ancestors had settled in West Texas long ago when it was still part of Mexico. When we first met, I took him to be a distant, even haughty person. But later I came to know his kindly manner toward everyone. He was famous for his quick wit and skill in saying a lot in a few words—an absolute delight to be with on any occasion. He preached fine, well-prepared homilies, and the residents all loved him—as did everyone he knew”. Recollections of Henry Menzies; hereafter HM.

[24] Recollections of Ismael Virto; hereafter IV.

[25] Adding to Rosenblatt’s admiring and amused astonishment, Father Porras phoned him again several months later to say that Mrs. Hicks had indeed helped find a real estate agent who had located a fine house, and that now he needed a second mortgage on another house, this one to be a women’s residence. In the early 1960s, when Carl Schmitt met Rosenblatt—by then he was a cooperator of Opus Dei—Schmitt heard this story and its conclusion: “So this man bought two houses with a hundred dollars. That’s got to be a work of God!” (CS). Sol A. Rosenblatt (1901-1968), a prominent New York attorney, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1924. Among his many charities, he was a generous benefactor of the New York Archdiocese, to the extent that Archbishop Terence Cooke attended his funeral in Synagogue Emmanuel. He was also of assistance in establishing the first center of Opus Dei in New York. Recollections of Rev. Malcolm Kennedy; hereafter MK.

[26] Louise Day Hicks (1916-2003), stylish wife, mother, lawyer, and public official, was a tough and courageous daughter of South Boston’s Irish community, a defender of working and middleclass Bostonians whose deepest loyalties she shared. When she met Opus Dei in 1953 she was a recent graduate of Boston University Law School and partner with her brother in their father’s law firm, Day and Hicks. She later served as a member of the Boston School Committee (1961-69) the U.S. House of Representatives (1970-72) and the Boston City Council (1972-78).

[27] Subsequently, Mildred Baird received formation in the women’s center, became a member of Opus Dei, and was buried in St. Joseph’s cemetery near the grave of Father Múzquiz (CS).

[28] About the same time, Father Múzquiz passed through Boston on his way to Spain to meet St. Josemaría and other early members at Molinoviejo, a conference center located near Segovia, Spain (Opus Dei had just observed its 25th anniversary). When Father Múzquiz informed the Founder of the plans for a student residence in Boston, “he told me that we should move forward. He viewed with enthusiasm the Work’s extension to Boston, as he would also do a few years later when we were ready to begin in Washington”. Recollections of Rev. Joseph Múzquiz; hereafter JM, pp. 24-25 (AGP, Sec. A, Leg. 81, Carp. 3, Exp. 1).

[29] Msgr. John J. Murray, one of the first priests Father Porras met through Bishop Wright, told Carl Schmitt that it was he who suggested that name. Msgr. Murray had been pastor of St. Paul’s in Harvard Square and chaplain of the Catholic Club from 1950 to 1952. In 1953 he was Rector of St. John’s, the Archdiocesan Seminary. “Msgr. Murray, along with Msgr. Larry Riley (later an Auxiliary Bishop of Boston) were among our most steadfast friends in the U.S. and faithful in their friendship in difficult times”. Recollections of Rev. John Debicki; hereafter JD.

[30] “Many evenings and weekends were necessary to dispose of the old furniture out the rear windows, and it took numerous trips to the dump late at night to get rid of the mess that accumulated in the alley” (JLo).

[31] AGP, Sec. P03 II-1954, pp. 40-42.

[32] AGP, Sec. P01 II-1954, p. 67.

[33] JLo.

[34] AGP, Sec. P03 II-1954, p. 43.

[35] Born of Basque parents in Havana on Jan. 1, 1926, José Manuel Barturen Palacios met Opus Dei while studying engineering at the University of Madrid. After a year at Trimount, he began an import-export business in New York City and helped lay the foundations for the apostolate in that city. He died there of a heart attack on Nov. 22, 1998 after seeing several centers open in the city, including the regional comission of Opus Dei, Murray Hill Place, located in the heart of Manhattan at 34th and Lexington. His contemporaries remember his wry smile, carefully measured speech, and undying loyalty to Basque traditions. Loria describes him as “a princely sort of man” (JLo, IV); cfr. Romana. Bulletin of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, 14 (1998), p. 316.

[36] Temporarily located in Villa Tevere—the center of general council of Opus Dei—, the Roman College of the Holy Cross, established in 1948, was receiving students from the countries where Opus Dei’s apostolate was established—twelve at that time.

[37] Archbishop Cushing paid many of those indispensable expenses: “‘Send me the bill’, he told Father Porras” (JM).

[38] RB.

[39] JM, CS.

[40] AGP, Sec. P03 IV-1954, pp. 73-76.

[41] Ibid., pp. 19-21.

[42] JM.

[43] AGP, Sec. P03 VI-1954, pp. 41-44.

[44] Ibid., pp. 19-21.

[45] Cfr. Annuario Pontificio 1979, p. 697.

[46] AGP, Sec. P03 II-1954, p. 43.

[47] Born in Limerick, Ireland, Bill Gilligan immigrated to Chicago with family members and served in the Korean War. In 1953 he organized Scepter Press in Chicago (in conjunction with Scepter Dublin) and served as its director during its first two decades. In the early 1970s he began Lumen Christi publications in Houston, Tex., where he died on Apr. 21, 2004 at the age of 76.

[48] An early comment on The Way was done by Bishop Wright, shortly after he was appointed ordinary of the newly created Worcester diocese: “I’ve read The Way carefully and find it to be a profound and practical presentation of a way that will bring those who follow it close to Our Lord”. AGP, Sec. P03 XII-1954, p. 75.

[49] Recollections of Dr. Jacques Bonneville; hereafter JBo.

[50] This exquisite piece of art with 45 carved miniature figures of scenes from the life of Christ and his Mother set within ornate borders bearing additional ejaculations was moved to the men’s center of Opus Dei in suburban Chestnut Hill in 1974 when demographic changes in the Back Bay ended the 20-year life of Trimount House. A recent appraisal identified it as a 19th century copy of the Renaissance original (CS, JD). Daniel Sargent (1890-1987), historian and writer, was descended from a prominent Massachusetts family of writers and artists. In midlife he converted to the Catholic faith. Recalling his initial meeting with Joseph Barredo, he was happy to learn of plans for a residence and eager to make a contribution. He became a lifelong friend and cooperator of Opus Dei and often received Trimount residents at his home a little west of Cambridge in South Natick for long conversations sprinkled with historical anecdotes. His principal contribution to Opus Dei’s apostolate in the U.S. resulted from Barredo’s suggestion that Isidoro Zorzano be added to Sargent’s series of biographical studies of lay Catholics he considered significant in the life of the Church. After God’s Engineer was published (Scepter Press, 1954), he promoted private devotion to Zorzano in Boston and Chicago. Among the early members of the Work in Boston, probably Carl Schmitt and Henry Menzies knew him best. On a trip to Rome he met St. Josemaría. His journal entry states simply, “Today I met a saint” (HM).

[51] AGP, Sec. P03 X-1954, pp. 44-48. Msgr. Bucciarelli adds: “Father Bill had asked if we could get the director of St. Paul’s choir, Ted Marier, and a few student members to sing the Mass, which we did”. These included Bill Stetson (RB).

[52] Bishop Wright had escorted the Archbishop during the 1948 Holy Year of St. James. Archbishop (later Cardinal) Joseph Ritter of St. Louis was in their company, and likewise eager to help Opus Dei establish a residence in his city. In 1956 he granted the venia for Wespine House to open with his assistance. Richard James Cushing was born in South Boston into a family of Irish immigrants in 1895, was educated at Boston College and St. John’s Seminary, ordained as a priest in 1921, as auxiliary bishop in 1939, and appointed the sixth ordinary of Boston in 1944. He was enrolled in the College of Cardinals in 1958. He died in 1970 and is buried in the Portiuncula Chapel of the St. James Fathers in suburban Hanover. Cardinal Cushing became one of the most visible (and audible) Irish Americans of his era, well known to Americans of all faiths because of his raspy accent, salty language, and humorous quips (Cfr. T.F. Casey, “Boston, Archdiocese of Bostoniensis”, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Washington D.C., The Catholic University of America, vol. 2 [1967, repr. 1981], pp. 722-723). After his initial visit to Trimount, he maintained a lively interest in the progress of the apostolate, meeting periodically with the director and chaplain.

[53] Among the reception guests were two faculty members of Gaztelueta, a high school in Bilbao, Spain, the first corporate work of apostolate of Opus Dei in the field of secondary education. They had come to the U.S. to visit high schools. One of them commented on the Archbishop’s enthusiasm for Opus Dei: “It was evident how pleased he was to be with us. His naturalness and trusting affection clearly showed how much he loves us and how well he understands us”. AGP, Sec. P03 X-1954, pp. 65-71.

[54] The dignitaries included Bishop Wright (JM).

[55] AGP, Sec. P03 X-1954, pp. 44-48.

[56] Harvard’s total enrollment for fall 1954 was 10,364, which included 4,430 in the undergraduate College (all male) and 5,934 in the graduate faculties and professional schools. Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Nov. 27 (1954), pp. 205-206.

[57] Archbishop Cushing was especially anxious to find a suitable chaplain because of tension at Harvard and throughout the Boston area due to the controversies surrounding Father Leonard Feeney SJ. A brilliant thinker and speaker, he had won many converts and aroused much interest in the Church. But around 1950 he began to preach an extreme version of the doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Church, concluding that anyone who is not a formal member is consigned to hell. Father Feeney was excommunicated in 1952, but in 1954 he still exerted considerable influence among Boston Catholics. He was reconciled with the Church before his death. Cfr. T.F. Casey, op. cit., p. 724; Ep. S. Officii ad archiep. Bostoniensem, Aug. 8, 1949, in DH 3866-3873.

[58] CS.

[59] RB.

[60] CS. Another witness, Father Stetson, a law student that fall, gives a terse summary: “The Archbishop spoke to the Counselor, who gave permission, and Father Porras was named chaplain” (WS).

[61] Given the role it played in the development of the apostolate of Opus Dei in the early years at Trimount and on the Harvard campus, some background on the Catholic Club is pertinent. From the beginning it was largely an initiative of undergraduates. Notice of the intention to form an organization for Catholic students first circulated on the Harvard campus in May 1893. In the first two years, the nine co-founders succeeded in enrolling 175 students, perhaps half of the College’s Catholic students. Many of them distinguished themselves in later life, whether in religious life or as leaders in secular professions. Jeffrey Wills, op. cit., pp. 70, 75, 77, 81. Catholics were gaining recognition at Harvard in other ways, as well. On Apr. 1, 1894, an alumnus, Rev. Peter J. O’Callaghan ’88, a Paulist, became the first priest to lead Sunday prayers at Harvard. A year later he wrote: “Harvard is the most splendid and richest field for missionary effort that can be found in the United States. It is a field wide open and inviting us to enter”. Peter J. O’Callaghan CSP, “Catholics at Harvard”, The Catholic Family Annual (1895), pp. 74-80. The purposes of the Club were “to promote the religious interests of the Catholic students at Harvard and to quicken the spirit of Christianity among all the students” by inviting prominent speakers to address monthly meetings and to hold biennial public lectures. When Phillips Brooks House opened in 1900 for use by student organizations, the Club began to meet there. John LaFarge ’01 played a leading role in that respect; he became a well-known member of the Society of Jesus and the first Catholic Dudleian lecturer at Harvard (1947). In 1904 he gave this summary of Catholic life at Harvard: While students suffer no discrimination, there is an “allpervading indifferentism” and “erroneous teaching in history and philosophy” that endangers their faith. Jeffrey Wills, op. cit., pp. 77-78, 80, 83. The Catholic Club had no chaplain nor formal connection to St. Paul’s parish, where most Catholic students attended Mass, until Rev. John Farrell, an assistant there, was appointed chaplain in 1901. He later became an active promoter of the Newman apostolate at secular universities. Subsequently there were eleven chaplains, six of them serving concurrently as pastor or assistant at St. Paul’s, until the Harvard and Radcliffe Catholic Clubs merged in 1960, upon the departure of Father Porras. When the Harvard house system went into operation in the 1930s and became the dominant influence in student life, the Catholic Club had been in decline for a decade and by 1933 was virtually assimilated into St. Paul’s parish. Its chaplain at the time, Rev. Augustine Hickey (assistant, later pastor) informed Boston’s Archbishop O’Connell that Harvard’s indifference to religion was “truly a matter to cause concern”, for it was keeping Catholic students “on the defensive” and making it difficult for the chaplain “to keep in touch” with them. Yet that indifference had another side: Rev. (now Cardinal) Avery Dulles SJ, ’40, observed that official religious neutrality was a contributing factor to the growing number of conversions and priestly vocations at Harvard. It also permitted Harvard presidents to begin inviting prominent Catholic laymen to participate in the university’s corporate life, and with the advent of summer school, many students and faculty members from Catholic colleges were attracted to Harvard, including priests—one of them, the Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen of Catholic University (1927-30). Ibid., pp. 86-87, 89-90, 91-92. During Cardinal Law’s undergraduate years (1949-53, immediately preceding Father Porras’s chaplaincy), the Catholic apostolate at Harvard “was practically all student generated. We had no center, no full-time priest, no staff. We did it mostly ourselves, out of conviction, and sharing the faith with people around us”. In his senior year, Law served as the Club’s vice-president and sang in St. Paul’s student choir with Stetson. Ibid., p. 169, quoting remarks delivered at Elmbrook University Residence, Oct. 13, 1989.

[62] AGP, Sec. P01 XII-1954, p. 84.

[63] John T. Bethell, Harvard Observed: An Illustrated History of the University in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1998, p. 210.

[64] Morton and Phyllis Keller, Making Harvard Modern: The Rise of America’s University, New York, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 276, 290-291, 297.

[65] Jeffrey Wills, op. cit., p. 75; Harvard archive, courtesy of archivist Marvin Hightower, June 1, 2004.

[66] Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Apr. 6 (1957), pp. 504-505. A survey of Catholic students in 1963 concluded that Harvard’s “challenge… to their beliefs and moral conduct” was likely to stimulate among those with prior Catholic formation “a strengthening, deepening, and enriching of faith”. Jeffrey Wills, op. cit., pp. 174-182.

[67] Brian Domitrovic, op. cit., pp. 278-283. An able teacher and effective administrator, Pusey (1907-2001) professed a classical humanism firmly rooted in committed Christianity. As a devout Episcopalian layman, “his faith was at the source of his character”; as an educator, his ideal was to strengthen the link between Christian faith and the liberal arts in an age increasingly dominated by science and technology (Morton and Phyllis Keller, op. cit., p. 177). Pusey’s collected addresses, 1953-1962, The Age of the Scholar: Observations on Education in a Troubled Decade, Cambridge (Ma), Harvard University Press, 1963, spell out that aim (“troubled” because of a constant struggle with agnostic professors). “My deep conviction”, he wrote in the preface, “is that true learning […] requires fundamental spiritual commitment at its center, or it is nothing”. Without “the joy of belief […] higher education would have no real power to affect man’s highest aspiration” (p. vi). Cardinal Newman would have found Pusey’s idea of a university resonant with his own.

[68] Jeffrey Wills, op. cit., p. 96.

[69] Morton and Phyllis Keller, op. cit., p. 276. Pusey’s annual reports to the Board of Overseers (Harvard’s governing board) further delineate his plan for the university.

[70] Conversation with Rev. John McCabe, May 16, 1955, in Jeffrey Wills, op. cit., p. 96.

[71] These included Rev. John LaFarge SJ (see supra note 61); Rev. Martin D’Arcy SJ (1888-1976, English theologian and apologist from Oxford, wrote scholarly books and lectured widely); the Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty (1896-1985, a pioneer in implementing the social doctrine in North America and author of more than 30 books on social action and spirituality); the Servant of God Dorothy Day (1897-1980, social activist and writer who gave primacy to the spiritual life, and co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement in 1933); Erik von KuehneltLeddihn (1909-1999, Austrian historian, author, and lecturer who became a leading authority on 19th century European liberalism and its later ideological distortions); Jacques Maritain (1882-1973, French philosopher who promoted the 20th century Thomistic revival); and Christopher Dawson (1889-1970, British historian who came to Harvard Divinity School as occupant of the first chair of Catholic Studies). Typical themes were Father LaFarge’s 1959 and 1960 talks, “Why Be Social Minded?” and “Mature Faith in a Confused Year”. Jeffrey Wills, op. cit., pp. 95-96.

[72] Schmitt first heard of Opus Dei in spring 1951, at the end of his senior year at Harvard, when his Adams House roommate met Joseph Barredo as they traveled together between Boston and Chicago. After Schmitt’s graduation, he studied in Europe for two years, and then did a year of graduate work at the University of Chicago (1953-54). There he met Barredo at Calvert House (that university’s Catholic Club) and was invited to visit Woodlawn Residence to attend a lecture on Isidoro Zorzano by Daniel Sargent (Feb. 1954). God’s Engineer, had just been published (CS).

[73] RB.

[74] Ironically, in the same year, 1954, Dr. Jonas Salk produced a long-awaited vaccine that eventually stamped out the dread disease.

[75] AGP, Sec. P01 XII-1954, pp. 13-15.

[76] AGP, Sec. P03 X-1954, pp. 49-51. For a description of “meditations” preached by priests of Opus Dei, see, John F. Coverdale, Uncommon Faith: The Early Years of Opus Dei (1928-1943), Princeton (N.J.)–New York, Scepter Publishers, 2002, pp. 139-142.

[77] RB.

[78] MK.

[79] RB.

[80] JG. A photo of the students on that first retreat (Jeffrey Wills, op. cit., p. 145) shows Curtin third from left on the front row. Lawrence Michael Curtin was born in Steubenville, Ohio Sept. 20, 1935 and spent most of his early years in southern California. After graduating from Harvard in 1957, he would spent four years in Rome, obtain a doctorate in theology at the Lateran University, and be ordained (1961). Mike was asked to accompany St. Josemaría and his first successor to London in the summers of 1959 and 1960; he left memoirs of those special months. After he devoted many years to pastoral work in several cities, primarily among university students at Chicago and Harvard, James Cardinal Hickey of Washington appointed him director of the Catholic Information Center (downtown Washington) in 1992. He suffered a series of heart attacks and died there on Feb. 4, 1999. Cfr. Romana. Bulletin of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, 15 (1999), p. 134. Fellow students remember “his infectious smile” and good-natured quips—“a typical Californian: mellow and laid-back. He studied hard but never gave the impression of being overly studious. He loved family life, get-togethers, and especially the singing on feast days”, accompanying himself on the guitar. Recollections of Dominic Fortunato, hereafter DF; of Rev. Paul Donlan, hereafter PD.

[81] Shortly after his arrival in New York, Barturen received a letter from St. Josemaría similar to the ones he was sending at the time to those who were turning the first furrows in several countries: “I know that you are clearing the way in that huge city. I am accompanying you and praying for you, because your fidelity and labor now will bring about a great work with souls there later. At times I really envy you, and you make me recall those early times, also heroic”. Andrés Vázquez de Prada, The Founder of Opus Dei: The life of Josemaría Escrivá, vol. III, New York, Scepter, 2005, p. 132.

[82] The co-op program alternated periods of classes at M.I.T. with practical experience working for participating firms.

[83] DF. Ed, whose home was in Lenox, Mass., was also a co-op student. After graduation, he began doctoral studies at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where he would again meet and join Opus Dei.

[84] JBo. Jacques and his family would soon be returning to Canada: “When I completed the doctorate in June, I got a job near Quebec City with the Canadian Defense Research Board and at the same time started teaching at Laval University. Before I moved back to Boston in 1961, Father Joseph visited my wife and me several times, occasionally accompanied by Jim Polo or Carl Schmitt. After the center opened in Montréal (1958), the people there took over” (JBo).

[85] AGP, Sec. P01 VI-1955, pp. 82-83.

[86] AGP, Sec. P01 VII-1955, p. 78. Bishop Vincent S. Waters (1904-1974) became the third ordinary of Raleigh in 1945. Although the diocese embraced the whole state of North Carolina, it had only 13,000 Catholics. Missionary zeal inspired him to open a good number of parishes and schools. By 1972, when a second North Carolina diocese was created (Charlotte), there were 70,000 Catholics in the state. Bishop Waters was best known as a pioneer in civil rights. In 1947 he began to accept African-American seminarians; of the first two ordained, one became bishop of Biloxi, Miss. In 1953 Bishop Waters declared that racial segregation would no longer be tolerated in the diocese, and he inaugurated a bold plan to achieve integration. Cfr. J.T. Ellis, “United States of America”, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Washington D.C.,The Catholic University of America, vol. 2 (1967, repr. 1981), p. 437. Bishop Waters recognized in Opus Dei a providential means to mobilize lay leadership, especially among young people. He first encountered the Work in Spain, and on his return began to look for potential members in his diocese. One of them, Henry Menzies, first learned of Opus Dei through him in 1955 and at his suggestion visited Woodlawn Residence in Chicago the following year—the beginning of a vocational saga to be recounted here in due course. Bishop Waters made several trips to the centers in Boston between 1959 and 1962 when Menzies was practicing architecture there. Bishop Waters, one of Opus Dei’s strongest supporters in the United States, was greatly disappointed at its inability to open a student residence in his diocese.

[87] Recollections of Msgr. George Rossman; hereafter GR.

[88] AGP, Sec. P01 X-1955, p. 32-33.

[89] RB.

[90] The birth control campaign, a reaction to the “Baby Boom” that followed World War II, began when secularized intellectuals raised a cry of “overpopulation”. Its primary agent was Planned Parenthood of America, founded in 1916 by Margaret Sanger, and now gearing up to do battle with Americans who desired large families.

[91] CS.

[92] AGP, Sec. P01 XII-1955, pp. 64-68.

[93] Ibid., p. 83.

[94] RB.

[95] AGP, Sec. P01 I-1956, pp. 67-70.

[96] Francis William Wynn Kervick (1883-1962) was one of Opus Dei’s first cooperators in the U.S. His South Bend home would later serve as a meeting place for students in touch with Opus Dei at Notre Dame (1956-60), prior to the opening of Windmoor House. He retired from the architecture faculty in 1950 after a 40-year career of teaching, writing, and designing campus buildings. His principal book was Architects in America of Catholic Tradition (Rutland [Vt] C.E. Tuttle Company, 1962). The Notre Dame archives hold his professional papers and correspondence, including the Wynnview negotiations.

[97] Father Joseph’s trip had included stops in Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, N.C. “An immense work lies ahead of us” in that “intellectual center” of North Carolina where people in three major universities “are waiting for us”. AGP, Sec. P01, II-1956, pp. 38-42.

[98] Ibid. Bishop Robert F. Joyce (1896-1990), sixth ordinary of Burlington, was a native Vermonter and 1917 graduate of the Univ. of Vermont. He was ordained Bishop in 1954 as Auxiliary to Bishop Edward F. Ryan, who died in 1956, shortly after Father Joseph’s visit. G.E. Dupont – J. Sullivan, “Burlington, Diocese of (Burlingtonensis)”, in New Catholic University, Washington D.C., vol. 2 (1967, repr. 1981), p. 901. During the tenure of Bishop Joyce (1956 until his retirement in 1971) he visited Wynnview and received numerous visits from members of Opus Dei.

[99] AGP, Sec. P01 I-1956, pp. 30-31.

[100] RB.

[101] AGP, Sec. P01 IV-1956, pp. 18-20.

[102] GR.

[103] CS.

[104] JD.

[105] GR.

[106] CS.

[107] CS.

[108] RB. Father Burke, the first member of Opus Dei from Ireland, had recently arrived from Europe to serve in the new Washington residence, Baltemore Lodge.

[109] CS. In May Schmitt took a week off to visit his parents in Connecticut “to tell them that Chris and I had joined the Work. A few days earlier, Chris had written them a letter, which arrived the day before I did. My mother showed it to me: ‘Dear Father and Mother, I have joined Opus Dei. I am obedient to the head of it, the Father, in Rome, and he is obedient to the Pope. Newby will explain the rest. Love, Chris’ (I was known as Newby in the family—and by Father Múzquiz— because at one point I was the ‘new baby’ to my seven older siblings). After explaining things as best I could, I drove on to New York City to meet Manolo Barturen. Later I introduced my brother Peter to him because he was working there; he got excited about the Work, too, and sometime thereafter asked for admission” (CS).

[110] RB.

[111] Fr. Antonio Ugalde [Father Antxon] had recently come to Trimount from Spain and occasionally substituted for Father Porras at the apartment; he would soon leave for the Midwest, where the first center in St. Louis (Wespine House) was in need of a priest.

[112] JD.

[113] In the U.S., students obtain a bachelor’s degree in some other subject before beginning the professional study of law (3 additional years).

[114] RB.

[115] WS.

[116] GR.

[117] “Pilgrimages” made by members of Opus Dei are simple affairs. A couple of friends visit a shrine or church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, saying five mysteries of the Rosary on their way there, five mysteries at the shrine, and another five mysteries on the way back. For an explanation of the origin of this custom, see John Coverdale, op. cit., pp. 177-178. In May 1956, older and newer members of the Work made many pilgrimages to thank and petition Our Lady. Bucciarelli made his first pilgrimage with Father Múzquiz and Father Porras: “We went to Mission Church in Roxbury where there was a much-venerated image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. They must have been praying a lot for my perseverance since I was leaving shortly for New Canaan to get ready for my first flight—to Chicago—to find work while attending the philosophy semester at Woodlawn Residence” (RB).

[118] MK.

[119] RB.

[120] DF.

[121] The familial tone of life in a center of the Prelature is an important element of the spirit of Opus Dei.

[122] All numerary members, not only those who eventually become priests of the Prelature, undertake formal studies of philosophy and theology at the university level. A large part of the classes are taken in the evening or during summer “semesters” that are compatible with an individual’s other commitments—pursuing an academic degree, or developing a professional career.

[123] GR.

[124] JD.

[125] Father Meroño had arrived in the U.S. on Feb. 1, 1956 from Italy, where he had just completed his doctorate in philosophy. A native of Andalucia, he had an understandable difficulty teaching in English. AGP, Sec. P01 III-1956, pp. 44-45.

[126] MK.

[127] DF.

[128] CS.

[129] AGP, Sec. P03 VI-1956, pp. 17-20.

[130] CS.

[131] CS, MK.

[132] JD.

[133] MK.

[134] DF.

[135] RB.

[136] CS.

[137] MK.

[138] CS.

[139] RB.

[140] CS.

[141] CS.

[142] Recollections of Dennis Helming; hereafter DH. Along with John Coverdale, Helming became one of the early publicists of Opus Dei in the U.S. His story of meeting and learning to live the spirit of the Work appeared in a 1972 Scepter Booklet, “Christianity for Everyman”.

[143] Recollections of Rev. Robert Yoest; hereafter RY. He recalls first hearing of Opus Dei in the fifth grade at St. Athanasius School (1945) in a story about the escape of Álvaro del Portillo and his companion from the communist zone of Spain in October 1938 during the Spanish Civil War (St. Anthony Junior Messenger).

[144] DF.

[145] Recollections of Rico Fortunato; hereafter RF. This 3,000-foot national landmark is a favorite hiking place for Bostonians.

[146] AGP, Sec. P01 I-1957, pp. 61-63.

[147] WS. Father Nick would move on to Chicago in a few months, and Father Mark to Japan.

Like a Bridge over Troubled Water in Sydney: Warrane College and the Student Protests of the 1970s

Abstract: This article refers to events occurred in Sydney, from 1966 to 1974, to provide some general background to the foundation of Warrane College, a university hall of residence entrusted to the spiritual care of Opus Dei and affiliated with the University of New South Wales. Primarily based on journalistic accounts, this study is divided into three main sections: first, it provides a narrative of the foundation of the college, then an analysis of the particular aims and ethos of the residence, and finally, it describes the growing opposition to the project and the subsequent protests of 1971 and 1974.

Keywords: Opus Dei – Josemaría Escrivá – Australia – Warrane College – 1966-1974

Abstract: Questo articolo tratta una serie di eventi, avvenuti a Sydney tra il 1966 e il 1974, riguardanti la fondazione di Warrane College, una residenza universitaria affidata alla cura spirituale dell’Opus Dei e affiliata all’Università del Nuovo Galles del Sud. Lo studio si basa principalmente su fonti giornalistiche ed è diviso in tre parti: la descrizione del processo fondativo della residenza, l’analisi degli obiettivi formativi della stessa, e l’opposizione al progetto sorta in alcuni ambienti dell’università suddetta, con le proteste che ne derivarono nel 1971 e nel 1974.

Keywords: Opus Dei – Josemaría Escrivá – Australia – Warrane College – 1966-1974


*I am very grateful to David Bolton, William West and Fr Joseph Martins for the comments and suggestions regarding this article. The following piece will offer no more than a reading of the events, which emerges mainly from journalistic accounts reporting the incidents of 1971 and 1974, thus inviting further—and more contextual—work, based on state and ecclesiastical records. The title relates to the 1970 song by Simon and Garfunkel.

Warrane College is a residential college for university students affiliated with the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and entrusted to the spiritual care of Opus Dei. Its prehistory can be traced to the 1950s, when the Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Norman Cardinal Gilroy, first came into contact with members of Opus Dei and a sample of their educational initiatives in Europe. The most senior figure of the Catholic Church in Australia, Cardinal Gilroy attended the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), when he is likely to have met Saint Josemaría Escrivá. Thomas Muldoon, auxiliary bishop of Sydney, recalls that after an audience with the Founder of Opus Dei, Pope Pius XII famously said to Gilroy that Escrivá “is a true saint, a man sent by God for our times”[1].

As it turned out, Gilroy’s visit to Rome was to prove a crucial moment in the early history of Opus Dei in Australia. The cardinal was then entertaining the idea of setting up a residential college at a university campus in Sydney and the University of New South Wales—then the New South Wales University of Technology—was very short of places for student accommodation. Opus Dei must have loomed large in the mind of the Australian cardinal, not only because of the words of Pius XII about its saintly Founder, but also because Gilroy had taken note of the experience of its members in the administration of university halls in Spain, Italy, Ireland and the United States[2].

The prelude to the project and the Foundation

In 1963, Father Salvador Ferigle, a member of Opus Dei and lecturer at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, had been to Sydney on his way from Tokyo to Rome, and had met Cardinal Gilroy and visited the university campus. Four months later, and under the impulse of Saint Josemaría, two priests and two laymen of Opus Dei went to Australia to settle for the first time. They lived on Silver Street, in the suburb of Randwick, near the university. Several other laymen from Spain and the United States came to support the apostolic work of Opus Dei in Australia, and in 1965, they set up Nairana Cultural Centre on High Street in Randwick, also very close to the campus[3].

In the 1950s, there was a move to set up a Catholic university in Sydney but it was finally decided to build instead a residential hall and add to the long-standing presence and important function of St. John’s College at the University of Sydney[4]. The Kensington Tech (or New South Wales University of Technology) was founded in 1949 and in the face of increasing student demand for accommodation in the 1950s, it became the most suitable campus for new halls of residence[5]. At the Australian Universities Commission in 1959, the Vice-Chancellor of the university and representatives of the Church met to discuss the prospects of setting up a Catholic college on campus, and it was agreed that “depending upon a suitable site being obtained, and Commonwealth grants for the triennium 1961-63, the Church would match the available finance to provide a college for up to two hundred residents”[6].

The details of the negotiations between the Church and the university concerning the building were managed by Father John Burnheim of St. John’s College. It is worth citing a letter he sent to the Vice-Chancellor in June 1963 in which he reveals a great deal of enthusiasm for the project and the Church’s confidence in the suitability of Opus Dei for its management:

I am very happy to be able to tell you that a Catholic organisation called Opus Dei is very anxious to push ahead with the project for a College at the University of N.S.W., and that the Church authorities are giving them every encouragement and support. Two of their members, Father James W. Albrecht and Christopher Schmitt are in Sydney and are empowered to take immediate steps towards making a foundation […]. In the near future I shall no doubt be handing over any negotiations concerning a college at the University of N.S.W. I know that they will pursue the project with great vigour, and I hope that they will enjoy the same very cordial and understanding relationship with you and the University that I have enjoyed over the past few years[7].

Members of Opus Dei had spent only three years in Australia and they were now entrusted with a major task for which they received unreserved support from university and church authorities. Gilroy’s letter to Albrecht in March 1964 stamped the initiative with an official blessing:

As you know, for some years now, the Archdiocese has had the desire to establish a Residential College at the University of New South Wales under Catholic auspices. I am pleased that Opus Dei has come to Sydney and is providing an opportunity for this desire to become a reality […]. While I was in Rome, I had the opportunity to visit one of your international student residences there. I was very pleased with the spirit of the people in the residence and the work Opus Dei is accomplishing there. I am happy that you plan to establish a residential college in order to carry on this work here, and I wish you every success and assure you of my blessing[8].

Michael Steuart, then the secretary of a committee set up to materialise the project, received a letter in 1968 from the Chancellor of the university praising the efforts of such a group and stating that he was “also pleased that the direction of Warrane is to be entrusted to Opus Dei, an Association which has had wide experience in this field”[9]. The contract between the administration of the college and the university was arranged as a lease for ninety-nine years with an option for renewal and with a nominal rent. In addition, “the University will not require to extend its authority into each College but will leave the responsibility for the control and discipline of students therein to the Rector of the College”[10].

The members of Opus Dei and those collaborating with its educational initiatives were not only given support and encouragement, but their future college was to enjoy some autonomy and independence from university authorities. One of the clauses of the lease established “no express restrictions upon the fashion in which the College shall be administered or governed nor does it contain in specific terms, any normative rules of discipline or conduct which the College is required to observe”[11]. In consequence, the new college at the University of New South Wales was to be shaped by the same principles and characterised by the same spirit that impressed Cardinal Gilroy of the residences entrusted to the spiritual care of Opus Dei in Europe and the Americas.

But how was an Opus Dei college different from other university residences? What was it exactly that impressed Cardinal Gilroy about the hall he visited in Rome? And now that everything was on course for the foundation of the college, how would a few members of this organisation in a foreign country proceed to imprint on this overwhelming project the Catholic spirit of Opus Dei shown to Saint Josemaría in 1928?

The college was named Warrane, and this was perhaps the very first manifestation of its affiliation with the principles promoted by the projects under the direction of Opus Dei members. Warrane is an anglicised version of Warrang which in one of the aboriginal languages of Australia means “Sydney Cove”, where the first European settlers established themselves in 1788. Some may have expected the new college at the University of New South Wales to have a “Catholic” name—after all, the Church had initiated and was significantly involved in the project.

Furthermore, an initiative of this nature could have followed the precedent of St. John’s College, set up in the nineteenth century as the Catholic college of what was then the only university in Sydney[12]. Josemaría Escrivá always practised and encouraged others to have a very intense veneration of the saints of the Church, but he had indicated that the corporate initiatives of Opus Dei would not have the name of saints, so none of these projects would be identified as officially Catholic[13].

Opus Dei had gone to Australia to serve the Church and, as we shall explain, the ethos of Warrane College was to be closely associated with the principles and values of Catholic doctrine. However, it was made clear from the beginning that the college was not run by the diocese, nor was it in any way dependent on directives suggested by the hierarchy more than any private initiative run by ordinary Australian Catholics. Cardinal Gilroy, who seems to have understood this aspect of the spirit of Opus Dei, celebrated the work of the Warrane College Development Committee in a letter sent to its secretary, Michael Steuart, in October 1968: “it is especially pleasing to know that you have the co-operation of men of different faiths who have the common desire to establish Warrane College in the knowledge that its benefits will be extended to students of all faiths”[14]. Residence in the college was open to non-Catholics just as much as membership of its management and administration. As Owen F. Hughes remarked in “Tharunka”, the newspaper of the Students’ Union, as with all residences of Opus Dei throughout the world, “Warrane will be open to students of all religions, races and nationalities. The College will, in fact, make every effort to have the greatest possible diversity among the residents and tutors”, and quoting the words of Saint Josemaría, he continues: “In Opus Dei pluralism is not simply tolerated. It is desired and loved, and in no way hindered”[15]. This was not mere university diplomacy. When the college was officially opened in 1971, The Sydney Morning Herald informed that “its resident population will include undergraduate and postgraduate students from every faculty at the university, and will represent more than twenty countries, mostly in the Pacific area. Open to students of all faiths, the college has residents of many denominations”[16]. In 1972, for example, 72 per cent of residents at Warrane were Australian; 24 per cent from Asia; and 4 per cent from other continents, and since its foundation, the college has hosted students from over forty different countries. This multicultural interaction was so prominent a feature in college life, that it was noted and celebrated in 1972 by the Minister for Immigration[17].

But if Warrane was not run by the Catholic Church, neither did Opus Dei own the college. In an interview with the Students’ Union’s newspaper, the Master of Warrane clarified that it is owned “by a non-profit company called Education Development Association, the constitution of which provides that should it ever be disbanded, its assets may not go to any of its directors but must go to charities”. In the same interview, when asked about the relationship between the college and the university, the Master explained that “the college is built on land leased from the University and is thus legally distinct from the campus. On the other hand since it is an affiliated College, there is obviously a great deal of co-operation between the College and the University, and so we feel very much a part of the campus and we are very proud of it”[18]. The relationship between Warrane and the university community was deemed so essential an aspect of its mission, that college facilities were open to non-resident members as well as lecturers affiliated as academic fellows or visiting tutors[19]. Warrane was then counted among the very few student halls entrusted to the spiritual care of Opus Dei in the world which enjoyed official affiliation with a university, an important feature considering the apostolic objectives of such initiatives[20].

The lease of land which allowed the construction of Warrane was signed on 27th March 1967. One half of the building costs was provided by the Commonwealth Government, one quarter by the State Government of New South Wales, and the rest was obtained by the Warrane Development Committee by means of a bank loan, the payment of which was raised by contributions from individuals and local companies. Construction of the college began in January, 1969, and the building was ready to accommodate students for the third term of the academic year of 1970.

It was an imposing structure of dark brown bricks which dominated the skyline of Kensington with its tower of eight floors elevated over the south-east corner of the university campus on Anzac Parade with Barker Street. The building was equipped with single bedrooms and facilities to accommodate 204 students, resident tutors and other senior and domestic staff. The first two storeys included the chapel, a number of offices, a common room and snack bar, a library and music room, as well as a large dining room adjacent to the entrance hall and reception room. Next to the dining room were the premises reserved for the household administration, managed and directed by women of Opus Dei in collaboration with some others. For the standards of the 1960s, Warrane College was indeed a large-scale structure which impressed the neighbouring community and was the subject of an extraordinarily detailed description in the Sydney Morning Herald[21]. Opus Dei was barely starting its activities in Australia and its members would have surely preferred a much smaller building in order to offer a more personalised attention to residents in accordance with the principles that inspired this type of project in other parts of the world. The Work, however, had gone to that corner of the world to serve the Church, in the words of Saint Josemaría, “as she wants to be served”[22]. In this case, a particular model of residential education, so successfully tested in several countries, was naturally adapted to local circumstances, not without difficulties as we shall see. More in the traditional style of Opus Dei residences was Creston College, a university hall for women with capacity for thirty students just outside the northern bounds of the university campus, on High Street[23].

Joseph F. Martins was appointed Master, the highest authority in the residence. A member of Opus Dei, Martins had migrated from the United States after obtaining a doctorate in physical chemistry from Harvard University and having directed a small residential hall in Boston[24]. The dean of students was Owen F. Hughes, also from the United States, and then a lecturer in the School of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of New South Wales. In the administrative and academic management of Warrane, they were assisted by a number of staff, among them twelve residential tutors, divided between the six residential floors, several lay members of Opus Dei, and two Catholic chaplains, also in residence[25].

Warrane was officially opened on Sunday 13th June, 1971, by Sir Roden Cutler, Governor of New South Wales. The ceremony was also attended by David Hughes, Minister for Public Works; Sir Kevin Ellis, Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and Deputy Chancellor of the University of New South Wales; Rupert Myers, Vice-Chancellor of the university; the members of the Warrane Development Committee, and more than two hundred guests, among them the college residents[26].

The distinctive aims and ethos of the College

Warrane College then became one of the seventy university residences in Australia and one of the six colleges affiliated with the University of New South Wales[27]. Four of these colleges were non-denominational halls managed by the university, being the three Kensington Colleges (Baxter, Basser and Goldstein colleges) on the upper campus, and International House on the lower campus. New College was the name of the residence also established on the lower campus under the auspices of the Anglican Church. Like Warrane, the Anglican college was located on Anzac Parade and was built in similar fashion. In the middle of 1968, representatives from the Jewish community in Sydney approached university authorities with a view to building the third denominational college on Barker Street, after their proposal was rejected by Sydney University[28].

As Warrane, all these institutions were affiliated university colleges which aimed to provide a communal environment nurtured with active participation in a variety of collegial activities ranging from social events to cultural initiatives, from sporting competitions to academic endeavours. Like all affiliated colleges in Australia, these were not simply halls of residence providing temporary accommodation during the university term in the manner of student hostels. Similarly to the first colleges established in Australia in the nineteenth century, the post-war residences aimed to maintain and cultivate at least the most fundamental traditions first espoused by Oxbridge colleges in the Middle Ages, “while expressing, in their architecture and style of life, new ideas and approaches to university student life”[29].

In varying degrees, an intense collegial life was common to all the student halls affiliated with the University of New South Wales from the late 1960s, and came to complement and enrich the university experience for thousands of students in Sydney. However, the principles upon which Warrane was established and the aims driving the efforts of its management towered above the objectives of all other residential colleges at the University of New South Wales, and indeed in Australia.

The particular ethos of Warrane is a most fundamental consideration in understanding the college’s short history, the spiritual aspects of its mission, and the educational vision that shaped its extraordinary make-up. A few months later the official opening of the college, the Master explained in an interview:

There are many types of colleges throughout Australia, each with its own environment and structure, and we welcome this diversity. At the same time, we have chosen a particular set of characteristics for Warrane, designed a building with these in mind, and are now guiding the initial stages of the College’s development in a way consistent with these principles. We are confident that the College will prove itself over the years[30].

In concordance with the aims of the Education Development Association, the college’s first and most fundamental purpose was “to promote education and the development of character in accordance with the principles and ideals of Christianity”[31]. Such an objective was common to all university residences established by members of Opus Dei throughout the world, but in 1970, it implied a most ambitious and daring novelty for a college in the increasingly secularised environment of campuses in Australia[32]. When asked whether Opus Dei was relevant to the Australian conditions, the college Master, Joseph Martins, vigorously answered that “there are two main points that Opus Dei emphasises: living one’s Christian commitment fully and sanctifying oneself through one’s work. It is obvious that both Christianity and work have a place in Australia. Opus Dei’s message is relevant here as in the some forty countries where the Association carries on its work”[33].

The college, however, had been erected in a country that, like many others in the developed world, was rapidly losing its Christian roots and renouncing much of its cultural heritage. In this context, the presence of Warrane and its contribution to campus life became all the more notorious and pertinent. Tony Shannon, a lecturer in the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Technology in Sydney, had been in touch with members of Opus Dei and residents at Warrane long enough to grasp the essential mission of the college. In an article published in 1974 in the Canberra Times, he explained:

Warrane seeks to provide a stimulating environment in which the intellectual, moral and overall human development of the men who live there can flourish […]. Essentially the college tries to provide a framework within which these ideals can be realised, and it utilises the resources and services of men of good will who share these aims […]. More specifically, Warrane’s aims are: (1) to ensure good study conditions and further the intellectual development offered by the university; (2) to promote a spirit of friendship and understanding in an atmosphere of warmth and service to others; (3) to provide, for those students who wish it, the opportunity to know and practise the Christian faith more fully; (4) to encourage participation in all aspects of university life; (5) to foster an awareness of one’s social responsibility and of the opportunities to contribute to the needs of the society in which we live[34].

Employing these ideals and principles to shape the ethos of a large affiliated college in Australia of the 1970s was by no means a simple enterprise. To fully comprehend and appreciate what these ambitious goals entailed, it is necessary to analyse the methods and means used to achieve them. In other words, we should ask how were these aims materialised; how did they distinguish Warrane from the other colleges, and how was the model for similar residential halls around the world transported into Australia? In essence, what was, as already said, the particular recipe that had left Gilroy so impressed upon his visit to that residence run by members of Opus Dei in Rome?

In order to ensure good study conditions and further the intellectual development offered by the university, the college appointed several tutors every year. These tutors would be residents chosen on the basis of seniority and academic experience, and in 1971 they were expected to conduct tutorials, be available to students for consultation concerning their university courses, and be aware of their academic standing. Beside these academic obligations, these tutors were also asked to fulfill a number of mentoring and leadership tasks. In 1973, these roles were separated and two groups of tutors were established: those designated academic tutors were exclusively concerned with the academic welfare of the students in the college, while a second group known as resident tutors, were appointed for each floor to look after their personal wellbeing and were entrusted with some authority over the residents[35].

The sanctification of work is at the very centre of the message of Opus Dei, and since studying was the principal occupation of university students, it was naturally afforded a central place in the college experience. “An hour of study, for a modern apostle, is an hour of prayer”, once wrote Saint Josemaría[36]. A large number of tutors, a comprehensive tutorial program, an encouraging environment of academic achievement, and ideal study conditions were the ingredients of the Warrane recipe. An excellent ratio between tutors and residents ensured personalised attention and regular academic counselling. In addition to the assistance offered by the permanent staff, the academic environment at the college was substantially aided by 22 visiting and resident academic tutors, who offered assistance on a wide range of subjects. “The Visiting Tutors are generally members of the University staff, ranging from Teaching Fellows to Senior Lecturers. There are 44 tutorials given each week in 29 different subjects, and all of these numbers are expected to increase as the college develops”, explained Joseph Martins. Furthermore, “tutorial groups are kept small—usually no more than six students—in order to make them be of greater benefit to the student”[37].

Although attendance at these tutorials was voluntary, as with all other activities organised for the residents, the fruits of such an intense and elaborated scheme were soon to earn for the college some academic success. In the early 1970s, the percentage of residents who passed all their subjects at Warrane was the highest among all colleges affiliated with the University of New South Wales. At the end of 1973, for example, 98.7 per cent of the residents at Warrane were allowed to proceed with their university courses, while nearly 82 per cent passed all subjects that year, a figure that was significantly higher than at the Kensington colleges and New College[38].

Academic achievement was encouraged and rewarded at Warrane from its earliest history. A college scholar award was given each year to students who on average obtained a distinction level or higher in all subjects. In 1974, the State Minister for Education presented the award for the first time to eleven students at a dinner in the college[39].

These numbers speak for themselves, but they are not only, not even primarily, the product of the tutorial system. There was something particular of the environment at Warrane which encouraged academic achievement. The Master of the college observed in 1971:

The other aspect is that of providing good study conditions. This, of course, should be a feature of all colleges, but good study conditions do not just happen—they require the cooperative efforts of all, and some system of operation whereby all of the various activities within the College will not detract from these conditions. In order to achieve this, the policy at Warrane is that the residential floors are for the residents, and are not meant for visitors, for large group activities or for anything noisy. For any of these, the common room areas should be used, and the College provides very extensive common facilities to make this possible […]; this arrangement also provides a reasonable measure of privacy for the residents[40].

Further contribution to this environment was made by weekly guest speakers to broaden the professional and cultural horizons of the residents, and study weekends designed for those who wanted or needed to intensify their study towards preparing exams or completing assignments.

The Warrane model, however, was not entirely geared towards the academic performance of its residents, nor was this successful system what characterised the college most. The staff was also greatly concerned with promoting a spirit of friendship and understanding in an atmosphere of warmth and service to others.

Residential tutors were appointed for this purpose. According to an outline of proposals for 1971, the staff indicated that two tutors were to be allocated to each floor and they would be expected to help establish gettogethers or social gatherings on the floors in a way which creates a homelike environment among the residents; be vigilant about study conditions, apply the rules and deal with the students on these matters; visit the residents with frequency for counselling and mentoring; and finally, help the House Committee member on each floor in promoting floor-based activities and contributing to the social interaction and cohesion of the group[41].

While the elected members of the House Committee, later known as the Activities Committee, were entrusted with organising activities for all residents at Warrane, the residential tutors were appointed to take a leading role on each floor and thus organise activities for the residents of their floors. Among these undertakings, perhaps the most significant were the floor gatherings on each night, which came to be popularly identified as coffee club. These were informal meetings which gathered the members of each floor, who voluntarily participated in a variety of conversations concerning daily occurrences, college news and activities. For the residents, they were an opportunity to relax, take a break from study, celebrate birthdays and keep informed of the events organised by the House Committee. Above all, the main purpose of these floor gatherings was to offer a unique opportunity for the residents to know each other, thus creating a home-like environment of friendship and trust. In this context, there was hardly any need for locks on doors, a feature that is special to Warrane, where the interaction of residents was similar to that of a family[42].

In order to nurture this special environment, the tutors constantly encouraged the residents to consider the needs of others and developed an ongoing attitude of service. They are also urged to practice the virtues required for mutual understanding, for accommodating differences, and thus facilitate common living.

Owen Hughes, then Vice-Master at Warrane, lived in a residence entrusted to the spiritual care of Opus Dei in the United States just like the Master, Joseph Martins. He writes:

Characteristic of the residences of Opus Dei is an especially active college life. At Warrane students will be encouraged to exercise their initiative and to join together in organising activities of all types: music, drama, sports, seminars […]. This active participation gives rise to a spirit of belonging in which the resident feels himself part of the college, and not just a lodger. Testimony of the involvement of the residents in the life of the college is their frequent continuing interests in the affairs of the college even after they have left university[43].

The residents at Warrane were not only introduced to an intense college life, but the internal environment also encouraged them to become actively involved in all aspects of university life. Shannon revealed that the college “impresses one not only as a well-run educational project but also a centre which has much to contribute to the university and the community at large”[44].

Douglas Logan, the Principal of the University of London, wrote in 1964 with reference to a residence entrusted to the spiritual care of Opus Dei in London: “I have been deeply impressed by the excellent results you have achieved in the present Netherhall House and by the real university atmosphere you have created there”[45]. As an affiliated college, Warrane was even more involved in university affairs and senior residents were elected to the House Committee every year to strengthen the presence of the college at the university and ensure an active participation of its residents on campus.

The composition of the committee was: a president, secretary, treasurer, activities director, editor of the newsletter, sports chairman, amenities chairman, one of the tutors, six floor members, and one nonresident member of the college. They met regularly to discuss and decide on matters concerning internal and external activities, and were advised by senior staff members. This group organised the college ball, a highlight in the social calendar of the year and a much publicised event on campus, as well as promoting outings and weekend trips. They were to coordinate the participation of Warrane in the Inter-college Sports Shield, an annual sporting competition among the affiliated halls. The name of Warrane was inscribed in this shield several times in the 1970s, and the teams that represented the college demonstrated a great deal of sporting prowess, particularly in rugby[46]. And just as the college promoted and rewarded academic achievement, the sportsman of the week was presented with the Willie Wong Best and Fairest Award, a cup named after a resident from Malaysia who represented Warrane with distinction in a number of sporting contests. The presentation of this award became a tradition in college and has continued to honour the efforts and skills of many residents. Sporting success was a fundamental element of cohesion and has fed college spirit for decades in a country where sport awakens unparalleled fervour.

The committee of students collaborated with the staff in promoting the participation of residents in general university activities and membership of student clubs and societies. Several residents were also active in student politics and some became members of the Students’ Union Council[47]. A number of public lectures were organised at Warrane every year and added to the talks given every week by guest speakers from the professional and academic world. In 1972, for instance, the residents were exposed to the knowledge and experience of Walter Bunning, one of the best architects in Sydney; Victor Couch, Vice-Rector of the Sydney Teachers College; Elwyn Lynn, director of the Power Gallery of Contemporary Art; Douglas Miller, renown neurosurgeon; Emmet McDermott, former mayor of Sydney; Vincent McGovern, pathologist; Edward St. John, lawyer, and Sir Philip Baxter, from the International Atomic Energy Agency. This is but a sample of those who were invited to speak at the college in 1972. These weekly lectures served to widen perspectives among the residents while facilitating privileged contact with a range of professional undertakings.

These sessions also fostered an ever present awareness of the student’s social responsibility and of the opportunities to contribute to the needs of society, another of the aims procured by the staff and tutors at Warrane, and unmistakably inspired by the mission preached by the Founder of Opus Dei of “contributing to resolve in a Christian way the problems which affect the community of each country”[48].

The corporate undertakings of Opus Dei around the world were social initiatives, and all its educational enterprises, such as a Warrane, promoted social awareness among the students. Typical of the social initiatives of Opus Dei were Strathmore College in Nairobi, the first interracial school in East Africa; Centro Internazionale della Gioventù Lavoratrice in Rome, a residence and school for industrial workers entrusted to Opus Dei by Pope John XXIII and inaugurated by Pope Paul VI; the Radio School ERPA, offering lessons by radio to indigenous people in the highlands of Peru, to mention a few[49].

Residents at Warrane were encouraged to participate in community service and devote some of their time to visiting nursing homes and families in poorer areas of Sydney, feed and accompany the homeless, and assist the elderly with some gardening. These activities have greatly enriched the college experience for generations of university students, and have been an integral part of the education for life which is offered at Warrane. If an intense social and sporting calendar was a feature of most colleges affiliated to the University of New South Wales, Warrane also engaged its residents in a great deal of community service and social work[50]. In the words of Saint Josemaría, a residence entrusted to the spiritual care of Opus Dei provided “not only a place to stay but numerous activities to complete the student’s human, spiritual and cultural training”[51].

These particular features were characteristic of a college committed to the education of its residents in Catholic morals and ethics. The final and most important of all objectives established with the foundation of Warrane College in 1970 was to provide, for those students who would like it, the opportunity to know and practise the Christian faith more fully. This purpose inspired all the other aims we have cited and, in various ways, it informed every single project designed for the college. Not only was this a distinctive feature of Warrane in comparison to the objectives of the other colleges, but the concept of offering personal formation in human values and virtues went far beyond the Oxbridge standards of collegial education.

On offer to Catholic residents and the faithful at large, as well as those interested in Catholicism, was a rich variety of spiritual and doctrinal activities: ongoing courses on Christian principles, ethics and history, a weekly chaplain’s talk, and personalised spiritual guidance and training were made available to all who would like to start or improve a relationship with God. The chaplains were also available for confessions, and Holy Mass was celebrated in the college chapel every morning[52].

Like the chaplains, some of the resident tutors also assumed a pastoral role whenever requested by the residents entrusted to their care. But in explaining the role of the chaplains in Warrane, the college Vice-Master insisted that “functions of a religious character will of course be organised, but the residents will be under no obligation to attend them. In fact, respect for the freedom of the individual to participate or not in any activity is basic to the spirit of Opus Dei”[53]. In consequence, “no obligation whatsoever of a religious nature will be imposed on the residents”, who could gain acceptance into the college regardless of their religious beliefs or personal convictions[54].

Over the years, the experience of many at Warrane has been one of real conversion: many Catholics have learnt to live their faith more fully and love the Church more intensely, a few have discovered their call to join Opus Dei. For many non-Catholics, on the other hand, the years at Warrane have served to become acquainted with Catholic doctrine, and several of them have been received into the Church.

Catholic or not, the residents have always been encouraged to lead a life of virtue and principle. Those willing to reap the benefits of a wholesome collegial experience have learnt to establish order in their life by keeping a room tidy or following a daily timetable; they have also learnt about the commitment of fatherhood and marriage by taking care of other residents and assuming leadership roles; they have learnt a great deal about Christian decency and modesty by observing the basic norms of personal hygiene, behaviour and dress. They have acquired social skills later necessary for developing lasting friendships and for the crafting of successful professional careers. Finally, and most importantly, many residents have naturally turned the practise of these virtues and the assimilation of moral and ethical principles into a lively relationship with God.

There can be no doubt as to the radical change that years in Warrane have prompted in the life of many young men. Staying at the college was therefore a challenging experience for those willing to assume the demands of an education for life. The resident was no mere lodger because the college was much more than a hotel.

But in spite, or perhaps because, of such a demanding environment, Tony Shannon wrote in 1974 that “full to capacity, the college has an everincreasing number of applications and a long waiting list. The immense majority of present residents indicated Warrane as their first choice when applying to the colleges on campus”[55]. At the end of 1971, for example, more than 70 per cent of the students applied to be admitted back the following year, showing that many were at least satisfied with their experience at Warrane[56].

Opposition to Opus Dei, student protests and the enquiry

However, the same Warrane ethos responsible for its success and attractiveness to so many also encountered hostility from a noisy minority, particularly among student activists on campus. The validity of such ambitious and transcendental goals was not understood or tolerated by everyone, for they embodied a staunch resistance to many of the trends and ideologies emerging at university campuses from the mid-1960s.

All over the world, the traditional university experience was challenged by radical minorities who opposed all forms of authority and morality. In the words of Patrick O’Farrell, these trends responded to “emergent student mores, marked by anti-authoritarianism, anti-religion, and aggressive personal laxity”[57]. In the English-speaking world, much of this activism and protest in the 1960s was fuelled by a combination of Marxist ideas and the new commandments of the sexual revolution, and found an inspiration in the 1964 Berkeley Free Speech Movement, among other student uprisings[58]. In Australia, the university environment quickly became politicised and rebellious from 1965, after the commitment of Australian troops in support of the United States military involvement in the Vietnam conflict, which was seen as cooperating with authoritarian and capitalist forces[59].

Under the banner and façade of personal freedom, all this spontaneous idealism on campuses hides intended implications: a minority of radical students wanted to assert control over university administration and thus transform the nature of tertiary education by changing the focus from teaching and learning to urging political, moral and social change. In this there seemed to have been a measure of contradiction, for the student movement pretended to seize and employ the very authority they detested.

Although a rejection of traditional morality and any form or shape of authoritarianism were the major causes that united student movements across the world, the radicals at different universities were constantly in search of a local cause célèbre to initiate and justify action, mostly by a typical sequence of propaganda, march and occupation[60]. In Australia, for example, any measure taken by university authorities which contradicted the emerging ideology was turned into a cause for protest. In consequence, from 1967 to 1974 there were violent student uprisings at the universities of Monash, Queensland, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, La Trobe, Flinders, and Macquarie[61].

The student population at the University of New South Wales in Sydney was moderate compared to the others, perhaps because it had originally been a technological institute and was therefore attended by a larger proportion of science and engineering students[62]. The Students’ Union, however, was controlled by people who had been influenced by the Freethought Society, the Libertarians, and the Sydney Push in addition to influence exercised by international trends, all of which advocated the defiant ideas typically associated with the movements of the 1960’s[63]. In 1971, then, student activism at this university found a most convenient cause for protest, a real gold mine to keep radicals occupied on campus. The presence of Opus Dei in Warrane College was suitably turned into a local Vietnam and the Catholic organisation became the target of violent opposition in the early 1970’s. The historian Patrick O’Farrell explains that “some were genuine radicals frustrated in their larger ambitions and seeing in Warrane a specifically local issue which they might champion with some hope of drawing on immediate and individual discontent”[64].

Opus Dei was seen by the radicals as a formidable opponent because its mission was in direct collision with the moral relaxation they intended for university students. While the members of Opus Dei tried to promote high standards of decency and hard work among the residents at Warrane, many student activists were preaching, at the very same time, the gospel of liberation from any moral constraints and the chains of a virtuous life. Several decades before, Saint Josemaría’s words in The Way had inspired a Christian reaction to such trend: “There is need for a crusade of manliness and purity to counteract and undo the savage work of those who think that man is a beast […].”[65]. This was indeed a head-on clash of principles, and in the agitated circumstances of 1970’s, conflict was perhaps inevitable. Also in reference to the Anglican foundation of New College, Ian Walker observes that the situation “was as if the colleges had arrived at the wrong party!”[66].

Although the opposition to Opus Dei should not be exaggerated, the reaction against the administration of Warrane College in the 1970’s is a rather complex phenomenon that goes beyond the outcry of a few rebels on campus. Perhaps confused by some of the reforming resolutions of the Second Vatican Council, some members of the Newman Society, an association of Catholic students at the University of Sydney, branded Opus Dei a conservative, right-wing and authoritarian organisation, “hostile to the spirit of renewal within the Roman Catholic Church […] informed by the more traditionally Spanish Catholic vices of arrogance and suspicion of the secular world”, to be feared and opposed in Australia[67]. In spite of Gilroy’s convictions, the university council’s approval, and the overwhelming evidence which showed Opus Dei’s aims to be exclusively spiritual, some Catholics -also outside the Newman Societyechoed in Australia the same misconceptions that others have fabricated overseas. Opus Dei was accordingly linked to the Franco regime in Spain, “it was held to be un-Australian, fascist, was allegedly secretive and the enemy of freedom”[68]. In addition, they warned, Opus Dei’s proposal to look after the spiritual administration of colleges at the universities of Oxford and Fribourg had been reasonably rejected[69].

Most of the opposition to Opus Dei from 1966 to 1975 did no more than to repeat these views and was primarily channelled through “Tharunka”, the publication of the Students’ Union at the University of New South Wales[70]. It could not have been otherwise since, as we have pointed out, the first step in the sequence of student protest was propaganda, and most student organisations were filled with radicals in this period. Interestingly, however, the Students’ Union—largely dominated by atheists and agnostics—and some Catholics in Sydney, became odd allies in confronting Opus Dei, too authoritarian a group for the former and too orthodox a movement for the latter. Unfortunately, such an awkward confabulation has been a recurrent phenomenon in history.

Many of the written accusations in “Tharunka” were so misinformed, slanderous, and obscene, so charged with belligerence and intolerance, that to cite the authors would only do great disservice to their honour and obliterate their cause. They could be summarised using the synthesis offered by William West: “Stripped of their rhetoric, the objections in Tharunka to Warrane College policy boil down to (a) they are Catholic; (b) they don’t let students visit maids or girls in rooms; (c) they expel students for breaking rules or promoting pornographic movies; (d) they hang crucifixes on walls”[71].

The editors of the student paper would certainly add a few more objections, such as that Opus Dei members exert pressure on the residents to join it, and that residents were constantly being observed and obliged to conform to strict moral codes. All these accusations were vividly illustrated with letters of anger and dramatic testimonies of former residents, carefully selected quotes from Saint Josemaría’s book The Way, and with opinion pieces of informed and devout Catholics so as to demonstrate that opposition to Opus Dei was not prompted by anti-Catholicism[72].

The attacks on Opus Dei had in the 1960s been confined to pen and paper, but the theft of a sex manual published by “Tharunka” in 1971 gave the radicals a local excuse to test their strength against the university authorities and further their cause against Opus Dei. About six thousand copies of the manual, announced on campus as the family issue, were stolen the night before distribution, and without much investigation it was alleged by the editor of “Tharunka” that they had been taken by residents of Warrane, assuming that Opus Dei would have naturally opposed the distribution[73].

A meeting was called, not only to condemn the theft but also to show public opposition to the rules at Warrane College and the spirituality of Opus Dei. All of the literary ammunition directed at Opus Dei since 1966 was collected and used again to replenish the pages of “Tharunka” in 1971 and 1972. On campus, the small but loud opposition to the administration of Warrane had commenced a fierce campaign with the cry “Joe must go”, directed at the college Master, Joseph Martins[74].

Only two months after the official opening of the college, the staff and residents at Warrane were confronted with dramatic scenes on that famous Monday 9th August. What followed the meeting of students held at the university roundhouse was broadcasted by most radio stations and attracted the attention of newspapers all over Australia, one of which reported the following:

The incidents occurred after a meeting of about 2,000 students in the university roundhouse passed a resolution demanding that the university end the lease of Warrane College […] shortly after 2 pm, after a number of students had left, the meeting narrowly voted that students should ‘adjourn to Warrane College’. Several hundred walked to the front of the college in Anzac Parade, and about 10 ran inside. A group of college employees and residents blocked the doorway, and pushed back others who were trying to force their way in […]; the crowd then moved to the side of the college, and a number of students climbed in through a window. Police kept arriving throughout the afternoon until by 3.15, 21 police cars were parked beside the median strip in Anzac Parade. About 40 police were moving through the crowd. Soon after 3 pm, police entered the college to remove the students who had run inside […]. The arrested students will appear in Waverly Court this morning[75].

The radicals had resorted to occupation, the third stage in the sequence of protest. Violence had finally come to the Kensington campus and seven students were arrested as a result. The diary of the college records that “an estimated 600-strong crowd mostly curious onlookers was watching the siege”[76]. The residents at Warrane had not only opposed the meeting and its resolutions, but they defended the college during the attempted invasion by throwing all sorts of missiles, rubbish and water bombs from the windows[77]. Some must have felt like triumphant soldiers after a battle for they had driven away the invaders, others were simply pleased at being the centre of attention. The college diary keeps the recollection of an extraordinary day for everyone at Warrane:

Most of the radio stations broadcast[ed] the incident at the college. Reporters from various media came to interview the master and many did it by phone. In the evening after tea, the main common room became the TV room as everybody went to watch the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) telecast of the “siege”. Other channels also reported on the same events. From this day on Warrane or Opus Dei shall have been heard by the whole of Australia[78].

It had been a difficult day for those running the college, but it was almost as if the rebels had done Opus Dei a great favour: shortly after its opening, Warrane had made the news all over Australia. In any case, Joseph Martins publicly declared that Opus Dei had nothing to do with the disappearance of the manuals and the director of students’ publications quickly wrote a disclaimer to one of the newspapers stating that the controversial family issue was not an official publication of the Students’ Union and that there was no official support for the occupation of the college[79]. In addition, an avalanche of letters came in support of Opus Dei and its project for Warrane College. One published in the Sunday Australian touches the essence of the conflict by observing in reference to the stolen manuals that “mere theft is not normally enough to bring out the demonstrators. I suspect it wasn’t the reason. The real crime of Opus Dei is that it teaches obedience, chastity and self-denial—matters as foreign to militant students as truth and justice”[80].

On 10 August, the day after the siege, another meeting was convened at the Roundhouse by the editors of “Tharunka”. This time the meeting was attended by the Vice-Chancellor, who stated that he was aware of no breach of the terms of the lease with Opus Dei concerning Warrane, that there were no grounds for protesting, and that changes to the rules should be made by the college administration. Also at the meeting were some residents, staff and members of Opus Dei, one of whom stood up in front of the unruly crowd of students and delivered a speech in defence of the aims of the college[81].

The meetings and the violent tactics employed by some radicals within the Students’ Union to politicise debate and impose their ideology on campus was denounced in “Kundu”, a publication of the university’s Democratic Club, in an issue published shortly after the siege, urging

moderate students to involve themselves in the affairs of the Students’ Union to ensure that the pro-violence minority is not allowed to dictate policy […] otherwise it will be necessary for the Administration to take action to safeguard the rights of the Students’ Union Council and of all students to hold and express their own views without fear of intimidation[82].

It was increasingly clear to all that action against the administration of the college was being inspired and conducted by a small minority of radicals without general consent from student representatives.

As the campaign continued, however, two university lecturers, who had been branded by the rebels as members of Opus Dei, declared two weeks after the protests:

None of us are members of Opus Dei and, for that matter, only one of us is nominally, a Catholic […]. We are however active supporters of Warrane College and the efforts that members of Opus Dei are making in an honest attempt towards broadening the intellectual development of the residents […]. During the periods of our association it has never been suggested to any of us by members of Opus Dei that we should support any other activity of that organisation assuming that there are others, apart from those directly related to the development of Warrane as a university college […][83].

A minority of students persisted on their attacks over the next year. In June 1972, about half of the college residents broke the rules concerning visitors, but three were singled out as particularly defiant, and were expelled. Although they were reinstated two days later and the visitors rule was revised after peaceful dialogue and mutual compromise, the incident was reported in several newspapers and television news, and the editors of “Tharunka” took this opportunity to reactivate their discourse on Opus Dei[84]. As this had also been the case in 1971, the Master of the college urged the residents to deal with this as an internal matter, and “deplore the introduction of external pressures”[85].

Animosities cooled down in 1973 as “Tharunka” was slowly cleared of some radical trends, but the magazine continued to lead the opposition to the presence of Opus Dei on campus, and the violent scenes of 1971 were repeated in 1974. On Wednesday, 5 June, some 2.000 students met at the Roundhouse convened by an Anti-Opus Dei Committee, and a number of expelled residents spoke against the rules, particularly that which forbade residents taking women to their bedrooms, and opposed what they called “petty restrictions and puritanical attitudes”[86]. Then points of The Way were recited out of context and in public to reveal once again the undemocratic nature of Opus Dei. Once the crowd had been excited, entertainment was promised by the radicals and the circus began. The events were proudly recounted and made a glorious feat of student power in “Tharunka”:

The meeting was followed by the Opus Dei Passion Play with a Black Coffin (Opus Dei R.I.P. inscribed); borne by four hooded pall bearers. The “Devil” led a “funeral procession” to Warrane College where 1,500 students “exorcised” the “Holy Mafia” with cries of “Opus out now”. An effigy of Joe Martins “jumped” from the 14th floor window to his death below. Students felt it only fitting that he be placed in the coffin (There was a solemn silence during the ritual burning of the same). “To the Admin” came the cry when it was apparent the real Joe wasn’t going to address the crowd. After a noisy march through the campus the Chancellery was shaken by the might of student power for the first time since the late 60’s. The confrontation in the Council Chambers began with John Green (S.U. President) being appointed Chair-person[87].

The headquarters of university administration were thus the third and final stage in the sequence of student protest because Warrane had been defended by its residents, supporters and staff, and most evidently, because the main target of the radicals was not Opus Dei, but the university authorities. A letter to “Tharunka” a week after the occupation makes it clear. A student representative writes with frustration:

The demonstration last week that resulted in the occupation of the University Council Chambers by 500 students showed that students can be a force within this University […] [but] as long as the University is controlled by conservative forces of administrators, business interest and senior staff, students will never have real power within the University […] we the students should have the power to make this and other decisions within the University[88].

Although there was no consensus as to the measures that students could take concerning the administration of the university, violent means of protest had been employed by student organisations at other campuses in Australia and the radicals at New South Wales would not be counted as the exception.

The Students’ Union and a handful of activists had incited a large crowd to join them in testing strengths with university authorities, and this time they took advantage of the absence of the Vice-Chancellor, who was then overseas, to bully the acting authority and exploit the fragile situation. There was less violence in this protest than in 1971, but the activists achieved a lot more. While they failed to have Opus Dei ousted from the campus, they managed nevertheless to push the university into a compromise: a committee would be established “to inquire into the recent public criticism and protests over the management of Warrane College and to investigate whether […] is contrary to the interests of the University generally”[89].

Although the rebels had gathered support at the Roundhouse by passing the microphone to expelled students, obviously disgruntled with their experience at Warrane, the Activities Committee of the college wrote to “Tharunka” only two days before the march and in representation of the residents, to complain that many residents had been intimidated on campus, and to clarify that “there seems to be almost universal agreement opposing the present campaign against Warrane and Opus Dei”[90]. To explain the intimidation that Warrane residents suffered on the university campus as a result of this campaign, we need to borrow the words of a letter published in “Tharunka”, shortly before the protests: “the rhetoric and cartoons make rather obvious the real reason behind this campaign”, points out the student, “the far left-wingers and sexual freedom supporters cannot tolerate a bit of the campus which dares to reject their standards”[91].

A week after the march, a letter appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald praising the efforts of Opus Dei members in the administration of Warrane and questioning the cause of the protesters. It is here cited almost in its entirety because it offers an interesting analysis by a non-Christian of the inevitable clash between the educational aims of the college and the radical ideas espoused by a minority of student activists from the mid-1960s. In addition, his testimony is important because it summarises much of what has been said of the particular mission of the college and the real agenda of the radicals. Ben Haneman, Warden of Clinical Studies at St. George Hospital and member of the board of Warrane College, wrote in June 1974:

At the outset I want to make it clear that I am a Jew and not a Catholic, that I am a socialist and that I have tremendous sympathy and affection for students.

I became a member of the college board because I have tremendous admiration for the work this college is doing. It has been my passionate belief that not only is there room for Warrane at the University of NSW, but also that the university has a need of Warrane. I believe that this college can make a significant contribution to the life and work of the university.

I believe that Warrane’s opponents have singled it out because it takes a spiritual rather than a materialistic position. Not everyone will accept this explanation. The explanation that will be offered in its place will be student unrest because women are not allowed in the residents bedrooms.

When I was young—and I’ve now turned 50—the rule Warrane has now regarding women visitors was accepted as utterly reasonable. I know very well this is no longer acceptable to many students, and I accept that it is not acceptable. But if a student has a need to live in a mixed college, he can go to any of the other six colleges on campus, which are all mixed, and live there.

Surely a college can make its own rules, as everyone can make rules in his own house. I accept that promiscuity is now permissible. The “Tharunka” youngsters seem to want to make it compulsory.

It is evident on the campus that it is the editors of the student newspaper “Tharunka” who have taken the lead in the present opposition to Warrane.

[…] the more ideas that get into the university the better. That is what universities are all about. Minds can meet, ideas can be thrashed out and discussed, and often discarded if necessary. But what the opponents of Warrane want to do is to silence one point of view altogether. No thinking student could possibly go along with them, whatever he thinks of Opus Dei[92].

Testimonies such as these were submitted to the committee of enquiry in defence of the college and Opus Dei. The investigation began on July 22nd and concluded on November 11th. The six members of the committee, which included the president of the Students’ Union and no one from Warrane, assembled on eleven occasions, received 149 written submissions and interviewed 18 of those who sent written testimonies[93]. After much consideration of documents, interviews, and a thorough inspection of the college, the committee resolved in a 22-page report, the following:

There is no evidence before us capable of supporting the suggestion that Opus Dei has employed its position on the campus as a means of bringing its corporate influence to bear upon any institution of the University […] [or] is an organization which designs by secrecy and stealth to overthrow existing institutions, or to infiltrate, for its own purposes, positions of power and responsibility. The material before us does no more than establish that, in this country at least, it is the lay apostolate which it purports to be […]. We have no reason to question the good faith of those members of Opus Dei associated with the management of Warrane […] the College possesses special aims and special character [and] the University, which invited Opus Dei to establish this College, cannot now contend that its aims, as set out in E.D.A’s memorandum and articles, are other than proper and deserving of support […]. We are of the opinion that a University has a duty to tolerate intellectual pluralism, and the expression of disparate views[94].

The exoneration was publicised in several newspapers in November 1974 and the attacks against the administration of Warrane College practically came to an end thereafter[95], “yet the matter was not trivial or irrelevant”, observes Patrick O’Farrell in his historical account of the university. “It raised again the question of how a tiny minority of students in Tharunka could sustain an agenda well past its use-by date: the era of student power had long ended and it was rationally and politically obvious that the anti-Warrane agitation could go nowhere, whatever the motions gone through”[96].

Although the magnitude and relevance of the protests of 1971 and 1974 should not be exaggerated, there are a number of reasons for considering these incidents as an important section in the early history of Warrane College. In the first place, these were public events and as such, they are undoubtedly the best documented episodes in the history of the college and, accordingly, a more accessible subject of enquiry for the historian. In studying these events, therefore, we attempt to set the record straight because, unfortunately, little else is known about Warrane apart from the protests, the details of which have too often been prey to distortion.

Secondly, these attacks had been, as it were, Warrane’s baptism of fire. This violent assault on the aims of the college and the public nature of the campaign against its management did much to advertise the spirituality and apostolic mission of Opus Dei in Australia. In fact, some current Australian members encountered Opus Dei precisely because they were somehow involved—on both sides of the fence—with the protests of 1971 and 1974[97]. In consequence, one of the unexpected—and surely unwanted—effects of the fierce campaign against Opus Dei on the Kensington campus was that the newly arrived organisation of lay Catholics jumped from total anonymity to a focus of public knowledge and discussion. The events which prompted such a phenomenon are therefore worthy of historical attention.

Finally, just as the circumstances forced the residents and many students on campus to take sides, the members of Opus Dei were strengthened in their convictions. In the face of vicious antagonism and slanderous attacks, those running the college avoided polemics and reacted with the serenity and patience that had also characterised Saint Josemaría’s response to unceasing campaigns against Opus Dei and his person in Europe. “We have to understand,” he used to repeat to the members of Opus Dei, “that we are not understood”[98].

A note from the Regional Commission of Opus Dei in Australia to the staff of the college reminds them that the Founder is praying for the Residence and has asked everybody in Opus Dei to keep Warrane in mind. Saint Josemaría transmitted peace and strength to the members of Opus Dei in Sydney, and encouraged them to protect the family environment at the college[99]. Forgive, forget and continue to work towards fulfilling the aims established for the college was the attitude adopted.

The first college chaplain, the late Msgr. John Masso, once recalled that “the great motivating idea behind Warrane is expressed in a wall hanging in the college’s library—the great commandment: ‘That you love one another’”[100]. This principle of Christian charity inspired the ethos of the college, the reaction against the protests, and very recently moved a former member of parliament to describe Warrane as a powerhouse of grace that had changed the life of so many students for the better[101]. This must have been the perception impressed upon Cardinal Gilroy in his visit to that residence entrusted to the spiritual care of Opus Dei in Rome.

In the early 1970s, the college was as a bridge over troubled waters. The Warrane College Crest includes a ship on top of some waves. These waters have brought many new challenges!

José Manuel Cerda. Born in Santiago de Chile, has a BA (Hons) and a doctorate in history from the University of New South Wales (2007). He was visiting research student at the universities of Oxford and St. Andrews (UK), and has published a number of articles on the institutional history of medieval Spain and England. He is an associate member of the Centre for Medieval Studies (University of Sydney), the Network of Early European Research (University of Western Australia) and ad tempus researcher of the Instituto de Metodología e Historia de la Ciencia Jurídica (University of Madrid). He was Director of Studies and Assistant Dean at Warrane College, where he lived from 2001 to 2006. He is currently teaching and researching at the University of Chile, in Santiago.



[1] Artículos del Postulador, Postulación de la Causa de Beatificación y Canonización del Siervo de Dios Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Sacerdote, Fundador del Opus Dei, Roma, 1979, p. 395, and n. 1249. According to Bishop Muldoon, the Pope remarked: «È un vero santo, un uomo mandato da Dio per i nostri tempi».

[2] Cf. Ian Walker, Church, College and Campus: The Sacred and the Secular in the Foundation of Denominational Colleges in Australian Universities, with particular reference to certain colleges in universities established in the period 1945 to 1975, unpublished doctoral thesis, Sydney, The University of New South Wales, 2001, p. 427. Members of Opus Dei had set up Netherhall House in 1952 and Greygarth Hall in 1958 as residences for university students in London and Manchester respectively. The Founder encouraged the newly settled members of Opus Dei to establish a residence for university students as soon as it was possible (cf. Andrés Vásquez de Prada, El Fundador del Opus Dei. Vida de Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, vol. 3, Madrid, Rialp, 2003, p. 320. The foundation of university residences entrusted to the spiritual care of Opus Dei around the world is summarised in ibid., pp. 341, 504; Owen F. Hughes, Disorganised Organisation?, Opus Dei Replies, “Arena”, 30 September 1968, p. 4. Owen Hughes, member of Opus Dei and lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of New South Wales, indicated in the student newspaper that “Warrane College […] comes as one of more than two hundred university residences and hostels established by Opus Dei throughout the world”. “Tharunka”, 29 October, 1968. “Tharunka” is the student magazine at the University of New South Wales, and past issues are stored and catalogued at the university library. For more details on this publication, cf. “Tharunka”, n. 69.

[3] Nairana offered “diversified educational and cultural activities for high school and university students” (cf. Hughes, Disorganised Organisation?, p. 4). Refer also to “Tharunka”, 7 June, 1966; Peter Kelly, Opus Dei Moves into Sydney?, “The Bulletin”, 2 March, 1963, p. 7.

[4] Cf. Walker, Church, College, p. 427; “Tharunka”, 7 June, 1966.

[5] In a letter to Michael Steuart, secretary of the development committee for the future college, Justice Clancy, the Chancellor of the university, wrote in 1968: “I am particularly pleased to see the efforts of private initiative, as exemplified by your committee, in the establishment of affiliated colleges, which are so sorely needed” (25 November, 1968, extract cited in Walker, Church, College, pp. 436-437). The Federal Government became particularly concerned with student accommodation at university campuses in the 1950s and launched a scheme to promote residential colleges in 1955. There were some fifteen thousand students enrolled at the University of New South Wales in 1970, about eight hundred of whom lived in the five residential colleges on campus. Warrane contributed to this number with another two hundred places (The Sydney Morning Herald [hereafter SMH], 10 June, 1971, p. 14).

[6] Walker, Church, College, p. 432. According to the student newspaper “Tharunka”, “this followed an approach by the University to His Eminence [Cardinal Gilroy] which in turn followed a change in the A.U.C. (Australian Universities Commission) policy which became favourable to the building of denominational Colleges at the newer Universities which were up until then only supplied with non-denominational Halls of Residence” (“Tharunka”, 11 April, 1967).

[7] These excerpts are taken from the UNSW Archives (FN. 29367 CN.461/1), and included in Walker, Church, College, p. 433.

[8] Cited in Walker, Church, College, pp. 434-435 (from the UNSW Archives, see above). Contrary to what the historian Patrick O’Farrell asserts, the members of Opus Dei wanted to cooperate with rather than supplant the apostolic work of the Catholic chaplaincy at the university—at that time run by the Missionary Fathers of the Sacred Heart—, regardless of the perceptions or predictions of the resident chaplain. Cf. Patrick O’Farrel, UNSW: A Portrait, Sydney, UNSW Press, 1999, p. 165; Interview with David Bolton and Joseph Martins, Sydney, July, 2006.

[9] Cited in Walker, Church, College, p. 437. The committee was primarily devoted to planning and to raising one quarter of the funds necessary for the construction as well as providing assistance and guidance in the establishment of the college. Its patron was Sir Kevin Ellis, Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and Deputy Chancellor of the University of New South Wales. The committee was affiliated to the Education Development Association (E.D.A.), set up on 4 November, 1964, as a company to represent Warrane College and future initiatives of similar nature and promoted by members of Opus Dei in Australia. Its chairman was Michael Steuart and it was to E.D.A. that the land lease of 99 years was granted by the university authorities in March 1967 (Committee of Enquiry into Warrane College, The University of New South Wales Council, November, 1974, p. 2).

[10] From the UNSW Archives, and cited in Walker, Church, College, p. 435.

[11] Committee of Enquiry, p. 3.

[12] A brief history of this college can be found in (6 November 2008).

[13] Cf. Josemaría Escríva, Conversations with Monsignor Escrivá de Balaguer, Sydney, Little Hills Press, 1993, n. 81; cf. also n. 47. This aspect of the spirit of Opus Dei is succinctly explained in Scott Hahn, Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace: My Spiritual Journey in Opus Dei, New York, Doubleday, 2006, p. 89. Warrane College was to be a private initiative, certainly inspired by Christian values, but not a project depending on the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

[14] Cited in Walker, Church, College, p. 436.

[15] “Tharunka”, 29 October, 1968. In 1974, for example, 37 per cent of the residents at Warrane College were not Catholic (Committee of Enquiry, p. 9).

[16] SMH, 10 June, 1971, p. 14.

[17] The Minister for Immigration was Albert J. Grassby. Another manifestation of the international character of Warrane was The Asian Cultural Festival, organised by college residents, attended by more than three hundred people, and opened by Robert Webster, Chancellor of the University of New South Wales. There were about a thousand overseas students enrolled at the university in 1970 (O’Farrel, UNSW, p. 120). Saint Josemaría insisted that all the residences entrusted to the spiritual care of Opus Dei were to be open to students of all races and faiths, precisely because none of them were to be established as denominational colleges. Perhaps the most appropriate example is Strathmore College, the very first inter-racial college in Africa (Vásquez de Prada, El Fundador, pp. 382-384, 452-453). Opus Dei’s ecumenical spirit is treated in Hahn, Ordinary Work, p. 4.

[18] This was published as a separate pamphlet entitled Warrane College-Opus Dei, in response to a questionnaire sent by Jeffrey Cohen, director of Student’s Publication of the Students’ Union on 3 September, 1971, following the issue of “Tharunka” of 31 August 1971, which was devoted to Opus Dei.

[19] Cf. Warrane College-Opus Dei, and “Minutes of the College Council”, ref. 8/72, pp. 3-4.

[20] An article in “Tharunka” noted this when reporting the signature of the lease in March, 1967. An appropriate distinction is there made between running halls of residence near universities, and managing colleges affiliated with a university (cf. “Tharunka”, 11 April, 1967).

[21] Cf. Governor to open university college, SMH, 10 June, 1971, p. 14; Jon Powis, Opus Dei on the campus, “The National Times”, August, 1970; and “Tharunka”, 2 October, 1968. The architectural layout of the building is described with surprising detail in the piece cited above. In the same page where the article is printed, a number of companies in the building construction market proudly publicise their involvement in the construction and equipment of the college. Cf. also “Tharunka”, 25 February and 4 November, 1969.

[22] Cited in Hahn, Ordinary Work, p. 46. A report printed in “Tharunka” indicates that, in fact, “during the first year of operation the number accommodated will be somewhat smaller, in order to allow the college to develop more gradually” (“Tharunka”, 4 November, 1969).

[23] Cf. “Tharunka”, 1 September, 1971. Creston was run by women of Opus Dei and was originally not an affiliated college of UNSW. Unlike Warrane’s, its layout was typical of university residences managed by people of Opus Dei in other countries.

[24] Joseph Martins was native of East Providence, Rhode Island. He studied and lived in Boston since 1957, and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. at Harvard University. For two years, he was Master at Trimount House, a residential hall promoted by Opus Dei members for students in Boston (cf. “Tharunka”, 4 November, 1969). On Trimount House, see John A. Gueguen, The Early Days of Opus Dei in Boston As Recalled by the First Generation (1945-1956), SetD 1 (2007), pp. 78-81.

[25] Cf. Governor, p. 14.

[26] Sir Roden Cutler had also attended the foundation ceremony in February, 1969, which gave official commencement to the construction of the college (“Tharunka”, 25 February, 1969).

[27] Cf. Governor, p. 14. There were approximately seventy colleges in Australia which accommodated one fifth of a total of 120,000 students enrolled at universities.

[28] More information on the foundation of these colleges is provided in “Tharunka”, 4 June, 1968; O’Farrel, UNSW, pp. 120, 164, 167. A brief history of New College and The Kensington Colleges may be gathered from the following websites: http://www.newcollege.unsw.; (6 November 2008).

[29] Governor, p. 14.

[30] Warrane College-Opus Dei.

[31] Committee of Enquiry, p. 11. This was cited from the Memorandum of E.D.A. in relation to the objectives of Warrane College, its affiliated institution.

[32] Cf. Donald Horne, The Lucky Country: Australia in the Sixties, Ringwood, Penguin Books, 1964, pp. 52-58; O’Farrel, UNSW, pp. 162, 167.

[33] Warrane College-Opus Dei.

[34] Tony Shannon, In defence of Warrane and Opus Dei, “Canberra Times”, June, 1974.

[35] This organisation was collected from various proposals made in 1971 and 1973 concerning the role of tutors at Warrane and approved by those running the college. The original tutorial system is still in place after minor modifications over years of experience.

[36] Josemaría Escríva, The Way, London, Scepter, 2001, n. 335. Cf. Id., Furrow, Sydney, Little Hills Press, 1987, n. 428; Hahn, Ordinary Work, p. 5.

[37] Warrane College-Opus Dei, p. 3.

[38] In 1973, the Kensington colleges were home to 423 students, 312 of whom passed all their subjects (73.8 per cent). New College hosted 185 students, 137 of whom passed all their subjects (74 per cent). 124 of the 152 residents at Warrane passed all their subjects (81.6 per cent). This data is gathered in Committee of Enquiry, pp. 14-15. The figures for International House and Shalom College are not provided.

[39] Cf. Shannon, In defence.

[40] Warrane College-Opus Dei, p. 3. The common facilities referred to by Joseph Martins were main common room, reception room, snack bar, library, chapel, music room, and six tutorial rooms.

[41] Cf. Outline proposals for the college in 1971, “Minutes”, ref. 1/71, p. 2.

[42] Those applying to live in Warrane are still surprised when finding that the doors of rooms have no locks. They quickly embrace this particularity when experiencing the home-like environment and realise that Warrane is not a hotel. This environment replicated the ambience of familiarity felt at the centres of Opus Dei (cf. Hahn, Ordinary Work, p. 5).

[43] “Tharunka”, 29 October, 1968.

[44] Shannon, In defence.

[45] Hughes, Disorganised Organisation?, p. 4.

[46] Cf. Shannon, In defence.The Inter-college Sports Shield engaged the affiliated colleges at the University of New South Wales in a number of sporting competitions such as rugby, football, basketball, hockey, tennis, swimming, cricket, squash, baseball and several others. The name of the college which accumulated the highest score at the end of the year was inscribed in a large wooden crest kept by the winner until the next year. The competition officially began in 1971, it has earned a lot of prestige and tradition, and is still a much appreciated trophy among the colleges.

[47] Interviews with David Bolton and Joseph Martins. Cf. also Outline proposals, p. 2.

[48] Escríva, Conversations, n. 19, and Id., ns. 56, 57, 119.

[49] Cf. Hughes, Disorganised Organisation?; cf. also footnote 2.

[50] Community service trips to overseas locations have involved dozens of Warrane residents since the 1980s to commit some of the holiday time to voluntary building and social work for disadvantaged communities mainly in the Pacific region and south-east Asia. The initiative has recently been adopted by other affiliated colleges at the University of New South Wales.

[51] Escríva, Conversations, n. 56.

[52] Interview with Joseph Martins. Cf. Escríva, Conversations, n. 29; Id., Christ is passing by, Manila, Sinag-Tala, 2001, n. 81.

[53] “Tharunka”, 29 October, 1968.

[54] Cf. Hughes, Disorganised Organisation?, p. 4.

[55] Shannon, In defence.

[56] These numbers were collected in May 1972 at a meeting of the college staff to discuss matters concerning admissions and recruitment (cf. Admissions, “Minutes”, ref. 8/72).

[57] O’Farrel, UNSW, p. 162.

[58] According to Keniston and Lerner, this radicalism was not widespread at American universities nor was it usually manifested with violence. It was rather a phenomenon linked to “protest-prone” and perfectly identifiable minorities within few campuses. According to Clarke, Egan and Lefkowitz, these minorities were largely made up of students with no religious beliefs. The 1970s, however, seemed a peaceful decade only in comparison to student unrest in the 1960s. In addition, it must be said that the Vietnam War attracted dissent and protest in the United States and the western world beyond the minority of naturally rebellious students (cf. Kenneth Keniston – Michael Lerner, Campus Characteristics and Campus Unrest, “Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science”, 395 [May, 1971], pp. 39-53, and particularly pp. 50-52; Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, The 1960s and the Transformation of Campus Cultures, “History of Education Quarterly”, 26 [Spring, 1986], pp. 1-38; James W. Clarke – Joseph Egan, Social and Political Dimensions of Campus Protest Activity, “The Journal of Politics”, 34 [May, 1972], pp. 500-523). The situation in Australia with very few universities in the 1960s, seems to have been different because student activism started later and continued well into the 1970s (cf. The radicalisation of the campuses, 1967-1974, based on Mick Armstrong, One, Two, Three, What are we fighting for?, Melbourne, Socialist Alternative, 2001, www.anu. interventions). Cf. also James Franklin, Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia, Sydney, Macleay Press, 2003, pp. 289-295.

[59] Cf. William J. West, Opus Dei: Exploding a Myth, Sydney, Little Hills Press, 1987, p. 156; Walker, Church, College, pp. 451-453; O’Farrel, UNSW, p. 162. Cf. also references in footnote 61.

[60] Cf. Armstrong, The radicalisation; Walker, Church, College, p. 442.

[61] Cf. Armstrong, The radicalisation; Franklin, Corrupting the Youth, pp. 281-294, 309; O’Farrel, UNSW, pp. 162-163.

[62] Cf. Armstrong, The radicalisation.

[63] Detailed explanation of the ideas espoused by members of these groups and the relation between them is offered in Franklin, Corrupting the Youth, pp. 158-161; Walker, Church, College, pp. 439-442.

[64] O’Farrel, UNSW, p. 163. The foundation of a Jewish college was also turned into a controversial matter by the editors of “Tharunka”, who claimed that the mode of management of the residence would oppose the liberal and orthodox Jewish communities in Sydney (“Tharunka”, 4 June, 1968).

[65] Escríva, The Way, n. 121.

[66] Walker, Church, College, p. 452. Ian Walker’s doctoral thesis spends an entire chapter on Warrane College. His approach is sensible and his description is detailed and useful, but has important weaknesses. Firstly, he fails to understand the spiritual nature of Opus Dei and therefore its mission in Warrane, mainly because much of his analysis rests upon the views of Mark Lyons and Michael Walsh, as if they were experts on Catholicism and Opus Dei (refer specially to Walker, Church, College, pp. 428-431). He seems to overlook that both authors contributed to the international and Australian campaign against Opus Dei. Secondly, although Walker recounts the story of the conflict considering both sides by citing letters and interviewing university authorities, not a single oral testimony from the staff or residents of Warrane is included in his analysis. Considering that most of the protagonists are still alive and in Australia, it is not a minor issue that none of them was interviewed. His thesis is otherwise informative and insightful.

[67] Cf. O’Farrel, UNSW, p. 163. These views are expressed in a piece published in “Tharunka” as soon as the lease between Opus Dei and the university was signed in 1967 (“Tharunka”, 11 April, 1967). It is likely, however, that such views on Opus Dei were not shared by everyone, not even most, at the Newman Society, and that the editors of “Tharunka” used the opinion of Catholic critics to hide behind (this is, in fact, clarified in a letter to the editors of “Tharunka”, published on 1 July, 1966). Ian Walker refers to a Newman Society dinner in June 1966 when guest speakers questioned the suitability of members of Opus Dei for the administration of the Catholic college at Kensington. A history student, described as a “prominent member of the Newman Society”, wrote several articles against Opus Dei from 1966 to 1971. Cf. Walker, Church, College, pp. 437-440. On the participation of members of Opus Dei in the Second Vatican Council see Vásquez de Prada, El Fundador, pp. 473-496.

[68] O’Farrel, UNSW, p. 162. Among several others, the Italian journalist, Vittorio Messori, dispelled the black legend fabricated about the aims of Opus Dei. Cf. Vittorio Messori, Opus Dei. Un’indagine, Milano, Mondadori, 1994. Particularly relevant are pp. 21-48 and 253-281; Federico M. R$()$3! – Javier S$:, Fuentes para la Historia del Opus Dei, Barcelona, Ariel, 2002, pp. 114-116; Vásquez de Prada, El Fundador, pp. 520-533.

[69] Cf. “Tharunka”, 7 June, 1966; 1 July, 1966. These are among the several references made to the episodes. Joseph Martins explained in an interview that after the Paulian fathers had resolved not to set up an affiliated college at Fribourg in 1964, “Opus Dei was invited to help out by establishing a college. The Association considered the position and proposed a private non-affiliated men’s residence. This proposal was accepted by the relevant authorities but met with some promise of opposition. After further discussion with the Fribourg authorities the proposal was abandoned. In Oxford, a few years earlier, Opus Dei submitted proposals for a college (which had been approved by the Colonial Office, the British Council and the Commonwealth Relations Office). In the 1960s Oxford’s Delegacy of Lodgings declined the proposals as not conforming with Oxford traditions. It should be remembered that at Oxford the colleges are much more integrated with the University as teaching colleges. A residential college would be something quite different. Opus Dei has been entrusted with the spiritual care of a residence at Oxford called Grandpont House” (Warrane College-Opus Dei).

[70] Members of these groups, referenced in n. 62, assisted the edition of this newspaper in the early 1970s (Cf. Franklin, Corrupting the Youth, p. 175). According to the Master of the college “Tharunka has a mixed standing among students, many of whom hold it in low regard and consider its contents in many cases morally debasing and unworthy of a university publication. On at least one occasion the regular weekly publication of Tharunka was suspended and another publication appeared with a different name containing material so liable to prosecution that no identifiable students would take responsibility for its publication” (Joseph Martins, Information of the events of the last few days related to Warrane College, Kensington, 13 August, 1971, p. 2).

[71] West, Opus Dei: Exploding, p. 157.

[72] Articles in “Tharunka” claim that the presence of Opus Dei on campus has made the work of the university chaplain increasingly difficult and that prominent members of the Newman Society as well as other “respectable” Catholics do also oppose Opus Dei (cf. also footnotes 8, 69, and 70).

[73] Cf. Student sex manual theft alleged, “The Australian”, 5 August, 1971; Letters, “The Australian”, 6 August, 1971; Brian McKinlay, Uproar over sex book follows pattern, “Sunday Review”, 20 August, 1971.

[74] New College was also the object of attacks from radicals on campus, and in 1975 a group of dissidents within the college attempted to start a campaign against the college management with the help of “Tharunka”. According to David Bolton, the editors declined for “they had already got their fingers burnt with Warrane” (Interview with David Bolton; cf. Walker, Church, College, p. 442; O’Farrel, UNSW, p. 164). Stuart Babbage of New College sent a submission to the committee suggesting that the university has “an inescapable responsibility to maintain inviolate the freedom and independence of the colleges and to protect them from partisan regimentation and repression” (cited in Walker, Church, College, p. 448).

[75] Students besiege uni college, SMH, 10 August, 1971. The Vice-Chancellor of the time, Rupert Myers, said he was called on to address the crowd of angry students at the Roundhouse, and his “knees were knocking; it was a terrifying experience” (Interview included in Walker, Church, College, p. 421).

[76] Warrane College Diary, 8 August 1971, AGP (General Archive of the Prelature), serie M-2.2, D-23-3.

[77] Police at Uni. Clash, “Courier Mail”, 10 August, 1971. A member of the staff registered the events of that day in the college diary.

[78] Warrane College Diary, 9 August, 1971, AGP, serie M-2.2, D-23-3. News of the incidents were reported in all major newspapers in Australia: College stormed in students’ riot, “Daily Telegraph” (Sydney), 10 August, 1971; Student riot under review, “Daily Telegraph”, 11 August, 1971; “Sunday Review” (Melbourne), 20 August, 1971; Police rush to stop Uni. Brawl, “Sun” (Melbourne), 10 August, 1971; Letters, “The Australian”, 6 August, 1971; The “Spanish Mafia” comes under attack, “The Australian”, 10 August, 1971; “Sunday Australian”, 12 August, 1971; Police at Uni. Clash, “Courier Mail” (Brisbane), 10 August, 1971; Students besiege Uni college, SMH (Sydney), 10 August and 16 October, 1971.

[79] Cf. Letters, SMH, 16 August, 1971; Letter from Joseph Martins to “The Australian”, 5 August, 1971. In another letter sent by the Master to the same newspaper, on 11 August, 1971, it is clarified that “although several students were dismissed from Warrane College this year, none left for disagreeing with Opus Dei philosophy, but because their behaviour was not in keeping with the standard expected of them”.

[80] Nothing left to read, “The Sunday Australian”, 15 August 1971.

[81] Cf. Warrane College Diary, 10 August, 1971, AGP, serie M-2.2, D-23-3; Interview with David Bolton. Bolton was the speaker at this meeting.

[82] “Kundu: A Publication of the U.N.S.W. Democratic Club”, 10 August, 1971, p. 2.

[83] This letter was published in “Tharunka”, 26 October, 1971.

[84] Cf. “Tharunka”, 4 May, 1972; O’Farrel, UNSW, p. 163; Row at Uni. Over rules, “Daily Telegraph”, 5 June, 1972; Uni. Students reinstated, “Daily Telegraph”, 6 June, 1972; Uni rule relaxed, “Daily Telegraph”, 8 August, 1972; Students criticise expulsions, SMH, 5 June, 1972; letter from the Australian Broadcasting Commission to Josep Martins, 7 July, 1972, and Statement given by the college Master to Channel Ten by telephone, 21 April, 1972.

[85] This was part of a notice posted on the official College notice board on 5 June, 1971, two days after the incident and once the students had been reinstated.

[86] “Tharunka”, 12 June, 1974; West, Opus Dei: Exploding, p. 156.

[87] “Tharunka”, 12 June, 1974.

[88] “Tharunka”, 12 June, 1974.

[89] Committee of Enquiry, p. 1. David Bolton recalls that the siege of 1971 had been a more serious affair (Interview with David Bolton). For another enquiry into Opus Dei, conducted by the Italian Parliament in 1986, see West, Opus Dei: Exploding, p. 158; Messori, Opus Dei. Un’indagine, pp. 37-44.

[90] “Tharunka”, 3 June, 1974.

[91] “Tharunka”, 3 June, 1974.

[92] Letters, SMH, 14 June, 1974.

[93] Committee of Enquiry, pp. 1-2. A detailed analysis of the committee and its conclusions in Walker, Church, College, pp. 445-450.

[94] Committee of Enquiry, pp. 7, 20-21. The verdict becomes all the more remarkable considering the arguable observations of Patrick O’Farrell: “at the time, within the university hierarchy, attitudes towards religion were hardly favourable […] the University of New South Wales and religion did not mix” (O’Farrel, UNSW, pp. 166-167).

[95] Opus Dei college is not subversive, says council, “The Australian”, 12 November, 1974; Sex adjudged reason for college ban on women, SMH, 12 November, 1974.

[96] O’Farrel, UNSW, p. 163.

[97] Interviews with Joseph Martins and David Bolton. The seed of the spirit of Opus Dei has been spread all around—once remarked the Founder—because the Work of God has been hit very hard by all sorts of obstacles (cf. Vásquez de Prada, El Fundador, pp. 352-353).

[98]Comprender que no nos comprendan” (cited in Vásquez de Prada, El Fundador, p. 520). The staff at Warrane faithfully continued to pursue the goals for the college in spite of the difficult circumstances, and were not shaken by the attacks. A clear manifestation of this attitude is revealed in a register of matters discussed in 1974 by the administration of the college, in which the “Tharunka” campaign appears as a modest entry among many items for discussion. “Callar, rezar, trabajar y sonreír” (remain silent, pray, work and smile), was the advice given by Saint Josemaría in the face of accusations and campaigns against Opus Dei (cited in Vásquez de Prada, El Fundador, p. 533). “Caritas mea cum omnibus vobis in Christo Iesu!”, were the affectionate words of encouragement from the Founder to those suffering persecution in Spain and The Netherlands in the 1960s (cf. Vásquez de Prada, El Fundador, pp. 520, 530; Hahn, Ordinary Work, p. 5).

[99] Note from the Regional Commission of Opus Dei in Australia to the Residence (1974). “¡Cuánta compañía os hago, desde aquí!”, wrote the Founder to the members of Opus Dei in Australia (cf. Vásquez de Prada, El Fundador, p. 325).

[100] West, Opus Dei: Exploding, p. 159.

[101] These were the words employed in 2005 by John R. Johnson, former member of the State Parliament of New South Wales, at a dinner with the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney in Warrane College.