Opus Dei priest helped many see God calls all to holiness, says author
Catholic News Service photo
Holy cards for Father Joseph Muzquiz are seen at the ceremony opening the Opus Dei priest's cause for canonization in June 2011 at the Archdiocese of Boston's Pastoral Center in Braintree, Mass. Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley is to preside over a cerem ony May 22 to close the archdiocesan phase of work on the cause and the process will then move to Rome.
Catholic News Service
BOSTON — Father Joseph Muzquiz, an Opus Dei priest who is a candidate for sainthood, "helped countless people discover that we can encounter Jesus in the midst of our work and everyday lives," said the author of a book about the priest's life.
"(His) eventual canonization would be especially significant because as a priest of Opus Dei he both practiced himself and taught many other people the message of St. Josemaria Escriva that God calls all of us to holiness," said John Coverdale.
St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer founded Opus Dei in 1928 in Madrid. Father Muzquiz joined in the 1940s and established the organization in the United States, working for many years in the greater Boston area. He died in 1983.
Coverdale's comments came about a week before Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley was scheduled to preside over a May 22 ceremony to close the archdiocesan phase of the priest's cause for canonization. The process will then move to Rome.
"This is a great step," Coverdale said in a statement. "The Archdiocese of Boston has carefully examined Father Joseph Muzquiz's life and decided that there is enough evidence of his holiness that the Vatican should take up the question of his possible beatification and canonization."
Father Muzquiz's cause was officially opened in June 2011 in Boston, giving the priest the title of "servant of God." Since then, the Archdiocese of Boston has heard testimony from dozens of witnesses who knew him. Now all of the documents that have been collected and the transcripts of the testimony of the witnesses will be sent to the Vatican's Congregation for Saints' Causes.
In Rome, all of the documentation will be examined to determine if the priest heroically lived the Christian virtues. If so, the church will give him the title "venerable," the first step in the canonization process.
Before the next step -- beatification -- a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the candidate's intercession also is needed. In general confirmation of a second such miracle is needed for canonization.
"The church canonizes people both to encourage us to ask their intercession and to propose them as models for our lives," said Coverdale, who wrote "Putting Down Roots: Father Joseph Muzquiz and the Growth of Opus Dei," published in 2009.
Father Muzquiz "stressed that the demands of work and family, far from being obstacles to holiness, are what we have to sanctify and contribute to our loving God and others, which is, of course, what holiness consists in," he added.
Father Muzquiz was born in Spain in 1912. He served for a time in the nationalist army toward the end of the Spanish Civil War. He worked as a civil engineer, building bridges and railroad stations, and according to his biography, he sought to bring friends and colleagues closer to God in his daily work.
In 1940, he asked to join Opus Dei. He was ordained to the priesthood June 25, 1944.
Upon coming to the United States in 1949, Father Muzquiz helped establish Opus Dei centers in Chicago and Washington. He also laid the foundations for Opus Dei's work in Canada and Japan. The organization, a personal prelature of the pope, today has about 87,000 members around the world, including about 1,900 priests.
The core idea of Opus Dei, Latin for "God's work," is to bring the Gospel into the secular world and to sanctify daily life as an act of service to God.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Father Muzquiz worked in Europe and pressed for the canonization Opus Dei's founder, who died in 1975. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 2002.
Father Muzquiz returned to the U.S. in 1976, as the U.S. head of Opus Dei. After a bout with cancer, he moved to Boston in 1981 to do pastoral work at an Opus Dei apostolate in Pembroke. On June 20, 1983, he suffered a heart attack while teaching a class there, and died the following day at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth. His funeral was at the former St. Aidan's Church in Brookline and he is buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery in West Roxbury.