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Cause of canonization opens for Opus Dei priest

Holy cards with the image of Opus Dei priest Father Joseph Muzquiz are displayed at the June 2 ceremony at the Archdiocese of Boston's Pastoral Center to open his cause of canonization. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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BRAINTREE -- Several local members of Opus Dei are pleased the Archdiocese of Boston has opened the cause for canonization of one of their cherished priests.

About 150 people, many of whom are local members of Opus Dei, attended the formal opening of an inquiry into the cause of canonization of Father Joseph Muzquiz, a priest of Opus Dei who established the organization in the United States and worked for many years in the greater Boston area, June 2 at the archdiocese's Pastoral Center.

"All Christians are called to be saints and we are deeply grateful that the Archdiocese of Boston is undertaking this effort to see whether Father Joseph Muzquiz indeed truly lived a holy life," said Opus Dei spokesman Brian Finnerty.

Father Muzquiz was born in Spain in 1912. He joined the Nationalist army during the Spanish Civil War after his city was taken over by Nationalist forces. In 1941, he was admitted to Opus Dei.

He was ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 1944. Upon coming to the United States in 1949, he helped establish Opus Dei centers in Chicago and Washington, D.C. He also laid the foundations for Opus Dei's work in Canada, Japan and Venezuela. During the 1960s and 1970s he worked in Europe and pressed for the canonization of the organization's founder, Father Josemaria Escriva.

He returned to the U.S. in 1981, settling at Arnold Hall Conference Center, 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.

The June 2 event marked the beginning of the process that could lead to the canonization of Father Muzquiz. Inquiry officials will hear testimony from people who knew Father Joseph and can testify to the holiness of his life. As the cause continues, inquiry officials will accept evidence of alleged miracles attributable to Father Muzquiz's intercession. Following satisfactory completion of this process, the case goes to the Vatican's Congregation of the Saints for their investigation.

Archdiocese of Boston Assistant Vicar for Administration Father Bryan Parrish began the meeting with a prayer. Father Parrish represented Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley at the event. The cardinal was traveling and was unable to attend.

Following the opening prayer, Father David Cavanagh, an Opus Dei priest who is the postulator for Father Muzquiz's cause, gave some remarks.

Father Cavanagh praised Father Muzquiz, saying he "may be one of those persons who has persevered to the end living a life of heroic virtue on the path to sanctity."

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