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Local phase closes in sainthood cause of Opus Dei priest

Cardinal O'Malley impresses his seal on a document to closes the local phase of the canonization cause of Opus Dei priest Father Joseph Muzquiz, May 22. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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BRAINTREE -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley presided over the closing session of the diocesan phase of the cause of canonization for Opus Dei priest Father Joseph Muzquiz, May 22, at the Archdiocese of Boston's Pastoral Center in Braintree.

The closing session ended the local stage in Father Muzquiz's cause of canonization and the process will now move to Rome.

"Although the process is just beginning, even reflecting on the holiness of life of this great priest is of benefit to all of us, and we pray that his cause will advance quickly and that others will continue to be touched by the testimony of his life and his holiness," Cardinal O'Malley said.

During the ceremony, the cardinal approved the evidence collected in the case -- a stack of boxes that contained over 9,000 pages of evidence detailing the life of the potential saint.

Father Muzquiz was born in 1912 in Badajoz, Spain. In college, he met St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei, just before the Spanish Civil War broke out. He joined Opus Dei in January 1940, and was ordained as one of the first three Opus Dei priests in 1944.

At St. Josemaria's request, in 1949 Father Muzquiz came to the United States to start Opus Dei's apostolic work, first in Chicago, then in other cities. In the late 1950s, he traveled extensively, laying the groundwork for Opus Dei's beginnings in Asia, and then working in Rome, Switzerland and Spain.

In 1976 he returned to the United States to become the head of Opus Dei in the U.S.

On June 21, 1983 Father Muzquiz died after suffering a heart attack while teaching a class at Arnold Hall Conference Center in Pembroke.

Since Father Muzquiz is buried in Boston, the investigation into his cause for sainthood fell to the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Boston. The archdiocese opened his cause for canonization in 2011.

In the opening session of the cause those working on the case swore to do their duty diligently and honestly.

At the closing session, those who worked on the case swore that they had in fact fulfilled that duty. Retired auxiliary Bishop of Boston Emilio S. Allue, who represented the cardinal during the investigation; Jessica MacMaster, who worked as a transcriber; Father Rodney J. Copp, who served as promotor of justice; Lily Holowinski, who served as a notary during sessions; Julianne Shanklin, who stamped and signed each of the more than 9,000 pages; and Father David Cavanagh, who served as postulator of the cause of sainthood for Father Muzquiz in the archdiocese each took the oath.

Father Mark O'Connell, the archdiocese's judicial vicar, also took an oath. He later explained for The Pilot why some aspects of the session may have appeared redundant or even antiquated.

"You can see, because of all these things, how hard it would be to fake this and to do it fraudulently," he said.

Father Cavanagh, a priest of Opus Dei, knew Father Muzquiz personally for seven years before his death in 1983, and spoke with hundreds of people who knew or met Father Muzquiz throughout the United States and the world as part of his investigations.

"I must, as a matter of justice, express my deep gratitude to your eminence, to this tribunal, to the judicial vicar, and all the tribunal staff for your unstinting dedication, professionalism, kindness and patience with the postulator during these years," Father Cavanagh said, at the closing session.

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