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Juan Manuel Mora García de Lomas, Vice President de Comunicación
The report of the heart
I got to know Javier Echevarría more closely after September 1990. Before that date I had not had the opportunity to get to know him. I knew that he was a loyal partner of the Prelate of Opus Dei, Don Alvaro del Portillo, as he had been before St. Josemaría. He was quick in the head, with a prodigious report , with a lot of sparkle, and not a great lover of the limelight, because his role was to help.
In September 1990 he was admitted to Clínica Universidad de Navarra for major surgery. During the weeks of convalescence, some of us had the good fortune to accompany him for long hours. We saw him pray intensely. And we also talked a lot, about everything, as is often the case when the clock does not matter. He cared about people and he had time. He was 58 years old and a lawyer; I was 33 and a journalist. I remember that I was struck by his interest in communication. I had just finished my doctoral studies at thesis , I wrote occasionally in some media, especially book reviews, and I had many journalist colleagues and friends. Now I have many more because shortly after those conversations, in June 1991, I moved to Rome to head the communications office of Opus Dei, where I stayed for fifteen years, until 2006. During those three years I was able to meet and work with a good issue number of top journalists, both Italians and correspondents from different countries. During that time I had the opportunity to work a lot with Don Javier. And the relationship continued afterwards, up to the present. From all these years I have many memories related to communication.
The first is that he always maintained that interest in journalism that had astonished me in 1990. I remember, for example, that as soon as he was named Prelate, in 1994, he met with some thirty journalists, in a press conference open to all subject questions, something not very frequent at that time. He greeted them one by one, with affection and respect. I believe that he always accepted the requests he received for interviews and statements from journalists. He attended them with closeness, without haste.
On one occasion, a correspondent of a U.S. agency gave him a long interview. They talked a lot, calmly and confidently. At the end, the journalist, who was not a Catholic, said to us: "Now I understand why you look happy, with this father of yours.
The second is his closeness. I remember that before the beatification of St. Josemaría, in 1992, he was interviewed by a brilliant Spanish journalist, not exactly shy, from a not exactly pro-Catholic media outlet. There was a lot of Chemistry in that conversation, very radiophonic, incisive, entertaining. To begin with, the journalist said something like: here we are at Opus headquarters, with issue two of the organization. Then Don Javier, smiling, clarified: look, he came to tell her, in Opus Dei we know who is the issue one, the Prelate (then, Don Alvaro del Portillo); but the issue two is not so clear. Perhaps there is a peasant in some European country, a father of a family, who contributes more to Opus Dei with his virtues than any monsignor. The whole conversation went on like this, very lively, to the delight of the journalist.
I was struck by the fact that being effectively the issue two in authority in Opus Dei, he always played down his importance whenever he could. Perhaps the expression I heard most often in my work was: in Opus Dei we are not and we do not feel better than anyone else. And he wanted that reality to show in the communication. I am not sure that we always succeeded.
The third is his ability to learn, his openness to the new. While he was Prelate, the great digital transformation of the media and culture took place. He supported without hesitation the first Opus Dei website, back in 1996. And later he did the same with social networks and new media. Also in 1996 he promoted a School of Communication in Rome, where professionals dedicated to these tasks in the Church, which already has hundreds of alumni spread all over the world, could be trained.
I especially remember the years when the Da Vinci Code made Opus Dei fashionable, so to speak. It fostered a policy of transparency, of availability, of open doors. In that way, what began as a problem became a favorable informative moment. Surely he had in his head the teachings of the Gospel: truth loves light, lies need darkness.
I think that Don Javier leaves a great bequest to those of us who dedicate ourselves to communication: appreciation for the journalistic profession, closeness, creativity, transparency. Although, knowing him, I am sure he would correct me by saying that he learned everything from St. Josemaría. He never tired of repeating it.
Don Javier has lived with two saints. He has known seven popes. He has been consultant of the Vatican. He has traveled half the world for his work. He has dealt with personalities of his time. But the deepest memory that remains with me is that of a close man, a father with a great capacity to love. He had many details of concrete, palpable affection. If something worried you and you asked him for prayers, he would ask you for years about topic, he did not forget. He had the "good report of the heart", because we remember when we love, we remember what we love. For those of us who have treated and loved him, it is a comfort to know that from Heaven he will not forget us.