Opus Dei began in Spain and was founded by Saint Josemaría Escrivá in 1928, under divine inspiration while on a spiritual retreat in Madrid. Well before the Second Vatican Council emphasized the universal call to holiness of all the baptised, Father Josemaría sought to promote a lay spirituality to help people live by the Gospel in their daily activities and make Christ present in every honest human endeavour. Opus Dei focuses on work and daily life as an occasion for spiritual growth and an opportunity to contribute to a better world.
With a mission to help everyone in the world achieve holiness, Opus Dei grew, with God’s grace, from Spain to the rest of the world and first started its work in Asia in 1958 in Japan. After it started in the Philippines in 1964, its activities grew quickly and this paved the way for centres of Opus Dei to start in Hong Kong in 1981 and in Singapore shortly after.
In 1982, four laymen and two priests from Opus Dei moved from Manila to Singapore. Its first centre here was established in October that year and the following year, one for the women started.
The main activity of Opus Dei is centred on the spiritual formation and pastoral care of its members and friends, so that each one can carry out, in their own place in the Church and in society, a multifaceted apostolic activity, promoting around them the ideal of the universal call to holiness. This apostolic work is not limited to specific fields, but tries to help find Christian solutions to the problems of society and to give constant witness to the faith.
Aside from the on-going adult Christian formation provided, there are also courses and seminars on spiritual, moral, educational and cultural themes, including those for young adults and university students. Some faithful of the Prelature work in collaboration with others, including non-Christians, to promote educational, social and cultural activities that can benefit society.
Seminars on practical Christian living and preached retreats are organised regularly for members and friends in Bukit Tiram House in Johor Bahru.
Today, there are five Opus Dei centres in Singapore where anyone who is interested in its activities are welcome.
The Prelate of Opus Dei visits Singapore
Some highlights for the faithful of Opus Dei in Singapore were when its Prelate visited from Rome. Prelate Bishop Álvaro del Portillo, now Blessed Alvaro, the successor of the founder of Opus Dei and his close collaborator from the early days of Opus Dei, first set foot in Asia when he landed here in January 1987 before going on to visit other cities including Manila, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
In 1994, he was succeeded by Msgr. Javier Echevarría, who has visited Singapore several times. In his last visit in May 2014, he met over a thousand people in a get-together with faithful of Opus Dei and friends in Raffles City Convention Centre. Many people from neighboring Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam were present too. Bishop Javier insisted that “we need a bigger heart, like Saint Josemaría’s, so that people from all countries fit there.” The Prelate also visited Archbishop William Goh of Singapore, the apostolic nuncio Archbishop Leopoldo Girellli, and Bishop Paul Tan of Melaka-Johor.
Its founder, Father Josemaría Escrivá, was beatified on 17 May 1992, and canonized on 6 October 2002 by St John Paul II.
His successor, Bishop Álvaro del Portillo was beatified on 27 September 2014. Currently, the causes of canonization for some of the early members of Opus Dei are also in progress.
The present Regional Vicar in Singapore is Rev. Avelino Marin.
For more information on Opus Dei, its activities and articles on Christian living, please go to www.opusdei.org.
- Opus Dei Fact Sheet: http://opusdei.org.sg/en-sg/article/opus-dei-fact-sheet-2/
- Opus Dei Information Handbook: http://opusdei.org.sg/en-sg/article/information-handbook/
- Bancroft, Peter. (2006, June). The real Opus Dei. Retrieved September 25, 2015, from http://catholicnews.sg/
- Carvalho, Nirmala. (2014, January). Álvaro del Portillo, the “rock” of Opus Dei and the mission in Asia. Retrieved September 25, 2015, from http://www.asianews.it/news-en/%C3%81lvaro-del-Portillo,-the-rock-of-Opus-Dei-and-the-mission-in-Asia-30157.html
- Trigilio, John. Opus Dei. Retrieved September 25, 2015, from https://www.ewtn.com/library/PRIESTS/TRIGOPUS.HTM