On Saturday 19 August 2023, the families and friends of Opus Dei gathered at the RACV City Club Melbourne to welcome the Prelate of Opus Dei, Msgr Fernando Ocáriz, to Melbourne. Opus Dei—‘Work of God’ in Latin—is a personal Prelature of the Catholic Church and was founded in Spain by St Josemaria Escrivá in 1928 as means to help people turn the circumstances and events of their lives into opportunities to love God and serve others with joy and simplicity.

As part of a pastoral visit to Australia and New Zealand, Msgr Ocáriz visited Melbourne from 16 to 19 August. He opened the family gathering at the RACV City Club by referring to the Saturday gospel reading: ‘let the little children alone, and do not stop them coming to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs’ (Matthew 19:14). ‘We could ask ourselves, does the kingdom of heaven belong to children alone? Certainly not,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of heaven belongs to all the faithful who seek to do the will of God.’

According to Msgr Ocáriz, the idea of becoming like little children is central to St Josemaria’s teachings. St Josemaria encouraged people to use their work to get closer to God, and to become like little children before God, speaking to him with confidence and trust, knowing that his love for us is infinite. ‘This is essential in our faith,’ Msgr Ocáriz said. ‘The first letter of John reminds us of the experience of the apostles with Jesus, where John wrote, “We have come to know and believe the love God has for us.”’

The nature of this intimate relationship with God has ‘practical consequences’ in ordinary life, Msgr Ocáriz said.

God wants to manifest his love for us in the love we have for others—loving God is an answer to his love for us, and it cannot be separated from the love of others.

In the face of adversity, Msgr Ocáriz said, we tend to question God and his love for us. But ‘by looking at the cross, we can understand Jesus better. Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross; He was nailed to the cross and crowned with thorns.’ So when adversity knocks on our doors, he said, ‘let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus crucified, unite our suffering to his, and offer up our sacrifices as a way of sanctification.

‘If we ever think that our lives are not important—that we live in our own little worlds—let us dismiss that thought. Everything we do, united to Jesus crucified, is of great value,’ he concluded.

Opus Dei is a personal prelature, worldwide in scope, consisting of a prelate, his clergy and lay men and women. They are all called to the sanctification of daily work. Supernumeraries are married men and women who respond to this call by devoting themselves to their work and family duties. Others of the prelature commit to celibacy in order to be available for apostolic work.

In Melbourne, Opus Dei has two centres: a women’s centre, in Heathgrove, and a men’s centre, in Drummond. For more information, visit Opus Dei in Australia.