LOS ANGELES — Basque-born priest Father Aloysius Ellacuria, a reputed miracle worker who ministered in Los Angeles for decades until his death in 1981, has inspired efforts to open an inquiry into his cause for beatification.
“Father Aloysius was an example of holiness in every way,” Father Kevin Manion of San Diego told Catholic News Agency. “He leaves an incredibly heroic example of love of God and missionary zeal, which is most attractive for people of today.”
Father Manion, who worked as Father Aloysius’ personal secretary from 1973-1981, said the priest showed “fidelity of purpose” and “faithfulness to grace.”
“He was prayerful and pious since his infancy — with a special love of the Virgin Mary and the Rosary.”
Father Aloysius was born on June 21, 1905, in the city of Igorre in the Basque region of Spain. He was baptized Juan Luis Ellacuria. He entered the Claretian Missionaries at the age of 11 and was ordained a priest at the age of 24. Soon after his ordination, he went to the United States and served as a Greek and Latin professor.
He served as a novice director and a superior for the Claretians. He founded the Missionaries of Perpetual Adoration in Fatima, Portugal, to help spread the message of Fatima.
Father Aloysius served as a formation director, a spiritual director and counselor for many people in need. He founded 12 prayer groups, which he called guilds. He worked for decades in the Los Angeles region before his death on April 6, 1981.
Many of those who knew the priest say God worked miracles of healing through the priest and gave him special charisms like prophecy, reading souls and expelling demons.
“Our Lord gave him the gift of miracles to lead people to the love of God, and, as such, laypeople and clerics, religious and even bishops, sought his counsel and his prayers,” Father Manion said.
He added that after every reputed healing Father Aloysius told people to make a good confession.
Father Manion said Father Aloysius is remembered not because of the reported miracles, but because of his “very strong personality” and his ability to be “the center of attraction without trying to be so.”
Father Aloysius was particularly effective in correcting those in doctrinal error, the priest said.
“He was not ‘wishy-washy' in any way at all. At the same time, he was not brusque. He was not abusive. He was paternal, and he had a certain authority.”
Father Manion added that Father Aloysius’ devotion was not surprising, because he was born in the fervently Catholic Basque province of Biscay. The Basque provinces have produced dozens of canonized or beatified Catholics, including Jesuit founder St. Ignatius Loyola.
The priest’s life has been the subject of several books and the documentary movie The Angel of Biscay.
Many people have sought to open a formal Church inquiry into the beatification of Father Aloysius, but they lack resources and institutional support.
The Claretians have decided not to actively pursue his beatification, but have promised cooperation with any group that chooses to. The order is still seeking to open beatification causes for more than 200 of its members, mainly martyrs from the Spanish Civil War, but they do not have the resources to address the backlog.
The priest’s own actions helped delay his cause. He left instructions that his personal papers, vital evidence for any inquiry, should be kept confidential for 20 years.
Admirers of Father Aloysius continue to honor his memory. They will mark the 32 anniversary of his death this April 6 with a memorial Mass at the old San Gabriel Mission in San Gabriel, Calif., where the priest is buried.
A Catholic association to work for Father Aloysius’ beatification and canonization is operating at the website Aloysius.com.