Catholic Heroes for Today: Part 4

U.S. sainthood causes flourish in 2011

(photo: Courtesy of

It’s “American Saints Week” at the Register.

Continuing our miniseries, about sainthood causes introduced in the United States that continue to be investigated by Rome, we examine several new causes that have been introduced.

Father Aloysius Ellacuria, C.M.F.

Three new causes have recently been introduced: a petition for Basque Claretian priest and mystic Father Aloysius Ellacuria, C.M.F., in the Los Angeles Archdiocese on May 2; Opus Dei Father Joseph Muzquiz in the Archdiocese of Boston on June 2, and mother and mystic Maria Esperanza de Bianchini in the Metuchen, N.J. Diocese, last January.

From the 1950s through 1970s, Father Ellacuria, or Father Aloysius as he was popularly known, was regarded as a miracle worker in California, especially around Los Angeles. His mystical gifts included reading souls, prophecy and expelling demons. He zealously spread the message of Our Lady of Fatima.

A California paper quoted Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia regarding Father Ellacuria’s great devotion to the Blessed Mother and a personal story: When the cardinal was a seminary student in Los Angeles, his mother was suffering from cancer. Through the saintly priest’s prayers, she recovered after treatment.

“The Church of the 21st century needs a special kind of saint, a saint who addresses the spiritual issues of today,” said Father Kevin Manion, who submitted the petition for sainthood and was the priest’s secretary for eight years.

“The canonization of Father Aloysius will overshadow the murky issues that have surfaced, scandalized, caused pain and embarrassed (the Church) since the 1990s,” he explained. “Father Aloysius worked in the formation of future priests for more than 30 years. He accurately foretold the current crisis in the Church, specifically as it pertains to seminary formation.”

But that’s not all. “He not only predicted, but gave the remedy to the present crisis — correct formation in seminaries based on the three stages of the mystical life,” Father Manion said.

To start, as Father Manion explained, “With the permission of his superiors, he organized a house of prayer in Fatima, Portugal, in 1971.” This Claretian house of prayer soon afterwards became an independent religious congregation of men known as the Missionaries of Perpetual Adoration. The congregation is now headquartered in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

Father Manion also said: “Father Aloysius is a miracle worker. Just put him to the test. During his public ministry, at least from the early 1940s through his death in 1981, he was known as a mystic, a miracle worker, someone who read souls. Both the very rich and the very poor came to him for direction, spiritual healing and miracles. Since his death, he continues to have a special place in the minds and hearts of his spiritual children.”

Father Ellacuria, who closely emulated the spirituality his own Claretian founder, St. Anthony Mary Claret, continues to edify and motivate others to live saintly lives. People can learn from a new film about him titled The Angel of Biscay.

Tomorrow: America’s first Opus Dei priest. Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen writes from Trumbull, Connecticut.