Theology professor details life of saint, origins and spirituality of Opus Dei

Photo by Elena Mirus

Theresa Balick

Staff Writer

A Franciscan University of Steubenville theology professor promoted the spirituality of St. Josemaría Escrivá and recounted the saint’s life Wednesday in the International Lounge to a full crowd of students.

John Bergsma, who holds a doctorate in theology, said he has a personal connection to the saint and owes to Escrivá his conversion to Catholicism.

“A member of Opus Dei … brought me into the church,” Bergsma said. “That’s why I continue to try to live (Escrivá’s) spirituality and promote his spirituality.”

Escrivá founded the prelature – an ecclesiastical structure consisting of a bishop, priests and laity – known as Opus Dei, which was started to bring spiritual formation and direction to the laity instead of reserving such things for the religious life.

Bergsma explained how the prelature’s spirituality revolves around two foundations: divine filiation, which is the idea that all Christians are sons and daughters of God, and the sanctification of work, which turns even the smallest of tasks into worship by doing them well.

Escrivá also emphasized the importance of the role of the laity as well as the importance of the little actions of the everyday saint.

“Everybody is called to be holy, even if you are raising a family and working in the world,” Bergsma said.

Bergsma also recounted Escrivá’s life, from Escrivá’s birth in 1902 to his death in 1975. He included details about Escrivá’s mystical visions, his flight from persecution during the Spanish Civil War and his founding of Opus Dei with the help of Vatican II.

Sophomore Allison Ford said that while she always had heard about Escrivá’s emphasis on the little things, it was good to be reminded of the importance of even the smallest of tasks.

“It’s a good reassurance that it is still holy to do little things in my schoolwork and just offering them up and making them good,” Ford said.

A men’s formation group centered around the spirituality of Escrivá will begin Friday at 10 a.m. in the Fireside Lounge.

Bergsma’s talk was sponsored by Student Life.