Could you tell me about the expansion of the Work during the past forty years? What are its most important apostolic activities?
I must say, first of all, that I thank God our Lord for letting me see the Work spread throughout the world only forty years after its beginning. When it was born in Spain, in 1928 it was born Roman (which, to me, means Catholic, universal). And its first aim was, inevitably, to spread to all countries.
Looking back on these years, I recall a number of things which make me very happy: bound up with the difficulties which are in some way the salt of life. I think of the efficacy of God's grace and the cheerful self-giving of so many men and women who have kept faith. For, I want to stress that the essential apostolate of Opus Dei is the apostolate that each member carries out in his own place of work, with his family, among his friends an apostolate which does not attract attention, which cannot easily be expressed in statistics but which yields holiness in thousands of souls who keep on following Christ, quietly and effectively during their ordinary everyday work.
There is nothing more I can say on this subject. I could tell you about the exemplary lives of so many people but if I did that I would take away the intimacy and destroy the human and divine creativity of these lives: to reduce it to statistics would be even worse and a waste of time, because the fruit of grace cannot be measured.
But I can add something about the apostolic activities the members of the Work conducted in different parts of the world activities with spiritual aims in which they try to work with dedication and with human perfection also, and in which so many other people also cooperate: they may not be members of the Work but they appreciate the supernatural value of this activity or its human value, as in the case of so many people who are not Christians and are such an effective help. These are always lay, secular activities, the initiative of ordinary citizens using their civic rights in accordance with the law of the country and they are always approached in a professional way. In other words, they in no way depend on privilege or special favour.
I am sure you know one of the projects of this kind being carried on in Rome: the ELIS Centre, which gives technical and general human training to young people by means of schools, sports and cultural activities, libraries etc. It is an activity which meets needs in Rome and in particular in the Tiburtino area. The same sort of thing is being done in Chicago, Madrid, Mexico and many other places.
Another example is Strathmore College of Arts and Sciences in Nairobi a pre-university high school which has served hundreds of students from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Through this college a number of Kenyans in Opus Dei, together with fellow citizens, are doing very useful work in the educational field. It was the first educational establishment in East Africa which brought about complete racial integration and through its work it has contributed much to the Africanisation of culture. Kianda College, also in Nairobi, is a similar enterprise, devoted to the education of young women.
Just to take one more example, I should like to mention the University of Navarra. Since it was founded in 1952, it has developed eighteen faculties and institutes with a student enrolment of over six thousand. Contrary to some newspaper reports, the University of Navarra has not been supported by State aid. The Spanish State has contributed nothing to maintenance costs, all it has done is give some subventions to increase the enrolment. The University survives thanks to the help of private individuals and associations. Its teaching system and the pattern of its university life, which are a functions of personal responsibility and solidarity of all who take part in the University, have provided valuable experience in the light of the situation of Universities today.
I could refer to other kinds of activities in the United States, Japan, Argentina, Australia, the Philippines, Ireland, France, etc. But I do not think it is necessary: it is enough to say simply that Opus Dei is today spread to the five continents and that it is comprised of people of over seventy nationalities, of all races and backgrounds.