Friday, May 19, 2006


Why include info re: OPUS DEI in this GENEALOGY BLOG?
I've been asked this question by several readers so it's worth explaining the relationship between the two.
Through the years, our French-Canadian & Franco-American ancestors and present-day relatives have, for the most part, been Catholics. As such, families often consisted of a dozen or so children, especially in Québec, and the parents expected one or more of them to enter the RC priesthood or a religious community. As time went on, the practice and influence of religion changed due to the Quiet Revolution in Québec. With this change, Secular Institutes became more popular than religious communities; therefore, hundreds of Québecers joined these Institutes, which, for the most part, required yearly vows of their members rather than Final Vows as were pronounced in religious communities. Secular Institutes allowed its members to live "within the world" without being "part of it." At that time, OPUS DEI was a Secular Institute that attracted members from the French-Canadian and Franco-American Catholic population. Although the status of OPUS DEI within the church has changed from a Secular Institute to a Personal Prelature, it still is part of our Québec heritage. For this reason and because of its presend-day popularity, I found it was important to have a member explain how she lives as a member of OPUS DEI. It's the social aspect of this organization that is of interest to us since our ancestors and living relatives may have had contact with it or even be members.
For more information about
click on the ORANGE title above.

More info from OPUS DEI in QC

Brigid Kane, a member of OPUS DEI has courteously been answering my questions. Below are 2 emails I've received from her today. The information she has shared with me may be of interest to you:
Greetings again,
Thank YOU for explaining the secular institute. Legal distinctions are
often fuzzy for me. I'll try to explain how the Prelature works from my
First: who are we?
Opus Dei comprises a mere handful of persons in the Catholic Church, and
we live fidelity to the Magisterium. We are loyal subjects to our local
Bishop, active in our local parishes, and also engaged in varying degrees in
the civil life of our city, our country, our world. In other words we are
Mr. & Mrs. Ordinary Joe Blow.
I came into contact with the Work through a friend's invitation to an
Opus Dei Day of Recollection, which I found sane, sound, and helpful. For
years I attended these monthly Recollections, enjoying yearly spiritual
Retreats. All that I saw and heard and put into practice in my life had
positive repercussions not only on my own spiritual life but also on my
family -- my husband and children. After about ten years I decided to heed
God's call (which I had been ignoring for a few years) and become a part of
this Work of God, Opus Dei. That was thirty-one years ago.
In Opus Dei seventy percent (70%) of the members (I am called a
supernumerary) are married and live at home with their husband and family,
getting spiritual 'coaching' once a week at a nearby Centre where they go for
Confession and regular spiritual direction. We are encouraged to practice
certain norms of piety (nothing strange or different, just the traditional
practice in the Church), such as our prompt and heartfelt Morning Offering,
attendance at Holy Mass as frequently as possible during the week, devoutly
reciting one set of Mysteries of the Rosary every day (five decades) and
briefly contemplating the other three sets, saying Grace before and after
meals, reciting the Angelus or Regina Caeli at noon, spending quiet time of
your choosing in prayer every day -- half an hour in the morning, and
another half in the afternoon, fifteen minutes of spiritual reading -- Holy
Gospel and some other spiritual work. We have a particular family prayer we
say in Latin (5 minutes) that includes all our greater family intentions --
our Holy Father, Bishop, Prelate, fellow members living and dead,
benefactors, etc.and asking for the grace to be true to our calling. We are
also encouraged to practice mortification little things, in the age-old
tradition of the Church.
As you see, nothing strange.
The men's and the women's sections are completely separate to respect
freedom and autonomy, for even though married, persons do not necessarily
progress spiritually at the same rate. However, the activities are similar.
Two percent of the members are priests and the rest are comprised of
numeraries who do not marry and therefore are able to go to wherever in the
world they are needed to further the Apostolate. They are always free to go
or stay. It's by simple request. hese usually exercise their professional
work as any other professional woman in society, but make the Centre their
home, and freely contribute to the Work whatever portion of their salary
they don't need to maintain their professional life. The numeraries do
practice physical mortification in a very moderate degree, token really,
never even near any physical harm. For example they use a cilice for a
couple of hours a day (except Sunday) and once a week they use, for the
space of a Hail Mary, a knotted cord on their back. No welts, no blood
A percentage of these unmarried women members are called by God to be
stay-at-home 'mothers' (called numerary assistants) taking care of the
houses of the Work as any mother does her home, cooking and housekeeping,
and guaranteeing the warmth of a family home to each Centre. They treasure
their contribution, and so do all the members of the Work.
Does this help Muriel, is this what you want to know? If you need
anything else, let me know.
Sorry it took so long.
God bless.
Brigid Kane (

I did not mention vows because we don't take any. Opus Dei is secular,
and our link is by simple contract. Opus Dei contracts to provide each
member with all the spiritual formation he or she needs to fulfill his/her
Baptismal commitment, one year at a time, and the person contracts to make
every effort to receive this formation and to live as a committed Catholic
for that year. Each side takes this contract seriously, and the contract is
renewed (or not) each year. It's a long (usually takes several years of
walking the way) and well-informed decision to join Opus Dei. Leaving is as
simple as a telephone call to inform the person in charge of the local
Centre that one chooses not to renew. Former members most often continue to
frequent the monthly days of Recollection, and the yearly Retreats, thereby
also staying in touch with the support group whose company they have
enjoyed. All are welcome too at any function hosted at our Centres (i.e.
doctrine classes, talks on how to improve the quality of family life, on
why modesty is important in fashion, inspirational talks by guest academics
(when speakers are 'imported' we leave a basket for voluntary contributions
to cover the charge). Everything spiritual is always free, naturally.
We are of course encouraged to live all the same virtues Holy Mother
Church asks of all her members. Every member of the Church is required to
be chaste, each according to his/her state in life. Obedience is expressed
by our willingness to receive ongoing formation, for which formation there
is no charge. Poverty is lived according to the generosity and
discretionary capability of each person. A stay-at-home mother of a large
family, a fisherman or a taxi-driver struggling to provide food for the
table do not have the same discretionary funds as a lawyer or a medical
specialist. Members come from all walks of life. What is important is
striving for sanctity right where God has placed us, and taking our family,friends, neighbors, etc. etc. etc. with us to Heaven.
Opus Dei is unique in another way. We are the first Church approved
institution that accepts non-Catholics as Cooperators and also non-Christians. We are ably assisted by many noble souls who
generously give their expertise, financial aid, and loyal support to the
multiple humanitarian enterprises world-wide that promote human dignity, and
they receive spiritual benefit. These noble souls

cooperate both by their expertise and finances with members of the Work in
multiple humanitarian enterprises world-wide, to promote human dignity,
and are granted spiritual benefits.
If you have any other questions I will be glad to answer you to
the best of my ability. If there is something I don't know, I can try to
find it for you. I must warn you that there may be a delay because of the
many requests for information generated by media attention these days. You
can put the information on the blogsite if you wish. I trust your intentions are honorable (smile).
God bless.
Brigid Kane (

Click on the ORANGE title above to visit the
OPUS DEI official website



OPUS DEI has been in the news almost daily. I was curious to know more about their Status within the Roman Catholic Church. In the early 1960's, they were considered a SECULAR INSTITUTE; but, I've not heard that terminology used during the many broadcasts and news articles. For this reason, I wrote to the Montréal center and received the following email from Brigid Kane in response.
     Because Opus Dei was such a novelty in the Church there did not exist at
its inception a suitable juridical framework. Therefore for a number of
years Opus Dei wore the ill-fitting 'suit' of Secular Institute, while our
Founder and his collaborators sought a juridical framework which would
better reflect the reality of Opus Dei in the Church. The juridical
solution was the Personal Prelature.
Opus Dei is (so far) the first and only Personal Prelature, but the
Church is still young and dynamic, and the Holy Spirit continues to be
actively engaged in Her expansion and protection, so we may expect there
will be more in future.
Please join us in praying daily for our beloved Pope Benedict, all the
Bishops (particularly your own) and the priests of the whole world, that
they might be shepherds after God's own heart, and please also pray for the
Work that we all may be faithful to our Beloved Lord.
For more information about OPUS DEI,
click on the ORANGE title above
and you will be linked to their official site.