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Church expert to help California priest's canonization cause

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Supporters of the canonization cause of Claretian Father Aloysius Ellacuria, who served much of his priesthood in Southern California, have welcomed the help of prominent canon lawyer Dr. Andrea Ambrosi.

Father Kevin Manion, a representative of the group The Friends of Father Aloysius, said Jan. 6 that the support from Ambrosi “confirms we are on the right track.”

Ambrosi, who is based in Rome, has worked on the canonization causes of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, Blessed John XXIII, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and U.S. military chaplain and Servant of God Father Emil Kapaun.

He will now take on the role of diocesan and Roman postulator for the canonization cause of Father Ellacuria, making the case for why the priest should be considered to have led a life of heroic virtue.

The 20th century priest, who was born in the Basque region of Spain in 1905, worked for many decades around Los Angeles, Phoenix       and San Antonio. Many of those who knew the priest say God worked miracles of healing through him and gave him special charisms like prophecy, reading souls and expelling demons.

Father Ellacuria entered the Claretian Missionaries at the age of 11 and was ordained a priest in 1929, at the age of 24. Soon after his ordination, he came 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 the Marian apparition at Fatima. His major priestly work was centered in the Los Angeles Provincial Center where he directed the world-wide ministry of the Claretians.

His various duties and assignments, however, were a minor part of his charismatic personality that endeared him to countless persons seeking his guidance, spiritual direction and blessing. The book, “Missionaries of Fatima” by Father Charles Carpenter, details the numerous examples of the Claretian priest’s gift of healing and his aura of holiness.

“His physical presence alone had a profound effect on everyone,” the author states, “and there are many written testimonies of his gift of healing.”

Father Ellacuria died on April 6, 1981 and is buried at the old San Gabriel Mission. His grave in the small cemetery adjacent to San Gabriel Mission remains a site for all those who honor his memory with daily flowers, tributes and religious symbols.

Every year, near the anniversary of his death in April, many attend an annual Mass celebrated for the famed priest known for his healing ministry, spiritual direction and blessing of the sick and dying. Father Aloysius was “inspirational,” according to a former novice. “Watching him at Mass you could see his head light up, it was luminous. He had such a closeness to God.”

His life has been the subject of several books and the documentary movie “The Angel of Biscay.”

The Claretians have decided to not pursue the priest’s cause actively. The religious order is seeking to open causes for several hundred of its members, mainly martyrs from the Spanish Civil War, but also lacks resources.

Father Manion said supporters of Father Ellacuria’s canonization still have “many details to work out,” including funding.

More information about the priest’s sainthood cause is available at the website www.aloysius.com.

Catholic News Agency and Hermine Lees contributed to this story.

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