On Sept. 19, 2014, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, approved by Archbishop José H. Gomez as postulator for the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God, Father Aloysius Ellacuria, CMF (1905-1981), a Claretian priest who ministered in Southern California for many years, formally petitioned the archbishop to initiate the diocesan inquiry on his life, heroic virtues and reputation of holiness and of intercessory power. The norms issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints state that “once the petition has been accepted … the bishop is to publicize the petition of the postulator in his own diocese … and to invite all the faithful to bring to his attention any useful information which they might have to offer regarding the cause.” (Normae servandae, n. 11b) Accordingly, The Tidings now publishes the petition in this cause, in a summarized form in its print edition and in its full form online, www.angelusnews.com. Anyone who has useful information about Father Aloysius Ellacuria CMF — that is, about his heroic virtues and/or about his reputation for holiness and for intercessory power — is asked to put this in a letter addressed to Archbishop Gomez in care of his office at the Archdiocesan Catholic Center, 3424 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010.
Biographical profile of Father Aloysius Ellacuria, C.M.F.
Father Aloysius Ellacuria, CMF, was born on the 21st of June 1905 in the town of Yurre in the province of Vizcaya in the Basque region of Spain. His parents were extremely devout Catholics and he came from a large family of nine children. His father was a landowner and belonged to the Third Order of the Franciscans.
On February 2, 1912 Aloysius made his First Communion and was confirmed the following year. As a child, he was extremely reserved and happily spent many hours at home, close to his mother whom he loved greatly.
Growing up in a deeply religious environment, when he first saw mendicant monks arrive in his village, he wished to become one. On July 30, 1916, at the age of 11 years, he entered the Minor Seminary of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretians) in Valmaseda. After being admitted to the postulate and attending the school in 1919 and 1920, on August 14, 1920 he was given the robes of the Claretians and began his novitiate. This was a very difficult period, since at that time, the rules were very strict, but he strived for perfection and got through it brilliantly. It should be noted that during the three-year study of philosophy (1921-24), he proved to be not only a good student, praised by both is professors and other students, but also proved to be a good actor of the theatre, a gift that would help him greatly in his future activities as a preacher. As an adult, his homilies were widely followed.
On June 22, 1926, at the age of 21, he made his perpetual vows, while he continued to study theology, a course that lasted six years at the time. It was in the chapel of the School of Theology in Burgos on November 3, 1929 that he was ordained a priest. Recognizing his wish to be given a mission, he first spent six months in Panama, then was sent by his superiors to San Diego, California where he arrived on April 25, 1931. He was assigned to teach Latin and Greek to the students and help them with their spiritual formation. One of his traits, even in future years, was strictly adhering to the two pillars of his life: action and prayer. The more he worked, the more he felt the need to pray, exactly as his Founder had said. His devotion to the Madonna was especially exceptional, and many of his fellow priests and acquaintances said openly that it was difficult to find another person who was as devoted to her as Father Aloysius.
He often defined the 1930s and 1940s as golden years. He had great success teaching at various Claretian seminaries in California. Aside from teaching Greek, Latin and other subjects, he also served as the confessor for the sisters in various convents in the area. He also showed an extraordinary talent for attracting vocations and in helping young people through his precious spiritual counsel in overcoming difficulties that were part of religious life.
The satisfaction of God in this particularly enlightened and devoted son was shown in an abundance of gratiae gratis datae, such as the one he shared with his Founder, St. Anthony Maria Claret, the grace of retaining the sacramental species uncorrupted within himself.
From 1948 until 1957, Fr. Aloysius lived in Los Angeles as a teacher of novices and spiritual director of nearby sites. In these years he began his work as a promoter of the Sacred Heart of Mary, convincing many of his followers to don a scapular. From 1952 until 1963 he was the Superior of a Provincial house in Westchester. In those years great fame surrounded him, since he was known for spending long periods of time visiting and consoling the sick and dying, who in turn received a spiritual relief from his presence.
In 1963, he left the position of being a Superior in California to become pastor of a parish in Phoenix, Arizona, where he stayed three years. The following three years from 1966-1969, he served as a pastor in San Antonio, Texas. It should be emphasized that in both cities he received significant awards from local officials for his work in beautifying the most important buildings of the cities and the gardens. Similar initiatives were due to his great sense of beauty. It is said that he knew the Latin names for all of the plants.
He spent the years from 1971 to 1973 in Fatima. He had an exceptional enthusiasm and devotion to his own founder, St. Anthony Mary Claret, and was an ardent missionary for the message of Our Lady of Fatima. He published in Soul Magazine an article entitled, "St. Anthony Mary Claret as the Perfect Forerunner of the Fatima Message."
Wishing to further spread the message of Fatima, he was inspired, with the approval of his Superior General, Fr. Anthony Leghisa, CMF, to found a new religious congregation named the Missionaries of Perpetual Adoration, later referred to as the Missionaries of Fatima.
Fr. Aloysius was a brave man even towards the end of his life, when he had heart and circulatory problems. His spiritual life always remained most important to him, and he continued his daily efforts in helping others using all of his forces. Until the end, he had an extraordinary gift for attracting vocations, so much so that many admitted there was not another Claretian like him. Young people, even those of the hippie movement at the time, were moved upon meeting him. His ability to bring out the best potential of holiness from each person, even those most rebellious, was truly touching. He had great success among all of the sinners he met, and was considered by them to be a future saint.
The life of Fr. Aloysius, always surrounded by a reputation of holiness, came to an end on April 6, 1981 in Los Angeles. His grave at San Gabriel Mission outside Los Angeles is often visited by and covered with flowers by those who continue to ask for his intercession and leave descriptions of their own healings attributed to his intercession.
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