A University Professor Is a Saint?

The Example of the Servant of God Arturo Alvarez Ramirez

A University Professor Is a Saint?
Arturo Álvarez Ramírez © Opusdei.org

In “Theology for Millennials,” Mexican Father Mario Arroyo Martinez shares with Exaudi’s readers his weekly article entitled “A University Professor a Saint?” where he reflects on the reasons why Arturo Alvarez Ramirez, whose diocesan process began on October 25, 2021, is a model we can imitate, an example of “next door saints.”

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The formal process to verify the holiness of Engineer Arturo Alvarez Ramirez began on October 25, 2021. For more than 30 years he was a Professor at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico. From now on he will be known as a “Servant of God,” and private devotion to him can spread while awaiting a miracle that will confirm formally that he is in Heaven with God.

What is the attraction or novelty of this process of Canonization as it is called technically? Why is the figure of Arturo Alvarez special? Why does the Church want to propose him as a model of Christian life? I think the Church does so, fundamentally, because of Arturo’s extraordinary normality, namely, he was a person that lived ordinary life extraordinarily and hence can be a model for all those of us who have to deal habitually with our ordinary, normal, lackluster life. He can be a model for what? A model so that we can also live our life extraordinarily and in it discover our place of encounter with God and of service to others. Arthur Alvarez is also the first Mexican of the Opus Dei and the first numerary (a celibate member who does not live in an Opus Dei house) at the world level who is in the process of Beatification.

Arturo was not famous in his time, but he was much loved and admired by his students and colleagues in the University of Guadalajara. He personified in an exotic combination academic prestige with a sincere and unusual interest in, and concern for, his students. A good number of them admit openly that their meeting with Arturo was decisive for them, in their encountering God, converting, and discovering their vocation.

Arturo was famous for his punctuality: his battle motto was “the door closes at 7” and for 30 years he closed the doors of the classroom at that time, without fail, to the point that now, the University of Guadalajara has a classroom dedicated to him where that motto reigns. He could have been just a notable University Professor, of which there are many, with concern for his students, worthy of a classroom and a bust in his University, but the Postulator of his cause thinks that, in addition to all that, he was a saint. Why? Because of his life of union with God, especially his love of the Eucharist and of the Virgin Mary.

The diocesan phase of Arturo’s process of Beatification and Canonization began with the establishment of the Diocesan Court in charge of taking the statement under oath of 31 witnesses of Arturo’s holy life. Only one of them is a member of his family, the rest are University colleagues and students, as well as eight members of the Opus Dei  Prelature, institution to which he belonged. The Tribunal was appointed by the Cardinal of Guadalajara; it is headed by an expert in Canon Law and the History of the Church, in addition, it has a Promoter of Justice, the badly called “Devil’s Advocate,” in charge of watching over that all unfolds according to the law, and a Notary, in charge of drawing up the minutes of everything that is said before the Court. Attending the opening event were several personalities, including Dr. Ricardo Villanueva Lomeli, Rector General number 50 of the University of Guadalajara (whose Founder, Friar Antonio Alcalde, is also in the process of Canonization).

At a time in which it seems that God is cast out of University classrooms, regarded as a relic of the past if not an intruder, it’s good to see that there can be in them a teacher with well-done work and professionalism. It should be said that the subject Arturo imparted seemed to have little to do with God, as he was Professor of Inorganic Chemistry. However, he was able to pass from chemistry to more personal questions, to the point that some of his students called his office a “confessional.”

Arturo harmonized in a wonderful synthesis of professional competence and prestige, apostolic eagerness, and a refine interior life of love of the Eucharistic Jesus and of the Virgin Mary. And he did all normally without being showy or ostentatious. He is a model we can imitate, an example of “next-door saints,” of whom Pope Francis speaks. What is the next step? The Diocesan Court must culminate its work, after questioning the witnesses, and the information must then be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, and a miracle must then be awaited to open the way to the altars.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester