Priest leads movement for friar’s sainthood

RANCHO SANTA FE — A local priest is leading the movement for the sainthood of Fr. Aloysius Ellacuria, a Claretian missionary priest who ministered in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas until his death in 1981.
Fr. Kevin Manion, who was raised in Rancho Santa Fe, was his volunteer secretary and driver before entering the seminary himself in 1981. Manion said he was so impressed with the priest that he began taping his sermons and as part of the process he wishes to finish transcribing them for this and future generations.
“I was very interested in his homilies,” Manion said. “I think they were out of this world and I followed him around with a tape recorder. I felt the sermon content was unique. I felt it was important to document them.”
Now the project is an important part of the campaign for sainthood.
“I have it on my heart to stay true to the duty of trust I feel I was given by Fr. Aloysius and finish a project I started in 1971,” said Manion, a supply priest who is helping at Nativity Catholic Church in Rancho Santa Fe.
Manion filed the petition for sainthood in April, the first step in the process. Next will be the opening of a cause of Beatification followed by Canonization, which determines if a person can be recognized as a saint. How long the process could take is uncertain. Because it is mostly secret within the church, it could take years, but if momentum builds, it could happen quickly, he said.
“How long the process takes is in Gods hands,” he said.
Most recently the process is being used on behalf of Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa of Calcutta.
Aloysius worked in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from the 1930s to his death in the 1981. He also ministered in Phoenix, Ariz., San Antonio, Texas, Illinois, the San Diego area and Fatima, Portugal.
His grave is still the most visited at the Old San Gabriel Mission. He was known as a healer and miracle worker.
There are still many people alive today who were significantly touched by this special priest.
Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, credited Aloysius in curing his own mother of cancer, Manion said.
Manion said he met Aloysius as a young man when he was introduced to him by his father Jack Manion, who was well known in Rancho Santa Fe. Before he left, Aloysius gave him a blessing that he remembers to this day as special.
“He had very soft hands. He put a hand on my head and it felt as if Jesus was present,” he said.
Others have felt the same during a blessing from him.
“I have seen people visibly changed,” he said.
Manion described Aloysius as “spiritually blessed,” someone who enjoyed the presence of God within himself and encouraged others to embrace that presence within themselves.
“He was especially supportive of young seminarians during their formative years,” he said.
He was a gifted soul director and could read a person better than they could read themselves, especially when he had never seen them before.
Aloysius was born in Spain and entered the Claretian Missionaries and was ordained at the age of 24.
Shortly afterwards, he was sent to America, where he was a professor of Greek and Latin and helped in the spiritual formation of seminary students.
A 30th annual Memorial Mass for Aloysius was held at this grave site at the mission on April 9. His life and healing ministry was remember by friends, family and Claretian Missionaries. The homily was delivered by Manion.
In recent days the Claretin Provential has assigned a part time person to take witness testimonies from missionaries who would have been his students in the 1940s and 1950s in the Los Angeles area.
“This is a good thing,” Manion said.
To learn more, call Manion at (512) 773-5447 or e-mail him at