First beatification in Cuba: Brother Jose Olallo Valdez

The Cuban Association of the Order of Malta took part in the ceremonies held in the city of Camaguey, Cuba last November 29, 2008, on the occasion of the beatification of Brother Jose Olallo.
Present at the ceremony were Ilmo. D. Juan Tomas O’Naghten, Vice president, Ilmo. D. Luis Parajon, Treasurer, Ilmo. D. Piro Suarez, and Rev. Mons. Alfredo Petit, Conventual Chaplain ad honorem and Auxiliary Bishop of Havana. Also present at the ceremony was the Ambassador of the Order of Malta to the Republic of Cuba, Exmo. D. Przemyslaw Jan Hauser.

Beatification ceremonies of Father Jose Olallo, Camaguey, Cuba, November 2008

A press release from the Catholic News Agency (CNA), dated in Havana, Cuba, explained the program.

“Havana, Cuba, Nov 20, 2008 / 03:13 pm (CNA).-

The prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, will preside at the Mass of Beatification of Brother Jose Olallo Valdez on November 29 in Camaguey, in the first such ceremony ever to take place on Cuban soil.

In an interview with the magazine Palabra Nueva of the Archdiocese of Havana, Father Felix Lizaso Barruete, the general postulator of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, pointed out that while Father Olallo will not be the first Cuban blessed, “He deserves to be recognized because Cuba needs him. Cuba deserves to have a saint…….I think he will be canonized soon because the people have a lot of devotion to him and that devotion will only grow. Olallo is today God’s blessing for Cuba,” he added. ”

The Mass of Beatification was celebrated on November 29, 2008, at 8 a.m. at Charity Square in Camaguey, by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins and concelebrated by all the Cuban bishops, including Archbishop Juan de la Caridad Garcia Rodriguez of Camaguey, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Cuba.

As reported by the Catholic News Service in the January 2009 Edition of Catholic Spirit:

“In his homily, Cardinal Saraiva Martins said the event was a milestone and told the people of the Cuban Catholic Church: “You live in a memorable time. Confronted by a prevailing materialistic culture that is imposing and abandons the side of the weak and helpless, we learn from Blessed Olallo the virtue of knowing how to trust in God, of knowing how to love our neighbor in universal form.”

All the Cuban bishops, headed by Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, were joined by dignitaries –– including Cuban President Raul Castro –– in the ceremony at an improvised altar in the plaza.

Cardinal Saraiva Martins recalled the words of Pope John Paul II in Camaguey in January 1998 when he said, “The children of the fertile soil of the Caribbean, in their jovial and enterprising spirit, always arrange to embark on grand projects.”

Pilgrims from all Cuban dioceses participated in the ceremony, which featured a release of white doves and the ringing of bells in the nearby Church of St. John of God. At the end of the beatification, a procession accompanied the reliquary with Brother Olallo’s remains to the church, where they are kept.”