Fr. Joseph Soria, centre, receiving the papal award Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller in 2020. B.C. Catholic file photo

Fr. Soria was Opus Dei founder’s personal physician

By  PAUL SCHRATZ, Canadian Catholic News
  • October 14, 2022

VANCOUVER -- Fr. Joseph Soria, who was a Vancouver priest as well as personal physician to Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva, has died at the age of 90.

Fr. Soria died Oct. 3 after serving in the Archdiocese of Vancouver since 1997. During that time he supported the Opus Dei apostolate among men and women in the archdiocese and was spiritual director to many priests. In 2020 he was awarded the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, a papal award for distinguished service to the Church.

Born Jose Luis Soria in Valladolid, Spain, in 1932, he discerned his vocation to Opus Dei in his hometown during his medical studies.

He moved to Rome in 1953, where he met Opus Dei founder Fr. Josemaria Escriva. Fr. Soria went on to obtain a doctorate in canon law at the Angelicum and was ordained to the priesthood in 1956.

For nearly 20 years until Escriva’s death in 1975, Fr. Soria lived and worked with him, first as spiritual director of Opus Dei from 1956 to 1961, and then as General Postulator from 1961 to 1976.

He was Escriva’s personal physician, spending 22 years at his side in Rome, from 1953 to the day of the future saint’s death on June 26, 1975 after suffering a massive heart attack. Fr. Soria tried to revive him, later writing: “After an hour and a half of vain efforts by a small group, some of them also physicians, I closed his eyes with my fingers.”

Fr. Soria served as Professor of Pastoral Medicine and Catholic Doctrine in the Pontifical Lateran University and as Apostolic Examiner of the Clergy for the Vicariate of Rome. He was a specialist in moral and spiritual theology, as well as author of more than 15 books and booklets and more than 60 articles.

Fr. Soria moved to Montreal in 1976, where he was spiritual director and later Vicar of Opus Dei for Canada from 1977 to 1984. He began making monthly trips to Vancouver in 1984 before settling in the Archdiocese of Vancouver in 1997 to support the Opus Dei apostolate as well as in other Canadian cities.

He was unable to exercise his pastoral ministry after 2014 due to two strokes he suffered.

Funeral details are still being determined.

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