Aloysius Ellacuria

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Aloysius Ellacuria

Rev. Aloysius Ellacuria, CMF
Born Juan Luis Ellacuria
(1905-06-21)June 21, 1905
Yurre, Spain
Died April 6, 1981(1981-04-06) (aged 75)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of death
Heart Failure
Resting place
San Gabriel Mission Cemetery
Other names Father Aloysius
Alma mater Dominguez Seminary
Occupation Claretian Missionary
Years active 1930-1981

The Rev. Aloysius Ellacuria, C.M.F., (June 21, 1905 - April 6, 1981) was a noted Spanish-born Claretian priest, who is considered by many to have been a mystic, as well as having a reputation as a miracle worker, in California. He founded a religious institute of men and women serving the poor and needy of Mexico and California. The cause for his canonization is currently being studied by authorities of his congregation for possible petition to the Holy See.[1]


He was born Juan Luis Ellacuria in the town of Yurre (known today as Igorre) in Biscay, one of the Basque provinces of Spain. At the age of eleven, he entered the Claretian Fathers, where he took religious name of Aloysius. He was ordained on November 3, 1929, at the age of 24.[2] Shortly after this, Ellacuria was assigned to serve in California, where he taught Greek and Latin to candidates for the congregation. He served various other offices in the congregation, ranging from superior to Master of novices.

Shortly after World War II Ellacuria began to found prayer groups around the region, mostly around Los Angeles. Through these, he touched hundreds of people who turned to him for guidance and spiritual direction. He worked with the Claretian seminarians for some 30 years, from the time of his arrival in the country, constantly providing them guidance and support in their commitment. He gained the reputation of being a miracle worker during this period. Ellacuria then spent the 1960s serving as a pastor in Phoenix, Arizona, and San Antonio, Texas.


Throughout his life he was extremely pious, especially in his devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. He considered the theology found in the Fatima message to fully embody the theological themes of his own founder, St. Anthony Mary Claret. During his more than 50 years as a priest he faithfully recited the Divine Office and he most always prayed the 15 decades of the rosary daily. Sometimes he recited many more. His piety included devotion to St. Michael the Archangel, to the Angeles in general, and especially to his own Guardian Angel.

Seminary Director[edit]

For more than 30 years, Fr. Aloysius was considered a seminarian director, professor, novice master, and formattor.

Heroic Exercise of Virtues[edit]

Aloysius was heroic in his exercise of the virtues - the theological, the cardinal, and the evangelical virtues - poverty, chastity, and obedience. He is especially noted for his prudence when entering agreements for the purchase of real estate for his religious congregation, and he exercised fortitude when it was necessary to vindicate the rights of the poor, who were relying on him. And his practice of austerity and good judgement when it came to material goods of religious.

(More about the virtues of faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.)


In 1970 Ellacuria made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. While there he felt the inspiration to found a house of prayer there for men seeking an environment of prayer. After a year of living with and guiding this group, the Claretian Superior General suggested to him that he establish this community as a new religious institute in the Catholic Church. He agreed and when the members of the house agreed to take this step, he accepted them as novices of the proposed institute, now called the Missionaries of Perpetual Adoration and Perpetual Veneration, more commonly called the Missionaries of Fatima. Ellacuria returned to the United States in 1973 and began to recruit potential members for the new institute.[2]

The men of the institute completed their period of canonical formation in 1977, but they needed to be accepted into a diocese to be able to function. They were invited by the Bishop of Ciudad Obregón in Mexico to provide care for the people of his diocese in Sonora, Mexico. He suggested that they establish their monastery in the town of Álamos. They did this continue to serve there, as well as in San Diego, California, as of 2012, being joined by a community of Religious Sisters who soon came together to share in the work.[2]

Death and veneration[edit]

Ellacuria died in Los Angeles in 1981. He was buried at the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, which the Claretian Fathers have administered since 1908.

Since his death, visitors from the entire country have continued to visit his grave. Hundreds of petitions to open the cause for his canonization have been made to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which has referred the matter to the Superior General of the Claretian Fathers, with the recommendation that they proceed. It is currently under investigation for submission to the Holy See.[3]

Annual Memorial Mass[edit]

This year's 34th Annual Memorial Mass for Fr. Aloysius will take place on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 10:00 am. The Mass will be preceded by recitation of the Holy Rosary at 9:30 am. Afterwards there will be a process to the graveside of Fr. Aloysius in the Mission cemetery followed by a reception in the parish hall.

Books, Films, Pictures[edit]

A number of books on the life of Ellacuria have been published. A video of his life was released in 2011 titled The Angel of Biscay.[4]

There are three main written works, which are biographical in nature, written on Father Aloysius Ellacuria since his death. The first work, titled "Our Guide", was written by Francis Levy in 1985 and then re-edited in 1986. The second edition of the book was translated into Spanish with permission from the author by Fr. Javier Oroz, CMF, and then published in Bilbao, Spain. A third edition of his work was published by the author in 2013 under the title of "Aloysius, A tribute to a Saintly Priest". The second work was written by Mr. Jeffrey J. Moynihan in 1996 and was titled, "Father Aloysius: Wonder Worker in America", and it was published in 1996. The third work was written and published by Fr. Charles Carpenter, MAP in 2001 and was titled "The Life of Father Aloysius". In addition a fourth book by Jim Buehner, titled "Our Living Tabernacle Fr. Aloysius Ellacuria, was publish in 1995. There is a fifth written source on Father Aloysius written by Patricia Treece, consisting of a chapter, the thirteenth, entitled "Levitating in Los Angeles?, which she wrote on Father Aloysius in her book "The Sanctified Body", 1989.

In addition to his books, Francis Levy recorded video-taped interviews of people who spoke from their memories on Fr. Aloysius. Here we only consider his books, and in particular the last edition of his book titled "Aloysius, A Tribute to a Saintly Priest". Francis Levy's work relates memories of different people which he obtained through interviews either by phone or in person. These memories concern Fr. Aloysius' years in priestly ministry. Francis Levy, however, prefaces these memories with his first chapter that gives a memory of Fr. Aloysius' childhood and formative years before but especially after entering the Claretians up to the point when the recently ordained Fr. Aloysius received his assignment to the United States of America. This memory is in the written form of a letter by Fr. Miguel Atucha, CMF, which was sent to Fr. Javier Oroz, CMF on January 6, 19925. Fr. Miguel Atucha was a classmate of Fr. Aloysius' during their novitiate together and throughout the follow formative years in the Claretian Congregation.

Mr. Jeffrey Moynihan in his book on Fr. Aloysius, develops the early chronology of Fr. Aloysius' childhood and formative years in chapter 26. From chapter 3 to chapter 5 Mr. Moynihan follows a chronological order of Fr. Aloysius priestly assignment in the United States of America. Chapter 6 picks up in 1957 and the following chapters through the thirteenth treat of memories and reflections in chronological order until the last chapter on Fr. Aloysius' death. Mr. Moynihan's book has the unique merit of following a chronological order in relating memories and deducing reflections.

Fr. Charles Carpenter, MAP, wrote reflections and memories in seven chapters with a conclusion and five appendices. Greatly impressed with his own first personal encounter with Fr. Aloysius (chapter 1), as is common with many other people, Fr. Carpenter speaks to the issue of charisms and holiness (chapter 2), to the issue of Fr. Aloysius' early formative years in which he references Fr. Atucha's letter (chapter 3), to the issue of highlights in his different priestly assignments (chapters 4 and 5), and finally to the issue of the foundation of the Religious Congregation of Missionaries of Perpetual Adoration, Fr. Aloysius' own death and the attempt in 1995-1996 of introducing the cause for beatification and canonization (chapters 6 and 7).