Feature News

Father Ignacio Larrañaga, 85, founded Prayer and Life Workshops

Memorial Mass for widely read spiritual author set for Nov. 2 at Our Lady of Lourdes

Thursday, October 31, 2013
Ana Rodriguez-Soto - Florida Catholic

Father Ignacio Larrañaga, a Capuchin Franciscan known around the world for his founding of the Prayer and Life Workshops (Talleres de Oración y Vida) is shown here during his visit to Casa Caná in Hialeah in 2009. Prayer and Life Workshops provide people with the tools to form a more intimate relationship with God through prayer.
MIAMI | Participants in the Prayer and Life Workshops invite the South Florida community to a memorial Mass for their founder, Father Ignacio Larrañaga, who died Oct. 28 at age 85. The Mass will be celebrated Saturday, Nov. 2 at 1:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Miami.

Father Larrañaga, a Capuchin Franciscan, died in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he was taking part in a five-day lecture series.

The Prayer and Life Workshops which Father Larrañaga developed are a method for deepening one’s prayer life. Known as Talleres de Oración y Vida in Spanish, a Prayer and Life Workshop consists of two-hour sessions once a week for 15 weeks where participants learn 12 different methods of prayer.

Father Larrañaga last visited South Florida in February 2009, speaking to more than 2,500 people at five different lectures.

“I am so sad because he changed my life,” said Martha Rubatto, local coordinator of the Prayer and Life Workshops.

She said she was born Catholic and attended Catholic school all her life, but her image of God was one of a strict and punishing deity. Father Larrañaga “showed me a different kind of God,” the God revealed by Jesus in the scriptures.

“God loves good people and bad people because all of them are his children," Rubatto said. "Because he loves me unconditionally, the only thing I can do is not only love him but love the others.”

Father Larrañaga was born May 4, 1928, in the city of Azpeitia in Spain’s Basque region. At age 12, he entered the seminary of the Capuchins in Alsasua and was ordained a priest Dec. 20, 1952 in San Sebastian.

He has lived in Chile since 1959 but traveled widely. His diverse and fruitful apostolate includes giving Encounters: An Experience of God since 1974. He led these Encounters for 33 years in 34 countries in four continents, with an average of 35 to 40 annual Encounters and an average attendance of 250 people per week.

In 1974, he began to write books — a total of 16 by 2004. The majority of them have had multiple editions and been translated into 10 languages. He is considered one of the most read authors of religious and self-help literature.

He founded the Prayer and Life Workshops in 1984 and the movement received the approval of the Holy See in 1997. It is recognized as an International Association of the Faithful under Church law. Close to 8 million people worldwide have now taken part in the workshops.

There are about 90 guides in the Archdiocese of Miami who lead the workshops after going through a two-year learning process. Every year, between 1,000 to 1,200 people attend Prayer and Life Workshops in South Florida. The movement also offers at least 10 retreats a year for individuals, and more for married couples and children.

“It’s an amazing program,” Rubatto said. “I recommend it not because I am part of it but because it changed my life.”

Prayer and Life Workshops/Talleres de Oración y Vida, in both English and Spanish, take place each year in various parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Miami. For more information, look them up here.

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