Congregation for the Causes of Saints considers canonization of Spanish couple


As a college student, it seems fairly easy to lose yourself in yourself and in your college experience.  The time to do almost anything seems contingent upon your schedule and what is personally convenient.

In this state of undeniable and perhaps unintentional self-centeredness, we risk forgetting where we come from and those around us, primarily our families and the people that compose them.  In a fast-paced and self-centered culture, it is easy to forget the meaning and beauty of family life and the important role that families play in society.

To help resolve this problematic situation and reinforce the importance of the family in society, the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will meet to discuss “the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world” in October 2015.  The Catholic Church is striving to remind society of and reinforce the important role that the family plays when it is rooted in a strong and happy marriage.

Tomás Alvira and Paquita Alvira Dominguez stand as witnesses and examples of living such a Christian life through a happy marriage.  Tomás Alvira was born in Villanueva de Gallego, Spain, in 1906.  He earned a doctorate in chemistry and taught at the prestigious Natural Science Institute in Madrid.  Paquita Dominguez, his wife, was born near Huesca, Spain, in 1912.  While raising 9 children, Paquita also worked as a high school teacher during the Spanish Civil War.

In 1937, Tomás, at the time a young doctoral student, crossed the Pyrenees Mountains with Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, in order to escape religious persecution during the Spanish Civil War.  Tomás appreciated Opus Dei’s message that all people are called to holiness in their ordinary work and lives, whether married or celibate.

After the war ended, he proposed to Paquita, and the two were married on June 16, 1939, in Zaragoza.  Through their marriage, they lived in the spirit of Opus Dei, striving to find holiness in their everyday lives and situations, seeing their work and relationships as opportunities to be closer to God.  The two eventually joined Opus Dei.

The Alvira’s found spiritual strength by putting the Mass at the center of their lives, making time for prayer and the rosary, going to confession, and serving others.  Through this lifestyle, their ordinary activities gained a supernatural dimension.

Toward the end of their lives, both Tomás and Paquita suffered from painful illnesses, but maintained cheerful and positive spirits.  Tomás died on May 7, 1992, and Paquita on August 29, 1994.  Their married life was nothing extraordinary.  Rather, it was a life of determined struggles to be united to God while striving to love and truly care for each other and their children.

Since their death, many people around the world have claimed that Tomás and Paquita have interceded for their petitions concerned with marriage, relationships, and family.  The Congregation for the Causes of Saints is now studying the Alviras’ lives.

During the closing phase of the cause of canonization by Cardinal Ruoco, the Archbishop of Madrid, the couple’s 8 remaining children stood in attendance at the ceremony.  Pilar Alvira, the fourth child, said that her parents had an “enormous capacity to love.  The atmosphere in our home was one of enormous affection because they poured themselves out for us and taught us to do likewise with others.”

The lives of Tomás and Paquita bear witness to the richness of experience that can be encountered at any stage of life.  Although the majority of college students are unmarried, the Alviras still serve as examples of how to live out Christian virtues right where we find ourselves in life.

Crystal Avila is a sophomore studying communications and film. She is getting super excited for her brother’s wedding this May.  If you know any snazzy dance moves she can use at the reception, let her know at