Msgr José Ignacio Alemany Grau, CSsR Bishop Emeritus of Chachapoyas (Peru), is a veteran Spanish Redemptorist missionary, tireless in the media apostolate.
Bishop Alemany Grau, 89 years old, has been a Redemptorist for 71 years, has 64 years as a priest and continues to write and publish on the internet and broadcast on the radio. He was the director of Radio María Perú. He now runs a new blog on Religión en Libertad that joins other platforms where he preaches or writes.
Scala News was alerted to a lengthy interview, published in full in our Spanish edition, where he explains his story of vocation and evangelisation as a Redemptorist missionary. Here are some questions:
Don José Ignacio, what was the life of faith like in your family, and how did you enter the Redemptorists?
My family had a great love for Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I had two religious aunts, and in my family, there was an atmosphere of daily prayer. Of the eight brothers, three married in the Church, and five of us consecrated ourselves to the Lord as religious. Before I was six years old, I received my first communion in a house in the village. (The parish had been badly damaged after the Civil War). I remember that I renewed my baptismal vows on behalf of the other children. For this reason, one of my Redemptorist aunts sent me a card I still keep. It said: ‘Ask Jesus to make you a little missionary and bless everyone and Spain’.
What do you like about Redemptorist spirituality?
I liked it because we had frequent contact with some Redemptorist missionaries and devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Shortly after the Civil War, we moved close to her shrine in Madrid. When I was 9 or 10, I dressed as a Redemptorist to promote the congregation. At 11, I entered the Redemptorist minor seminary.
“Then, over the years, I discovered many other things, the filial love for the Virgin Mary, particularly as Perpetual Help and the missionary life of our founder, St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. He was distinguished for the depth and simplicity of his preaching and writings. I tried to imitate him in this, in evangelisation and in my publications. I was also full of his missionary spirit.
How many years have you been on mission?
From when I arrived in Peru in 1963 until I was appointed bishop in 1995, I was dedicated to the missions. I was always looking for new ways to evangelise better. For example, in 1967, we first incorporated lay women in the Redemptorist mission in Huancabamba, in the Piura Mountains.
How did you become interested in the media?
I wanted to use all means to evangelise. I started publishing ‘Homiletic Sunday Reflection’ in 1965 in one of the newspapers in the city of Piura, Peru. Then, I posted it in Chiclayo, Trujillo and Arequipa newspapers. And I have been doing it every Sunday ever since, until today, it has only failed in a few instances when sending it ‘by fax’ has failed.