Undoubtedly, with the announcement of his appointment as auxiliary bishop, the memory of his mother will be very present.
“It’s not necessary to study a lot to love God and all those around us in an excellent way.”
These are the words of Fr. José María Avendaño, whom Pope Francis appointed this past September to be the auxiliary bishop of Getafe (Spain) at the age of 65. Avendaño was until now the vicar general and vicar for clergy of that diocese. He’s a man very much loved by the people.
It so happens that the new bishop (soon to be consecrated) has a family history of great closeness to God: his mother, Jorja Perea, is in the process of canonization. The opening words of this article were written by her priest son in the book “La fe es sencilla” (“Faith is simple”), and he had first-hand knowledge of who and what he was talking about.
Jorja Perea was a housewife from a simple family and with little education, but who displayed Christian virtues in all their splendor in her life as a wife and mother. She’s an example of the people that Pope Francis likes to call the “saints next door.” They are lay people who have lived, and live today, like the first Christians and who make us feel the vitality of the Church.
People can be saints in the midst of the world, in their ordinary tasks and chores. St. Teresa of Ávila famously said that “the Lord also walks among the pots and pans” (Foundations 5, 8).
We can see Jorja Perea in photographs and videos from the late 20th and early 21st centuries. We see her smiling, doing household chores, and bearing her old age with serenity. We hear her singing a hymn to the Eucharist, “Blessed be the Blessed Sacrament of the altar …” a song very typical of popular devotion in Spain.
“My mother had a life of dedication to God, to the Church and to others, especially to the sick and the needy with whom she shared everything she had,” says José María Avendaño, speaking of his mother.
In this video we see her sharing family moments with her son José María:
Jorja was born in 1928 in a village in La Mancha, and was immediately orphaned by the deaths of both her father and mother. As a child she worked in the fields. She married her husband Cándido at the age of 25, and five children were born from their marriage. One of them is José María Avendaño Perea.
“Speak well of God”
One of the mottos that guided Jorja’s path was, “Speak well of God and do all the good you can.” She embodied this in a lot of ways, remembered today in anecdotes of a full life that didn’t attract attention but enlightened those who shared her life with her. That’s why testimonies are now being collected for the cause of canonization. The fact that she educated one of her sons so that he could respond faithfully to his vocation as a priest, and soon as a bishop, undoubtedly adds to this mother’s colossal merit.
José María, the new Auxiliary Bishop, was born on April 25, 1957 in Villanueva de Alcardete (Toledo, Spain).
He studied to be a teacher, specializing in mathematics, in Toledo (1978) and then studied speech therapy at the Complutense University of Madrid (1981). He holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from the Pontifical University of Comillas (1985) and a degree in practical pastoral theology from the Pontifical University of Salamanca, at the Higher Institute of Pastoral Work of Madrid (2004). He received priestly ordination in the Archdiocese of Madrid on March 14, 1987. His episcopal consecration is scheduled for November 26 of this year.
Jorja died in 2015 from a case of pneumonia that led to a cerebral infarction. Within a month, news of favors attributed to her heavenly intercession began to arrive.
The then-auxiliary bishop of Getafe, José Rico Pavés, encouraged Fr. José María Avendaño to show his mother’s example to the world and to collect testimonies about her life and virtues. Six years later, in 2021, the initial diocesan phase of the process of canonization was opened.
Today, undoubtedly, with the announcement of his appointment as auxiliary bishop, the memory of his mother will be very present.