Beginning in 1918, Josemaria sensed that God was asking something of him, although he didn't know exactly what it was.
He was ordained a priest and began his pastoral ministry in 1925. Josemaria moved to Madrid to study for a graduate degree in law.
He was accompanied by his mother, sister, and brother, as his father had died in 1924 and he was now head of the family.
By the time of the founder's death, Opus Dei had spread to thirty nations on six continents.
It now (2002) has more than 84,000 members in sixty countries.
The next decade saw the launching of a wide range of undertakings: professional schools, agricultural training centers, universities, primary and secondary schools, hospitals and clinics, and other initiatives, open to people of all races, religions, and social backgrounds but of manifestly Christian inspiration.
During Vatican Council II (1962-1965), Monsignor Escriva worked closely with many of the council fathers, discussing key Council themes such as the universal call to holiness and the importance of laypersons in the mission of the Church.
On October 2, 1928, while making a retreat in Madrid, God showed him his specific mission: he was to found Opus Dei, an institution within the Catholic Church dedicated to helping people in all walks of life to follow Christ, to seek holiness in their daily life and grow in love for God and their fellow men and women.
From that moment on, he dedicated all his strength to fulfilling this mission, certain that God had raised up Opus Dei to serve the Church.
The development of Opus Dei began among the young people with whom Fr. Its growth, however, was seriously impeded by the religious persecution inflicted on the Catholic Church during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
The founder himself suffered severe hardships under this persecution but, unlike many other priests, he came out of the war alive.
In 1930, responding to a new illumination from God, he started Opus Dei's apostolic work with women, making clear that they had the same responsibility as men to serve society and the Church.