Christmas night, which we have recently celebrated, was special for the Augustinian community of Colegio Mayor San Agustín de Madrid. This community, first in the Augustinian Province Federation of Spain, had decided to invite to dinner 80 people without resources. In an atmosphere of welcome and fraternity, they entered our religious house and became for us the true meaning of Christmas night. Everything went along in the best way, faces full of happiness and joy for those who joined us at our home. What a great testimony!
The community was in charge of decorating the dining room, serving dinner and preparing everything so that none of the guests lacked anything. The initiative came from the same community, which wants to be open and welcoming, in every way, and the best way was to open our hearts to those who, on a special night, were not able to enjoy the warmth of a home, as it was celebrated with the community of the Colegio Mayor de San Agustin!
During the 16 and 17 December 2016 the meeting of the International Commission for Justice and Peace was held at the Colegio Mayor San Agustín Madrid. Among the different topics covered was the one that focused on the activities that refer to the "Augustinian Foundation in the World", as well as the role played by the new management of the permanent seat at the United Nations Foundation. As commitments to be realized there is a plan to convene a conference, for circumscriptions, concerning the issue of refugees. The next committee meeting will be in October 2017.
On 28 December 2016, about 300 people from the many places where there is an Augustinian presence gathered in the novitiate house in Penonomé in the Vicariate of Panama. The gathering was to be the celebration and thanksgiving at the Eucharist to conclude the yearlong celebration for the fifty years of the presence of the Order in this country.
At around 10:00 the procession of concelebrants made its way to the altar. The Mass was presided by the Archbishop pf Panama City, the Augustinian, Mons. José Domingo Ulloa, and many Augustinian friars accompanied him in the concelebration. Among others there were Mons. Cardinal Josè Luis Lacunza, Augustinian Recollect; Mons. Manuel Ochogavia, Augustinian; the Bishop of Penonomé, Mons Ceseño Edgardo; P. Alejandro Moral Antón, the Prior General; Miguel Angel Orcasitas, the Prior Provincial; Carlos de la Cruz, the Vicar; along with many of the friars, as well as the members of the councils of the Matritense Province and the Vicariate of Panama. The homily was given by Mons. Manuel Ochogavia and the choir of the Augustinian cloistered sisters provided the musical accompaniment for the liturgy.
The words that were shared in a pleasant exchange by the Cardinal, the Bishops and the Major Superiors at the conclusion of the Liturgy centered on similar themes: the important work realized by the first Augustinians, who inserted themselves into the local culture, and the loving reception of the local people; the generosity of the work, the good fortune to have begun the work in Chitré; the blessings that God has sent on all; the number of vocations, and the witness of the religious.
Everyone was grateful for all that has been accomplished, especially for the friars who began this mission and who continue to work, to the Panamanian friars who took to themselves the message and who made it their own. These are the ones who continue to bring the light of the Gospel to the major part of their activities. Thanks be to God, the Lord of life, who has always accompanied them by the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen the Augustinian Friars.
Congratulations to the friars of the Vicariate and of the Matritense Province.
The Spanish Conference of Bishops, during it’s plenary assembly in november, has approved the petition of the Spanish Federation of Augustinians and of the General Postulations of the Augustinians (OSA), Augustinian Recollects (OAR) and Descalsed Augustinians (OAD) in order to proceed with the request of the title of Doctor of the Universal Church for Saint Thomas of Villanova, Augustinian and bishop of Valencia (1488-1555).
Migration was there, is still here and will still remain in the future. After seeing the increase in the challenges offered by the migration crisis and following 6 September 2015 Pope Francis’ appeal to welcome a family of refugees, an internal discernment process begun in the Maltese Augustinian Province on all this. Following various internal discussions and even within the Maltese Augustinian Justice and Peace Commission, it was decided to use the only available space in St Mark’s Priory in Rabat. The same space was before used as a store for outside feast decorations. The space was transformed and refurbished to accommodate and welcome a refugee family. The project was mostly financed internally and with help of other beneficiaries. An interesting aspect of this project is that the project is done in coordination with JRS Malta.
The refugee couple, from Eritrea, Coptic, were welcomed on 11 October 2016. Just the day before, while we as Augustinians were celebrating St Thomas of Villanova’s feast, the Saint of the Poor, we blessed the home to accommodate and welcome them. At the same time, the wife was given birth to her first son, Eyakiem. We opted that we will welcome them within St Mark’s Augustinian complex in Rabat instead of helping them far away in other places as this, within itself, is a statement of welcome that will leave its mark on our hearts and attitudes. This project is another way to dialogue and encounter them, to hear their fears, their hopes, their difficulties, and their joy. Surely, this will not solve the whole migration problem but it is an act of mercy and compassion, both in the Year of Mercy and also in the Bi-Centenary celebrations of the Maltese Augustinian Province.
The Prior General, Fr. Alejandro Moral Antón, during the extraordinary assembly of OALA (in Recanto, Tagaste, Brazil), presided at the Eucharist in which the start of the second phase of the Communion and Service Project was made.
This project, in which all of our Latin American groups are involved, has as its general objective that of animating the circumscriptions in a new communitarian dynamism of personal and communitarian conversion. This is so that, springing from our sources and from our spiritual tradition, we can offer to the world and to the Church that we serve the strength of our Augustinian charism, a testimony of community holiness.
In this second phase, the circumscriptions are being urged to look once again at the community life of each community and the service that they are fostering in the local Church and to discern if this service corresponds with our charism – ideals – and with the signs of the times (that is the Church where it finds itself today). This is to be done so that a communitarian plan of life and of pastoral action can be elaborated according to Augustinian criteria.
Fr. Giuseppe Caruso, OSA was named President of the Patristic Institute, Augustinianum. Fr. Giuseppe was born in Palermo, Sicily, 30 April 1970 and was ordained to the priesthood 5 April 1997. Fr. Caruso has his doctorate in Ancient Letters from the Università degli Studi of Rome and his doctorate in Theology and Patristic Sciences from the Patristic Institute, Augustinianum. He is a member of AIEP (International Association of Patristic Studies) and a member of the Pontifical Academy of Latinity. He is a professor at our Patristic Institute and at other university centers in Rome.
Fr. Juan Antonio Cabrera Montero was named Vice President of the Patristic Institute, Augustinianum. Fr. Juan Antonio has studied Library Science and Documentation at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid and Theology and Patristic Sciences at the Patristic Institute, Augustinianum. He was the librarian of the Institute from 2005 to 2016 and professor at the Institute since 2009.
Lastly, Fr. Kolawole Chabi, OSA was named as the new Librarian of the Institute. He completed his studies at the Patristic Institute, obtaining his License in Patristic Studies.
To each of them we offer our best wishes for a happy and fruitful work for the benefit of the students, the Order and the Church.
During the Chapter of the Province of San Miguel Arcángel of Ecuador, Father Wilson José Posligua Bran, OSA was elected as the new Provincial Superior.
Father Posligua was born in the province of Guayas in October of 1980, and made is solemn profession as an Augustinian in January of 2006. In his academic formation, he has earned two licences: one in Spiritual Theology from the Catholic University of Bolivia and the other in Education from the Technical University of Loja, in Ecuador.
In his religious and ministerial life he has served in various roles: Parish priest in Santa Rita of Cascia Parish in Conocoto, Secretary and Counselor of the province, prior of the convents of Santa Rita in Conocoto and San Agustín in Quito, chaplain of education centers and the monastry of the Augustinian sisters in Quito, and since last year, he has served as vicar for religious life for the Archciocese of Quito.
To Father Posligua and to those who will govern and animate the province with him, we offer our sincere good wishes and congratulations in this new ministry.
Our houses in Italy, both at Tolentino and Cascia, have been affected in a particular way by the earthquake of 30 October 2016.
By the grace of God there were no victims, but the structures, above all those that were the oldest, have suffered damage the will require long years of patient intervention.
Unfortunately, because of the damage our structures have at this time been declared uninhabitable, and so the presence of the men and women religious has been affected.
The Sisters of Cascia “still with fear in their hearts because of the strong earthquake of 30 October were forced to abandon the monastery and to close the basilica, because of damage to the structures.” This is the beginning of the message that the Augustinian sisters sent out these days through their newsletter in order to ask for help: “The situation is dramatic in Cascia and in all the towns affected by the earthquake. The earth continues to shake and we feel that you are near to us and this gives us a support that we are not able to describe to you.”
The same has been happening to the Basilica of Tolentino, but it is in a worse situation.
The witness of the religious is strong and encouraging: “We are not going to leave our people, we will rebuild together, as we have always done.”
On 12 November, the Prior General, P. Alexander Moral and Assistant General, P. Luis Marin Ceuta in order to preside at the ceremony of the closing of the centenary celebrations for Colegio San Agustin of Ceuta, a city in North Africa. The school is part of the Province of Spain. The principal events were the celebration of the Eucharist in The Church of Saint Francis, the inauguration of a commemorative display of art, and a fraternal meal on the paly field. We thank God for the service rendered by the educational community during these hundred years, brought about with a style of “closeness” and participation that has seen the birth of vocations to Augustinian religious life that has become a point of reference for the city.