Every 25 April, at our Basilica of the Mother of Good Counsel, there has always been an appointment, very much expected and lived with a depth of spirit. This year this is true even more so because it is the 550th anniversary of the “Coming” of the holy and miraculous image that is venerated and preserved in the memorial of marble in the Church.
The story has developed within a veil of mystery, but surely the sensus fidelium, the understanding of the faithful, is able to read beyond the lines of ancient documents and can discover the true meaning of this divine action in human history. Tradition presents that the image arrived in Genazzano from the Albanian city of Scutari, where it had arrived from the East and had been preserved there for 200 years. This tradition was transmitted orally in Albania, especially among the people of simple faith and it has been the basis of friendship between these two peoples.
The title, Mother of Good Counsel, is even more ancient than the “Coming” of the image and it originated in our ancient Church.
During the novena, begun on the day of Easter, these bishops: Mons. Mani, Mons. Fumagalli, Mons. Giretti, the Father Abbot of Subiaco, Dom Mauro, Mons. Gianni Checchinato (on the first day of his episcopal ordination), Mons. Guido Marini and finally Don Ludovico, the pastor of our Cathedral Church, (which is celebrating its 900th anniversary), have participated in the prayers.
Naturally, very many pilgrims have arrived from various towns and cities in the region of Lazio. The evening of the feast’s vigil featured the traditional pilgrimage on foot from Cave, guided by Mons. Sigalini, and Cardinal Salvatore Di Giorgi presided at the ceremony of the “Coming” with the singing of the hymn, Akatistos.
Villanova, Pennsylvania, 24 of April, 2017: The opening session of the Tribunal for the cause of beatification and canonization of God's Servant William Atkinson, professed priest of the Order of Saint Augustine (1946-2006) was held in the parish and university church of St. Thomas of Villanova, which was packed by devotees for the occasion. The event was preceded by a solemn mass of thanksgiving presided by Msgr. Chaput, archbishop of Philadephia, accompanied by the Vicar General of the Order and the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Thomas from Villanova. After the Mass the first session of the Tribunal was held. Oaths were taken by the officials, who have the duty to gather testimonies on the life, virtues and reputation of holiness of the Servant of God. On this occasion the members of the Historical Commissione took the oath of office by which they have the task of gathering all the documentation that might serve the cause. The same was done by the Postulator of the cause. Present for this event were members of Atkinson’s family, many friends and alumni of the Servant of God, together with a good number of Augustinian confreres.
TO ALL THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS, AUGUSTINIANS
AND MEMBERS THE FRATERNITIES OF THE ORDER
Dear Brother and Sister:
I do not want to let pass this Easter Triduum without expressing to you my thoughts and feelings and a brief reflection. At the same time, I would like to know your thoughts about our crucified and risen Lord and perhaps at some time we will be able to do so.
We have just celebrated the passion of the Lord and I can say that it filled me with a serene joy, perhaps a sign of a profound freedom and a greater sense of harmony with all people and with the Lord. I would like to make my own the words spoken by a theologian: “In what comes, death has ceased to be for me a problem, but it continues to be a mystery. I am not able to penetrate into the mystery, but in the midst of darkness, it illumines my being.”
Good Friday is a special day to experience the pain of the world, the pain of history and the “pain of God”, if we are able to speak in this way. We remember our Augustinians who suffer violence in some of our circumscriptions, the floods suffered by so many people who have been left without homes in various places in Latin America where we are present. We remember the children who have been the victims in various wars, or who have died because of lack of food, or because they have been abandoned by their parents. We remember the faces of so many immigrants who have been abandoned. We also remember our sisters and brothers who suffer in our own communities. All of these images weigh on my heart as before the cross we seek God’s blessing and mercy for all.
We are all called to combat against this suffering. The question is how. It happens through humility and communion with all of our brothers and sisters and with all those who, each in their own way, rise up and rebel against suffering and who struggle for all those of the world who are pushed aside.
Humility, “have in yourself the same sentiments of Christ”, to set aside our pride and sinfulness, the basis for all evil, and to open ourselves to the mercy of God, to life, which is born out of the encounter of a sincere and humble heart with the Love of Christ, once dead but now risen to life. Humility always opens our very being to an encounter with God.
Communion with our brothers and sisters, that is, the unity of charity. This is the gift that the Christ, once dead but now risen, has left us in order to find joy in the Augustinian experience. We can never forget that fraternal love is the privileged place for the authentic experience of God. Only in this way can our communities, living the experience of fraternity, make sense. It is from this experience of encounter with the other that we proclaim the meaning of Easter against pain and suffering, and we are changed so that those who see and encounter us in the place of peace and of love, which God has given to us in Jesus, the risen one.
The value of community, as the place of fraternal love, is that place where, even more than bringing me Easter joy, gives life to my desire to work for the world and urges me to open myself toward others and to work against evil and suffering, imitating the prophet of the mercy of God, Jesus, so that his love rules here below.
Today, perhaps more intensely, I believe in the love of God, that love which one day was demonstrated to be stronger than death by the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the first fruits of our own resurrection. I believe in the risen One, Jesus, in whom the love of God breaks the bonds of sin and death.
A Blessed Easter to all!
P. Alejandro Moral Antón
Fr. Aldo Marcelo Caceres, the Delegation Superior of Cuba, visited from 29 March to 1 April the Augustinian religious community “San Agustin” of Puerto Padre, where he met with the three candidates for the aspirancy, which, God willing, will begin on 28 August in Havana, as they begin their pre-novitiate experience. They are: Miguel from Havana, a nurse; Raul from Las Tunas, a professor of chemistry, and Yasmani, form Holguin, a lawyer. During the absence of their director, Fr. Victor Lozano Roldan, they will be temporarily directed by Br. Camilo Pineda. This brother is from Colombia and was recently incorporated into the Delegation of Cuba. He has already had the opportunity of living in each of our three communities.
Besides this, Fr. Marcelo met with two young men who will be entering into the aspirancy: José (25 years old) from Holguin and Daniel (20 years old) from Santiago de Cuba. They, like other candidates for the aspirancy, will go at the end of the week to Puerto Padre to help the religious community with pastoral ministry in the diverse chapels and mission houses that we take care of.
As always we thank God and the Virgin of Cobre for sustaining us every day in our mission.
Fray Camilo, P. Marcelo y P. Argiro
Encounter with the youth of the Mission Santa Barbara
The Assembly of the Delegation of Cuba took place in the days between 20 and 23 February 2017. In addition to having considered the progress made so far, the Assembly focused on three main points mentioned by the Prior General in a letter sent for the occasion: 1. Cuba as a place of mission; 2. community life, prayer and the local chapter, which specify our identity; and 3. serious vocational work, based on the specific criteria selected. After that, the Assembly looked at the themes that concern the state and the reality of our communities (Puerto Padre: parish house and house for aspirants; Havana: with its educational-formational mission on the university level and as formation house; Chambas: the parish). The Assembly also treated especially the themes of vocation ministry and the problems concerning formation and parish ministry. Finally, the Assembly also dealt with the situation that arises from the process of unification in the jurisdiction of the Federation of Spanish Provinces.
The First Ordinary Chapter of the Vicariate or Our Lady of Grace of India took place from 27 to 29 January in the Seminary House of Aluva (Edo. Kerala, India). 36 religious participated, 6 of which were invited participants. During the working sessions, the Program of the Vicariate for the next few years was presented and approved along with the Statutes. Fr.Shiju Varghese Kallarakkal was confirmed in office as the Regional Vicar and Frs. Jacob Mullassery, Joseph Anson Kalathiparambil, Aloysius Kocheekkaranveetil y Binu Yesudasan were confirmed in office as the counselors of the Vicariate.
On 30 January, during the first Chapter, three brothers, who were finishing their period of formation in Aluva, made their solemn profession of vows: Fr. Naga Raju Koripelli, Fr. Robin Arakkal y Fr. Sinoj Paul Mukkath, and they were the first to be affiliated to the Vicariate of Our Lady of Grace of India.
The Vicariate of India at this time has 32 solemnly professed religious ascribed to the Vicariate: 3 in formation, 2 residing in General Houses, 3 in Australia, where they are collaborating with the Australian Province. The others are in India in five houses in three different States in India. There now is also our presence in another State. There are in addition also 5 other religious ascribed to other circumscriptions of the Province of the Philippines of Spain who are working in the Vicariate. There are also 5 simply professed in formation in the house in Aluva and there are 2 novices in the common novitiate of OSAAP in Cebu (Philippines).
On 10 February at the Augustinianum a Doctorate honoris causa in patristic sciences from the Lateran University was conferred on Christoph Markschies from the Humboldt University of Berlin. Cardinal Kurt Koch, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Unity of Christians, said, “We thank you for helping us to purify our historical memory, to rediscover the spiritual influences we have in common and to encounter what Pope Benedict has defined as ‘the spiritual and theological challenge’ that represents for us Catholics ‘the person and the theology of Martin Luther’.”
“In these areas, in conformity with the ancient tradition of Roman hospitality,” Cardinal Koch continued, “the greeting foresees the nobile munus to remember the generosity of the host. We make use not of gold, but of a more precious gift, that is, a specific memory in common that binds the cathedra of Berlin to the Vatican Library here in Rome, a gift ad personam, of great symbolic value. In the period after the First World War,” continued the Cardinal, “in a time of grave difficulties for his country and for the scientific institutions of his capital city, the great patrologist, Adolf von Harnack, whose successor you are, cultivated a correspondence with the then Prefect of the Vatican Library, Cardinal Giovanni Mercati. I wish to offer to you copy, with a letter from Cardinal Raffaele Farina, the successor emeritus of Cardinal Mercati, who shares with you the honor of the doctorate honoris causa in patristic sciences conferred on him by the Augustinianum in 2009.”
The delegation of St.Rita, Order of St. Augustine Kenya has opened two new parish communities this year. The first parish is in Meru Diocese near Mount Kenya. The name of the parish is Holy family Mbwiru catholic parish. This parish was canonically established on 1st January 2017.
The second parish is in Kericho diocese. The name of the parish is St.Luke’s Kebeneti catholic parish. This parish was established 18th October 2009. Augustinians officially took over the parish on 29th January 2017.
In Kenya now the Augustinians have six parish communities, one postulancy house and an international house of theology.
The mustard seed of faith planted in 1597 by Augustinian friars from Portugal and watered by the Irish and Nigerian friars from 1990 is now taking shape and becoming a big tree where people of God can find a shelter.
The Seminario San Agustin Community was graced today with the presence of Rev. Fr. Alejandro Moral Anton, OSA, Prior General of the Order, on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Together with him were Rev. Fr. Tony Banks, OSA, Assistant General of the Order for the Asia-Pacific and Rev. Fr. Michael Sullivan, OSA of the Augustinian Province of Our Lady of Good Counsel. They will discuss matters related to the future activities of the Vicariate, especially reconnecting with the mission in China and expansion in the Southeast Asian region.
Present during the celebration of Mass and Vespers were Rev. Fr. Jumbim Torres, OSA, Prior of the House and Master of the Professed, Rev. Fr. Randolf Dayandayan Jr., OSA, Master of Seminarians, and the rest of the Formation Team. Also present were some members from the Convento San Agustin Intramuros, as well as the Postulants, Pre-Novices and Simple Professed Friars.
Rev. Fr. Augustinus Peng, OSA, an Augustinian friar assigned to take care of a parish church in Hunan, China was also present during the Mass.
PHOTO CREDITS: Post. Weldann Lester Abugho Panganiban, Post. Sean Bernard Tan