On 23 January 2017, at Colegio San Agustin, Salamanca, a meeting was held, entitled “Law and Justice” and the Minister of Justice, Rafael Catalá Polo was present.
There were two objectives for this meeting: the first, in a broad way, to make known to the youth the diverse types of work, in this case, in the field of justice, and the second, in an institutional way, producing relevant and positive information about the Augustinians, in this case, through the Colegio. About twenty representatives of the media were present at the Colegio and the minister met with them officially in the morning in the auditorium of the Colegio. The minister himself publicized this meeting on his personal Twitter account where he expressed satisfaction in being in a school of youth between the ages of 15 and 18, because for him, even though this was an unusual experience, both young people and the work that the teachers and the Augustinians are doing are of great importance.
Secretaries of the Order came together for a meeting in Rome from 16 to 20 January 2017. 25 secretaries attended the meeting. About half of the circumscriptions of the Order were represented. The secretaries lived in the Collegio Santa Monica and attended working sessions in the "Aula Minor" of the Patristic Institute, Augustinianum.
This meeting provided an opportunity to look at the Manual for Secretaries, in which various procedures are discussed, to answer questions about documents and to help the secretaries create a network for mutual support with other secretaries of the Order.
The secretaries participated in the prayer life of the Collegio. For some it was their first time in Rome and for others it was a homecoming for those who studied in Rome in the past. The meetings were led by John Flynn, the Secretary General and translation was provided by Noel Hession of the Irish Province and Miguel de la Lastra of the Province of Spain.
On Wednesday morning the group attended the Papal Audience in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican and in the afternoon the friars of the Papal Sacristy community led the group on a tour of the Vatican Museums. They also toured the Curia building. The secretaries spoke of the positive value of the meeting and were grateful for the support and encouragement they received for their work as secretaries in their circumscriptions.
On Saturday, January 14, the novitiate year came to a close for 17 novices as they made their first profession of vows in the presence of the Prior Provincial of the Province of Peru, Fr. Alexander Lam. The ceremony took place in an atmosphere of joy and great faith. Presiding at the ceremony were our Bishops, Daniel Turley and Robert Prevost, along with the superiors of 9 circumscriptions, as well as Fr. Patricio Villalba, Assistant General and a large group of men and women religious and laity.
During these days the Assembly of the Delegation of Korea, “Saint Nicholas of Tolentine” is taking place and the Prior General, Fr. Alejandro Moral Anton, and the Assistant General, Anthony Banks are taking part.
The Assembly opened with the celebration of the Eucharist, presided by Fr. Kim Paolo, and the Prior General preached the homily. Participating were 11 Korean friars and 3 other friars, two from Cebu and one from Australia, as well as three simply professed, (one of them is FR. Hong Seung-Min, who will profess solemn vows this Saturday), and three novices.
Six year ago the Korean Delegation asked the General Council for help in the construction of a Retreat House in Yeonchon, ten kilometers from the border with North Korea. The final stage of construction is underway and it will have room for 27 retreatants each with their room along with ten rooms for gatherings. Even though all of the financing of the new building has not yet arrived, our brothers have already experienced the great generosity of the people of Korea and of the Order outside of Korea.
The Prior General was able to meet during these days with the local bishop, Mons. Pedro Lee
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.