Recently, a Conference was organised by the Commission for Evangelisation and Pastoral Ministry for the European circumscriptions. The event took place from 19th to 23rd June 2017 at San Gimignano, Italy titled: “Intercultural Experience of Pastoral Ministry in a Changing Europe. New Forms of Evangelization in the Order.” Some participants were from the Anglo-Scottish, the Italian, the Maltese, Polish and Spanish Provinces as well as the Abbey of Brno. The participants made a trip to San Leonardo and also to Lecceto. It was successful.
Pope Francis is known to be a strong advocate of support for refugees and displaced persons. He famously called on catholic institutions to open up churches, monasteries, schools and formation houses to refugees and displaced persons. Our Prior General Most Rev. Alejandro Moral OSA has equally echoed this call of the Pope in his letters, in the light of the global humanitarian crisis afflicting many regions of the world. The list of the affected countries is endless.
While the task at hand may seem so daunting as to push one into inactivity, Nigerian Augustinians took this call of the Pope seriously and opted to set up a skill acquisition center in Maiduguri Borno state.
The center called Augustinian Vocational and Technical Institute (AVTI), was commissioned on 8th June 2017 by the Nigerian Augustinian Provincial, Fr. John Abubakar, OSA. The center has six departments: computer application, tailoring, catering, knitting, hairdressing and shoe-making. Other departments like carpentry, metal work and auto mechanic would be added in future. Already. 400 refugees and displaced persons have enrolled for the programme. It is a tuition free programme and the participants would be giving starter packs at the end of their six month training. This is the contribution of the Nigerian Augustinian Province to fighting poverty and empowering the vulnerable members of our society.
The Meeting of the Governing Committee of the Institute of Augustinian Spirituality was held in Rome May 24-26, 2017. Participating in the meeting were the following friars: Luis Marin, (President), Joseph Farrell, (Vice President), Pasquale Cormio, (Treasurer), Luis Guzman and Jude Ossai. By means of the internet, Robert Guessetto was able to participate in the meeting also. During the meeting, there was an evaluation of the most recent spirituality course, which was offered in Spanish, as well as the preparation of the next spirituality course, which will be offered in English. Also, various initiatives and activities for the coming year were approved. The Prior General greeted the participants in the meeting and thanked them for the work being done by the Institute. He also encouraged them to continue the work undertaken for the good of the Order.
The meeting was held in Bogota, Colombia from 14 to 17 June. This very well organized gathering included intense days of formative, celebrative, cultural and festive aspects in which friendships and fraternity were deepened. It was truly a gift from God that the Assistant General, who is also a member of the International Commission of the Order for the Laity, attended the meeting. We wish to thank the Province of Colombia for their generous participation, to thank the speakers, to thank all who collaborated to make the congress a success. Also, we wish to thank our lay Augustinian brothers and sisters for their dynamism and participation. Let us continue to live our Augustinian charism, giving our joyful witness in the midst of the world. May God bless us all.
The General Council of the Order met from the 1st to the 14th and on the 19th of May, presided by the Prior General, Alejandro Moral Antón.
Among other themes, the following were discussed.
New houses: The erection of two new communities in Kenya were approved:
Augustinian Community, Holy Family Parish, Mbwiru, diocese of Meru, Chuka-Meru, and Augustinian Comunity, Saint Luke’s Kebeneti Parish, Kericho,
Admissions and Dispensations: Approval was given for various friars to be admitted to solemn profession, presbiteral ordination and other ministries. Approval was also given for the dispensation from vows for various religious.
Chapters: Approval was given for the opening date and place for the Ordinary Chapter of the Vicariate of the Congo. (February 20, 2018, in Kinshasa).
Generalate Houses: Discussions regarding some of the needs of the communities that fall under the direction of the General Curia.
Circumscriptions: Information and consideration of the electoral process in the Provinces of Mexico and Colombia for the election of the Priors Provincial. The nomination of the Vicar for the Vicariate of Viena. Discussion over the project of agreement between the circumscriptions of Chile and Bolivia.
Gathering of the newly elected Major Superiors: The gathering of the newly elected Major Superiors will take place from September 25-27, 2017. The assistants general Edward Daleng and Patricio Villalba will organize the details of this gathering.
Luther Congress: Information was shared regarding the program, guests, and speakers for the Congress on Martin Luther. This congress will take place in the Augustinianum from November 9-11, 2017.
Discussion on determination 6 from the CGI 2016: A work plan was approved for the study of a revisión of the structures of the Order. This plan will be prepared for the General Chapter of 2019.
Economic Themes: Diverse economic themes were presented by the General Economo: Scholarships for students in Saint Monica, contracts, help, maintenance, work of the Foundation, Augustinians Across the World.
* John Flynn: Presented the new Catalogus of the Order, recognizing the assistance he received from P. Fernando del Rio.
* Patricio Villalba: Canonical visitation with the Prior General to the vicariate of Argentina and Uruguay; meeting of OALA, discussion on the possibility of a Theological Center of Study in Latin America.
* Anthony Banks: Canonical visit with the Prior General to the Province of Australia, the Delegation of Korea and in Vietnam, the meeting of the English speaking provincials, reunión of OSAAP.
* Edward Daleng: Themes from the Vicariates of the Congo and of Kenya; themes from the community in Anaba.
* Franz Klein: Reunion of the federation of Belgium-Germany; Provincial Chapter of English-Scottish Province, petition of suspended regime, discussions with the Province of Ireland.
* Joseph Farrell: Themes regarding the Generalate Houses; Congress at Villanova University for the Augustinian Centers of Education (July 2017); meeting for the African formators in Nairobi, organized by the Commission for Augustinian Initial Formation in collaboration with the Institute of Augustinian Spirituality; Web page for the Ratio Institutionis; Convocation of the three Augustinian Provinces in North America (Villanova University, June 2017)
* Luis Marín: Canonical visit with the Prior General to the Provinces of Castille and Matritense; the upcoming visit to the Province of Malta, themes in the Italian province, information on the Spirituality Institute Course in Spanish, Program of renewal for the monastery in Lecceto, work and topics regarding the Federation in Spain
* Alejandro Moral:Information regarding the meeting with Pope Francis on May 8, 2017.
Next meeting of the Council: 18-30 September 2017 in Rome.
The Pope has nominated the Augustinian bishop, Mons. Alberto Bochatey to be a member of the Academy of Life. The auxiliary bishop of La Plata, Argentina, is professor of Bioethics and vice-rector of the Catholic University of La Plata.
We offer heartfelt congratulations to Mons. Alberto for the nomination and we ask the Spirit to help him with his power and enlighten him with his light in order to be able to fulfill this service for the good of the Church.
From 30 May to 1 June the meeting of the OAE, the Organization of the Augustinians of Europe, took place in the Convent of Saint Thomas in Prague. The Major Superiors of the circumscriptions of Europe were participated in the meeting. Also, the Provincials of Nigeria and Cebu, Philippines were present also, since members of these provinces serve in Europe. During the meeting, the topics of renewal and perspectives for the future were discussed. It was a real joy to see the dynamism of the friars of Prague and the excellent work being carried out both in the parish and in the school, which was established a few years ago and which we had the opportunity to visit. We also visited the most beautiful and historic Abbey of Brno. Thanks to the organizers and to the Augustinian communities of Prague and of Brno for the experience and for the witness of fraternity that were offered!
Celebrating our Augustinian Ethos!
A visit to our College by Fr Alejandro Moral Anton, Prior General of the Order of Saint Augustine, and his assistant Fr Luis Marin De San Martin. This visit is part of the Prior General's canonical visit to the Augustinians in Malta.
(photos by Fr Raphael Abdilla osa)
On Monday, 8 May, Pope Francis received in private audience the Prior General of the Order of Saint Augustine, Fr. Alejandro Moral Antón. In this very cordial meeting a number of different themes were discussed (the various apostolates of the Augustinians, ministry in the Patristic Institute, the possible nomination of Saint Thomas of Villanova as a Doctor of the Church, the challenges of our times, etc.). The Prior General reaffirmed the total readiness of the Order in the service of the Church.
(Photos of the archives)
Neully-sur-Seine, 25 of march, 2017: The solemn opening ceremony of the diocesan process of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Ange Le Proust (+1697), professed priest of the Order of St. Augustine and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Thomas of Villanova, was held at St. John the Baptist parish church, Diocese of Nanterre, France. Thanksgiving Mass was presided by His Excellency Msgr. Michel Aupetit, Bishop of Nanterre, accompanied by the Vicar General of the Order of S. Augustine, Fr. Joseph Farrell, a number of Augustinian friars and priests of the diocese, in the presence of the Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanova, as well as a large group of loyal devotees of the Servant of God. After mass, the first session of constituting tribunal that will investigate the life and virtues of the Servant of God was held, whereby the members of the same tribunal and the members of the historical commission took their oath of office. This celebration marks the beginning of the work of the Tribunal and the historical commission in order to collect all evidence on the life, virtues and reputation of holiness of Ange Le Proust.
Photos taken by Valerio Polici www.valeriopolici.com
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
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.
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.
Desde el 21 al 23 de octubre los seglares agustinos de las diferentes comunidades del Perú
1er tema: San Agustín y la perspectiva misionera”
2do tema: “Familias Misericordiosas fortaleciendo la Iglesia comunión”
3er tema: “La vida espiritual de San Agustín: un testimonio para la misión del siglo XXI”
4to tema. “Signos de Misericordia en la acción pastoral”
Tuvimos noches de convivencia, se dialogó en grupos, se realizó la misión a diferentes zonas de la parroquia que fue verdadero encuentro con el pueblo de Dios y se eligió la próxima sede del encuentro, quedando Cuzco, Apurímac para el año 2018.
A meeting of the members of the Youth Commission was held on 5th and 6th October 2016 in Colegio Mayor San Agustín, Madrid. The Commission made an evaluation of the Augustinian Youth Encounter celebrated from 19th to 25th July 2016 in the monastery of Saint Dobrotiva in Zajecov in Czech Republic.
The remarks on the event were very satisfactory as the Encounter was considered to be a success. The next Augustinian Youth Encounter to be hosted in Panama was discussed.
The Commission also planned for the pilgrimage of “Camino de Santiago” which is slated for 3rd to 13th August 2017.
The Commission will hold another meeting on 17th October 2017.
From Monday, September 5 to Friday, September 9th, 2016, the Augustinians of Latin America participated in a Continental Meeting of Justice and Peace in San Salvador, El Salvador. The theme of this meeting is: "Migration and Violence".
The intention of this encounter is to encourage the Justice and Peace promotors of each Circumscription to create an awareness of the urgent need for personal and communal commitment to the issues of Justice and Peace along with the theme of Integrity of Creation. In a special way at this time there will be a focus on Migration and Violence.
The meeting is being developed with great expectations, there will be high level conferences thanks to the experience of the presenters. Various circumscriptions will be participating, such as Michoacan, Chile, Colombia, Brasil, Argentina-Uruguay, Consolacion, Chulucanas, Antillas, and Central America. Participants will include, Fr. Patricio Villalba (Assistant General for Latin America), Fr. Robert Dueweke (Representative of the Order to the UN) and Fr. Edinson Farfan (Secretary General of OALA).
The Augustinian Youth Encounter was successfully concluded with a Eucharistic Celebration presided over by the Prior General, Most Rev. Fr. Alejandro Moral Ánton. During the Mass four novices made the Simple Profession of Religious Vows and were affiliated to the Province of Belgium in the presence of about forty Augustinians and over 400 young people in the Church of Our Lady of Assumption of the Abbey of Brno.
Some of the highlights of the Youth gathering was the Via Crucis held on Friday evening when we visited Prague city. (We arrived and were warmly received by the friars and the members of the worshiping parish community of St. Thomas. The Eucharist was celebrated with the Prior as the Chief celebrant.
An unforgettable event was the pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Svatá Hora dedicated to the Blessed Mother of Perpetual Help. All the young people took part in the 36 kilometres walk to and from the Sanctuary as a journey with the Lord. It was a journey within and without, a spiritual exercise born of a restless search for God who lives among us to satisfy our inner quest.
The Sunday Eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Archbishop emeritus of Prague His Eminence Vlk Cardinal Miloslav. A Eucharistic Adoration was later held in the afternoon as a preparation for Sacrament of Confessions.
The last night was dedicated to the "Manifest of Nations", a sort of resolution for a commitment to be proactive in the witness to serve Christ in the brothers and sisters in need.
The next Augustinian Youth Encounter will be in 2019 to be hosted in Panama. Our gratitude extends to all Augustinian friars world-wide especially the Prior General and Council, members of the Order's Commission on Youth Ministry, the speakers, the Priors and friars of Prague and Brno communities, members of the local organising committee, the volunteers, all the Augustinian Youth, their parents, friends, well wishers, etc.
The Augustinian Youth Encounter has begun on 19th July 2016 in one of the Order's oldest Monastery of Svatá Dobrotivá, Zaječov in Czech Republic. The event started at 9.30pm with presentation of the various groups from different countries, the unveiling of the Encounter's anthem. This was followed immediately by prayers, lightening of candles and procession through the Holy Door of Church. The ceremony continued with the reading of a short Gospel text and reflection offered by Fr. Juan Provecho. A moment of assembling the various parts of the Encounter's Logo which were previously distributed to some of the various circumscriptions of the Order around the world many months back. Each of the participants walked up close to the side of the altar where the assembled Logo was kept and deposited his/her lighted candles in front before leaving the Church for the night.
In the successive days talks on "Restlessness of spiritual search" and "Friendship in St. Augustine" were held. There were workshops on various issues ranging from religious, immigration, social justice, employment, sports, etc.
Mons. Herrero was born on 17 January 1947 in Serdio, Cantabria, Spain. He entered the Order as a novice on 26 September 1963, in the novitiate of the province situated at the Monasterio de Santa Maria de la Vid, La Vid, Spain. He made his first profession of vows on 27 September 1964. He completed his studies of philosophy and theology in the Colegio de los Agustinos Filipinos, Valladolid, and in the Seminario Mayor “Tagaste”, Los Negrales. He professed solemn vows on 25 January 1968 and was ordained a priest on 12 July 1970.
He was a member of the following Augustinian communities: Colegio-Seminario San Agustín, Palencia (1970-1971), as professor and inspector; Colegio Nuestra Señora del Buen Consejo, Madrid (1971-1974), as spiritual director and professor; Parroquia de Santa Ana y la Esperanza, Moratalaz, Madrid (1974-1984), as prior and pastor; Colegio San Agustín de Santander (1984-1995), as pastor of the Parroquia San Agustín; Residencia Provincial, de Madrid (1995-1999), as provincial counselor and parochial vicar of the parish of Parroquia San Manuel y San Benito. From 1999, he was again part of the community of the Colegio San Agustín de Santander, where he was pastor of the parish until 2014. Since September 2014 he has been pastor of the Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Carmen, Barrio Pesquero, Santander.
Licensed in Pastoral Theology, he was professor in the diocesan seminary of Corban, Santander, and he also taught in the Estudio Teológico Tagaste (Los Negrales) and in the Centro Teológico San Agustín (Los Negrales-S. Lorenzo de El Escorial). He has held various responsibilities in the Diocese of Santander, where he was the diocesan delegate for Acción Caritativa y Social (Cáritas), and Vicar General and Pastoral Vicar since 1999. He was the diocesan administrator of Santander from 2014 to 2015. He was a member of the Episcopal Council of the diocese and a member of the Presbyteral Council and the Pastoral Council, and a member of the College of Consultors and the Council of Economic Activities of the Diocese of Santander.
On behalf of the entire Order, I wish to extend our sincere congratulations to Bishop-elect Manuel Herrero Fernandez, as he is called to serve the Church in the episcopate, and let us all together offer to him our fraternal support and remembrance in our prayers for him as he undertakes this new ministry.
P. MODESTO SANTAMARTA YUGUEROS (1921-2016)
Eight years ago, Fr. Modesto published a book which was entitiled Reflections. Searching for the Truth. It gathers together brief texts on diverse themes which he was treating, principally, during his first years of pastoral work in the Parish of Ntra. Madre del Buen Consejo in Leon, Spain. To search for the truth in things is the task demanded of every human being. Fr. Modesto searched since he was a boy, in the family environment of profound convictions of his parents Daniel and Maris Carmen, the truth about God, but in reality, it was the Truth itself with a capital “T”, the truth that he encountered in himself and which called him to be an Augustinian and a priest. Fr. Modesto was ordained a priest on 31 March 1945, just exactly about six months before the ending of the Second World War. He was 24 years old. From the bishop who imposed hands on him he heard with attention two truths which were inscribed on his heart with the fire of love which he made his own until his last breath. One was that the priesthood which not just the action of one moment but rather a commitment that was forever. The other was that the priesthood did not belong to him; it was from Christ, who had chosen him for himself as an instrument in order to place him as father, brother friend, counselor, confidant and guide for every man and woman who would cross his path from that moment on. On the other hand, it meant that Fr. Modesto was to offer himself to all selflessly without holding anything back for himself. All along the path of the almost 95 years of his fruitful life, Fr. Modesto found thousands of distinct ways to bring into practice the advice that he heard from the bishop who ordained him. Many are those who benefited on more than one occasion in this selfless, serene but vigorous, calm and patient way in which Fr. Modesto exercised his priesthood. There are many witnesses of that way of acting even up until the very same day on which his weakened health became irreversible and did not permit him to spend uncountable hours in the confessional. Without doubt inspired by Mary the Mother of Good Counsel, many and good were the counsels which Fr. Modesto dispensed tirelessly so that people of every condition and age encountered how to walk by the paths of mercy that God offers us in order to achieve pardon. A priest, without doubt, Fr. Modesto was above all, an Augustinian. Few could imagine the love and determination that he applied to his studies of philosophy, theology, and the seriousness with which he took his vows, which he pronounced for the first time on 30 October 1938 and which his superiors saw for themselves. He occupied himself with works of responsibility and began his teaching career as professor of Philosophy in the University of Goiania (Brazil). In the Province of Castile he was Provincial Secretary from 1960 to1963. For two consecutive periods from 1963 to 1969 he was elected Prior Provincial. The years in which Fr. Modesto served in those posts were, without doubt, easy for no religious superior. Those time coincided with that epoch of comings and goings in the Church which characterized the first attempts to carry out the directives of Vatican Council II. Religious Orders suffered and the Augustinians were no exception. Above all, he knew how to risk the new without leaving behind at the same time the old in order to draw out the best part. His mandte as prior provincial finished, Fr. Modesto, after a brief stay of two years in Valencia, Spain as Prior and Director of the Colegio Santo Tomas de Villanueva, he was called to Rome to form part of the governing team of the Order of Saint Augustine.
Thus, from 1971 to 1977 he fulfilled the office of Assistant General, which obliged him to travel to a multitude of countries and in this way to come in contact with many distinct social, political, cultural and religious realities which enriched above all his inquisitive spirit. He was Assistant General the during the first period of governance of Fr. Theodore Tack. Fr. Modesto helped Fr. Tack very much in those complicated years after the Council. During those six years of service in the General Curia, his effectiveness, understanding and cordiality resulted in great help to many friars, showing himself always as an authentic father to others.
There is another facet in the life of Fr. Modesto that merits to be pointed out: his work as professor in the Colegio Nuestra Madre del Buen Consejo de León, Colegio Santo Tomás de Villanueva de Valencia and Colegio San Agustín de Alicante. Fr. Modesto demonstrated that he possessed a special talent to connect with children and with youth. He succeeded in transforming the religion classes into windows and doors for the students to enter into the air of reflection on profoundly human and meaningful questions. His classroom was a continual coming and going of youth who entered with their preoccupations and left form there relieved, comforted and peaceful. He dedicated much time to bring families together, to direct many youth with vocational questions and to help them come to know that which he truly was: a man of profound and solid faith, a man of deeply rooted convictions and with an open mind who knew how to draw near to and listen to all without asking them if they believed in God with the same intensity with which he did. From Saint Augustine there is a phrase “One does not honor the dead by rendering them worship but by imitating them” (De vera religione, 55, 108). May the God of all mercy receive with honors Fr. Modesto and give us the strength to imitate him in his many virtues with which he always gave himself so generously to his vows as an Augustinian, to his priestly ministry, to his teaching and to the service of authority. May he rest in peace.
Dear Brothers and Sisters: This is the Day that the Lord has made! This is the Day on which Death has been conquered!
I wish to share with all of you the great joy of the Resurrection of the Lord, the very one who was crucified and who died for our sins.
He, who is “face of the mercy of God”, offers to us the full expression of love and of light that enlightens every person with new life, given to Him by God! The Resurrection means that God accepts the offering of this Man, Jesus, on the cross as the act of reconciliation for all humanity, which is now made new in the Risen Christ.
If we want to receive this life of the Holy Spirit, I invite you to keep alive Charity, to love the Truth and to desire Unity!
Happy Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord! HAPPY EASTER!
Fr. Alejandro Moral Antón, Prior General
Bishop John Conway McNabb, O.S.A., passed away in the early morning of February 26, 2016, at the age of 90. He was the first bishop of the Diocese of Chulucanas, Peru (created as a Prelature in 1963, and elevated to the status of Diocese in 1988).
John McNabb, born in Wisconsin, U.S.A., in 1925, entered the Augustinian Order after completing his secondary studies, and professed his first vows in 1945. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1952, he worked in various high schools of the Chicago Province. He was also Province Secretary during a number of years. One of his high school students, at Mendel High School, was Daniel Turley, who later entered the Order and is today Bishop McNabb’s successor as the second bishop of Chulucanas.
Bishop McNabb was named Prelate of the newly created Prelature of Chulucanas, and as such, participated in the last session of the Second Vatican Council. He was ordained a bishop in 1967, and continued to serve as Bishop of Chulucanas until his retirement in 2000.
Augustinians who participated in the Second Vatican Council. John McNabb (back row, second from the right)
During his more than 30 years of episcopal service in Peru, Bishop McNabb was a courageous leader, offering his prophetic and courageous vision to the local church and also through the Peruvian bishops’ conference in which he was well known and highly respected. He was instrumental in the implementation of the pastoral program “New Image of the Parish” of the Better World Movement. Chulucanas was the first diocese in Peru to adapt the pastoral program which has since been adopted by numerous dioceses in Peru and in many other countries, a program which effectively applied the principles of the Second Vatican Council in the renewal of the life of the Church, working to create communities in which lay people are formed to take active and committed roles in the life of the parish and the diocese.
Bishop McNabb was loved and respected by his priests, the Augustinians and other religious and laity who worked in the Diocese, and by many loyal friends. His legacy will live on for many years to come.
The Order’s Commission for the Laity met with the lay coordinators in General Assembly on 18-19 February in Rome. The commission looked at the situation of the Augustinian laity in the diverse areas of the Order and analyzed the mission of the assembly as an organizational group for the diverse experiences of the Augustinian laity.
As a result, regional/continental sub-committees were set up both for the lay and the religious members and to them was entrusted the mission of looking at the objectives of the commission and of empowering the presence of the laity in each region of the Order.
It was the decision of the commission to enlarge the number of lay representatives in each region and to set up ways for responding in each region’s needs. It will also be the work of the sub-committees to establish the ways in which to appoint/elect representatives so that they can be a part of the assembly beginning in 2019.
They reviewed the themes of the recent international congresses in order to plan for the meeting in the summer of 2018 with a theme flowing from those of the previous meetings.
The next meeting of the assembly will be in February 2017.
The Order of St. Augustine celebrated the concluding days of the year dedicated to Consecrated Life with a gathering of 13 of our 20 Augustinian brothers who have been called to serve the Church as bishops. The encounter was held on February 1-3, 2016 in Rome. At the moment the invitations were sent, positive responses came back with notes of thanks and enthusiastic expectations for the chance to meet , to listen to each other, and to share our Augustinian fraternity. Thanks to the cooperative work of many friars, these expectations were met and exceeded. Each participating bishop was given the opportunity to present the current situation of his particular ministry which sparked some lively questions and discussions. On February 2, everyone was invited to participate with Pope Francis in the Mass in St. Peter Basilica to officially close the Year of Consecrated Life. The final portion of the encounter was dedicated to exploring possible ways of building relationships and maintaining mutual support between the Order and our brothers called by the Church to serve in the episcopacy. In the final evaluation of the encounter it was agreed that this was a valuable encounter and the participants look forward to other opportunities to share our Augustinian Fraternity with each other.
The Province of Cebu organised an Augustinian Youth Encounter from 15th to 19th November 2015 as part of the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Augustinian Missionary expedition in the Islands of the Philippines. The theme of the Encounter was “Proclaiming the Word, Empowering the Poor and Sustaining the Mission.” Many young people drawn from various schools (elementary, colleges and University) and parishes run by the Augustinians of the Cebu and Orient circumscriptions, the Augustinian Recollects, the Assumptionists, the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation, the Augustinian Sisters of Divine Mercy, the Augustinian Sisters of Divine Love and the Augustinian Sisters “Misioneras” participated in this event. Young people from Indonesia were also present.
“Read the Gospel, pray with the Gospel, because in the Gospel Jesus manifests the Mercy of God,” so says Fr. Alejandro Moral Antón, the Prior General of the Order of Saint Augustine, emphasizing the centrality of the Gospel and of the Holy Scripture in this Hoy Year of Mercy. He invites all to a reading and to an entering into the sacred texts. “The Kingdom of God is the Mercy of God and it is the Love of God and it is the Compassion of God,” so explains Fr. Moral, which recalls the invitation to conversion: “Jesus invites us during this year to open our hearts to conversion, to the mercy of God.” The Prior General recalls the teaching of Saint Augustine, the invitation to draw ourselves within ourselves in order to cultivate a spirit of interiority, to know ourselves better, to know our hearts better, to open them completely to the mercy of God. The love of God, emphasizes the Prior General, “must lead us to live more profoundly Augustinian communion. It is not possible to live our Augustinian communion if there is no mercy, if charity does not exist… Our communities are not simply human communities where we gather together as friends. We are gathered together because we have been called by God and therefore, as Saint Augustine says, it is not enough to share material goods – we do that because in this way communion becomes more profound also through material goods – but it is necessary to live charity because without charity we are not able to construct community.” Fr. Moral concludes with a strong invitation to live in this Holy Year the Mercy of God in order to cultivate the communion of the Order and with our brothers and sisters. With a message of greeting for the coming Christmas festivities, he says, “God takes on human flesh, he becomes man: this is the act of love and of mercy and of compassion of God for humanity. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2016.”
As part of the journey towards the Jubilee of Mercy undertaken by the Order of Saint Augustine, Fr. Jose Ignacio Busta Ramirez, addresses the theme of the link between mercy and truth. The prior of the Collegio Internazionale Santa Monica in Rome emphasizes the joy to which Pope Francis calls us: “Above all for the great gift of mercy and therefore to live according to the Christian faith that is always a call to joy” because joy is to know that one is called by God, loved by God. In the Bible, mercy and truth are intimately connected. Saint Augustine in the Confessions speaks of truth concerning the choice to establish one’s life on the truth of God: “this means letting oneself be transformed by the Gospel, because of this one is not able to conceive of mercy without the truth of God, which helps one to reach the highest goals, sustained by grace, by His word, and by the love that transforms”, affirms Fr. Jose Ignacio. In this year of mercy all of us are called to discover the wonderful power and strength of pardon, which is transformed by grace so that it makes us happier, because we know that God helps us to build our lives on His truth and to remain in the truth of Christ, in the Gospel, and it helps us to give courageous answers in these particularly difficult times. “We live in an age of new martyrdom and of new forms of martyrdom. Let us not lose either hope or joy and let us not give in to the temptation of finding ways that are different from that which the Lord has pointed out”, exhorts Fr. Busta, who reminds us how mercy is always tied to the truth because it involves the transformation of the human person according to the plan of God.
On Friday, November 20, 2015 after some weeks of serious decline in health, Fr. Michael Wernicke OSA passed away in our Monastery St. Augustine in Würburg, Germany. All who knew Fr. Michael acknowledge his gentle character and his profound knowledge of the history of the Order. For many of us he is remembered as a good brother and friend. He was a student of St. Monica, Rome, who, after initial studies, pursued a PhD in Church History at the University of Bonn. Fr. Michael served the Province of Germany in various roles. In 1977 he was elected Assistant General during the second term of Prior General, Fr. Theodore Tack. Six years later he served a second time as Vicar General under Prior General Martin Nolan. All of us who knew him will remember his special style of presenting the history of the Order. He always knew a little anecdote or some small story about the ordinary human lives of any historical situation he was discussing, which made his presentations very colorful. It was a pleasure to follow him!
Let us pray for our brother Michael and ask him to pray for us.
Present on the congress in Cebu, Philippines, are 58 participants from every Continent. The participants also include Augustinian Recollects, Augustinians of the Assumption, Augustinian Sisters of La Consolacion, Augustinian Sisters of Divine Mercy, Agostinas Misioneras, and Oblates of the Recollects and of the Assumption. This conference is being held in association with a meeting of 600 Augustinian youth from Asia. The work of the conference will be reproduced in written form in the middle of next year.
On 9-11 November 2015, 6 newly elected major superiors of the Order met in Rome with the Prior General and the General Council of the Order. The 6 major superiors are: Ki-Hoon Salesio Lee, the Superior of the Delegation of Korea; Shiju Varghese Kallarakkal, the Superior of the Delegation of India; Kevin Mullins, the Provincial of the Province of California; Antonio Lazan Pun Lay, the Superior of the Vicariate of Iquitos, Peru; Jose Guillermo Medina, the Superior of the Vicariate of Argentina-Uruguay; Pedro Casiño Acevedo, the Superior of the Vicariate of the Orient, Philippines.
These meetings provide all the friars with the opportunity to share information, concerns, challenges, as well as the many good works that are being accomplished in these circumscriptions. As Alejandro Moral Antón, the Prior General, shared with the group, all of those in the Order who are called to the ministry of leadership are called primarily to a ministry of service and to a ministry of building up community life, fraternity and enthusiasm for service to the Church and to the World. As all of the members of the Order face the challenges that they meet in their own local circumscriptions, they also can celebrate the many good works being accomplished around the world by our brothers and sisters.
The Augustinian Order’s path of preparation and formation for the Jubilee Year of Mercy goes forward. In the video, Fr. Edward Daleng Daniang, OSA, the president of the Order’s Commissions for Youth Encounters and for Evangelization and Pastoral Ministry, looks at the theme of evangelization in the light of the next Holy Year.
“Evangelization is an essential part of the vocation of the Church and the People of God: we are called to give witness to the love of God”, emphasizes Fr. Daleng. He points out the example of Christ, who in his earthly existence did not turn away from the company of sinners, but rather sought out occasions to offer them the mercy and compassion of God the merciful Father. Fr. Daleng also reminds us that this time of grace, which will shortly be upon us invites us all to live in the grace and the mercy of God. Moreover, we are called by means of this Jubilee to a spiritual rebirth so that all the faithful can experience new life in Christ and new life in the Church.
Saint Augustine was touched by the grace of God and his life was changed by the mercy of God. As Bishop, he worked tirelessly so that this love would be experienced by all. He also worked for unity in the Church. As Augustinians we want and we must value this spiritual treasure and open this treasure to every woman and man in this special moment of the life of the Church: “this is a time of grace and all people can live the love of God through us in our communities.” In order that this can truly bear fruit, we must have the certitude that we are forgiven by God, that we are loved by God. This powerful force renews us so that we can live the same feelings with our neighbor, thus sharing with them the joy and the beauty of the Gospel.
Only in this way will our work of evangelization be fulfilled and bear fruit!
The members of the International Commission for Evangelisation and Pastoral Ministry met in Rome between 8th and 9th October 2015. The meeting of the Commission focused on the examination of the material produced early this year and sent out in the month March 2015 to the various circumscriptions around the Order to aid friars to reflect on the pastoral apostolate as Augustinians.
The feedback received was very poor because many did not respond. Consequently, the members of the Commission explored a strategy that is very practical: to encourage the organisation of regional and local conferences/workshops for a more active sharing among the friars in the various circumscriptions.
After the first video of the Vicar General, Fr. Joseph Farrell, it is now the turn of Fr. Anthony Banks, OSA, to be entrusted with the responsibility of the Circumscriptions of the Order present in Asia and Australia. Fr. Banks, a New Zealander, is responsible for the Order’s Secretariat of Justice and Peace: “Saint Augustine made it his own the cause of the human person, not only for solidarity or for asceticism; but also for justice. And this is the mature fruit of our Augustinian fraternity to promote and to share.” Those responsible explain: “Our Order gives testimony of solidarity everywhere and is present and for this reason embraces the fate of the weakest and neediest concretely and permanently. This is the motive by which the preferential option for the poor is undertaken.” In the video, Fr. Banks recalls, under the aspect of justice and peace, some central concepts for the Order in relation to the Jubilee Year. Beginning with the writings and the sermons of Saint Augustine, we read about the necessity for justice for the Church and for the world. This is also the basis for the first spreading out of the Order, after the Grand Union in 1256, when the Order of Saint Augustine was born and went forth, based on the immediate needs of the people, for their need for certainty and support. Urged on by the Augustinian charism, this Jubilee event is an occasion to reflect on and to examine the situation of the world in order to see, act, judge and make decisions so that a positive change can be brought about. Augustinian presence means that both religious and laity in accord with the values of Saint Augustine, and in an education based on love, causes community to grow and to work together in order to find answers and to identify those elements in society that are challenges which must be confronted both socially and culturally. This is why, as an Order, “we must be full participants in the Year of Mercy, as a real opportunity to reexamine our true mission.”
As part of the Year dedicated especially to Consecrated Life, there was a meeting of the young vowed members of the Order in Rome from the 15th to 19th of September. This meeting was organized by the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life. 19 young Augustinian friars attended the meeting. They came from the Provinces of Castile (Vicariate of the Antilles), of Spain, of the Philippines (Vicariate of the Orient and the Delegation of Tanzania), England-Scotland, Italy, Malta, Matritense (Vicariate of Panama), Nigeria, and Poland. The title of the meeting was “Wake Up the World!: Gospel – Prophecy – Hope” and there were more than five thousand young men and women religious who participated in the meeting. The meeting was intense, with times for reflection and prayer, opportunities for exchange and dialogue about the many different realities of consecrated life around the world, as well as times for giving witness talks and for celebrating the beauty of the vocation to consecrated life.
You may find more information on the webpage for the Order’s Institute for Augustinian Spirituality (ISA).
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
“Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate” (Lk 6:36).
Mercy, as the expression of love, is without a doubt at the center of the Christian life. Pope Francis, who wished to call for a Jubilee for the Church under the title of Mercy, reminds us the Jesus Christ is the face of the mercy of God, and because of this, the mystery of the Christian faith presents its synthesis in this Word itself (cf. Misericordiae vultus, 1).
The problems, which emerge in the Church and in the Order always arise, in the final analysis, from the abandonment of a cultivating of a personal and profound relationship with God, from not knowing God: the principal and almost single cause of my errors – Saint Augustine will say – was to hold on to a mistaken idea of God (cf. Conf. 5,10,19). Because of this we must not forget that God is love and that Christ is the face of that love with which God loves us, as we are reminded in a beautiful way by Pope Benedict XVI: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Deus caritas est, 1). Probably one of our greatest challenges today as Christians is to take care of the truth and the quality of our love and, perhaps, to go back to the authenticity and to the power of our first love (cf. Apoc. 2, 4).
Love expresses itself in choices and in the realization of actions. Fidelity to Jesus, as I stressed in my first discourse as Prior General (cf. Acta Ordinis, 66 (2013), 191-196), leads us to focus our life on the principle of mercy, and, because of this, not to close ourselves in on ourselves, on our own security and on our own comfortableness, but rather to place ourselves where we encounter suffering, to stand in the trenches, together with the wounded. Our areas of work are many. So also our activities are many, but as religious and as an Order, if we are not built on compassion, all that we do will be without doubt irrelevant and not only will our apostolate be false but also our religious life and our Christian witness will not be credible.
We are witnessing the greatest exodus of refugees since the Second World War and it threatens to become a human catastrophe. It is a human drama of enormous proportions that cannot leave us indifferent. Although this affects Europe primarily, we all must respond to the outcry of those in need. It is a requirement of charity. Certainly, those oppressed by misery have been and always are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2448). Precisely our tradition as a mendicant Order, having arisen to be in the forefront of the Church and for service to humanity, prompts us to listen to this cry for help, to allow ourselves to be challenged by this and to respond in an effective and generous way. Our Augustinian charism did not develop from a flight from the world, but rather as an insertion into the world as the place of God’s love. The call of the needy Christ, who seeks hospitality (cf. Mt 25:31-46) is directed to every brother in the Order, to every sister of contemplative life, to every lay person who lives Augustinian spirituality, especially the members of Augustinian Spirituality groups, to each person and to all of us together. Augustinian communities should be known for being places where anyone can see a response that is freer, bolder, prompter, more intense, and more creative in the face of the need for mercy and for compassion. “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.”
a. The conversion of the heart
“I will take from your body the heart of stone and I will give you a heart of flesh” (Ez 36:26)
The first step is to seek the interior transformation that permits us “to hear” humanity in need, the poor and the excluded. A society of comfort can lead to not only the danger of a growing secularization in our way of life, but also to the increase of self-centeredness, the fear of losing security for those who have lost the security of Christ and who, therefore, are viscerally opposed to any kind of risk. By no means, can xenophobic commentaries be acceptable, nor the comments that trivialize the tragedy of thousands and thousands of people who, fleeing from war and persecution, knock at the doors of Europe seeking the opportunity and the possibility of a better world, seeking hope.
All these refugees, coming from wherever they come from, are the family of Jesus and yet it seems that there is no room at the inn for them (cf. Lk 2,7). They ask for a response from us. This response, which we must give both individually and as an institution, must not be blocked by fear, by selfishness, or by political interests. Not to respond is to be an accomplice; to avoid responsibility is to contribute to the evil. When these tragedies are minimized, or when someone says that it is the responsibility for governments alone, is not the sadness of one’s own emptiness being shown, and ultimately, is not the falsehood of living one’s vocation being demonstrated?
May the Lord grant us a compassionate heart so that we can see the needy person as a subject and not as an object, as a person and not as a number, as a living reality and not as fiction. Certainly, “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts” (Gaudium et spes, 1).
b. Some considerations
“Come you, blessed of my Father…because I was a stranger and you took me in (Mt 25: 34-35).
Pope Francis has presented us with a very specific request: “Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees who flee death from war and hunger, and who have begun a journey moved by hope for survival, the Gospel calls us to be ‘neighbors’ of the smallest and the abandoned, and to give them concrete hope. It’s not enough to say, ‘Take heart. Be patient’.... Christian hope has a fighting spirit, with the tenacity of one who goes toward a sure goal. Therefore, as the Jubilee of Mercy approaches, I make an appeal to parishes, religious communities, monasteries and shrines throughout Europe, that they express the Gospel in a concrete way and host a refugee family. A concrete gesture in preparation for the Holy Year of Mercy. May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every shrine of Europe welcome one family, beginning with my Diocese of Rome” (Allocution during the Angelus, 6 September 2015).
With this in mind, I appeal to all the brothers and sisters of the Order, especially those who live in Europe:
* I ask each major superior of the circumscriptions of Europe, in conjunction with their councils, to study, with a sense of urgency, the ways to respond to this call of the Pope.
* The major superior, in dialogue with local priors, Augustinian pastors and with those responsible in the Order’s Secretariat of Justice and Peace, to concretize the way in which each community or parish can host and care for at least one family of refugees. That is: to find accommodations (in their structures or in other places) and to care for their material and spiritual needs: housing, food, education, clothing, work, health assistance, legal questions, etc. For those communities with fewer resources, they can collaborate with others.
* This theme is to be discussed in the local chapters of the religious communities and in parish councils.
* To seek a greater effectiveness and coordination by collaborating with diocesan and inter-congregational structures.
* For circumscriptions outside of Europe: we all know of similar situations, which exist in many parts of the world, where the reality of displaced persons and of refugees is also alarming. However, here it is necessary to consider the best way to help and to collaborate.
* For circumscriptions or communities who wish to collaborate with economic aid, a special fund will be established in the General Curia to channel these contributions.
* I ask the major superiors of the Order to inform me concerning what has been determined in their circumscriptions with regard to the assistance of refugees. This information should be sent to the Secretary General of the Order.
* I convoke a day in the whole Order to pray for refugees, for persecuted Christians and for the victims of war. This will take place on 16 November 2015, the International Day for Tolerance, and in a way that includes the laity. The Institute of Augustinian Spirituality will send out instructions and materials.
I wish to express my deepest gratitude for whatever can be done to mobilize resources for those who need our help most urgently, knowing that opening ourselves to the boldness of the Gospel will benefit us also; helping others helps each one of us as well as the Order, as in the words of Saint John Paul II, “Man attains to the merciful love of God, His mercy, to the extent that he himself is interiorly transformed in the spirit of that love towards his neighbor” (Dives in misericordia, 14).
May Mary, Mother of Consolation, protect us and accompany us.
Given in Rome, 16 September 2015
Fr. Alejandro Moral Antón
Prior General, OSA
The Order of Saint Augustine begins a course of formation and spiritual deepening as we move toward the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy with a series of reflections made by friars of the Order, published on YouTube and on the principal channels of communication of the Order. The Word of God and the deepening of its understanding in the light of Augustinian thought and in the light of the Augustinian charism are central in this proposed course in preparation for the extraordinary Jubilee event that will begin this coming December.
The first reflection was given by Fr. Joseph Farrell, the Vicar General of the Order of Saint Augustine, on the eve of the Feast of Saint Augustine which will be celebrated, Friday, 28 August and which will be celebrated by Cardinal Edoardo Menichelli, the Archbishop of Ancona-Osimo in a solemn pontifical liturgy at the tomb of Saint Augustine in the ancient Basilica of San Pietro in Ceil d’Oro. “As Augustinians, I believe that a way in which we can best prepare for the Jubilee Year is to re-discover, to discover anew, the treasure of wisdom, spirituality, and faith that we have in the writings of Saint Augustine,” Fr. Farrell explains. The references to Mercy in the works of Saint Augustine are particularly relevant and also very numerous because Augustine was mindful of the great mercy that he received in the course of his own life. “The Letters, the Sermons, the Expositions on the Psalms of Saint Augustine contain numerous references to Mercy, which brought him to his own conversion and which he continually received in the course of his life,” Fr. Farrell emphasized as he spoke on the day that the Church remembers Saint Monica, Augustine’s mother, August 27. She was the one who prayed for her son’s conversion and experienced this mercy of God.
Fr. Joseph Farrell in the first of these brief videos, reminds us of an example of Mercy in the works of Saint Augustine, as Augustine comments on the parable of the Prodigal Son: “When the merciful father comes close to his prodigal son he puts his hands on his son’s shoulders and it is as if he places on his shoulders Christ himself. No other burden is placed on the shoulders of the prodigal son. Thanks to mercy, the weight that the prodigal son was carrying has become lightened thanks to Christ, the Mercy of God.” Fr. Farrell concludes by inviting all to reflect on the writings of Saint Augustine as a reflection on the place of mercy in our lives and on the need to share mercy with our sisters and brothers.
The portrait of our Prior General, Alejandro Moral Antón, OSA has arrived in Rome and will be placed in the Curia next to the portraits of the previous Priors General. This portrait, created by the artist Giuseppe Antonio Lomuscio, will hang on the wall of the second floor of the Curia and will join the long line of other portraits which adorn the walls of the ground floor and the first and second floors of the Generalate. Although Alejandro Moral Antón, OSA is the 97th Prior General, he is the 96th friar to serve as Prior General of the Order of Saint Augustine because Clement of Osimo served two non-consecutive terms.
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