CEBU CITY – Due to the nature of their multiple apostolate, the brothers assigned in the community of the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) have devised a strategic way to accomplish the tasks assigned to each of them. This prompted the visiting Prior General, Fray Miguel Miró, to not only commend them for a job well done, but also remind them to take care of themselves and that their person is more important than their work.
On February 19, Fray Miró started his three-day renewal visit to the community of Recoletos de Cebu, the last of the three Recollect communities – the other two are Recoletos de Laray and Recoletos de Balamban – in the island province of Cebu.
The OAR community in this “Queen City of the South” engages in various areas of apostolate by administering the USJ-R Main and Basak campuses (with a current total student population of 12,065 from Kindergarten to Graduate School, and 706 employees both regular and part-time), the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish–Recoletos, the Talavera House of Prayer-Recoletos which is managed through the able assistance of the AR Sisters, and the three-year old Recoletos Eco-Pilgrimage Park in Danao City.
Aware of these involvements, Father Miró reminded the friars that, in fulfilling their duties, they must realize that they are creators of communion.
Recoletos de Cebu community is under the priorship of Fray Leopoldo Estioko who is also the university’s Vice President for Finance. The other brothers composing the community are: Fray Cristopher Maspara (Vice Prior and 1st Councilor of the house & University President), Fray Hernando Coja (2nd Councilor of the local community); Fray Joseph Granada (Parish Priest), Fray Nelson Plohimon (Parochial Vicar), Fray Domingo Saladaga, Jr. (House Chronicler & Talavera Director), Fray Rouel Sia (Vice President for Administration, Outreach & CSEC-R Anchor), Fray Leo Alaras (Local Chapter Secretary & Vice President for Academics), Fray Roy Baluarte (Local Procurator & Vice President for Student Welfare), and Fray Arian Josef Ocheda (House Liturgist, Local Vocation Promoter, and Vice President for Religious Affairs, Property Administrator).
To them, Father General gave his fatherly pieces of advice: No matter how occupied a religious is in his office, he should not forget the importance of praying with the community. And: It is important that every community should recognize the role of the SARF (Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity) and RAY (Recollect Augustinian Youth) in our mission whether in schools, parishes, or others areas of apostolate. Thus, a plan of formation must be considered to nourish their being anchored in the OAR charism.
Although another topic had yet to be dealt with in a Cluster assembly, Father General already told them to give so much attention to the protection of the most vulnerable, particularly the minors or children, from abuses, not only by the clergy but even by our lay collaborators in schools and in parishes.
As an aside, he also threw this challenge to the brothers in a subjunctive form, according to Fray Alaras who took note of the meeting: “I hope that the Filipino Recollects engage in learning Spanish language because, who knows, time will come when a Prior General would come from the Philippines!”
Other Recoletos Family Members
The gathering of the members of the SARF, RAY, Christian Mothers of St. Monica, and CARAS (Confraternity of Augustinian Recollect Altar Servers) was actively participated in by around 165 people.
An invocation of the Holy Spirit was sung to signal the start of the get-together. Fray Estioko, the local prior, welcomed everyone and introduced the high profile guest to them. Fray René Paglinawan stood as the linguistic bridge between the visiting Spaniard and the Cebuano audience.
The question-and-answer type of conversation so inspired and entertained Father General that, according to the prior, the meeting was prolonged because of a relatively bigger attendance, which the Father General did not expect, and several questions raised. The answers of Father Miró served as his message to them.
Among the salient themes emphasized by Father General were: 1) to the SARF-Cebu Chapter and the Christian Mothers: “Holiness of life lies in the ordinariness of our lives”; 2) to the RAY and CARAS: “You are the present of the Church” which echoed the message of Pope Francis during his World Youth Day Message in Panama. Father General also added that they are to discover the love and presence of God in their lives and in their talents in order that they can become effective evangelizers to their fellow youth; 3) to everybody: “Live the Gospel joyfully” and “Influence your family, friends, co-workers, and community with the joy of the Gospel.”
Closing of the Visit
Towards midday of February 21, the brothers gathered at the convent chapel for the conclusion of the visita de renovación.
But with the upcoming Fourth Centenary of the Recoletos evangelization of Cebu in 2021 (aside from the celebration of the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines on that same year), another precious opportunity has opened the door to invite the Father General to come back and grace the celebration.
With reports from Fray Leopoldo Estioko, OAR, and Fray Leo Alaras, OAR