Fray Tol Almayo, OAR

Fray Tol Almayo, OAR

TAYTAY, PALAWAN--Four days of buoying up in the sea, with three stop-overs, and equipped only with some provisions, the needed technology to guide the voyage (CPs, GPS, map, compass), and prayers, Fray Joel “Notnot” Naranja OAR, together with 8 lay companions, aboard the boat named after St. Ezekiel Moreno, dared to cross the sea waters from the southeastern part of Negros to Casian island in Taytay, Palawan.

It was May 10, 2016 when Fray Naranja brought St. Ezekiel from his former chaplaincy (under the patronage of San Vicente Ferrer) in Apo Island, Dauin, Negros Oriental to his new assignment in San Isidro Labrador Parish in Casian.

The said chaplaincy was an apostolate area under the Recollect community in Valencia, Negros Oriental where Fray Naranja was a member, and now the appointed prior of Recoletos de Casian community.

The crew were composed of three (3) other men: Tocles as the captain, Melecio as boat carpenter, and a certain Boboy as boat helper. Five (5) women saw to the needs of the entire odyssey. Two of them were from Apo Island’s Chapel Pastoral Council (CPC) officers and three were members of the Mother Butler’s Guild from the Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned in Valencia, Negros Oriental.

The beginning of the journey at 10AM from Malatapay in Dauin was smooth and uneventful when suddenly, a technical problem occurred. The group cast anchor at Tambobo Bay in Siaton, still in Negros Oriental, for an emergency repair. Sailing resumed after, and they arrived in Bayawan City in late afternoon, where they spent the night.

 Early the following day, May 11, at around 5 o’clock, the “little church” proceeded towards Maricalum Bay of Sipalay, Negros Occidental, crossed Panay Gulf that is shared by the islands of Negros, Guimaras, and Panay, until, at 1PM, they reached the silent town of Anini-y at the southern tip of Antique province. They rested here, replenished their provisions, and strategized their plans for the next challenging leg of their voyage.

 Again, they woke up very early of May 12 and left at 5AM en route to Cuyo. Father Notnot recalled how they were blest with good weather and a serene cellophane-like cobalt waters that carpeted the open sea to Cuyo archipelago. They landed in the población of Cuyo at 12 noon of that day. They underwent the usual inspection and interrogation as part of the standard operating procedures. They passed the grilling, thank God.

They stayed there, enjoyed the sightseeing of the similar sceneries they had back in Negros, and waited for the break of dawn to start afresh the last and the most exciting chapter of their travel.

On May 13, feast of Our Lady of Fatima, at 5AM, they bid goodbye to Cuyo and sailed towards their destination.

At long last, with grateful relief, they docked at 1:30 PM in front of the convent, after around 8 hours of navigation. St. Ezekiel would become a big help for local missionaries assigned in Casian especially during seasons of big waves and strong winds. Boasting of a passenger capacity of 50 persons, St. Ezekiel became the biggest of the four seacrafts for interisland mission works of the Recollects who came “again” here in 2009. (The other boats in this Recollect waterworld are the St. Nicholas which is medium-sized and can accommodate around 20 passengers, a two- to three-seater outrigger named Our Lady of Consolation, and a “dyonkong” which is the smallest and the fastest and used especially for emergency cases.

Three days after, on May 16, the parish in Casian celebrated its 7th patronal fiesta and the Recoletos community (composed of Fray Naranja, Fray Charlie Orobia as parish priest, and Fray Ken Oliver Lao as procurator), its 7th founding anniversary.

MANILA—Being connected with San Miguel Corporation spawned a perception that Recoletos is one of the richest, if not the richest, among religious institutes in the Philippines. True or False?

PROVINCIAL CURIA—In the spirit of collective spiritual preparation for the opening of the Augustinian Recollect “Year of Holiness” on March 5, first Sunday of Lent, the community of Recoletos de Provincialate modified the liturgical guide sent by the General Secretariat of Spirituality and Formation.

At 8AM in the morning of March 4 (today), the friars of the central house convent, together with the members of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity-Provincialate Chapter, gathered at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish church for a holy hour. Some of the prayers and reading materials were adapted to the anticipated celebration which, according to the instruction, should have been done in the evening.

Fray Amado Emmanuel Bolilia, President of the Provincial Secretariat of Spirituality and Liturgy, clarified that this recourse to the modified schedule was a compromise since a much earlier commitment regarding the evening celebration of Fray Buñao’s birthday bash in San Sebastian Manila was already made prior to the arrival of this protocol from the General Curia.

The Provincialate community members have decided to attend the birthday tribute to the so-called “The Last of the Mohicans” referring to Fray Buñao as the last Recollect Director of the San Miguel Corporation.

As of this writing, Fray Bolilia is trying to negotiate with San Sebastian community the possibility of integrating in the long program the “opening vigil guide” which includes a lucernarium, vespers, etc.

In reference this vigil rite, Fray Miguel Miró, prior general, in his letter addressed to the brothers, urged everyone “to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of being Augustinian Recollects and for the mission entrusted to us daily in the service of the Church.”

The OAR Year of Holiness will run from March 5 to November 13, 2017 (Feast of all Saints of the Order).

PROVINCIALATE—Fray Dionisio Selma OAR, prior provincial, has just completed his “visita de renovación” to the newly-created community of Saipan last February 23 to 26, 2017. He was accompanied by Fray Jose Ernil Almayo OAR, provincial secretary, who assisted him in the checking of the official books of the community.

 

ROME – The last session of the 55th General Chapter on October 26, 2016 moved forward with the election of the General Councilors in accordance with the OAR Constitutions 345: “…the members of the general council are to be elected by absolute majority of votes.”

The provision continues: “Six councilors are to be elected, the first of these being the Vicar General. For the elections of each of them, having listened to the priors provincial, the Prior General may put forward three names, respecting always the freedom of the members of the chapter to elect the particular religious of the Order whom they believe most suitable.”

Here are the elected religious who comprise the new members of the General Council:

 

Fr. José Ramón Pérez Sáenz, OAR

First General Councilor and Vicar General

Birthday/year: 1960

Birthplace: Manjarrés (La Rioja, España)

Solemn Profession: 1979

Presbyteral Ordination: 1983

Assignments: Venezuela (16 years); Monasterio de San Millán de la Cogolla; Prior Provincial of the Province of San José (for 2 triennia); Vicar General of the Order (2010-2016)

Studies: Licentiate in Theology (University of Salamanca, Spain); Licentiate in Theology and Patristic Sciences (Instituto Patrístico Augustinianum, Rome)

 

Fr. Raúl Buhay Murillo, OAR

Second General Councilor

Birthday/year: June 1, 1962

Birthplace: San Miguel (Surigao del Sur, Philippines)

Solemn Profession: 1987

Presbyteral Ordination: 1988

Assignments: Master of the Professed at Recoletos Formation Center in Quezon City; Councilor of then Vicariate of the Philippines and China; a missionary to Sierra Leone (3 years); VP for Administration at USJ-R, Cebu; VP for Academics at UNO-R Bacolod; Third Provincial Councilor of the Province of St. Ezekiel (2009-2012); Prior of the community of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Inagawan, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan (2012-15); Parish Priest of OLMC Parish, Inagawan (since 2012 to date).

Studies: Licentiate in Biblical Theology (Gregorian Pontifical University, Rome); MA in Educational Management and PhD in Educational Management (USJ-R, Cebu)

 

Fr. Juan Pablo Martínez Peláez, OAR

Third General Councilor

Birthday/year: 1983

Birthplace: Medellín (Antioquia, Colombia)

Solemn Profession: 2004

Presbyteral Ordination: 2008

Assignments: Santuario de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Manare (Casanare) as Parochial vicar, then as Prior and Parish Priest until July 2013; Master of the Professed (Colombia)

Studies: Licentiate in Theology (Universidad San Buenaventura, Bogotá); Licentiate in Sacred Liturgy (St. Anselm Pontifical Institute, Rome)

 

Fr. Francisco Javier Monroy Rodríguez, OAR

Fourth General Councilor

Birthday/year: 1970

Birthplace: Valladolid (España)

Solemn Profession: 1994

Presbyteral Ordination: 1995

Assignments: Councilor of the Vicariate (2012-16); Parochial Vicar in Lodosa, Zaragoza and Madrid; Formator since 1998 in Zaragoza, Madrid, and from 2009 at the St. Augustine Postulancy.

Studies: Licentiate in Biblical Theology (Gregorian Pontifical University, Rome); Máster de acompañamiento espiritual y discernimiento vocacional. Máster Terapueta Councellor.

 

Fr. Gabriel Antonio Robles Alonso, OAR

Fifth General Councilor

Birthday/year: 1962

Birthplace: Panama

Solemn Profession: 1985

Presbyteral Ordination: 1989

Assignments: General Councilor (1992-2004); General Procurator before the Holy See (1998-2004): Vicar of Panama of the Consolation Province (2010-2013); Vicar of the Province (since 2013)

Studies: Licentiate in Theology (Gregorian Pontifical University, Rome)

 

Fr. Antonio Carrón de la Torre, OAR

Sixth General Councilor

Birthday/year: 1980

Birthplace: Madrid (España)

Solemn Profession: 2004

Presbyteral Ordination: 2005

Assignments: Professor, Tutor and Coordinator of Pastoral Ministry at Colegio Santo Tomás de Villanueva in Granada, Spain; Director of the Colegio Santo Tomás de Villanueva (Granada, since 2010 to date); Provincial Councilor of the Province of Sto. Tomas and in-charge of the Secretariat of Educational Apostolate; Haren Alde Delegate in Andalucia

Studies: Licentiate in Pastoral Theology (Universidad de Granada); MA in Contemporary Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy (Universidad de Granada)

 

At the very first meeting of the newly-constituted General Council, the election of the office of the General Secretary was made. It resulted to the re-election of Fray Tello.

Fr. Francisco Javier Tello Vegas, OAR

General Secretary

Birthday/year: 1972

Birthplace: Cáceres (España)

Solemn Profession: 1996

Presbyteral Ordination: 1999

Assignments: Formator at Seminario Menor de Santo Tomás de Villanueva; School administrator in Cristo Rey (Caracas, Venezuela); Councilor of the Vicariate of Venezuela (2003-2006); Formator of Postulants (Seminario Nuestra Señora del Buen Consejo in Palmira, Táchira); Vicar Provincial (from 2011-1013); General Secretary of the Order (2013-2016)

Studies: Catechetics (Instituto San Pío X of the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, Madrid)

 

 

 

 

ROME—Fray Miguel Miró Miró OAR was elected for the second term as Prior General of the Order of Augustinian Recollects on October 25, 2016 by the 55th General Chapter in Rome.

Garnering an absolute majority of the 40 Capitulars, Fray Miró received the vote of confidence to serve the 428-year old Recoletos and to be at the forefront of the Order for the next sexennium (2016-2022).

Father Miguel was born in Vinebre (Tarragona, Spain). He entered the Order at age 23, in 1972, after having obtained a degree in architecture from the University of Barcelona. Having finished his philosophical studies and completed his novitiate in Monteagudo (Navarra), he proceeded to study theology in the Augustinian Recollect Theological Seminary in Marcilla (Navarra).

Bishop José María Cirarda, archbishop of Pamplona, ordained him a priest on August 28, 1978 in Lodosa (Navarra) where he began to serve in the formation apostolate and where he would remain for seventeen years while working in different formation houses: Lodosa, Fuenterrabía (Guipúzcoa) and Valladolid, as in-charge of the postulants; Monteagudo, as Novice Master for three years; and Marcilla where he worked as Master of the Professed for four years.

In 1995, he was sent to Rome where he obtained his Licentiate in Spiritual Theology from the Gregorian Pontifical University.

In the Provincial Chapter of 1997 convoked in Marcilla, he was elected Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentino. (NOTE: At this time, he was among those who prepared for the birth in 1998 of the youngest province of the Order—the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno.) He dispensed his office for six years, upon his reelection in the Provincial Chapter of 2000.

As his mandate as Prior Provincial, two goals prompted his action: the promotion-formation of vocations and the intensification of spiritual life.

Among the appointments made by the newly-elected Provincial Council in 2003 was that of Father Miguel who was assigned as the local prior of the theology house in Marcilla. But he carried this out for only a year since in the General Chapter of 2004 in which he was a delegate, he was elected Vicar General and First General Councilor.

During the distribution of responsibilities within the Order’s team of governance, he was assigned to take charge of the General Secretariat of Spirituality and Prior of the Generalate House in Rome, aside from other tasks. As President of the said general secretariat, he was able to expand his knowledge of the Order and establish fraternal rapport with a lot of religious in the entire geography in which the Augustinian Recollects are present.

Furthermore, he was also given the task by the previous General Council to take charge of the publications such as the publication of the newsletter Notitiae OAR. He was also responsible for making the Order present through social media communications. Through his initiative, an institutional website was created for the whole Order which, aside from offering relevant news items, it also serves the religious and the lay people with documents, exchange of ideas, responses to questions, etc.

The 54th General Chapter elected him Chapter President, an index of trust which the former Vicar General had inspired the Capitulars. The same Chapter elected him Prior General. During this six-year term, Fray Miguel was among the great proponents of the process of revitalization and restructuring of the Order. His reelection for this function in the general government is a sign of confidence that the religious have in him.

 

 

 

October 21 – Profiling of proposals prior to their approval

As has been customary, the day commenced with the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharistic celebration. Fray José David Niño Gómez presided the mass which was offered for the special intention of the Recollect Augustinian Youth and in grateful memory of St. Laura Montoya, a Colombian Catholic educator and missionary and foundress of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and St. Catherine of Siena.

 The first session in the morning included the approval of the Actas (Minutes) of the previous days, revision of some provisions of the Ordo Capituli particulary on the manner of presenting and voting for the proposals of restructuring, thus, giving way to more opportunity for dialogue and improvements.

 The rest of the morning was spent to group work by commission, focusing this time on the revision of its own proposals as well as those forwarded to it from other groups.

In the afternoon, the presentation of proposals by the Commission of Charismatic Identity and Governance, still in its first redaction.

Fray Pablo Panedas introduced to the Capitulars the DOCUMENTARY, “Augustinian Recollects in the Global World”, which makes a review on those very prominent places where the Recollects exercise their evangelizing ministry.

Finally, written modifications to the proposals of the commissions were distributed in the Chapter Hall. After receiving the papers, the commissions proceeded to their assigned places to continue their work.

 

October 22 – All prepared for the Monday’s voting sessions

A Saturday, this day was tagged as one of the most intense days of the 55th General Chapter with the meetings of the commissions, plenary sessions both in the morning and in the afternoon, and last meeting in the evening in order to finalize the details before voting starts on Monday.

The day opened with the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours and the celebration of the holy mass presided by Fray Lauro Larlar, and for the special intention of all the “Mother Monicas”.

The commission meetings dwelt on making the finishing touches on the groups’ respective proposals as well as revising those from other commissions. Later in the Chapter hall, the discussion on the first redaction of proposals to be presented by the Commission on Restructuring would take place, addressing, among others, the issues on the reconfiguration of secretariats and other organs of governance and administration of the Order.

In another plenary assembly, the Final Message and the motto of the Chapter were analyzed as these will serve as reference point for the Life and Mission Project of the Order.

Having closed the third week of the ongoing General Chapter, it is augured that the coming week will see everything put in place. It will be a moment that will signal the start of the voting phase in order to approve the proposals of every commission. Another important moment will be the election of those holding the positions in the General Government, with the Prior General as head for the next six years.

 

October 23  Relaxing on a Sunday

Note: Our parallel sources informed us that the Capitulars went to Ostia Antica and marveled at the remnants of ancient Ostia as a city during the 6th cent BC. They recalled that it was here where St. Monica died in the 4th century A.D.

 

October 24  Decisive moments unfold

In the morning of the first day of the last week of the Chapter, voting started for the various proposals formulated by the commissions. The first set of proposals presented and subjected for voting were those of restructuring, which includes the configuration of the provinces of the Order and the organs of the General government and administration.

In accordance with the Ordo Capituli, there are two types of votes: 1-when it deals with election; 2-when it deals with the approval of a theme.

If it deals with election of any religious to occupy a position, in or outside the Chapter, the voting is made through a piece of paper in which the name of the nominee is written.

  1. If it deals with the approval of any issue proposed to the assembly, voting could be made through a piece of paper, electronic system, ballots, or any equivalent means.
  2. The themes proposed for the consideration of the assembly are voted on using the words: YES / NO / IM (IUXTA MODUM, or YES with modification).
  3. The themes proposed for the consideration of the assembly will be approved only when the absolute majority is reached.
  4. IM (IUXTA MODUM, or YES with modification) votes are counted as positive; but when a proposal has reached the absolute majority required with such votes, this proposal will be returned to the respective commission or to whoever proposed it for revision.
  5. Those who give “YES with modification” votes should present in writing their proposed changes to facilitate the revision.
  6. The revised proposal will be presented again in the Capitular assembly. In this case, the capitulars will only vote on either YES or NO. The proposal will be accepted if the absolute majority is reached; otherwise it will be discarded.

THE GENERAL CHAPTER APPROVESTHE INTERNAL RESTRUCTURING OF THE ORDER

In the afternoon, the Chapter, guided by a sense of Order, has approved the internal restructuring of the OAR. In order to achieve an authentic Augustinian Recollect experience, boost the fraternal life in common, undertake the mission entrusted to us by the Church, and be where we are most needed, the 55th General Chapter has decided to organize the Order into four (4) provinces:

PROVINCE 1: the merging of the Provinces of St. Augustine and St. Nicholas of Tolentine

PROVINCE 2: the merging of the Provinces of Consolation and Candelaria

PROVINCE  3: the merging of the Provinces of St. Joseph, St. Rita of Cascia, and St. Thomas of Villanueva

PROVINCE  4: Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno whose presence will be extended in a new country in Asia

October 16

The Capitulars took a refreshing trip to Gennazzano, a town in the Province of Rome that lies at 1,230 feet above sea level. They visited a famous church and entrusted the 55th General Chapter to the loving care of the Madonna del Buon Consiglio (Our Lady of Good Counsel).

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They also had the opportunity to visit the chapel where the remains of Blessed Stephen Bellesini, a friar of the Order of the Hermits of St. Augustine, lies. An apostle of the youth and education, he was for a time a Novice Master, and later was transferred to Gennazzano, home to the miraculous fresco of Our Lady of Good Counsel, for whom he had a great devotion.

The Capitulars entered the sanctuary through the Holy Door, celebrated the holy mass, and closed the visit by praying at the image of the said miraculous Lady.

October 17

Towards the end of the previous week, the different commissions guided by the light of revitalization labored to expound the proposals that shall guide the future of the Order in the forthcoming years.

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Implied in these were the renewed lines of actions and structural changes that require strong basis in our proper and universal norms i.e., those of the Order and of the Church. Consequently, there was a need for an expert in Canon Law who will help shed light on various possibilities. This task was especially entrusted to a commission that made a report during the morning session. Fray Ricardo Daniel Medina OAR, a canon lawyer and one of the advisers of this General Chapter, replied to the questions that the Capitulars raised concerning the different possibilities in the configuration/restructuring of the Order.

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The afternoon session was dedicated to the works of the commission. The members continued to focus on defining their respective proposals, commenting and assessing those of the other commissions. It was a matter of methodology that enriches and concurs the decision taken by the Chapter. Observably, the day’s schedules were enthused by the inspiring words of Cardinal Braz de Aviz who presided the holy mass.

October 18

In the morning, the DECISION PHASE began. In accord with the Ordo Capituli, the commission secretary will report to the plenum the proposals approved by the commission.

During the presentation of each proposal, the other commission secretaries as well as the vocals (i.e., the Capitulars) will have the opportunity of making their observations, of opposing, or of completing it. After a proposal has been thoroughly discussed, the commission is given ample time to weigh the opinions heard and to take those that create positive impact.

Afterwards, the commission will present again in the session hall those proposals that have been discussed and revised. The commission secretaries and electors can now air briefly their opinions regarding the proposed ordinances. During the discussion, each proposal is subjected to voting. If there is another alternative text proposed by another commission or by any of the electors, the text of the presenting commission is given preference and must be voted on first.

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If an ordinance is approved by absolute majority of affirmative votes, the said proposal will form part of the Life and Mission Project of the Order. If a proposal attains the absolute majority of votes, thanks to IM (Iuxta Modum or Yes with modification) vote, the said proposal will be returned to the commission. This commission will study the suggestions and approaches received in the hall, but it has the faculty to accept them or not, according to its view.

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Whatever may be the choice, the said proposal will have to be presented again to the session hall and to be subjected again to a vote. This time, the vote will only be either Yes or No. If in the new voting the proposal receives an absolute majority, it will be among the ordinances; if not, it will be discarded.

A discarded proposal, however, could still be reconsidered in the Chapter hall if a third of the Capitulars will ask for its reconsideration, and such reconsideration is accepted by absolute majority of the Capitulars. In this case, the commission will again present the proposal in the plenary assembly, following the same mechanics in other proposals.

October 19

Note: There was no specific publication of any particular event for this day. We just surmised that, from experience, the “very engaging” DECISION PHASE continues to sizzle… that is to say, the per-commission presentation of proposals and the ensuing debate and voting characterized the sessions of the day.

October 20

Today marked the celebration of the feast of St. Magdalene of Nagasaki, a Japanese martyr and patroness of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity. On this occasion, the Prior General, Fray Miguel Miró, sent his greetings to the SARF all over the world.

In a special way, the day saw the encounter of 60 Recollects (the Capitulars and the student-priests at Via Sistina) with Pope Francis. The excited visitors were received at the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Palace. Fray Miguel Miró, Chapter President, delivered his greetings to the Holy Father, expressing the renewal of the Order’s vocation in the service of the Church. In the words of the Pope, on this encounter “they have wanted to change and offer to God the life of the Order, with its hopes and challenges, in order that He be the One to give them light and hope.”

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With his warm welcome and gratitude to the Prior General, for the kind words addressed to him, and in the name of the entire Augustinian Recollect Family, the Bishop of Rome stressed that “to seek for renewal and motivation, it is necessary to return to God.” And, transfixed by his love to be able to love and to confront the current challenges, walk with Jesus, in prayer of thanksgiving and interior purification.

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Pope Francis invited the Augustinian Recollect Family “to maintain with renewed spirit the dream of St. Augustine to live as brothers ‘with one mind and one heart’ (Rule 1,2), which reflects the ideal of the first Christians and to be a living prophecy of communion in our world, that there may be no division, nor conflicts, nor exclusion; instead concord reigns and dialogue is promoted.”

The visit included the giving of a souvenir to the Pope: a painting by Fray Jaazeal Estelou Jakosalem OAR, entitled “Embrace of Mercy”, and a special edition of the two volumes of History of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, authored by Fray Angel Martínez Cuesta OAR.

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Fray Jakosalem’s oil-on-canvass painting shows the image of Pope Francis embracing the Christ-child (after the image of Alan Kurdi, a three-year old Syrian refugee who died by drowning along with his mother and brother in the Mediterranean Sea, his iconic image brought increased attention and concern about the European refugee crisis).

“Embracing Mercy” symbolizes the Church's “motherly” attitude on the plight of the refugees; and Pope Francis personally lived it as his own advocacy. In the face of this global crisis, the Church embraces the many faces of injustice brought about by poverty, neglect and indifference of rich nations.

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The two tomes written in Spanish of the History of the Augustinian Recollects are the summit of the project started years before and entrusted to Fray Ángel Martínez Cuesta. In the prologue of the Volume 2, the Prior General says that “from now on, the two volumes of this History of the Augustinian Recollects are not only books of the library. In them our history is narrated and they are references for all who like to know our roots and our mission in the Church.”

The gesture of giving our History to the Pope intends to be a renewal of our Order’s commitment to the mission of the Church entrusted to the Augustinian Recollects, and a manifestation of our availability to go where the Church needs us.

October 13

Day 11 of the Chapter. The Capitulars prayed the Liturgy of the Hours. The holy mass, presided by Fray José Mª Aguerri, the Prior Provincial of the Province of the Our Lady of Consolation, was offered for the deceased benefactors of the Order.

As the information phase of the Chapter concluded, COMMISSION PHASE ensued. The different commissions were tasked to study in detail the following areas: charismatic identity and government; mission, ministerial, and educational apostolate; the youth and vocations; formation; and the restructuring of the Order. The Life and Mission Project was reviewed. The capitulares had to dig up anew the results of consultations, the opinions heard in the Chapter hall as well as the reflections of the commissions themselves. They were recapitulated to facilitate the formulation of concrete proposals to be presented in the hall and to be subjected to vote.

Before the groups went to work, some pending issues relative to restructuring had first to be addressed: secretariats, commissions, institutes, and the possibility of creating new forms of organization, etc.

At the start of the afternoon session, the capitulares voted on the final draft of the mission of the Order. This will be integrated in the Life and Mission Project.

As the Vespers hymn goes: “Night will not break your relationship with mankind; night is the time of salvation”, and after supper, the Chapter delegates gathered in the chapel for a lectio divina wherein they put all lights and shadows experienced during these days of the Chapter, all illusions, fears, hopes and insecurities in the hands of Jesus in dialogue with Nicodemus. It was time to pray the Word in John 3, 1-3. It was an invitation to identify with Nicodemus, the perfect teacher of the law, man of the temple, of age and with much experience… But Nicodemus lacks something, he misses something much greater. He needed to be born again… to submit self to the Lord, his only love. “Do not be afraid”; “Peace be with you”; “Do you love me more than these?”; “Your faith has saved you, go in peace”; “I am with you”; “My grace is enough”. The LV General Chapter was, indeed, witness to the “night that is time of salvation”!

October 14

The Holy Eucharist was celebrated with vocations to the Augustinian Recollect life as the main intention. Fray Dionisio Q. Selma, Prior Provincial of the St. Ezekiel Moreno Province. Fray Lauro Larlar gave an exhortation during the homily, calling to mind the importance of religious life as the reflection of the appeal of Jesus. Only from the Lord, with all our hope in his great mercy, welcoming His will, can religious life illuminate lives and awaken the vocation. That is the challenge.

From the start of the morning session, the whole day was dedicated to the work of the commissions, some of which have already profiled their first proposals that will be appearing soon in the Chapter hall.

Each commission is led by a President who moderates the reflection and the interventions, and a Secretary who takes charge of collecting all ideas that emerged and presents them in the session hall.

Although the commissions have a specific objective to deal with, they can also make proposals on any other issue tackled by the others. In this way, the dialogue in the plenary sessions is enriched even more.

The starting point of each commissions is the Life and Mission Project of the Order, the consultations made with the religious, the technical studies carried out during the sexennium, the contributions of the Capitulars in the plenary sessions, and the ideas that emerged during the meetings of the commission.

October 15

At the Roman basilica of St. Augustine, where the tomb of St. Monica lies, the Capitulars gathered to celebrate the Eucharist. Fray José Ramón Pérez, Vicar General and First General Councilor, presided the mass and gave the homily.

As calendared for their Saturday schedule, the General Chapter members also went on a pilgrimage to the St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican) covering the five stations of the Via Crucis which they had prepared for their entry through the Holy Door.

The brief yet intense procession started at the Castel Sant’Angelo. The first station was an invitation to meditate on Psalm 122. At the second stop, in front of the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, was the central figure of the reflection.

The third station was at the threshold of the St. Peter’s Square. It was a moment of praying together the Prayer for the Jubilee of Mercy. At the fourth stop, facing the Holy Door, everyone was invited to embrace God’s mercy with Psalms 103 and 24. 

The last of the stations, already inside the basilica, was near the tomb of St. Peter, which in that afternoon, was jam-packed with people. There the Chapter President, Fray Miguel Miró invited those present to renew their faith by reciting the Creed.

The final invitation was something inspiring for everyone: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk. 6:36).

October 10

His Eminence José Luis Lacunza, an Augustinian Recollect cardinal, presided the Holy Eucharist of the 55th General Chapter on the feast day of St. Thomas of Villanova. In his homily he made mention of this archbishop of Valencia (Spain), the great reformer of his epoch, as a model of following Christ, always dynamic and seeker of unity. At this decisive moment in the life of the Order, this holy saint assumes a good reference point to pay attention to. The cardinal livened up the Order to continue being faithful to the foundational charism without losing the energy and the courage to go to the peripheries.

During the day, the cardinal also shared to the religious in Rome about the challenges that the ongoing General Chapter must confront as well as his vision about the Church of the 21st century. The Capitulars took advantage of asking him about the next World Youth Day, in 2019, which will take place in Panama. Finally, he sent greetings to all the Augustinian Recollect Family all over the world.

At the Chapter hall, it was the turn of Fray Manuel Fernandez, President of Haren-Alde and Mr. Javier Ojeda, Technical Director of Haren-Alde, to present one of the key points in the life of the Order. Their proposal was directed towards the mode of revitalizing the Order’s sensitivity for solidarity and the way by which this sensitivity can revitalize the Order. It was also a moment to be grateful for the job well done by so many people in the Order, in different places, with this solidarity-oriented cause.

What followed was a report on economy by Fray Santiago Martín Lázaro, General Econome. He made an anlysis on the sexennial performance of the Order in general, and those of the provinces in particular.

The rest of the sessions were spent to discuss issues related to the service of governance, the institutes of the Order, the publications of the Order, the importance of translations and of giving weight to the three official languages of the Order (Spanish, English, Portuguese). Also the ever-constant challenge of communications within and outside the Order came out.

October 11

After the Liturgy of the Hours in memory of Blessed Elias del Socorro Nieves, the bilingual (in Spanish and Portuguese) celebration of the holy mass followed. It was presided by Fray Carlos Ma. Dominguez, Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova.

The day’s work at the session hall began with the usual reading of the messages. Especially significant was the cordial message from His Excellency Carlos Osoro, archbishop of Madrid who has just been named cardinal.

The central theme of the day was apostolate in its very wide dimensions: missionary, ministerial, educational, etc. In the first place, there was insistence on the import of the social sensitivity of the religious and the necessity of being present among the poor and the needy, not only in a personal but also in a structural way. There was also orientation towards reinforcement on the formation of religious in the missionary spirit. “Being missionaries” is not an appendix fo the Augustinian Recollect vocation, rather it is that which gives us the true meaning of life of the religious.

Another discussion was on the management of parishes, the juridical formula of parish priest “in solidum”, giving warning on the urgency of a shared mission for which the religious are not sufficiently prepared. On the contrary, a very promising horizon opens up, because there is so much that the Augustinian Recollect spirituality can contribute to the ecclesial communion from its own charismatic experience.

In subsequent sessions, after correcting and approving the minutes, another great chapter in the list of themes on restructuring was opened, referring to ordinance 19 of the previous General Chapter. Firstly, the Prior General made a presentation of the process followed so far, what the provincial priors added to what has been realized: achievements, difficulties, etc.

October 12

The celebration of the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar and of Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida (Our Lady of Aparecida, Patroness of Brazil) illumined this day from the very first hour of the morning. The holy mass was presided by Fray Fr. Jesús Nicolás Pérez-Aradros, Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Rita of Cascia.

The session hall continued to receive quite a number of messages pouring in from different communities, parishes, educational centers, cloistered communities, communities of the youth, etc. 

The morning session focused on information and discussion on the restructuring of the Order. The Chapter President, Fray Miguel Miró, jump-started by making an exhortation to be docile to the action of the Spirit, manifesting availability and courage. It is the moment of taking decisions, and it requires responsible discernment starting from what has been treated so far. He also pointed out that restructuring has to be considered as means, not as end. The question that has to be made is what Order do we want and how do we want to achieve our dream. It is from here, Fray Miró concluded, from where there will arise how one should be a province of that Order being dreamed of.

The afternoon sessions saw the different groups presenting their visions of the Order which they developed and the keys of restructuring. These would be forwarded to a respective commission that, based on these, will formulate concrete proposals. Different articulations of the vision were presented and, afterwards, the different texts were subjected to a vote in order to be included in the Life and Mission Project of the Order.

The second session tackled the issue on restructuring about which discussions involved presentation of a constellation of ideas, criteria and sentiments. Without doubt, they helped enlighten the decision-making that will transpire in the following days.

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