Echoes of the historic inaugural Intermediate Provincial Chapter of St. John of Sahagún
Over the early days of February, the first Intermediate Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. John of Sahagún since its new configuration took place at the Royal Seminary College of the Augustinian Fathers in Valladolid, Spain
The meeting was attended by 28 friars and the Assistant General for Southern Europe and President of the Chapter, Fr. Javier Pérez Barba, who in the opening Mass encouraged all the participants "to realise once again the primacy of faith" and to allow themselves "to be helped by the shoulders that carried the cross of humanity’s redemption", accepting that the hope that bursts forth from the wellspring of faith is an "expectation of what is not in our hands". "Resting in the Holy Spirit is the only possible way to face with serenity, peace and joy the challenges, the crosses, the obstacles, the demands that we will face on our journey of fidelity towards our consecration". In this way the General Councillor referred to St. Augustine during the homily to recall that in moments of weakness it is the spirituality of Grace which must be present in the life of the religious.
Vocations, presences and collaboration among the circumscriptions
On a day marked by chilly temperatures in the Castilian city, the Chapter began with the welcome address of the Chapter President. This was followed by the usual points of order, programming and administration, at the end of which Fr. Domingo Amigo, Prior Provincial, presented a detailed report on the state of the Province. Thus began these days of prayer, reflection and communal discernment, which were guided by three overriding concerns: the restructuring of presences and communities, the promotion of vocations, and collaboration between vicariates and delegations.
During the subsequent opening day sessions, the various councillors presented to the assembly the work carried out by the different commissions. Topics discussed included religious life and initial formation, pastoral ministry, missions, vocations and new evangelisation, education and studies, and the evangelisation of culture. There was also space to evaluate the economic state of the Province and to hear the first reports from the regional vicariates: Antilles, presented by Fr Quirilio; Argentina, prepared by Fr Angel; Iquitos, signed by Fr Antonio; and India, delivered by Fr Wilson.
A remembrance for the friars who have died since the creation of the Province
The second day of the Chapter coincided with the Day for Consecrated Life, which provided an opportunity to remember the friars who have died since the creation of the Province. A total of 48 friars offered Mass for their eternal rest in the joy of the Lord.
After the celebration of the Eucharist, the reports of the regional vicars continued, where more details about our realities in Panama, Tanzania and Venezuela were shared.
Then, sticking to the scheduled programme, a series of discussion topics proposed by the provincial council were considered: the restructuring of works and activities in Spain, the promotion of vocations and the challenges presented to the uptake of vocations in a secularised world where there is a lack of response to the call of Christ, and the collaboration between vicariates and delegations, a subject close to the Father General’s heart, and which included the participation of the Assistant General for Latin America, Fr. Alex Lam.
This Intermediate Provincial Chapter was also an opportunity to explore and promote the beauty of fraternal love within our communities, and advance the need to pray every day for the whole world - but especially the young - at this time of change for the Church.