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Fr Alejandro to the chapter brothers in Cebu: "Apostolate and mission are born of a strong community and spiritual life"

Cebu celebrates its eleventh Ordinary Provincial Chapter (OPC) in the presence of the Prior General and the Assistant General for Asia-Pacific, marking the start of Fr Andrew Batayola's term in charge of the Province of the Santo Niño

"We want to thank you for your service to the Church and to the Order." This is how Fr Alejandro addressed the Augustinian friars at the end of the Chapter which took place in Cebu from the 11th-19th February. 

Over these days of "listening, prayer and fraternity", just after the celebrations of the Sinulog and the Feast of the 40th anniversary of the provincial foundation, the Augustinians were able to confirm the new government for the next four years.

"We need to be creative in the management of our worldly goods in order to be able to provide for and sustain our other, different needs".

Fr Andrew Batayola, originally from the island of Bantayan, Cebu is the 11th Prior Provincial. His election was announced and confirmed on 11th July 2023, and he took up his new position in the service of the Order at the opening of this 11th Ordinary Provincial Chapter.

"We have clearly set out our vision and mission", Fr Andrew told the chapter brothers in his opening remarks. "We understand our role in the Church. We are ready to enter another stage of our journey and face new challenges. We know that, in all our efforts and plans, it is paramount that we also consider the care of our worldly goods.  A large part of how we perform our activities depends on them. We need to be creative in the management of goods to provide for and sustain our various needs. As I receive the commission of the Province today, I ask myself: 'How much spiritual capital do I have in my pocket? I invite you to ask yourselves: 'How much spiritual capital do I have right now?’ We will pool what we are, what we possess, what we have in order to be sustainable." 

"The Province has grown a lot in every way: we thank God for that”

In addition to the ordinary working sessions, the Chapter schedule included daily liturgical celebration and time for socialising for the Filipino friars. Fr Alejandro, in his letter to our brothers and sisters in Cebu, praised the great work that has been carried out for "the fulfilment of the mission and the proclamation of the Gospel… This is why Fr Tony Banks, General Councillor, and I would like to personally thank each of you for your participation, your listening, your prayers and your fraternity.”

Fr Alejandro then acknowledged the growth "that the Province has experienced in every way these past 40 years … We congratulate you and thank God for everything." The Prior General continued, “However, we must never forget that the apostolate and the mission can only be born out of strong community and spiritual life.”

"We have to take great care of vocations”

Fr Alejandro, at this point, stressed the importance of "mutual decisions, local chapters and shared discernment" as opposed to "too many individual apostolates". "We must avoid negative solitude, and personal and individual decisions that go against the model of our life. We could also talk about the force of today's culture in our world and how it has invaded our communities, leading to an individualism that can be an evil if we don't know how to control it".  

"The experience of others - of their life; to be able to know them, to love them, to support them and to listen to them - should be our daily bread. Because we call ourselves experts in community and we want to teach in today's world how to be people of community, to create fraternity. This aspect of community life will help a lot today to create a more fraternal and peaceful world.

During the homily, Fr Alejandro recalled the service of Fr Eusebio and Fr Rommel, with whom he was General Councillor during the Generalate of Fr (now Cardinal) Robert Prevost. The Prior General also thanked all the Filipino confreres of the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu, including the students, who are currently in Rome. "Fr Efren in the Curia, Fr Giovanni in the Pontifical Sacristy, Fr Michael in Santa Monica, and many other confreres collaborating with other circumscriptions... Each circumscription needs to generate vocations and to nurture them. The original pastoral care is found in each community. Thank God you have vocations. We have to take good care of them". 

Find all the information on the new government of the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu here.



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