Fr. Edward Daleng, Assistant General for Africa, on behalf of Prior General Fr Alejandro Moral, made a canonical visitation of renewal to the Augustinian community of Hippo
The imposing Basilica of St Augustine stands astride the top of one of the hills that surround the city of Hippo (now Annaba), and whose magnificent illumination means that even at night it can be seen from different parts of the city. And it is precisely in this sacred place where the Augustinian community of Annaba, composed of three friars, carried out one of its primary apostolates: to receive pilgrims and visitors who come in search of spiritual consolation, peace, or the meaning of life - even those from other faiths.
As Fr Daleng relates, "in addition to welcoming, another mission of this community is the custody and continuous presence in the Basilica, where they accompany young university students who come from different countries of sub-Saharan Africa to study, attend to the needs of parishioners, or offer spiritual help to the Little Sisters of the Poor, or to prisoners and migrants who so often find themselves in need of comfort and shelter." There are certainly many who find in these friars a focal point to turn to in times of difficulty.
At the same time, the Assistant General for Africa highlights the cordial relationship between the local Ordinary and the friars, marked by a good spirit of work and mutual understanding with the other religious of the diocese, the local clergy, and the faithful flock of the Diocese of Constantin-Hippone. So it was that, on the occasion of the feast of St Augustine, 28 August, a solemn Mass was celebrated in the Basilica presided over by Bishop Nicolas Lhernould and attended by some religious men and women, students and local faithful.
In his homily, the Bishop expounded on the prayer of early Christian communities, inviting the faithful to be inspired by the Augustinian spirit of concern for others and the need to walk together as members of a single Christian family. Echoing the words of Fr Daleng, the Bishop also highlighted "the importance of drawing some lessons from Bishop Augustine, such as working for good order in society, for harmony, and for the unity of the faithful of Christ, the Church, and the salvation of souls."
In the words of the Assistant General, "it was a singular privilege visit and celebrate the feast of St Augustine in the land where he lived, where he exercised his ministry, and where his memory reminds us of his works, teachings and example, which still shine brightly today in the Church."