From October 2 to 21, 2023, the Assistant General for Latin America, Fr. Alexander Lam, made the General Visitation of Renewal to the Province of Our Lady of Grace of Colombia
During the almost twenty days of the visit, Fr. Lam was able to meet with the local communities, sharing moments with the confreres of the Province and getting to know first hand the various pastoral, educational, formative and missionary works being carried out in the territory.
In the words of the Assistant General, they were days in which to see first-hand the fruits of a Province "already consolidated and in full process of expansion". In this sense, Father Lam highlighted what in his opinion were the two main manifestations of the growth of the Province: the University and the mission in Mocoa.
Unicervantes and the mission in Mocoa, two faces of a Province in full growth
As far as the University is concerned, after several years of hard work and effort on the part of the confreres and lay people, academic and economic stability has been achieved and real growth is evident in the incorporation, each year, of new courses of study. It is no longer, therefore, in the words of the Assistant General, "a concern in the Province, but a joy" fruit of the good work of all those involved, together with the support of the Order and the General Curia.
Currently, Unicervantes has two branches: Bogota and Mocoa. Due to the volume of requests and the success of the university center, the opening of a third center to accommodate a greater number of students is being considered.
The mission in Mocoa is another of the notable works of the Province of Our Lady of Grace. Founded six years ago in the southern region of Putumayo, in the Amazon jungle, it is a large parish that has a part in the city of Mocoa and also in the indigenous reservations of the Inga ethnic group, more than two hours away by car. Lam commented, it is a "fragile mission, due to the number of clergy and the extension of the diocese", but at the same time it is "the answer to the call of the Province to attend to the Amazonian areas".
New challenges that require new efforts
Since it is a well-consolidated Province, on a practical and logistical level, the efforts are centered mainly on an economic centralization that is being perfected for the management of the various works that the friars attend to in the field. It is, as the Assistant General told us, a "new expectation to initiate a different dynamic, in which everyone is giving their best to move this project forward". To this end, they are working on a formation plan, reflecting on how best to implement this great formative mission, both for vocations and for the young people they serve at the academic level. In this sense, Father Alex Lam emphasizes the importance of creating institutional criteria that will give stability to this mission of moving the Province forward in a "new stage that requires new efforts on the part of all". It is a task," the Assistant General points out, "that the Augustinian friars are supporting with enthusiasm.