In March, the Assistant General for Latin America, Fr Alex Lam, carried out a canonical visit to the Province of Michoacán, Mexico, travelling with - and supported by - the General Councillor for Southern Europe, Fr Javier Pérez Barba. Both men spent almost four weeks exploring the experiences and contributions that the men of the Order of St Augustine share with the most populated and most active region within the American continent.
Received "with much affection" by the provincial, Fr Marco Antonio Luna, and his Council, Fr Alex and Fr Javier visited the houses of the Augustinian friars in their desire to fully immerse themselves in the friars’ daily lives, taking every opportunity to listen to the different brothers and hear about the range of work that they are currently engaged in.
"Our idea was to be able to bring the pastoral care of the Prior General and of the Order close to each one of the religious", said the General Councillor for Latin America. "The canonical visitation aspires to be a catalyst, a moment of renewal that encourages and supports the friars in their religious life, as well as providing multiple opportunities to identify any difficulties or issues that might need our input or help.”
A journey of thousands of kilometres
The visit of the Assistants General covered a very wide area across the length and breadth of Mexican territory: from the north (Durango, Monterrey, Laredo, Ciudad Victoria and San Luis Potosí) to the Bajío (Jalisco, Guanajuato), and, of course, Mexico City. It was an extensive and comprehensive timetable and, "we were very well received in all of them", Fr Lam said.
After four weeks of visits and interviews with the Augustinian religious, and seeing first-hand the state of play in each of the communities, there was a final meeting with the Provincial Council, at which the guests shared their impressions and observations, and were able to make suggestions and requests, and offer solutions. The Provincial Council will shortly be producing its own action plan going forward.
“Encourage them in their religious life!”
"For me, good government is a pastoral service, where a key element is paying attention to the brothers", assured Fr Alex Lam, "being able to join them inside their own lived stories, in the places where they work, facing their particular challenges, celebrating their achievements and their joys, and sharing their sorrows... To be able to go in the name of Father General was a privilege, and improved my awareness of my own service in the Church and in the Order".