The meeting of the new superiors of the Order of St Augustine took place at the General Curia 9-12 November
It was the first time in the last three years, since the outbreak of the pandemic, that the 17 new provincials, vicars and delegates who were able to attend in person from Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia-Pacific, had the opportunity to share with the General Council a few days of fraternity, communion, unity and identification of the challenges, difficulties and opportunities that the Order has in its different circumscriptions. The main objective of this meeting is none other than to provide the new superiors with tools for the exercise of their responsibility of governance.
Topics discussed during the meeting of new superiors and visit to the General Archives
The main topics dealt with during these days were related to the various canonical and administrative procedures. These were explained by Fathers Pasquale di Lernia, Secretary General, and Edward Daleng, Procurator of the Order, who handed out the Secretary's manual, containing a detailed account of all the procedures to do with the protection of minors and vulnerable adults in safe environments, the economic and financial management, the work of the Augustinians for the World Foundation, the Institute of Spirituality, the tasks of the different international commissions and the work being undertaken by the new Office of Communication and the objectives that lie ahead for the 2022-23 academic year.
During these days, the new superiors had the opportunity to get to know the General Archives, administered by Father Andrés Gómez, who was able to show the brother superiors some of the treasures found here in Rome: original copies of collections such as the Bularium of the Order, the records of the Generals, the news of Congregations and Provinces, manuscript books, etc.,part of a patrimony which not only has religious, artistic and cultural value, but also constitutes one of the principal sources for the study of the history of the Order.
The voice of the new superiors: "Being in Rome allows us to see the richness of the Order"
During the meeting, the Communications Office had the opportunity to speak with the provincials of Brazil, Peru and Italy, and the delegate of Japan about some of the aspects discussed during the meeting.
There was time for everything. For instance, to talk about what it means to return to Rome, to meet the different realities of the Order, as well as the challenges that each one of them has to face in their own provinces.
Fr. Mauricio José Manosso Rocha, provincial of Brazil, when asked what the singularities of the circumscription he pastors are, answered: "The Province of Brazil is a province that has just celebrated its tenth anniversary. We must always be open to working together with the General Council, with what the Order and the Church ask of us, bearing in mind that we are a young Province which, fortunately, has many vocations."
Hernanis Martín Díaz Guzmán, Father Provincial of the Province of Our Lord of Grace in Peru, gave us his impressions of this meeting after such a long time of restrictions on face-to-face meetings: "I would highlight the fact that we are able to meet in community. It is not a community that responds to a single circumscription, but a global one. Because that is precisely what the Catholic Church is all about: being in communion while being attentive to its universal character. That is the greatest richness. Beyond the Intermediate General Chapter of San Diego, now several brothers have been able to join us who were not able to be there then. After three years in which all activity and visits have been paralysed, the fact of being here in Rome helps us to see the richness of the Order."
With regard to the last letter to the religious of the Prior General at the CGI of San Diego, we asked Father Hernanis how unity can be worked on at this time in which the Church and the Order find themselves, and what, in his opinion, are the essential requirements to be a good provincial: "Beyond our own realities, there are other important aspects which respond to a more ecclesial reality. Spirituality, for example, for me would be the most salvageable aspect of unity. And it manifests itself in signs where we can see the friars together, working on the criteria given to us here in the field of formation, for accompaniment in the parishes, in the schools, and so on. That is where unity is manifested. On the second part of your question, for me there are two important aspects: charity and paternity."
"Spirituality, for example, for me would be the most salvageable aspect of unity". Hernanis Martín Díaz Guzmán, Father Provincial of the Province of Our Lord of Grace in Peru
Father Futoshi Matsuo, delegate of Japan, was kind enough to tell us about his experience during the days of the meeting with the new superiors and to give us some details about the reality of the Order in Japan. "I am very encouraged to be able to meet the Prior General, the Assistants General and all the new superiors of each circumscription. Especially after these two difficult years of pandemic, where in my country the measures were very strict. Not even all the friars there were able to get together… Regarding the Augustinians in Japan, I will say that it is very different from the rest of the places where the Order is present. It is very different from Korea, even though we are close, because the number of Catholics is really small compared to the rest of the population. In any case, being here, I see the unity that exists, regardless of where we come from. It is very clear how strong God is and how he inspires us in different parts of the world. I don't feel strange. I feel at home with my brothers, with my Augustinian family."
Asked about the main characteristic that should define an Augustinian religious in this context, Fr. Matsuo answered: "We have to see the uniqueness of this time, to see the other with humility, as Pope Francis reminds us. We have to be with the least, with those who suffer, to be humble enough to love every person in every context. Therein lies the challenge but therein also lies the possibility of extending the community of God, seeing our weakness and the weakness of the other; our sin and the sin of the other. And embracing it.”.
"We have to see the uniqueness of this time, to see the other with humility, as Pope Francis reminds us". Father Futoshi Matsuo, delegate of Japan
Finally, the provincial of Italy, Fr. Giustino Casciano, reviewed the importance of this meeting with the rest of the superiors in a place like Rome, where the spiritual roots of the Order of St. Augustine reside and spoke about how in the present panorama "the most important challenge we have is evangelization, to bring the good news of Jesus to the youth and to the families. I believe that this is the challenge we have in Italy, in Europe and in the world. Here, in our land, we have few vocations to Augustinian consecration. We have to attend to this fact."
Casciano pointed out that the meeting with his colleagues is a clear "exercise of unity in charity, in our charism, in seeking together the truth towards God... Listening to Father General, to the Curia, to what the Order asks of us and what the Order needs... Listening to this I can walk in unity with them. Both the last Intermediate General Chapter and this meeting with the rest of the superiors have been very rich and very useful."
For his part, the Provincial of Italy, speaking about the dough of which a Superior must be made, said: "We must have the courage to listen to and serve the brothers. This often means not wanting our ideas to be the ones to win out, to impose themselves. We have to be ready to allow others to prevail, to contribute, so that there is no division or fracture among us."
"Listening to Father General, to the Curia, to what the Order asks of us and what the Order needs... Listening to this I can walk in unity with them". Fr. Giustino Casciano, Father Provincial of Italy