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The Prior General in Papua: "The teachings of St. Augustine reach to the ends of the earth"

In January, the Prior General of the Order of St. Augustine was with the communities of Vietnam and Indonesia, spending two weeks in the circumscription of Papua

Accompanied by the General Councillor for the Asia-Pacific zone, Fr. Anthony Banks, the Prior General took the opportunity to find out more about the work in the pastoral, parochial and educational fields that the men of the Order are undertaking on the ground.

It was during their stay on the island of Papua that they were able to witness the continuing growth of vocations 70 years after the arrival of the first Dutch Augustinians. Today, according to Fr. Alejandro himself, there are 80 solemnly and simply professed friars, 34 of whom continue their formative journey in one of the houses set up for this very purpose in the city of Jayapura, the capital of the island.

A sense of communion with those who are different

This visit was, as Fr. Alejandro told us in person after his return to Rome, a whole smorgasbord of new flavours, of encountering the differences of the other, of shared prayer, and of much joy. "It is a great and beautiful experience to see the joy with which they welcomed us in Papua. It is geographically very distant from other circumscriptions and they are very grateful to be visited by the General Councillor and the Prior General, of course".

The socio-political and religious complexities that exist on the island and across Indonesia as a whole - where over 86% of this of the population are Muslim - did not go unnoticed by Fr. Alejandro who, nevertheless, appreciated the opportunity to see first hand how far the teaching of St. Augustine reaches and how it touches the hearts of the men and women of our time.

"We human beings are very, very different. We have to learn to respect each other in our differences, however great they may be. I have been impressed by the great love that you have here for St. Augustine and his doctrine, his teaching, which has been taken to the ends of the earth and which shows us something as beautiful as living by and for the search for truth, for interiority, for unity, for the sense of communion. This sense of communion is what I value most in his teaching. That sense of communion in God, of perceiving his presence everywhere, regardless of our clothing, culture or features... As soon as we see each other from that will, from that truth, we understand each other, we respect each other, we feel united with each other. And that is something very beautiful," Fr Alejandro concluded.



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