The communities of the US Vicariate receive the provincial’s fraternal visit.
Part of the Vicariate are all the communities in New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, California and Texas. The Vicariate came about in the last Provincial Chapter which was held in Marcilla (Navarre, Spain) in May of this year and the houses belonging before to the Province of St. Augustine and are now part of the St. Nicholas of Tolentine Province, together with the communities already belonging to this Province.
Considering the new juridical status with all its components, Fr. Sergio Sanchez decided to start this year’s fraternal visit in this demarcation, with the objective that the right steps be taken after the unification of both provinces.
This type of visit is different from the more official called renovation visit which may include meeting with members of the different ministries especially in our parishes. The objective of this visit is just to share some time with the friars individually and as a community. It’s a time to just be a part of each community’s daily schedule and activities.
The visit started on the 7th of October in St. Augustine’s Priory in Oxnard, California. On the 12th, Fr. Provincial and the Secretary continued their visit with the community in Montebello where the Recollects have been serving St. Benedict’s parish for 20 years together with a 500 student enrollment parish school. The 14th and 16th they visited Santa Ana where two communities serve in two parishes. The final stop in California was in our parish of Cristo Rey in Los Angeles which was visited for one day on the 17th.
After a short flight to El Paso on the 18th, the next community visited was the one in Anthony, New Mexico on the 19th and 20th, then on the 21st and 22nd, the friars in El Paso received the Provincial fraternal visit. These communities used to be part of the US Delegation of the St. Nicholas Province even before the unification. Finally, another flight took Fr. Provincial to the East Coast to visit the communities in Union City, New Jersey and Suffern, New York from the 24th to the 27th of October.
Meeting with each community
The same outline is followed in each reunion. An explanation is shared on what a fraternal visit is and what it’s not; the main reason of the visit is to share how each friar is feeling, listen to what we all have to say, and see how the kick-off of the new communities is coming about especially in their internal organization and the presentation of its pastoral objectives.
All the meetings start with any prayer for the community, the one that was presented this year says: “A community says a lot when it belongs to Jesus, when it speaks about Jesus, announces Jesus, finds its greatness in Jesus, when it gathers around Jesus, it extends for Jesus, it finds its strength in Jesus, it finds its life in Jesus…”.
Fr. Provincial then insists in the importance of the main objective of the Province for the following four years until the next chapter is celebrated: Be makers of unity and creators of communion. Then he passes to give four ideas easy to remember:
- be sheepskins capable of saving the new wine or being open to what is new.
- one objective: promote unity within the Province and be creators of communion.
- avoid misunderstandings thinking communion is not only based on a good organization but also through a spirituality based on a communion with God;
- the pedagogy to be followed is a spirituality of communion.
Rekindle the gifts that we have received from God
Fr. Provincial used a simple dynamic with which he invites us all to participate by identifying and sharing what each of us value the most as Augustinian Recollects; then we are called to consider what personal limitation hurts us the most as we try to live our religious life. And finally, we are invited to consider precise actions to rekindle the gifts which we have all received from God in benefit of our religious vocation.
By sharing this, each friar contributes in the revival of the gift of his vocation and commits himself to live his religious life with more fidelity. The provincial insists that it is through this personal and communitarian commitment that will help us take our revitalization process reach its goal.
Life and mission project of the Province and of the community
Fr. Provincial then makes a quick review of how the Life and Mission Project came to be in the Order when Fr. General with the Provincials presented the project. After this, he mentions the decisions taken in the last Provincial Chapter and how they affect all the religious of our Order.
He recalled the letter sent to all the Recollects of the Province in September in which he pointed out the objectives that had to appear in each community’s Life and Mission Project. It’s not just another paper that must be approved by the Vicar. What gives LIFE to our religious life must be considered in this project: What fills me with life, what fills US with life? The letter was reviewed one point at a time to learn how to develop each community’s Life and Mission Project.
The meeting in each community ends with some time for any comments or questions.