The United States Vocational Expedition Closes
The Vicariate of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in the United States has celebrated the Augustinian-Recollect Vocation Expedition from July 22 to December 5. The Vicariate has 17 ministries and there is also a monastery of contemplative Augustinian Recollects Sisters, where the Expedition also took place.
"From the first moment I believe that the Lord has been doing his work, touching hearts, filling with joy those who have a moment of encounter with Him, and above all, opening new horizons to many people about the meaning of their lives and their vocation as disciples of the Lord, "says Cristino Gutiérrez, Augustinian Recollect, vocational promoter and responsible for celebrating this Vocation Expedition in the States of New Jersey, New York, Texas, New Mexico and California.
"There were many expectations regarding what we wanted to achieve, and there are even those who only consider the visible or tangible results of this type of action; but it was necessary to break with respect to vocational animation, to make effective the involvement of all the members of the communities in the development of the vocational culture, beyond focusing on young people who are called to the Augustinian Recollect way of life in particular ", he continues.
The religious of all the communities have been generously involved, in order to carry out the Vocational Expedition. As main challenges, it is necessary to improve the internal communication channels, make a greater effort to coordinate agendas and also to keep in mind that the Expedition has coincided with an important transition process in the communities and ministries, because the Expedition began just after the Chapter of the union of the Recollect Provinces present in the United States, with personnel changes included.
"I must say that when the laity have been given the opportunity to work with us, they have given much, and with generosity and joy," says Cristino. "There is a hunger for God, a need for accompaniment, of religious communities that, in addition of being experts in theology, are witnesses of Christ, humble enough to recognize that we owe it to our people, that we have the great opportunity to make visible our presence among the people. It is not only about being leaders, but also accompanying people, going alongside the people without pretending that we are the main reference. Hopefully we will be able to have enough quality and human warmth to be there and to follow Christ together! "
The Vocational Expedition began with the parishes of Saint Augustine and Holy Family and the community of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine in Union City (New Jersey). It was followed by the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception of Belvidere, also in New Jersey, contemplative community of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters. In the State of New York it was carried out in Tagaste Monastery, Suffern, thus completing the actions on the East Coast.
From there the Vocational Expedition moved to the South of the United States. In New Mexico it took place in the parishes of Saint Thomas Moore de Chaparral, San Antonio de Anthony, La Union and Berino. In Texas it took place in the parishes of Our Lady of Light, Little Flower and Guardian Angel of El Paso.
Finally, already in California, it was celebrated in the Parish of Mary Star of the Sea and Saint Augustine Priory in Oxnard; in Los Angeles, in the parishes of Cristo Rey and Saint Benedict, where there is also a parochial school with some 500 students; and finally in Santa Ana, in the parishes of Our Lady of Pillar and Our Lady of Guadalupe, where the final celebration has taken place.
In this closing ceremony, on December 5, the anniversary of the Augustinian Recollects, the Vicar of the United States, Fr. Marlon Beof, presided the ceremony. They wanted to give a universal and international touch, as a good reflection of the current Augustinian Recollect reality, so the church was adorned with the flags of all the countries where the Augustinian Recollect family is present. All the Augustinian Recollect religious who live and work in California were present at the event.
The activities carried out (Holy Hour, rosary, Via Crucis, talks, dynamics, vocational fairs, film-forum, and others) were carried out according to the circumstances and possibilities of each place, where the Expedition lasted a week in total, which has generated a lot of variety and new experiences despite maintaining a common scheme.
After the Vocational Expedition in the United States, at least two local Vocational Animation Teams have been established, a relationship and sense of belonging has been generated, and the vocation promoter has been able to maintain close contact with all the communities and laity who are close and more committed.