"So many people expect us to come out and see them with that tenderness that our community has experienced and received these 400 years of history!"
I will play for you before the nations:
for thy goodness, which is greater than the heavens;
for your faithfulness, which reaches the clouds (Ps 107: 4-5).
Dear Brothers: on the day of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, our patron saint, we inaugurated the celebrations of the four hundred years of the birth of the Province.
The strength of first love
During the sixteenth century the Holy Spirit aroused in the Church the movement of renewal in religious families; its main hallmark was a yearning for greater perfection;an uncontainable desire for more austerity, recollection and contemplation; of more equality, quality of fraternal life and of apostolic zeal.
This"more"of the Spirit is the force of the first love that prompted the first recollects to embark for the lands of the East. The Philippines has been home and labor camp of accomplished religious, intrepid missionaries and holy shepherds.
This first missionary impulse marked the historic development of the Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine of the Philippines, the missionary Province par excellence since its birth in 1621, "always on mission".
Under the Star of St. Nicholas
For centuries, we have contemplated the luminous image of St. Nicholas. The stars that stud his garments or the sunthat shines on his chest are his main hallmark. The star is the sign of his holiness, it is the power of the Spirit thatilluminates his face, his garments and his life; he is the star that indicates to us where the source of grace and thebeauty of vocation and mission is.
The same Light that prompted Nicholas to love the people, to mingle with them and to share their needs, their joys and sorrows, without forgetting fraternal life in community and the recollection and contemplation. This same light is the one that has moved the missionaries; it is the joy of the Gospel that fills the hearts and the whole life of those who meet Jesus (EGEG 1).
We celebrate four hundred years
Four centuries of history in which thousands of religious have embodied and exuded the charism in the following of the lord, leaving a path and setting horizons for others to continue fulfilling St Augustine's dream of communion in the service to the Church.
Celebrating in gratitude
We thank the Father for the gift of the religious vocation of the Augustinian Recollects of the Province; they are the best tribute of gratitude to the Father in their generous response.
We also thank the Lord for his call of the laity to live our Augustinian-recollect spirituality, both in the Fraternities and in the JARs.
We remember gratefully by recalling the apostolate of the religious in the Lord's harvest and vineyard for four centuries:
- The missionary ardour of generations of religious who brought the good news of the gospel to thePhilippines. The Lord sustained the dream of the intrepid missionaries who left home and family, "always on mission."”.
- Three centuries later, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Spirit opened new missionary horizons:Venezuela (1898-1948), Panama (1898-1910), Brazil (1899-1907), China (1907), England (1932), Peru (1939-1948), Mexico(1941), Costa Rica (1963) and the United States (1973).
- The chronicles of Shangqiu,, Labrea,, Chota,, Taiwan,, Chihuahua,, Sarapiquí,, Sierra Leone... have maintained the missionary ardor. The apostolic turn in the Order resulted in pastoral commitment in many parishes and social works.
- Since 1941, we have been called to work in the educational field to accompany the Christian growth and formation of children and young people in our schools in the Philippines, Venezuela, Spain, Mexico and Costa Rica. It was a new challenge for the religious, who needed specific training for this ministry. Today it is an apostolate shared with the laity. It is also noteworthy to remember in this same educational field the many hours of religious classes in schools not our own in almost all the countries where the Province has been.
- A unique event in the life of the Province occurred on October 1, 1948, the creation of the Province of Saint Joseph," now joined to the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova. It comprised the ministries that the Province of Saint Nicholas had in Peru and Venezuela, and the convent of San Millán, in Spain.
- The Province spared no effort and dedication to improve the living conditions of the people we serve. Some of its most significant expressions are the social projects of Handumanan in the Philippines, the “Ciudad de los Niños” in Costa Rica, the CARDI in Mexico; the Lar Santa Monica of Fortaleza, the Esperanza Centers of Amazonas, the Lar Digno in Guaraciaba do Norte and Terra Solidária in Lábrea, all of them in Brazil. In addition to the endless social activities that each ministry performs daily and generously.
- Our pastoral ministry has been enriched by the attention of migrants; the clearest expression is in the attention to the Hispanic and Latin American chaplaincies in London, the Chinese Chaplaincy in Madrid and the ministries with a Latin face and Spanish language in the United States.
- We especially appreciate the maturity and fruitfulness of the Province that in 1998 saw the birth of theProvince of San Ezequiel Moreno, initially constituted by the ministries of the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Taiwan. A joint story until the time came of mature fruit, autonomy.
- On the other hand, in 2018, we saw the union with the Province of St. Augustine, whose religious and ministries became part of the Province of San Nicolás. It has been a gift from the Lord to both Provinces.
Celebrating is following Christ with passion
To live with passion our vocation. Let us be challenged by the demand of the Gospel and live it radically. Asking ourselves if we are realizing the dream of the first Christian community proposed by St Augustine to his disciples: "Have one soul and one heart directed towards God".
We have reason to live with passion for Christ and for humanity:
- The enthusiasm and constancy with which the animators of vocations invite others to follow Christ as Augustinian recollects. Their direct questioning and the witness of many recreate the beauty of the religious vocation.
- The new religious rekindle the first love of our vocation; they remind us of the gratuitousness of the call, the appeal of fraternal life in community and the joy of bringing the good news of salvation.
- The elder religious of the convents remind us of the gift of interiority and the apostolate ofconstructing community. In the cloisters we have matured the call to live in community, we have fallen in love with the Lord and his Kingdom, and we have made brothers and friends, companions in the mission.
- The fidelity of the religious with a tired face and body reflecting a lifetime given in the apostolate. They continue their mission in large communities taking care of their physical and spiritual health, deepening their inner life and supporting with their prayer the mission of the other brothers and sisters.
- The new sap that grows green again in our family in the Secular Fraternities and Augustinian-Recollect Youth, a sign of the presence of the Spirit in the Order, is a renewing air that challenges us to recreate our spirituality.
- The laity engaged in ministries continue to challenge us to give concrete answers to the faithful and to live the ministry with passion.
Celebrating is living with hope
Our hope is based not on numbers or works but on the One in whom we have placed our trust (cf. 2 Tim1:12). This is the hope that will allow us to walk in the future, led by the Holy Spirit. Let us not look at ourselves, let us look at Him, which is our hope.
Living with hope to overcome the temptation of only survival, the temptation to want to protect spaces, buildings orstructures rather than enable new processes, it is up to us to witness to hope in adversity and in shortage of personnel.
Our hope has identity. We are heirs of the ideal dreamed by St Augustine for all his children: "To have one soul and one heart directed towards God"; we are heirs to the dream of the Spirit expressed in the desires for perfection of thefirst recollects.
With our witness of a living community open to what the Lord commands us, through the breath of his Spirit, we will be able to respond to the needs of each person with the same love with which God has loved us. So many people are waiting for us to go out to meet them and look at them with that tenderness we have experienced and received from our relationship with God. This is the power we convey, not that of our own ideals and projects; but the strength of hismercy that transforms and gives life (Pope Francis).
May the Lord continues to bless our Province with vocations, rekindle in the religious the passion for Christ and for humanity and the beauty of the Fraternities and Las JARs continue to flourish. We ask through the intercession of SaintNicholas of Tolentine and our Mother of Consolation.