Miguel Ángel Hernández, prior general of the Augustinian Recollects: “I am filled with joy by the care and concern of the Provinces to walk together”

The Augustinian Recollect Miguel Ángel Hernández (Collado Villalba, Madrid, Spain, 1965) has been the Prior General of the Order since last March. In his capacity as president, he is also the president of the 128th Chapter of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine. We have talked with him.
News | 2022 Jun 30

For a few months he has been presiding over the Provincial Chapters and is the link between the Project of Life and Mission of the Order and those of the Provinces. What challenges does this role represent?

I believe that in the question you offer me the answer, thank you. Indeed, my task is about that, of being a link and an element of communion for the entire Order. I believe that the Provincial Chapters are a privileged instrument for this, because it is the space for dialogue and decision where the provincial communities elaborate their Project of Life and Mission for the next three or four years.

We cannot miss that train, the train of walking at the same pace and in the same direction as the Order. I must say, with great satisfaction, that until now I have not had to make any effort for the Provinces and the Order to walk together.

The Provinces have the concern and care to walk with the Order, and that fills me with joy.

Are there differences in the chapter dynamics of the Provinces and the Order?

The truth is that the differences are minimal in the dynamics, in the methodologies and in the problems and challenges that the Provinces have before them, as well as in the way of facing them and proposing their solutions.

In the Chapter of the Province of Saint Ezekiel Moreno, on the first day we were accompanied by a Claretian who spoke to us about the characteristics of a leader today, but he also spoke to us about some attitudes that religious life must embody: audacity, parrhesia and hope.

In this Chapter of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, however, we began with some very specific questions that sought the participation and expression of each one of the capitulants, in an open and sincere way, in small groups.

We can belong to different races, speak different languages, come from different cultures or live in heterogeneous societies... But the heart of man is very similar in the West and in the East and the problems and challenges are similar in many aspects.

I firmly believe that there are more things that unite us than those that separate us. I have really felt at home in these two Chapters and, in any case, very serene, because the dynamics followed in the two Provinces seemed totally familiar to me from what I already knew from the Chapters of my Province or generals.

How do religious and laity experience these capitulary processes? Do they feel represented and involved?

We want to pave the way together with the laity, we have it more and more clearly and we are aware that we must find a way that their participation in reflection and decision-making, in what affects them, is as satisfactory as possible.

Pope Francis made it very clear to us when he addressed the Augustinian Recollects in Rome during our last General Chapter: “we must put the charism in the hands of the laity.”

I think that we are in it; I think there will be a substantial change in some things, since we want lay people to be integrated more and more into our Secretariats, Commissions, Teams, etc.

I do not perceive susceptibilities in the friars, at least in those who have participated in the Chapters, in relation to this closer and co-responsible participation of the laity. And I am convinced that the laity bring out the best in each one of us religious.

They live the Chapters with emotion, with prayer and with concern. We are human, we attach ourselves to people and therefore I know that they also suffer the changes that usually occur after the Chapters with respect to the religious who live in the community or ministry in which they participate.

We are in times of deep social division, tensions and polarization. Is there a danger of contagion of such attitudes in the Augustinian Recollect Family?

We come from a process of union of Provinces and, honestly, I think we have to congratulate ourselves for the absence of serious tensions between us. The problems we face are not because we come from one Province or another; the problem is, rather, one of personal temperament, of character, of personal experience.

From my experience as a trainer or in government service, I believe that problems do not usually come from “where I come from”, but from how little or how much I have worked as a person throughout my life; in short, and in other words, of the absence or presence of accompaniment, that essential element in the Project of Life and Mission of the Order for this six-year period 2022-2028.

In the Chapters we speak with freedom and respect. There are moments of tension, it is normal, but I have never perceived lack of respect. I tell the friars at the beginning of each Chapter that it is a meeting of brothers looking for the best for their family, from the difference of perceptions, thoughts, and life experiences.

Those differences are a wealth. God feels comfortable in diversity, when we manage it from charity. The other day I shared a table with the prior general between 1986 and 1998, Brother Javier Pipaón, who today resides in this community of Marcilla where we celebrate the Chapter.

He spoke to me and told anecdotes or situations of tension that reflected a polarization in the Order and in the Provinces. Thank God, I think we have matured a bit in this aspect and in the way our Chapters are held. I have lived through many and for me they are, today, beautiful experiences of fraternity.

The axis word of the six-year term is “Together”. When your brothers asked you to preside over the government of the Order, what came to your mind?

I am very inspired by the text of Emmaus, I want to walk together with the brothers and with Jesus. I want us to allow ourselves to be surprised by the Lord, to experience his grace and salvation as we walk and perceive our fragility.

We are instruments half out of tune, but in the hands of the Lord we can emit the most beautiful of melodies. And the melody that the Church asks us to sing is that of communion, that of unity. Pope Francis said so at the last General Chapter, he asked us to sing the melody of courageous and creative fatherhood.

We are called to experience the love of the Father to welcome and embrace everyone as children. It is not easy, you have to be brave to experience that fatherhood that implies giving life, generating life in the hearts of all those who are discouraged, disoriented and walk without hope.

As I told the capitulants in Rome, the dream that is dreamed alone never goes beyond a dream; but if we dream it together, it can come true.

What do you ask of the religious who will accompany you from the Provinces in the service of government? Are these bad times to “command”, if you allow us the expression?

I would ask for three of those three attitudes that the Claretian religious spoke to us about in the Chapter in the Philippines: audacity, parrhesia and hope.

The audacity to dream together, to live in communion, that our life be more evangelical every day; the audacity to return to the essential, to allow oneself to be accompanied, to assume the fatherhood to which we are called; the audacity to serve without expecting anything in return.

Parrhesia is, in the words of Pope Francis, that evangelizing drive, that fervor, that courage to speak freely and put our charism at the service of others. It is the push of the Spirit not to remain paralyzed by fear and calculations; Parrhesia which, ultimately, also means going beyond what we know and control.

And finally, hope, the ground on which we must move, that we must step on, the substrate that sustains us. It is the smallest of virtues, but also the strongest. Hope that has a name: the face of the Lord. Hope that, as Francisco says, is a hidden, tenacious and brave virtue.

Perhaps these are not good times to command, as you say, but they are excellent to serve and for us authority is just that: the service of charity.

What message does the new prior general have for the laity of the Augustinian Recollect Family?

I would tell them not to be afraid, that we are more and more convinced that synodality is at the core of our spirituality. I would tell them to bear with us, we may have a slower pace than theirs.

He would tell them to help us, to make us understand and understand many things that, like the disciples of Emmaus, we are slow and clumsy to understand.

I would tell them to forgive us when we are not right and wrong. But, above all, he would tell them not to let us walk alone, because we want to walk together with them, in communion of souls and hearts.

Follow us on facebook twitter youtube Español | Portugués | English Privacy Policy | Webmail

Augustinian Recollects Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine.

Paseo de la Habana, 167. 28036 - Madrid, Spain. Telephone: 913 453 460. CIF(fiscal registration number): R-2800087-E. Entered in the Register of Religious Organizations, of the Ministry of Justice, number 1398-a-SE/B. Develepod by Shunet for OAR Augustinian Recollects Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine. © 2018 - 2022.