The challenges of a prior provincial are the power of listening, the exercise of animating leadership and the search for creative and courageous responses" (1/2)

Carlos González (Chapel of Guadalupe, Jalisco, Mexico, 1964) is the prior provincial of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine of the Augustinian Recollects. He has dedicated the last five months to gather the human team and prepare the strategies so that the Life and Mission Project 2022-2026 is fulfilled. About them we talked with him. First part.
Testimonies | 2022 Nov 21

Is the office of prior provincial difficult?

Rather than focus on the difficulty or ease of the service, I prefer to focus on the challenges. I perceive that in the office of prior provincial, the relationship with the religious who nurture the Province and promote a service done with quality, warmth and creativity in favor of the many hundreds of people who come to our ministries is central.

Among the challenges that I have is the value of conscious, attentive and fascinated listening to each of my religious brothers and all the lay people who work together with us; the importance of exercising for committed religious and laity a leadership that encourages, inspires and moves to hope; and the need to respond together, creatively and courageously, to the challenges that are presented to us in our ministries.

Does the time come for such a task?

I prefer time to be my ally, not my enemy. That is why I evoke a phrase that I once heard from Fray Carlos Abajos and that seems healthy and realistic to me: “I do what I can within what fits”.

In these five months as prior provincial, what general image and impression has he gained of the Province in which he provides this service?

I have not yet been able to dialogue with all the religious or visit all the communities. With this comment I want to say that my impression is still partial, although sufficient.

I have a good impression: we are a large family, with a lot of vitality, made up of about three hundred religious and several hundred lay people who nurture the Secular Fraternities and youth groups; and with important ties of communion and/or joint action with the Augustinian Recollect contemplative nuns, with the Augustinian Recollect Missionaries, with the Augustinian Recollect Sisters of the Heart of Jesus and with the Augustinian Recollect Sisters of the Philippines.

Among all of us we form a great family and we have the challenge of sharing the charism that the Holy Spirit gave us. We have a lot of wealth to share. I have verified the good will, the quality of life and the committed work of many of the members of our family. I have also witnessed the illness of another group of brothers, who need love and help.

What elements of greater emphasis does the Life and Mission Project (PVM) 2022-2026 of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine have?

The PVM ( Project of Vision and Life) of the Province supports that of the Order with its two great bets: first, that we religious allow ourselves to be accompanied and accompanied and give a special place to ongoing formation so that in this way we can carry out services in which Christian values and charismatics shine.

In addition, the Provincial Chapter has placed great emphasis on all initiatives of communion and teamwork; That is why the word “together” makes a lot of sense.

The Decisions of the PVM 2022-2026 propose that we work more with the laity, that we have frequent meetings in all the secretariats, teams and commissions and that we collaborate among all; that the Red Educar ( Re Educate) be strengthened, that we be more supportive of social projects and the poor, that we have a close and affectionate heart with the most vulnerable, that we promote inter-parish meetings...

What actions to share the charism with the laity, as Pope Francis has asked the Augustinian Recollects, will be arbitrated in the Province?

The groups of the Augustinian Recollect Youth (JAR) and the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity (FSAR) are extraordinary collaborators in the task of sharing our charism. They help us to deepen our own experience and knowledge of the charism and to have a clearer awareness that it is very valid for our world today.

To the extent that we work together, religious and lay people, we enrich ourselves and many people. This means that it is essential to strengthen these JAR ( Augustinian Recollect Youth)and FSAR Augustinian Recollect Secular Fraternities) groups. At the same time, we seek to strengthen and extend the Augustinian Recollect Spirituality Centers (CEAR), organizations created precisely to share our charism and make it available to society.

Finally, we will continue working so that from our educational, missionary or parish ministries the evangelizing task is carried out with the clear nuance of our Augustinian Recollect charism and spirituality.

How is the participation of the laity in the organisms of the Province going to materialize in practice, as the Chapter has requested?

The coordinating teams of the Order's bodies are currently in the phase of configuring their teams, reviewing their Statutes and designing their Action Plan.

There is a clear awareness of the importance of relying more on the laity, of trusting them more and of real teamwork. Our challenge is to better define their participation in the Provincial Chapter, in the assemblies and in the organizations themselves.

We have made great progress in joint work with the laity, especially in the fields of education, social works, CEAR and communications. It is also true that we still have a long way to go.

For the six-year period 2022-2028, the Order has 21 consultation and service organizations, with their teams, functions and goals. Is the organization of the Order and its Provinces increasingly complex?

There are many psychological schools, each with its theory of personality and its accompanying experience. Which of them is the best?

Specialists tell us that this is not the right approach, since each school has its particular richness. The appropriate approach is to approach those psychologists or therapists who are wiser, more empathetic and more skilled to accompany. And these can be members of any of those psychological schools.

This provides me with a simile or comparison for this question of the organisms in the Order, in the Province or in any demarcation. In the last six-year terms, the organizations of the Order and the Provinces, their name and number, have been reorganized, seeking more efficiency.

Is it better that there are many or few? Do the teams have to be nurtured by many members or by few? The organizational formulas that appear in each period are honest searches that want the best results for the Augustinian Recollect Family.

However, from my point of view, the key is not in a greater or lesser number of organizations, or in that they are smaller or larger, or with more or fewer tasks... the key is in the people who make up those organizations.

They must be people who have enough time to carry out their service, who dialogue and work as a team, who have leadership skills, who develop clear, realistic and measurable work programs, who work with passion...

The important question is to nurture the organisms with competent religious and lay people, sufficient and with the necessary dedication to carry out their work plans.

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Augustinian Recollects Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine.

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