The Order of the Augustinian Recollects will halve the number of its Provinces, and the Province of Saint Augustine will join with that of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine
In an unprecedented institutional statement by video the Prior General of the Augustinian Recollects, accompanied by the at present eight Provincials within the confines of the 55th General Chapter, wished to make known at 10.p.m. on the 24th of October 2016 the new configuration that the Order will have.
On the afternoon of the 24th of October, guided by a common feeling, the 55th General Chapter of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects, approved the internal restructuring of the Order. The LV General Chapter decided to organize the Order in four provinces so as to achieve an authentic living out of the Augustinian Recollect charisma, encourage fraternal living in community, undertake the mission which the Church has given us and to be where we are most needed.
1. By joining the Province of Saint Augustine and that of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine. 2. Joining the Province ofOur Lady of Consolation and that of Our Lady of the Candelaria. 3. Joining the Provinces of Saint Joseph, Saint Rita and Saint Thomas of Villanueva. 4. Maintaining the Province of Saint Ezekiel Moreno, enlarging its presence in another Asian country.
Having finished the vote on this decision, as well as those linked to the general and particular regulations which will guide the process to be followed, the Chapter Room broke out in loud applause in recognition of the inspiring project which, from now on, will be undertaken with the help of everyone involved.
It has been an unprecedented institutional statement, by video and communicating a chapter decision even before the end of the same chapter; something uncommon. Nothing has been left to chance in the preparation with the Prior General, recently elected a day later for another six years. He, Miguel Miró, has been the principal promoter of the Restructuring of the Order, surrounded by those who are still the eight provincial priors, standing behind him.
In the written document there will be recognition of the applause of those present as “resounding”, but maybe pointing out that this solution has not been easy although at the end it has counted on the support of almost everyone.
During the vide only once is the scene left behind, in order to go to the window which occupied almost the whole of the Vatican hall where Pope Francis received the participants in the 55th General Chapter. It is a way of bringing together the decision undertaken with the feeling and petition of the whole of the Church.
Restructuring in general and the concrete forms for restructuring in particular have been talked about within the Order of the Augustinian Recollects in the last six years. The most direct statements were made just before the start of the General Chapter, when it was made known the feeling of the religious when faced with the concrete proposals which were presented.
The General Chapter has developed these proposals before arriving at a chosen configuration, which in fact did not coincide with any of the ideas presented for voting.
The members of the Chapter wished, however, to interpret some of the data from those proposals which were on the table: that there was no need to shut the door on the joining of more than two provinces if this were necessary; and that some of the smaller provinces had already thought about in practice and decided their fate, although this was not reflected in the ideas which were voted upon.
Few other certainties could the General Chapter see from the surveys and votes on the ideas proposed. The results were highly uneven and scattered as could be foreseen, without large consensus of opinion; but there was a favourable climate in that “things could not continue as they are”.
With these premises the General Chapter has decided that there will be four Provinces in the Order. In this way the reduction from eight to four provinces will be done through joining provinces. This way of operating was established in Chapter eight (Management of the Order), Article six of the Constitutions of the Order. Number 373 explains: “It corresponds to the General Chapter to establish provinces, join them or divide them, limit them in some other way, and if necessary suppress them”.
The text of the statement expresses which provinces will be joined to others, and so it appears that the four provinces that remain are those which at the moment have the most religious’. They are also the three oldest in one sense, and the most modern province in another sense.
Larger presence in the United States
On uniting the Province of Saint Augustine and the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, there have been no substantial changes nor is there immediately a greater difficult of management. In fact, all the communities of the Province of Saint Augustine are in countries where the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine was already present; United States (eight communities) and Mexico (one community). However, it should be taken into account the increase of the average age in the province given that the religious from the Province of Saint Augustine has at the moment six years more than the average of that of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine.
The Province of Saint Augustine serves in its entirety in parishes and only has one formation house which functions for aspirants, postulants and Theology students. In any case, for some time the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine has collaborated in the formation of religious from Saint Augustine Province in stages like the Novitiate and Theological studies.
Geographically, their parish in Mexico City is very close to various ministries in the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, and only 3.3 kilometres from the actual residence of the Vicar of Mexico and Costa Rica.
In the United States there are two more houses with a great geographical proximity with the community of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine in Union City (New Jersey): the present residence of the Provincial in the Province of Saint Augustine is in West Orange (New Jersey), twenty-five kilometres from Union City; and the house of Formation Tagaste is situated in Suffren (New York), forty-seven kilometres away.
The other seven communities all serve in parishes and are located on the other side of the country in the Californian cities of Santa Ana, Oxnard, Montebello and Los Angeles.
In this way, the United States will be the third largest country for number of religious in the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, going from at present three communities and seventeen religious to be twelve communities with fifty-eight religious. This excels the presence in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, England and Italy and making it therefore the third largest country for presence of religious. It comes behind Spain (eleven communities, one hundred and twenty-seven religious) and Mexico (fourteen communities, sixty religious).
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