Carlos María Dominguez: "Perseverance in the JAR is given with a deep encounter with Jesus, an attractive and demanding proposal and the experience of the community" (1/2)

The JARs of Mexico and Costa Rica celebrate online training Wednesdays. On July 22nd, on the occasion of the 25th year of the founding of the recoleto youth movement, they interviewed one of the religious who founded it (part 1 of 2).
News | 2020 Jul 27

Carlos María Domínguez (born 1965) is an Augustinian Recollect and  auxiliary  bishop of San Juan de Cuyo in his native country. Together with the Augustinian Recollect  Juan José Ormazábal  participated very actively in 1995 in the creation of the Recollects Youth Recollects (JAR), the Augustinian youth movement recollect.

In homage to these 25years, the JAR Mexico and Costa Rica organized a virtual meeting through the Zoom  platformon July 22nd with about 125 people who sent the questions answered by the religious recoleto (Part 1).

What would be the main objectives of youth ministry?

The two fundamental points of youth Ministry are that the Church helps young people discover what God's dream is for their lives, which is the vocation; and after young people are encouraged to be the evangelizers of young people and so many know Jesus through the same young people.

How can we avoid the estrangement of young people once they are already integrated into ecclesial life?

There is no formula or secret for young people not to leave the Parish or the group; but we can try some things. For example, the JARs must enable them to have a personal encounter with Jesus, an encounter that is not superficial butmarks the whole life,  transforms the heart. In this way the young person that, as St  Augustine says,  "everything goes wrong away from you".

Another possibility is to make the proposal both attractive and challenging. Young people don't like half-measures or ambiguities. The more they are challenged, the better they respond, and Jesus' proposal is demanding.

We must provide them with tools of contention for perseverance, such as community:  an active community life, other than simply wasting time talking about inconsequential things that do not fill the heart.

These would be the keys to persevere. Because perseverance in adherence to Jesus is a dialogue of two freedoms: that of God and that of oneself. No one can demand anyone stay, as everyone has the freedom to leave. But that well-used freedom makes me stay: and that's wonderful.

How have you personally reacted to the crises in your life?

There have been times of crisis, of doubt, of uncertainty in my life. We must know how to distinguish when a doubt or crisis comes whether it is from God  (because it makes you grow) or if it is not of God, because then it is to try to collapse. I've always seen the hand of God in my life.

The other day I celebrated a Mass to seminarians at St. John's Seminary  and encouraged them to recognize that sometimes God is asking for many yeses in life, and it seemed that the most important yes was to enter the seminary.

But that is not the most important yes, because as time goes on, God goes asking for other yeses that first deconstructyou with the previous yes that you gave and, second, usually implies greater responsibility..  

I thought a lot and prayed a lot to be able to answer what would be the most important yes that I had to give: and I think it was the yes of the episcopate, the last one I had to give, the one that made me leave my religious family, to which I gave myself wholeheartedly and forever to start a totally different lifestyle than I had and with a much stronger responsibility than before.

The Lord is holding you and giving you the grace to respond; there were several, perhaps not so many, but some: and He gave me the strength to say yes.

When do you stop being a young adult and what is there after the JARs?

It's a question that concerns some, for those who have already surpassed the age... When it started, the limit to being a JAR was a person between the ages of 14 and 30. Afterwards, the  Statutes went a little further down, and then there was a new readjustment so that those before 14 years were preparatory stages and not JAR itself.

The Holy See usually turns 30’s as the age limit of youth: when a group wants to present a coordinator over those years, the Holy See does not usually accept it.

After the World Youth Day of Panama, the prior general told me that he would no longer work in Youth Pastoral butwith the female Augustinian-Recollect Secular Fraternity; the appointment was already prepared. The intention was to see how the young Augustinian who during his youth has lived a strong charismatic experience, could continue to live it when he surpasses the age.

I used to quite oppose the automatic passage of the JARs to the Secular Fraternities, until later I became convinced that if the Secular Fraternity was energized  it was possible that young people would have this unease of continuing to live the charism from another state of life.

The Secular Fraternity is something much stronger legally and canonically than the  Augustinian-Recollect Youth; because the JARs are a youth movement, but the  FSAR is a Christian Association of Faithful  with promises that are made all their lives; and that was the main root of my opposition to the automatic passage from one to another.

The challenge is to create that bridge between the JARs and the FSAR so that young people do not cut off the experience of charism at a certain age marked by statutes, but continue to live that charism even with their owncommunity..

I have known experiences in Venezuela and Argentina where young people from the same JAR community became part of a new Secular Fraternity together.  It was necessary to have an open heart and mind to accept these new structures. But it was achieved.

It would be necessary for this to be able for the Secular Fraternity to also be a community of communities. It is necessary to solve the problem of people of different groups, age and condition being added in the same community that had already been walking the path and that will have a hard time connecting up with those who have just started walking, and especially those who are just arriving that no nothing, except the charism.

One of the most challenging things would be to make the Secular Fraternity a community of communities, in which this ancient JAR community is respected and allowed to be modeled as a Community of the Fraternity that in turn is part of a larger community in the Secular Fraternity of that ministry or community.

What should be the main work of the young religious with the JAR groups?

Pope Francis  asks the whole Church and those religious who work with the JARs to be the protagonists, that it is not the friar who commands or carries the thing forward; because the friars change, today we are in one place and tomorrow in another: it is the young people who must guarantee the process..

This prominence implies that the JARs are theirs, of the young: we friars are not JARs, the friars are friars and we have to keep this in mind because sometimes identity problems are created in both young people and friars; and friars can feed the dependence of young people, in the sense that if the friar is not there, it does not work.

Not only must we tell the friar that young people are the protagonists: it is also necessary to remind  the young people that they are the real protagonists, who must carry things forward.

To be an adviser, which is the most appropriate word, is to sit next to it, to accompany: neither make way for the other, nor demand the rhythm that the friar has but respect the rhythm of the young man and let the young people be protagonists.

In this sense, the main work towards them implies a certain paternity, that does not imply being fatherly: young people do not need the friar to be a friend, they already have friends elsewhere; if then the friar also befriends, blessed be God, but that is not the objective: attention with those who want to have more in common with youth by becoming "compinches": you have to be those who love them, but also demand them and even correct them.  

In a Synod of Evangelization, a young man said before all the synods: "young people are tired of priests pretending to be young people: we want priests with us."

What differentiates a young JAR from those of other youth or ecclesial groups?

It's a lot of things. One that fills my heart and makes me very proud and excites me is when young JARs say that being JAR is a real lifestyle: that's very profound both to say it and to live it. Another thing that characterizes them and is not easy to hear in other groups is when they talk about their community as a family, when they talk about "community brother".

Another special feature of the JARs is in the five distinctive notes, which is something that distinguishes them especially.

The Augustinian note defines everything, although in the Statutes it is the last one. It is the one who gives the most identity of all others: to be Augustinian is to have a certain way of praying, of making community, of evangelizing, of feeling special affection for the Mother of the Consolation knowing that she is someone very special in the life of each one.

The Community note is the way of life that St Augustine left to the Church: to follow Jesus in a community of brothers and sisters. That phrase of "being one soul and one heart directed toward God" struck St Augustine when he read it in the Acts of the Apostles  but with the particular characteristic. In the Acts we speak of "one heart and one soul"; and St Augustine changed it: "one soul and one heart". As a great pedagogue, I knew that the last thing that was said was what was left. He wanted us to be heart. And that is the JAR: to put heart and to be heart, which is key to community life, to be creators of communion.

The Orante note  causes us to look at Augustinian spirituality, which is its own, rather than borrowed spiritualities. In an Augustinian process of prayer, especially and particularly, what St Augustine asks is to make prayer desire. If your desire is continuous, your prayer is continuous. Beyond the Augustinian method  (don't go outside, enter yourself, meet and transcend), the key to Augustinian prayer is to enlarge desire. Thus, we must ask Jesus to make that restlessness in our hearts ever greater. The day that we are no more restless, that day we not only cease to be Augustinians and Christians: we die.

The Marian note cannot be an addition to the Christian life, nor is it a tender element within the Christian life. St Paul VI said that the non-Marian is not a Christian. Our Lady condenses and brings together all the values of the Gospel of Jesus and it is in her that we must reflect ourselves to make the Gospel closer to us. Mary is not only intercessor or mediator, but especially as a role model. She was able to say Yes to Jesus amid the uncertainty of being Mother of God, who did not know what it meant; the one who had to accept his son's culturally misunderstood lifestyle at the time; the one at the foot of the cross and rejoiced with the Resurrection and finally waited with the apostles for the Holy Spirit. This is the Marian imprint of our Lady of Consolation on the JARs.

The Missionary note comes from no one receives God's life and then keep it in their hearts. After receiving the Holy Spirit, when the Sanhedrin wants to prevent them from speaking for Jesus, John and Peter respond that they cannot shut up what they have seen and heard. When there is fire in the heart one has Jesus in his life and has no choice but to spread it with testimony. First you are a missionary with the testimony and then with the explicit announcement; and especially in the places where it's most difficult. Jesus warned him: "I send them like sheep in the midst of wolves." That, metaphorically, is very nice. But let's think: if you had only one sheep, would you put it alone among a pack of wolves? For that is the life of the missionary.

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