Our vocation is to "ardently seek the face of God that spreads in the simplicity of fraternal coexistence..."
We begin with the presentation of federal President Eva María Oiz Ezcurra, Navarre of Elzaburu (Navarra), who entered the monastery of Pamplona at the age of nineteen and, after the process of her formation, issued the solemn profession in 1974 in the same convent of Pamplona. From1999 to 2011 she served as secretary and counselor of the Federation, and at the 2011 Assembly she was elected federal president and re-elected to the 2017 Assembly. Sister Eve has had to face the new doctrinal and disciplinary accents proposed in the master documents "Finding the Face of God" and "Praying Heart". Corazón orante
Sister Eva, we all often like to know the basic data of an institution, in this case, of the Federation of Spain of Augustinian Recollect Nuns. How many monasteries form the Federation and where are they located?
In Spain, which is where the Order of Augustinian Recollect Nuns was born before the end of the sixteenth century, there are currently 27 monasteries; Philippines 1; Kenya 1 and Guatemala 1.
What are the number of nuns either solemn or simple vows and other candidates in the process of initial formation?
The number of nuns of solemn vows is 193; 27 single votes. There are 16 novices, 12 postulate and aspirants also 12.
Are you happy with these numbers and grateful to God?
Yes, God who calls, gathers us and gives us the vocation is gratefully accepted. Always with hope and prayerful restlessness so that it may continue to open the hearts of many young people who listen, follow their call and do not lack in the Church living monasteries of this special vocation, such Buscar el rostro de Dios as beacons of light, torches that accompany the way, sentinels of the dawn who announce the sunrise in the midst of the storm, witness and prophecy of Life centered on God and in the search for his face, as the Apostolic Constitution says.
What impact are the two documents – "Finding the Face of God" and "Prayer Heart" – having on the march of the Federation and monasteries in general?
It is the most beautiful doctrine that is in the mind, heart and life of nuns. They've become part of our legislation. After studying them in each community, a draft application study was prepared in the Federation for the Statutes and Board of Trustees of the Order. The Statutes were sent to each and every community, which represented in the Federal Assembly (May 2019) approved them there, and were sent to Rome in June of the same year. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life –CIVCSVA– approved them on August 5, 2019.
We now switch to the most typical subject of this interview. How are the convents or monasteries of the Federation of Spain living in the fourth centenary of the Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentino?
With the closeness of an intense prayer of praise, gratitude and request. We follow the celebrations and join and participate in the Eucharist of openness by social networks and, as soon as possible, in other celebrations.
The month of November, according to the plan of the Fourth Centenary Commission, is dedicated to the Augustinian Recollect Nuns and Discalced Augustinian Nuns, who have always been at the rear of ministerial action. It is a way of expressing the union between the Province and the Federation and to thank them for their spiritual support. Do you have any special action planned in the Federation throughout the commemorative year of the Fourth Centenary?
We thank the Province and the organizing team for the detail of dedicating ourselves to contemplatives this month in which the Order celebrates on the 6th the day of all the brothers and sisters who have passed away and with those with us who have lived together, and pray especially for them. On the 13th, the birthday of our Father Augustine and the day of the Saints of the Augustinian Recollect Family, we remember the brothers who have been sanctified in our homes - monasteries, residences, schools, parishes or mission territories - whose memory, example and celebration revitalizes the desire and commitment to our holiness.
By our contemplative vocation we have freely opted for the life of closure, which limits our external action and directs it inwards to ardently seek the face of God that spreads in the simplicity of fraternal coexistence and finds no barriers in its expansion.
What relationship have you had throughout history and continue to maintain with the Augustinian Recollects? How do you perceive the collaboration between the two Orders: Augustinian Recollects- Augustinian Recollect Nuns?
The relationship has been intense and beneficial, especially from the middle of the twentieth century in which the Federation emerged, thanks to its impulse, and the conciliar animation could be answered so that we could meet and be able to enter into proper renewal. It is worth noting as a key figure the person of Father Eugenio Ayape, prior general of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, in the renewal of the Constitutions. Also, the concept of Augustinian Recollect Family was significantly reinforced by its beneficial consequences for that time, including the Association of the Order with our monasteries.
Is there or have there been any special help or collaboration between the two Orders?
First and foremost, the service assistant and dedication to the entire assistant father, both to the Federation and to monasteries and sisters.
Likewise, it has been commendable and to thank all the hard work to carry out the processes of the causes of canonization that are incoated.
But if there is one thing to value and thank in this order of aid and collaboration is the extraordinary work done by Father Jesús Díez Rastrilla, Augustinian Recollect, recently deceased, in collecting and preparing the edition of the Complete Works and the Positio of our venerable mother Mariana de San José. On the other hand, it was fundamental and its contest essential in the preparation of our Training Plan; and now, a few days before his death, in updating this Plan according to the latest ecclesial documents relating to contemplative life.
In the new foundations, have you felt the support of the Augustinian Recollects?
Yes. The monastery of San Ezequiel Moreno in Bacolod-Philippines has felt its great support in the project of construction, civil efforts and financial aid of what is now a reality, by then Province of San Nicolás de Tolentino, and within this it is right to remember especially the effective accompaniment of Father Antonio Palacios, Augustinian Recollect. It continues today with the support of the Province of San Ezequiel Moreno, especially in the formative and spiritual dimension.
The monastery of Our Lady of Consolation in Wote, Kenya, because of its geographical location is more isolated, but it has not lacked the visit of the recollects, as well as telematic communication and financial aid through the efforts of the Commission of Social Apostolate of the Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentino. On occasion, also religious of the Province have given formation and given spiritual exercises.
The new foundation of the monastery of San José, located in San Andrés de Itzapa, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, apart from financial aid through the Generalate of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, receives the formative and spiritual attention of the nearest recollections of the Province of Our Lady of Candelaria.
What role does the assistant play in the life of the Federation?
He represents the Holy See before the Federation. He is not a senior superior, but he carries out his mission and service by favoring the preservation of the genuine spirit of the Order and assisting with his counsel the federal president in his administration, particularly in the formation of nuns, and reports on the functioning of the Federation to the Holy See. He participates in federal councils and is always willing to do what is required of him.
What do you expect from the Augustinians Recoletos in the field of formation or in others?
A collaboration - if possible - programmed, personal and appropriate to our contemplative vocation in the field of spiritual formation and attention.
In the most difficult moments of monasteries, have the Augustinian Recollects been companions on the way and in support? Could you give some concrete examples?
Each monastery is autonomous and each of them could better point it out. I do not have exact details, but they have intervened with their advice and assistance in economic matters, legislative arrangements on real estate or monastic heritage.
What has progressive internationalization that they have had in the last 25 years mean to the Augustinian Recollect Nuns?
A very enriching experience for both parties in the transmission of charisma; a strong experience in terms of decisions that have had to be made and for the challenge that always entails all inculturation. At the same time, thanks to this adaptation, many of the monasteries are still alive young and incarnate in varied ways the Augustinian Recollect contemplative charism.
Any messages for visitors to the www.agustinosrecoletos.org and for the friars?
May we all appreciate, lay and religious, the values of consecrated life, which have been tried to live by the religious of the Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, to which he has always been characterized by his evangelizing and missionary spirit.
I convey to the whole Province the deep fraternal gratitude on behalf of all the Sisters of the Federation of Spain, I congratulate you all and count on the support of our constant prayer so that the illusion and dedication does not diminish, and that the fidelity of each one will strengthen his call to a missionary commitment that has an impact on the sake of the apostolic ministries of the Province , of the Order and of the whole Church.
Thank you, Sr Eva. May monasteries outside Spain be consolidated and in all live-in fidelity the Augustinian Recollect contemplative charism. Thank you.