"75 years journeying with hope": The Augustinian Recollect Missionary Sisters opened a jubilee year to remember their official recognition as a Congregation.

"75 years journeying with hope": The Augustinian Recollect Missionary Sisters opened a jubilee year to remember their official recognition as a Congregation.
News | 2022 Jan 20

The Augustinian Recollect Missionaries, a female missionary Congregation of the Augustinian Recollect Family, inaugurated their jubilee year on January 15th to celebrate, remember and thank God for these first 75 years of service (1947-2022) and official recognition as a Congregation. Therefore, this year 2022 will be marked by various activities to remember the history of the Congregation.

The first steps towards its foundation began in 1930, when the Augustinian Recollect Friar and Bishop in Kweiteh (Henan, China), Javier Ochoa, sought within the contemplative Augustinian Recollect monasteries of Spain, volunteers for his mission which needed feminine hands for several of the pastoral needs in the Diocese, especially the care of abandoned girls. With their presence, the local church would have an option for any young girls interested in the religious life.

Three cloistered Recollect Nuns raised their hand to accept the challenge and went to the mission in China, leaving their convents to begin a new life and a new vocation and, in time, a new Congregation: Esperanza Ayerbe, María Ángeles García and Carmela Ruiz.

Five years later, in 1935, Ignacio Martínez, Augustinian Recollect Friar and Prelate in the mission of Labrea Amazon (Brazil) made the same petition, and more sisters went to offer their services at a school that still exists today, the Educandário Santa Rita. The Recollect nuns that went there were Adelaida Miguel, Maria Diez Ulzurrun and Vicenta Fernandez.

In 1940, the sisters Esperanza and Carmela returned to Spain from China in order to open a novitiate house and have more vocations to expand more in the Chinese mission. After quite a few challenges, they finally opened their house of formation in Monteagudo (Navarre), which is also the birthplace of Monsignor Ochoa and Mother Esperanza, knowing the families in the region would help them to promote vocations.

Missionary sister could not be sent to China due to the second World War, so communities were established in Spain and Colombia with permission of the Superior General of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters of the Philippines to which they had been incorporated by the Holy See in 1936 to provide a legal umbrella for Monsignor Ochoa's founding.

Finally, on January 18, 1947, its canonical erection took place as a Congregation of a differentiated diocesan character, with the name of Augustinian Recollect Missionaries of Mary, and included the communities in Spain, Brazil, Colombia and China (where only Sister Angeles Garcia remained). Francisco Javier Ochoa wrote the first Constitutions and their motto, “Soli Deo Honor et Gloria” (Only to God honor and glory), as well as its official coat of arms.

In the General Chapter of 1969, held to adapt and renew the Constitutions to the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council, the current name was approved: Augustinian Recollect Missionaries (MAR). They are currently present in Spain, China, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, and Ecuador, in missionary, educational, and support ministries for parish and base communities.

Celebrating the Jubilee Year Inauguration in Monteagudo

The congregation’s superior general, Nieves María Castro, had sent out a letter with the logo and motto for the occasion with an agenda with several activities that will emphasize the spirit of celebration and remember the history, missions and dedicated work of so many sisters. She encouraged all to live the inaugural celebration with enthusiasm.

The Eucharist was presided by the Augustinian Recollect, Eusebio Hernández, Bishop of Tarazona (Zaragoza, Spain) and the chapel was full with sisters from different communities.  

The MARs were accompanied by members of the Augustinian Recollect Family, friars from various communities and from the novitiate house which is also in Monteagudo; members of the Secular Augustinian-Recollect Fraternity; and many family and friends from the town of Monteagudo and from other parts of the country. No one wanted to miss this opportunity to congratulate the Congregation on its anniversary.

Bishop Eusebio Hernández, in his homily, stressed that the celebration of the jubilee year is a reason for celebration and joy, in line with the reading of the episode of the Wedding at Cana that was proclaimed in the gospel. He encouraged that it also be an occasion to join the Church in the current project of synodality.

During the offertory, symbolic gifts were presented to recall the history of the Congregation: a plant symbolizing the beginnings; flowers to signify the plurality and diversity of the Congregation; the “Walking with hope” logo; an image of Sister Cleusa Carolina Rhody Coelho (1933-1985), murdered in Labrea, a symbol of total dedication to the service of the Kingdom; and finally, the bread and wine to continue sharing in Christ’s mission.

The Superior General, shared some final words thanking God and all the people who throughout the history of the Congregation has helped in reaching this day of celebration, and she also thanked and congratulated all the living members for the dedication to their divine calling.

She thanked all those present and invited all to sing the Congregation’s hymn titled “Honor and glory to God alone” to conclude the Eucharist Celebration and go on to share some appetizer and fraternal sharing.

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