"Accompaniment is the lifestyle of the wise and humble, of those who want to know, accept, serve, love, trust and bring hope" (2/2)

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. Second part.
Testimonies | 2022 Nov 22

"Together" is the inspiring motto chosen by the Augustinian Recollect Family for the 2022-2023 academic year. What does this word suggest to you?

It is a fully evangelical motto and therefore Augustinian. We are a family of brothers and we organize ourselves in small local communities, each one with its own service or ministry: we are challenged to grow in our communication, in the manifestation of our affections, in carrying out the mission together.

Our local communities with their ministries make sense when we live in a family and community environment in which we share affection, thoughts and services. The Order, with this proposal, resonates the same as the Church, which invites us to strengthen synodality, that is, to walk together, to love the laity more, to trust them more, to listen more to their wisdom, to work more as a team with them and with each other.

How to reconcile this "Together" with the turmoil and urgency that religious and communities feel before their own, the local, the immediate?

It is not a simple matter. Each one of us religious has specialized in one or two areas, in which we are competent. It is logical that we focus on the ministry that we know, in which we have skills and experience, and in which the Order and the Church ask us to serve.

We have several means through which there is communion between the different ministries. The first is the publications and communications platform of the Province, especially this website agustinosrecoletos.org, as it helps us to know what is being lived and done in other communities.

There are activities that involve all of us, such as the ARCORES Solidarity Heart Day, the twinning between ministries and the zone assemblies.

Some initiatives that we want to strengthen in this four-year period help this joint work beyond the local: the assemblies in all the countries where the Province is located, the collaboration of some religious in the mission and border ministries, arbitrating frequent virtual meetings of inter-community character, the integration of more lay people in our organisms…

In addition, within the scope of the entire Order, the networking of schools with the Educar Network, of the Agustina Recoleta Spirituality Centers, of social projects and solidarity actions through ARCORES, of prevention tasks, creation of safe environments and the effective protection of minors and vulnerable people.

Is the word "accompaniment", so repeated in the Project of Life and Mission, a fashionable word and little else?

Absolutely not. It's not a buzzword. It is the lifestyle of those who want to transform themselves and help others to transform. Accompaniment is the lifestyle of the wise and humble, of those who want to know themselves better, accept themselves better and perform a valuable service in building the Kingdom of love of Jesus Christ, of those who want to strengthen their ability to love, trust and to bring hope.

Do you perceive if the “vocational culture” is already part of the mentality and life of the religious and communities of the Province?

Yes and no. We are all clearly aware of the great value of creating and expanding a vocational culture. Likewise, there is a general commitment regarding prayer in its different forms for vocations.

The question is varied when it comes to the degree of involvement of religious when accompanying groups or people who are undergoing vocational discernment. Some religious commit themselves greatly to this vocational culture, others to the extent of their possibilities and abilities, others remain on the sidelines for various reasons.

The Vocations Commission will visit the local communities to do its part, that is, to motivate them to collaborate with the vocation ministry.

How is the missionary thermometer of our Province? Do you perceive the real wishes of the religious to participate in missions and frontier ministries?

In my experience as a formator I realized that a good number of simply professed are willing and even dream of going to the missions or frontier ministries. In dialogue with solemnly professed religious, I also found a good number of them willing to go to the missions or frontier ministries.

The missionary sensitivity is still present in our Province. The difficulty lies in the gap between the number of religious (insufficient) and the large number of works that we carry out. For example, we are not going to ask religious over 70 years of age, who are a significant number, the sacrifice of going to those border ministries for obvious reasons.

In another order, several of the religious with sensitivity and availability to serve in missionary and frontier ministries are now carrying out important leadership tasks in other ministries.

Reality asks us to reorganize ourselves, to encourage greater collaboration from the laity and to seek new ways of serving in our ministries.

How will we implement our social action through ARCORES?

ARCORES is the Augustinian Recollect International Solidarity Network, the institution that works for peace, social justice, the end of poverty, equality, human rights and care for the planet from the gospel of Christ and with the nuance of our charism.

ARCORES is committed to education and training in justice and solidarity, promotes sustainable projects and encourages participation through volunteering.

Its importance for the Augustinian Recollect Family resides in the fact that in Christian spirituality there are three inseparable sisters: prayer-sacraments, fraternity-communion and service in favor of the impoverished.

ARCORES is a very important ally in developing this aspect of action in favor of the excluded and underprivileged in our society.

Are the religious trained in social communications? Do we meet the high expectations set forth by the Church and the demands imposed by the information society?

The fact that the PVM ( Life and Mission Project) does not address the formation of religious in the media in a concrete way does not mean that it will be left aside in this four-year period. For example, the programs of the houses dedicated in a special way to initial formation include this formation.

As an animator, my service is to motivate permanent training and communication and publication organizations to organize and propose training in science and the use of these media. Some religious people already do it on their own.

What does the Province do in terms of digital evangelization and inclusion of its mission in the information society?

We have some digital evangelization initiatives through the Province's website, the CEAR (Augustinian Recollect Spirituality Center) Querétaro programs for the Sembrador channel, and a presence on some social networks. Some religious do their part in a personal way. It is a mission that within the Augustinian Recollect Family we still have little developed.

In the Provincial Council at this moment we do not have in mind any new project in relation to digital evangelization. Having to answer this question is already an awareness of the matter. I take homework to reflect and search for concrete ways to be more present in the digital world with our evangelizing service.

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Augustinian Recollects Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine.

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