Fr. Gabino Areitio O.A.R., deceased, promotor of Augustinian Recollect Spirituality throughout England

Anyone who met Fr Gabino were surprised when they were told his age. All his life he looked so well for whichever age he was at. Up until the last few months of his life he still had the same physical and mental agility that he had as a young man. What was his secret? He would tell you that he had no secret other than hard work.

Fr Gabino Areitio Bereincua was born of 25th October 1915, in Durango in Viscaya (Spain). When he was twelve years old he entered the college of St Joseph in Lodosa (Navarra). After three years studying philosophy he was sent to Rome to study theology.

In 1938 he arrived on the shores of England. Just one year after his arrival WW2 broke out. He was ordained in Paignton, Devon on 26th March 1939.

St Rita’s Promotions

In the late 1950’s Fr Gabino was sent to Honiton as prior; along with Fr Ernest Fry they set out to build up the devotion to St Rita in this country. They bought an old second-hand printing press and installed it in a crumbling old stable and began St Rita’s Promotions. For over fifty years they built up the devotion to St Rita. Eventually they could count the devotees in thousands and from many different countries.

Fr Gabino was an enthusiastic fan of new technology. He brought in more up to date equipment including an electric typewriter; which was to be replaced in due course by a Word processor and then an Apple Mac computer – the first computer to be purchased at St Rita’s. Some redecoration was undertaken in the 1990’s and the Repository (shop) began to make a small but significant appearance, mainly due to the request of our benefactors but also by local parishioners who wanted to able to buy their Mass cards, rosaries, Christmas and Easter Cards. It was housed somewhat haphazardly in one of the offices. In the late 1990’s it was proposed and agreed that the shop, which was rapidly outgrowing its present position, should be moved into another larger room…

By this time we were no longer doing any printing and the machines had been broken up and removed; the Shop Fitters were brought in, a plan was drawn up and the ‘new’ shop emerged from what had once been the printing room. It was an exciting time, to be at the start of something new; also an anxious time because we really needed it to bring in some income and justify the expense of having a new shop installed. This might be good place to mention that on St Rita’s Day and Retreat Days it could do with having elastic walls, so many people cram into the shop to buy their religious items, making all our efforts and the financial investment made by the Recollects worthwhile. As well as walking in customers, we offer a postal service and produce our catalogue on an annual basis to all those on our data base. So the shop certainly is paying its way and providing a small annual profit to help offset the expenses of the students for the priesthood.

The next big step in the development of the Promotions was to renovate the office. Up until October 2008, we were still using the old Army surplus desks and filing cabinets so once again a proposal was made and agreed that the office should be completely refurbished. It took a little over two months to complete the refurbishment done during one of our busiest times of year, the run up to Christmas. Undaunted we moved all our equipment into the shop and worked there sending out our Christmas orders and replying to over 1200 letters and orders until the ‘new’ office was ready just before Christmas. It is, for us after using WW2 desks for so long, a state of the art office with its own unique sense of quiet efficient day to day business running alongside the peace and tranquillity of the Centre.

St Rita’s day

Fr Gabino established the devotion to the saints of the Order by means of Novenas. We receive an average of about 1200 replies to the Novena letters, all of which are answered individually making a total of replies 6,000 per annum.

Special devotion was reserved for the patron of the house, St. Rita, and each year the celebration of St Rita’s day grows. For example 2010 was a very successful occasion organised by St Rita’s Promotions and the Centre. Rt. Rev David Charlesworth, Abbot of Buckfast said Mass on a very hot Saturday. The Office Administrator did a deal with the Catholic papers and 300 free papers arrived at the Centre and were given out to all who attended. Shop sales on the day were a little over £1,200.