On February 8, and with closing words of gratitude for the coordinating team, the renewal course for America came to an end. The thirty-five participating Augustinian Recollects came from six countries, including: Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and Brazil. Fr. Pablo Panedas, a member of the General Council and President of the Secretariat Spirituality of the Order, served as event coordinator.
For more than forty years, the Order of Augustinian Recollects has facilitated this month-long course, as a tool for continuing formation. To ensure attendance by all religious, it rotates among America, Europe, and Asia.
After the previous edition held in Rome, the Brazilian city of Río de Janeiro, was selected as host to receive participants on this occasion. The SANTO AGOSTINHO retreat center located in the Carioca city provided necessary facilities and space for the event.
Revitalization and community
Fully aware of the need to continuously renew the commitment before God and the brothers, all religious are asked to participate in this encounter every ten years. This is also a good opportunity to deepen the revitalization process the Order is currently engaged in. The work that is conducted during these four weeks has evolved around the themes of revitalization and community.
From the hand of St. Augustine, with the Bible, and other texts from the Recollect tradition, and accompanied by the example of the Saints, the event initiated. In the first week, Fr. Enrique Eguiarte, was in charge of firing up hearts with the spiritual exercises.
Noteworthy during week two of the gathering, was the testimony offered by Mr. Alexandro Bastos de Cunha, the founder of “Pequeño rebaño de Jesús” Association, an example of new communities in Brazil. Also very illustrative was the participation by Dom Roberto Lopes, a Benedictine monk and Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro in charge of the religious.
The Augustinian Recollect Enrique Gómez headed the third week with the study of the community in new Constitutions, and during the fourth week, Recollect themes went into charismatic sources, presented by Pablo Panedas, and other exemplary personalities in history, brought by André Pereira, also an Augustinian Recollect.
Almost half of participants spoke Portuguese, so it was necessary to alternate between this language and Spanish. Both languages were used for presentations and in the liturgy, and this was possible to a great extent because of the widespread use of electronic media. At the beginning of the course, each participant received a tablet which provided the Liturgy of the Hours and all the materials used in both languages.
Pilgrimage to Aparecida
The gathering served to learn more about the ministry and the work of the Augustinian Recollects in the country. Visits were organized to the two schools of the Order in the city, both dedicated to St. Augustine in the neighborhoods of Leblón and Nuevo Leblón. In addition, visitors attended the old San Jenaro Parish, also property of the Order.
Another important activity included a visit to the impressive sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Aparecida, Patron Saint of Brazil. Attendants celebrated mass and shared in the Brazilian devotion of the Virgin Mary. Weekends were reserved to see some of the main attractions throughout the city, including the Christ the Redeemer Statue at Mount Corcovado, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the neighboring Petrópolis.
Worth noting throughout the trip was the sense of friendship, joy, and prayer experienced at all times. This gathering is sure to renew the hearts of the participants, who in turn will definitely share their infectious ardor in their respective communities.