After presenting his resignation, Bishop Ángel San Casimiro will cease to be bishop of Alajuela (Costa Rica) next May. “Being a bishop is not a privilege, it is not above anyone.” He assures that he is happy to return to the community with the rest of the Augustinian Recollects
When he turned 75 on September 16 and as mandated by the canonical norm, Bishop Ángel San Casimiro, Augustinian Recollect, presented his resignation as bishop of Alajuela (Costa Rica) before the Holy Father. Almost six months later, the Pope accepted his resignation and appointed his successor. It will be May 26 when he finally leaves his post and gives it to the friend Bartolomé Buigues.
After 22 years exercising the episcopal ministry, the Augustinian Recollect Bishop is already tired. He says he wanted to meet his successor. “Once you present the resignation, you no longer have the same energy to carry on the diocese with the responsibility that you should,” he says. However, he presents his resignation following the canonical norm that allows the bishops to renounce their responsibility when they are 75 years old and not by simple fatigue or satiety.
With a deep faith and a retrospective look, Msgr. San Casimiro places in the hands of God all the work done. On October 7, 1995, his episcopal ordination took place in Ciudad Quesada (Costa Rica). “I do not understand, if it is not from faith, why the Lord granted me this important ministry,” he says. He humbly recognizes two defects for which he believes he should not have been a bishop: “I did not believe myself with the academic capacity to face this mission with full responsibility and I am not a model of virtue for anyone.”
Reflecting, he confesses that he found the answer to the questions that were asked before receiving the staff and miter. “God sometimes uses what is useless to carry out his work and so the instrument does not appropriate the effectiveness of the work,” and goes on to say that “this is why the Lord chooses people who are not humanly qualified but they are the ones who, through them, want to carry out their work “.
For all this, Angel San Camisiro says feel “an attitude of thanks to God for having trusted me despite my shortcomings.” “I thank God because despite my little preparation the Lord has done good things,” he says.
“My evangelizing work, I leave that to God”
In Ciudad Quesada, his first assignment as bishop was 12 years. When he arrived, he had to suffer in a rural diocese that had no infrastructure. “The most important thing is the internal infrastructure of each one, although we must use human resources”, he explains. That is why he began to equip the diocese with an infrastructure according to his needs.
Later he took possession in 2007 of the diocese of Alajuela, in which he had previously been parish priest of the Parroquia del Carmen. “I came to accompany,” he says, “because my predecessor had left the north marked by which the diocese had to walk.” During the last ten years he has focused his pastoral work on families, young people, vocations and the poor.
When asked about his pastoral work, St. Casimir rejects. “My evangelizing work, I leave it to God to issue that judgment,” he says. What he does know is that pastoral work must continue because he considers that “it must be a permanent process and not occasional events”.
“Being a bishop is not a privilege”
The episcopal ministry that the Augustinian Recollect has performed for more than 20 years is for him a service. “Being a bishop is not a privilege, it is not above anyone,” he says bluntly. Two phrases summarize for the bishop of Navarre the work of the bishop. One, Jesus: who wants to be the greatest of you, who is the server. The other, from Saint Augustine: with you I am a Christian, for you I am the bishop. “If the bishop is a good Christian, he is a good bishop,” he says.
“The bishop must accompany the people: by going behind to push them when they need it, going ahead to show them the way or going along to share life with them.” In this sense, the bishop sees Pope Francis as the best reference today.
He relates with emotion the last Ad Limina visit he made with the Costa Rican bishops. “I was surprised by his closeness, the freedom I felt to ask him what he wanted,” he says. That is why he believes that the relationship of the bishops with the Pope is very close. “It helps us that what he says, he is the first to comply,” he says.
“I’m happy to return to the community because my life makes more sense”
During the years in which he has held his episcopate, Ángel San Casimiro has missed his community of Augustinian Recollect brothers. “I’ve always liked living in a community,” he shares. It is something that has tried to move to his presbytery, providing a sense of community. In May, as bishop emeritus of Alajuela, he will again be part of the work of the Augustinian Recollects in Ciudad de los Niños, in Cartago (Costa Rica). “I’m happy to return to the community because my life makes more sense,” he says.
With only ten years he entered the disappeared school-seminary of San José, in Lodosa (Navarra, Spain), nine kilometers from his town. This is how he tells his story: “At the school, I received the visit of an Augustinian Recollect, Fr. Manuel Simón, who asked who wanted to go to the seminary, and I quickly raised my hand.” His referent to make this decision was none other than the parish priest of his town. “I used to say to myself ‘when I grow up I want to be like this man'”.
Therefore, Archbishop Ángel San Casimiro asks that in addition to praying that the Lord “keep calling young people”, the friars and priests are “good” callers, “that we make an impression and desire to continue the life we lead.”