After overcoming many difficulties, the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity has a new community in Orlando, Florida, where it has never been before.
Saturday, September 26 was a special day for the six members of the new Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity of Orlando (Florida, United States). In the morning the new community was officially erected. In addition, five of them made their promises as Secular Augustinian Recollects. It was a simple, austere and reduced celebration that counted with the presence of the Augustinian Recollect Javier Legarra, who presided the Eucharist.
The priest came from Mexico. Weeks ago, the vicar provincial in the United States, Marlon Pontongan, informed Ignacia Cañizalez that he had already secured a religious to accompany them on this important day. This was the last of the difficulties that Ignacia had to overcome. Her arrival in Orlando was not an inconvenience to continue with her vocation to the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity. Despite the fact that the closest communities are more than 1,500 kilometers away, Ignacia did everything possible to have the Augustinian Recollect family present in the state of Florida.
Only the joy of living her vocation and her desire to make Christ known led her to the 26th of September. She left Venezuela several years ago. First he arrived in Union City, where in 2016 he made his promises to the FSAR. Ignacia herself tells of how, one year after her promises, she asked God what he wanted from her. “I felt that he was telling me that he wanted total surrender,” she says. So she set out to do all she could to spread the Gospel.
When she arrived in Orlando she began to meet people from different circumstances. That’s how he met Mariana Brito. Ignacia announced to all her acquaintances that she would give an Augustinian workshop individually in different houses with the desire to make Augustinian spirituality known. Many were away from the Church but recovered their faith by listening to the conversion of St. Augustine. That was what Mariana liked: “I fell in love with St. Augustine and with interiority thanks to her”. According to those present, Ignacia taught her workshops with passion. “She was looking for the time to see us; she made us interested in this”, says Mariana.
One day she decided to start talking to them about the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity. “I wanted to found a community because in Orlando there was no community and I needed my brothers,” she says. In that way, she began to form the new aspirants on her own. The religious supported her in the distance by sending her material. “The friars have supported me and have been very attentive to us,” Ignacia explains. The group continued to co-exist to such an extent that Mariana Brito assures that her community are “some little angels who have touched my life; I feel that I am not alone”.
The neo-community was going to make its promises in April, but the pandemic prevented this important event. Ignacia feared that the good tune would be cooled by the situation and the undated postponement of the promises. “When I announced that a priest could come and we would finally make the promises, the group indicated that they already believed that would never happen,” she recalls.
The big day came. Days before, Sergio Sanchez, prior provincial of the Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine, had sent a letter to Ignatia in which he officially erected the community of the Secular Fraternity, under the name of St. Magdalene of Nagasaki, patroness of the FSAR. Likewise, in his writing, Sanchez recalled Ignatius’ promises: “This is how God’s works begin, with a grain of mustard or a little yeast; He does the rest, touching our hearts and wills”.
God never abandoned them. Mariana affirms that she has felt “God touching my heart” and provoked in her “much peace and tranquility”. Now the six of them must walk together, firm in their faith. They commit themselves to continue forming themselves. “Our work begins inside”.