October 2: ARRIVAL AT THE VENUE
All the 40 participants to the LV General Chapter were reportedly present on this day at the venue: Casa Nostra Signora Madre della Misericordia at the Via di Monte Cucco in Rome.
The delegates from the Philippines arrived earlier in Rome, in pairs (Frays Selma and Buhay on September 30, and Frays Larlar and Marcos on October 1). They still had time to bond with oour student-priests at Collegio Sant’Ildefonso in Via Sistina.
October 3: MASS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. ELECTION OF CHAPTER OFFICERS. INPUT ON REVITALIZATION AND RESTRUCTURING
The votive Mass of the Holy Spirit was presided by Archbp. José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
After the mass, all the members of the General Chapter posed for a photo-op. At midmorning, they assembled at the chapel for the holy hour led by Fray Miguel Angel Hernandez.
Towards the end of the morning, the Capitulars consolidated at the Chapter hall for the first morning session with the solemn singing of the Veni Creator. The initial exhortation of the Prior General and President of the Chapter, Fray Miguel Miró, followed; then, the election of key Chapter officers. Through election, the following Capitulars were to carry out their respective tasks: Frays Rafael Mediavilla and Miguel Angel Hernandez as moderators, Fray Javier Tello as Chapter Secretary, Fray Simón Puertas as Councilor, and Frays Angel Martínez, Alfredo Sánchez and Wesley Silva as tellers.
Part of the day’s program was the first input given by Fr. Pedro Aguado, Superior General of the Piarists or Scolopi (Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools) who talked about his experiences of revitalization and restructuring.
October 4: SECOND DAY OF THE CHAPTER
The day began with the Eucharistic celebration in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Fray Miguel Miró, Chapter President, presided the mass. Together with him were the two elected moderators, Frays Rafael Mediavilla (San Nicolas Province) and Miguel Angel Hernandez (Santo Tomas Province), as altar co-celebrants.
At the Chapter hall, the Capitulars continued to work on the tasks assigned to them.
ROME—Fray Dionisio Selma, Prior Provincial of the St. Ezekiel Moreno Province, leads the group of Filipino Recollects who are participating in the sexennial General Chapter to be held at Casa di Esercizi Spirituali Nostra Signora Madre della Misericordia in Via di Monte Cucco, Rome, starting October 2, 2016.
The other Filipinos in the list are Fray Lauro Larlar, former prior provincial and elected delegate of the province during the 6th Provincial Chapter on February 2015; Fray Julius Marcos, vicar of the province and president of the Recoletos Educational Apostolate in the Province (REAP); Fray Raul Buhay, parish priest of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Brgy. Inagawan, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan; and Fray Samson Silloriquez, Fourth General Councilor, General Procurator, and General Postulator for the Causes of Saints.
Frays Marcos and Buhay were elected by the voting religious of the St. Ezekiel Moreno Province to represent this eighth youngest province of the Order.
In the light of the OAR Constitutions 335, Frays Selma and Silloriquez are “a iure” members of the said chapter while the other three are “elected” members, or properly called “delegates”.
The sixth Filipino in the roster is Fray Marlon Beof, an elected representative of the Province of St. Augustine where he is the first provincial councilor.
“The General Chapter is the Order’s highest authority and must be a sign of unity in charity,” says the OAR Constitutions 331.
For the incumbent Prior General, Miguel Miró, in his on-line blog: “The Chapter is a time of grace and discernment, not only for those taking part, but also for all the religious of the Order.” And he adds, “It is a call to communion, and disposing ourselves to have a plan for life and mission which stirs up hope and permits us to go forward together on the same path.”
Considering the wind of revitalization and restructuring that has swept the entire OAR during the previous sexennium since 2010, the catchy slogan for the 55th General Chapter “springs from the heart of Augustine and touches our life and mission today,” according to Father Miró. The Spanish text reads: ‘Toda nuestra esperanza está en tu gran misericordia. Da lo que manda and manda lo que quieras.’ (‘All our hope is in your great mercy. Give us Lord what you command, and command what you will’).
The quotation is taken from St. Augustine’s Confessions 10.29.40.
The carefully chosen motto is accompanied by an ideographic representation of four religious with colors blue, orange, red and green, and whose bodies are heart-shaped. The entire figure portrays diversity united in and by charity.
Here are the other members of the historic chapter of this millennium: The General Council members—Fray Miguel Miró, Prior General; Fray José Ramón Pérez, Vicar General and President of the General Secretariat of Formation; Fray José Ma. Sánchez, Second General Councilor and President of the General Secretariat of Educational Apostolate and Youth Ministry; Fray Pablo Pandeas, Third General Councilor and President of the General Secretariat of Spirituality; Fray Jairo Alberto Gordillo, Fifth General Councilor and President of the General Secretariat of Ministerial and Mission Apostolate; and Fray Francisco Javier Tello, Sixth General Councilor and General Secretary. (Please note that Fray Silloriquez was already counted earlier.)
Pursuant to the OAR Constitutions 336, the former Prior General, Fray Desiderio Guerra, is also an “a iure” member of the chapter.
The other 7 Priors Provincial belong to the same category: Fray Sergio Sánchez (St. Nicholas), Fray Carlos Ma. Dominguez (St. Thomas de Villanueva), Fray Albeiro de Jesus Arenas (Candelaria), Fray José Ma. Aguerri (Consolation), Fray Michael Rafferty (St. Augustine), Fray Nicolás Pérez-Aradros Rubio (St. Rita), and Fray Daniel Ayala (St. Joseph).
Furthermore, the delegates elected by their respective province are: from the Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentino—Fray Rafael Mediavilla, Fray Francisco Javier Acero, Fray Angel Martinez Cuesta, and Fray Alfonso Ma. de Ligorio.
One delegate each from the following provinces: Province of Our Lady of Candelaria—Fray Jose David Niño; Province of St. Joseph—Fray Pedro Merino; Province of St. Rita of Cascia—Fray Ademir João Garcia; Province of Our Lady of Consolation—Fray Gabriel Antonio Robles; and St. Augustine Province—Fray Beof who was mentioned earlier.
Two delegates representing the Province of St. Thomas of Villanueva: Frays Miguel Angel Hernández and Julio Amezua.
Three religious brothers elected to join the assembly are Frays Enrique Gómez, Sebastián Ibañez, and Wesley Silva.
Plus, the remaining 7 more—one each from the other 7 provinces—who were elected by their respective provincial chapters, in accordance with OAR Constitutions 337. However, we are yet to get their names to complete the list.
All in all, there are 40 religious taking part in this life-changing event of the Recoletos.
Role of the Spirit
In the language of Scholastic philosophy, the abovementioned Capitulars possess “the proximate ground of possibility” for change to take place in the Order. But “the ultimate ground” lies in God’s hands.
As Father General rightly puts it: “Change is possible, given that the Spirit drives us towards a conversion that is personal, community-based, and pastoral. Only in this way will we be able to act hand-in-hand with a Church reaching out to the poor of our days: those who are poor through lacking the necessities of life, and those who are poor through having their hearts empty of love and distant from God.”
May the triune God, through the intercession of our saints and blesseds, continue to bless and guide the Order of Augustinian Recollects and the 55th General Chapter. Amen.
SYMBOLS IN THE LOGO
The Bamboo Cross - The mark of our Filipino Catholic Faith, from our Christianization to a lively inculturation of our faith.
The Flaming Heart - The Augustinian Recollect identity of a heart from God and a love for humanity.
The Island of Cebu - where the heart of Philippine Christianity is, our island is the first witness of the planting of the Cross of faith in our country.
The Circles of Continuing Presence:
- The image of the Immaculate Conception - Remembering... in the year 1621, the Recoletos was entrusted and established the first community in the island of Cebu in the Hermitage of Immaculate Conception; from then on, shared the Recoletos spirit of mission among the poor in Cebu.
- The image of San Jose - Transforming... in the year 1947 Colegio de San Jose was established, the Recoletos' evangelizing mission bears into fruition the "educational apostolate" in the hearts of the Visayan populace and beyond. In the year 1984, the school was granted the University status - becoming the University of San Jose - Recoletos.
September 12, 2016, a Monday and national holiday, was a historic day that would be forever etched in the history of the organization, Former Seminarians of the Order of Augustinian Recollects (ForSOAR), Cebu Chapter. It was on this day that the members of the said organization gathered together for a day of meeting that started at the University of San Jose – Recoletos (USJR), Cebu City and ended at the posh and private resort in Punta Engano, Lapu-Lapu City owned by Atty. Pete Flores, a ForSOAR member himself. Attended by twenty one members belonging to different batches, the whole day was spent in prayer (bene orare), community life (bene vivire) and study (bene studere) – indeed, a way of re-living the Augustinian Recollect spirit which all these men had learned and experienced when they were in their years of formation in the different houses of formation of the Order.
There could be no better way to start the gathering than to celebrate the highest form of prayer, the Holy Eucharist. It was held at the chapel of USJR at exactly eleven o’clock in the morning. Fr. Celso Magbanua Jr. was the main celebrant and Fr. Leander Barrot, OAR was the homilist. Fr. Reynaldo “Boyax” Jaranilla, OAR also concelebrated. Together with Mr. Richard Burgos, ForSOAR President, Frs. Barrot and Jaranilla initiated and spearheaded the gathering.
In his homily, Fr. Barrot reminded the brothers to touch base with the Eucharist for just as it gave life and strength to the early Christians, as proclaimed in the first reading of the day, then, it would be for us today. A Scripturist, Fr. Barrot also thanked the brothers for their presence on this gathering even the invitation was given on a short notice. By the way, Fr. Barrot was celebrating his 24th sacerdotal anniversary on this day. He was ordained to the priesthood with three others in 1992 at Our Lady of Consolation Parish, Mira-Nila, Tandang Sora, Quezon City.
After the Mass, the brothers proceeded to the OAR fathers’ refectory at the fourth floor of the university for a lunch. They were welcomed warmly by the community headed by Fr. Vicente Ramon, OAR, the prior of the community. Mr. Chito Sy, who solely organized this gathering, delivered some words of gratitude to the fathers before the blessing of the meal. While relishing the delicious foods prepared by Bro. Jaazeal “Tagoy” Jakosalem, OAR, the community’s procurator, the brothers were heard sharing stories and laughters. From the scene, it could be seen that everyone was glad for the presence of each one and that everyone was interested to know the updates of each of the brothers. Truly, the Recollect spirit of community life filled the hall! The meal closed with a prayer immediately after Fr. Ramon assured ForSOAR Cebu of the fathers’ continuous spiritual support.
Carried by the university’s mini bus, courtesy of Bro. Jakosalem, property custodian of the university, and some cars in convoy, the brothers headed to Punta Engano for the main purpose of the gathering, the meeting. They arrived at the place a little bit past the hour of three in the afternoon. The meeting did not immediately happen. Instead, the sharing of stories and laughter, that started at the convent of the fathers at the university, continued. Healthy beverages and finger foods added more fun to the already high-spirited mood of the brothers. Nevertheless, this was put into suspension since the brothers were called upstairs for the start of the meeting.
The meeting commenced with everyone introducing himself to the group, for, although they have been together for almost six hours, yet some were still complete strangers to others. This was understandable because the group was composed of members from different batches, spanning from 1967 to 2015 by last year of presence at Seminario Mayor – Recoletos, now Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary, in Baguio City.
Afterwards, Mr. Richard Burgos took up the cudgels. He told the brothers at once that this meeting was called to inform the brothers that the Order is inviting them to a more and deeper spiritual relationship, i.e., by becoming members of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity (SARF). Mr. Burgos then proceeded by presenting to the brothers the bird’s eye view of the SARF, with emphasis on the possibility of crafting a special formation program for ForSOAR while still keeping the number of years of formation as stipulated in the constitution and by-laws of the SARF.
When the presentation was over, open forum ensued. There was a common concern about the tedious process of formation, specifically the regular meetings for study, reflection and discussion on the different topics on Catholic doctrines and important things about the Order. There was a feeling of “fear” for many because they might not fulfill the demands of formation due to their responsibilities with their family and job. To all of these, Mr. Burgos, Fr. Barrot and Fr. Jaranilla were saying in unison that this should not cause a worry for the ForSOAR members because it could be tailored-fit to their situation. In the end, it was agreed upon by the group that, for now, they would strengthen their group by meeting regularly with the intention that some of them would eventually respond to the call of becoming full-fledged members of the SARF.
The gathering ended with a sumptuous dinner and a plunging into the cold swimming pool of the luxurious villa. Thanks to Atty. Pete Flores who made all this possible.
Like the Order who continues to unfold her history and continues to grow in grace and number, ForSOAR Cebu and the rest of the organization in the entire country will continue to live, hopefully into a new direction, namely, its members becoming professed members of the SARF. Certainly, it is in this way that all members of this prestigious organization would fulfill their dreams of becoming an Augustinian Recollect which they all had when they first step on the doors of the Order.