By: Bro. Michael Zion Anthony G. Madrona
Baguio City – The Prior General of the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) visited Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary (CaReS) as part of his fraternal visit to the communities of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno last November 3-6, 2023.
On the rainy and cold evening atmosphere at Baguio on November 3, Fr. Miguel Ángel Hernández Domínguez, OAR, Prior General, together with Fr. Luciano Audisio, OAR, Secretary General, and Fr. Rene Panglinawan, OAR, who acted as their interpreter, arrived in CaReS.
Nevertheless, the coldness of the weather was easily enveloped by the warm greetings and smiles of the community members of CaReS as they welcomed the visitors.
No Better Start Than Prayers
Fr. Lauro V. Larlar, OAR, Seminary Rector, reiterated to the brothers the reason of the Prior General’s visit and it is for the Prior General to know the state of the community.
With that, Fr. Larlar, OAR asked the community, “Is it not through prayer that we can best welcome and start Prior General’s visit?”
He, then, invited everyone to the chapel for the vespers and benediction.
During the dinner, the seminarians sang the Pescador de Hombres (Fishers of Men) and awarded ceremonial leis to the visitors as a symbol of their hospitality and gratitude for the visit.
On November 4, the community mass was presided over by Fr. Miguel Domínguez, OAR in his native tongue, Spanish.
This is not new, however, for the community who also celebrates mass every Thursday in Spanish.
However, for some seminarians, it is still a new thing to see a Spaniard say the mass.
“It was something new for me to see a Spaniard and especially our very own Prior General share the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with us,” said Bro. Ronald Duot, a first-year seminarian, as he shared his experience.
Dialogue with the Community
As part of the visit, the Prior General is to have a dialogue with the community (Const. 467).
Throughout the morning, the Prior General met with the seminary personnel and the members of different organizations in the seminary such as the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity (SARF) and the Recollect Augustinian Youth (RAY).
In the afternoon, the Prior General met the formators of the seminary.
Prior General’s Reminder to the Seminarians
On November 5, the Prior General had his dialogue with the seminarians.
The topmost official of the Order said to the seminarians that he only had one advice and perhaps it was the most important thing he would say that afternoon.
“Remember that you are living in a time of discernment,” said the Prior General.
Fr. Domínguez emphasized that there is no sadder tragedy than to see a seminarian concluding that he does not have a vocation when throughout his time in formation he has not lived out the demands of the call fully.
He, then, invited the seminarians to take advantage and be serious in the formation because throughout one’s life, whether they become a full-fledged Recollect or not, it will have an effect on them.
“Put out all your heart in everything you do, and maybe if you are still restless and unfulfilled then maybe that is the time that you can say that the Lord is calling you to do other things,” he added.
After the fruitful encounter and to ease the seriousness of the dialogue, the seminarians jokingly shouted “Padre, sorbetes!” (Father, ice cream!) to which the Prior General responded “I cannot give you ice creams but I can give you selfies.” With that, the dialogue ended with everyone laughing.
No Better End Than Prayers
During the dinner, the community sang songs to signify the despedida.
A short video presentation prepared by some brothers was also shown to the community.
After all the presentations, Fr. Larlar told the community, “We welcome him with prayers, let us send him off the same way.”
The mass of the next day was offered for the visitation of the Prior General to the remaining communities of the Province.
“There is no greater pasalubong (gift) that we can give the Prior General and the Secretary than for us to be true and authentic Augustinian Recollects,” Fr. Larlar told everyone before the final blessing of the mass as he informed the community that the Prior General is leaving after breakfast.
Fr. Miguel Angel was the former Prior Provincial of the Order of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova that has the Provincial House in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. He was born in Madrid, Spain on January 19, 1965. Fray Hernandez entered the religious life in 1988 and was ordained a Recollect priest on June 30, 1990.