PANAMA - The Augustinian Recollect laypersons in Panama, headed by the brother general Manuel Jose Paredes, have moved for this tribute to the religious as they celebrate their four-century presence in the Isthmus. The award, as it is normally conferred to persons, is in honor of the missionary, Bernardino Garcia (1862-1937), a very influential Augustinian Recollect during the first years of the history of Panama as an independent country.
This awarding ceremony is to be held at the chancery of the Republic, in a building where Colegio San Agustín used to be from 1954 to 1959. Interestingly, the coat of arms of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, which the friars put in 1954, is still on its façade. The Vicechancellor Francisco Alvarez de Soto, will preside the ceremony, in which the Prior General, Miguel Miró, is to extend his gratitude for the reception that the Panamanians accorded to the friars for four hundred years in their country. Likewise, he will thank the president of the Republic, Ricardo Marinelli, for this recognition that the National Government confers to a religious who, precisely in 2012, would celebrate his 150th birthday. Moreover, he will also take this opportunity to recall the religious who have given up their life for the people of this country in parish ministry, the missions and most especially in the field of education.
Everything began last September 20, 2011 with the tribute, which the Universidad Catolica Santa Maria la Antigua (USMA) conferred to one of its founders, Fr. Benjamin Ayechu. His biography was then presented. Four months later, on January 15, during the Third Assembly of the Panamanian Church, the same Ayechu received the award, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. More recently, a congress on the Recollect history in Panama took place at the “Padre Benjamin Ayechu” hall also in USMA on October 5, 2012. Finally, on November 16, Msgr. Jose Luis Lacunza, Augustinian Recollect bishop of David, received the title, doctor honoris causa from the Universidad Autonoma de Chiriqui “for showing his capacity to mediate in national conflicts.”
Added to these, other recognitions were conferred to members of the Augustinian Recollect family in other places, namely: the tribute to the Augustinian Recollect foundress, Antonia de Jesus (1612-1695) in celebration of her 400th birthday last June; the palium received by the Augustinian Recollect Mario Molina, Archbishop of Los Altos (Guatemala) last June 29; the recognition of another Recollect, Felix Azcarate as “Father of the cultural development of Salcedo” in the Dominican Republic (November 1-3); and the closing of the process of canonization of Sor Maria Dolores del Amor de Dios, popularly know as Simi la Hebrea (1801-1887) last November 10. All of these fall within the Centenary of the recognition of the Augustinian Recollects as an independent Order, declared by Pope Saint Pius X through the papal brief, Religiosas familias (December 16, 1912). Pius X proclaimed that the new Order was a living and vigorous organism, whose “development and prosperity” he intended to promote. The abovementioned recognitions are proofs that the measure taken indeed worked and the desires of Pius X were fulfilled.
The honors are not important. What truly counts is the plan of renewal in which the Order endeavors within the last years. While referring to one of the moments of the Recollect history, Saint Pius X recalled the holy fire of the temple of Jerusalem, which was hidden as they were leaving for exile and was found again 70 years later, according to 2 Mc. 1: 18-36. This continues to be the reality of the Order, which is committed to the task of rescuing the original fire, of blowing on the first ember, and of reviving the call of the Spirit.
Published: December 13, 2012