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On the Road to 300 Years

Contemplating on the golden anniversary of the granting of Pontifical Right to the AR Congregation by the Holy See through a formal decree (decretum laudis), my mind raced back to the good things going on in our Congregation the last few years.

First, I’d like to mention the Augustinian Recollect Spiritual Exercises initiated by Rev. Fr. Enrique Eguiarte, OAR.  Who would have thought that we will have our own!  I always think of the Ignatian retreat as something that I need to experience so I can have my own taste of an Ignatian cloud 9 sort of thing! 

 

Our ARSE reveals how Saint Augustine’s heart beats only for love—love for God, love for neighbor.  And as such, a Recollect heart to be able to beat for love alone who is God, should find himself keenly aware and truly intimate with one’s own self.  Only then will a Recollect have a clear picture of his/her own helplessness without God and His great love.  Hence the need to be immersed in that Love, be completely soaked by it and to breathlessly cling to Him alone to complete one’s insufficiency.

As lofty as it is, our ARSE teaches us to race towards the other to embrace them with the love of God.  Our ARSE teaches us to tear down our mounds of pride to let humility grow in its place.  Since then, the monthly recollection of the Motherhouse community in Manila are topics from ARSE and conducted by our very own Recollect Fathers.  Since the pandemic, all the AR communities join the recollection via zoom.  Yet, even after the pandemic, they continue to join the recollection of the Motherhouse community when they already have the freedom to get their own recollection facilitator and have their own schedule.

Second, on November 20, 2020, the Recollect Sisters celebrated the 50th anniversary of the granting of Pontifical Right to the AR Congregation.  With this celebration, we looked back with profound gratitude to the Recollect Fathers who were instrumental to the Congregation’s spiritual and moral formation since from the very beginning when Mo. Dionicia and Mo. Cezilla Rossa Talangpaz arrived in Calumpang, to the Diocesan Bishops who guided our Sisters in the work of elevating the Congregation from being of Diocesan Right to being granted Pontifical Right through a formal decree. 

Going through the files of old documents in the archives, I felt a strong sense of connectivity with the past and the resolve to continue the noble act of the Talangpaz Sisters.  I wanted to say, the whole thing felt strange but no, deep within me, the resolve to continue what they’ve started ran deep.  

Last year, we launched the first of the three-year preparation for the 300th year of the foundation of the AR Congregation (July 16, 1725).  The General Council prepared series of talks for the three consecutive years (2022, 2023, 2024).  Two important dates in the lives of our foundresses were allotted for these talks:  July 16 and October 12.  The first being the birthdate of Mo.  Cezilla Rossa Talangpaz and the second being the death anniversary of Mo. Dionicia Talangpaz.

On the first year of preparation, Fray Arnel Diaz, OAR gave a lecture on The Canonical Understanding of Charism of a Religious Institute on July 16, 2022.  The second talk was given by Sr. Ma. Lirio Guillermo, AR on The Foundation and Growth of the Beaterio 1725-1900 on October 12, 2022.  Fr. Arnel Diaz’s talk clarifies salient questions raised by the Sisters regarding the charism of the AR Congregation. 

For 2023, the first speaker was Sr. Cleofe Maria Agua, AR on The Expansion of the AR Congregation towards the 21st Century.  The second speaker was Fr. Rene Paglinawan, OAR on the Historical Narratives (including Oral Narratives based on archival documents).  From Sr. Ma. Lirio Guillermo to Fr. Rene Paglinawan, all talks were focused on the lives of the Talangpaz Sisters and the development of the Beaterio.  Such significant information pretty much affecting our lives as AR Sisters was greatly appreciated by all of us. 

Then, while we were celebrating and eager for the coming big event on 2025, the fire which razed down the main building of Colegio de Santa Rita in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental brought us to our knees.  That night of August 14 was a test of faith as the whole Motherhouse community knelt down in sincere prayer for heaven to spare our Sisters and CSR’s inmates and to stop the raging blaze. God’s mercy prevailed. The fire stopped not touching the Talangpaz building nor the Cathedral nearby.  Today, only the concrete walls from all four sides remain.  Blackened inside, it stands witness to that fateful night of shock and grief.  But God is good, He sent people to help us.  Soon CSR will rise!

Putting aside our grief, the Congregation looks forward to what will transpire in 2024, being the 3rd year of preparation for the 300th year. We’re hoping that what we learned from the previous years will inspire us to continue working for the beatification of our foundresses, for the sanctification of all its members and for the continuity of our work in evangelization. This month of October, we are very grateful for the visit of the OAR Prior General—Fray Miguel Angel Hernandez, OAR and the Secretary General—Fray Luciano Audisio, OAR to the different Recollect communities in our country. Their visit brought joy and cheers to our Sisters. We sincerely acknowledged the spiritual, moral and material support given to us from the general curia and the provinces of St. Ezekiel Moreno and San Nicolas de Tolentino. All for God’s greater honor and glory!