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Asia Pacific Augistinian Conference

A multi-national APAC meeting in Manila.

The Founding Figure

Fr Miguel Manrique OSA, the founding figure of APAC.

The Asia Pacific Augustinian Conference (APAC) reached its fortieth anniversary on 13 September 2017. Two Augustinians still active in ministry are possibly the only two persons still alive who participated in that historic meeting in 1977. They are Fr John Barry (Australia), who at the time was the Australasian Provincial of the Order, and Fr Anton Tromp, then of the Dutch Augustinian mission in West Papua, which is now the Vicariate of West Papua). Anton was the youngest delegate at the Augustinian General Chapter in Rome in 1977, and John eleven years his senior. (Frs Barry and Tromp are at the left and right respectively in the picture below.)

Both have clear memories of that very first APAC meeting having received a positive outcome much because of the winning/strong conviction and positive leadership of Fr Miguel Manrique OSA, who became the first APAC President.

Miguel Manrique OSA was born on 10 October 1925 at Bilbao, Spain. He entered the novitiate on 15 September 1944, at studied Philosophy & Theology at Valladolid in Spain, and later obtained a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. in 1851-1954. Based in the Philippines for most of the years between 1954 and 1982, and was the Augustinian Regional Vicar for the Philippines while living in Manila, 1974-1982. He was then recalled to Madrid to join the Provincial Council, and died at Zaragoza in Spain suddenly on 30 July 1982 at the age of fifty-seven years.

Fr Eusebio Berdon OSA (Province of Cebu, and its former Provincial) personally knew the late Fr Miguel Manrique. Previously he recalled, “Fr Manrique appeared to me as a very intelligent and mild-mannered person, very dedicated to his responsibilities, approachable and attentive to the needs of his brothers. Having lived in the Philippines for a considerable number of years, he had experienced the lack of communication between the different circumscriptions of the Order found in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Fr Berdon continued, “No one can doubt the interest and dedication of Fr Manrique to APAC. With minimal assistance from his confreres in Manila, he undertook assiduously the “conscientization” process of APAC membership regarding the nature and relevance of this Conference to the region, through the drafting of the first APAC Statutes and the regular publication of the APAC Bulletin. He was also an untiring correspondent with all the individuals involved with APAC, especially those holding positions of greater responsibility in the different APAC circumscriptions.”

Because John Barry had also attended the previous General Chapter at Rome in 1971, he was aware that the APAC idea had germinated over those six years between the 1971 and 1977 Chapters. It was raised tentatively amongst delegates of the 1971 Chapter. John explained, “The matter, however, was not brought into any formal discussion at the 1971 Chapter, but only discussed informally. The example of the similar OALA (Organisation of the Augustinians of Latin America) was held up as a model of what could also happen in the Asia Pacific.”

John continued, “By the time of the 1977 General Chapter, however, the APAC idea was more to the forefront. It was not introduced for a Chapter vote, but the friars from the Asia Pacific were encouraged to discuss the matter further at informal meetings between themselves before they would leave Rome after the Chapter. This is what happened; relatively informal meetings took place, and as a result APAC was founded in Rome on 13 September 2017.”

In early September 2017, Fr Anton Tromp (still in West Papua) communicated by e-mail, “Miguel Manrique deserves credit for promoting the idea of APAC and then helped to make it a reality - a job that he carried put wonderfully. In any highlighting of the fortieth APAC anniversary, he deserves to be remembered for his enthusiasm and drive that brought APAC to birth and then nurtured its first years. He successfully paid special attention to having congregations of Religious Sisters who follow Augustine’s Rule to become involved in APAC.”

Anton agreed, “Now in its fortieth year, APAC has broadened its vision and its reach. It now includes female Augustinian religious, and male religious involvement with the Augustinians of the Assumption, the Discalced Augustinians, and the Augustinian Recollects.  APAC strives to enhance communication and contact among these groups, and has offered practical conferences on various aspects of Augustinian spirituality, Augustinian formation, social justice, Augustinian youth encounters and Augustinian vocations promotion. Indeed, we are all richer because of APAC!”



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