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Asia Pacific Augistinian Conference

Order of Augustinian Recollects

Contacts:

General Curia,
Order of Augustinian Recollects,
Viale dell'Astronomia 27,
00144, Rome, Italia

Augustinian Recollect Province of Saint Ezequiél Moreno,
Provincialate House,
Neptune Street,
Congressional Subdivision, Project 6,
Quezon City, Philippines

The Order of Augustinian Recollects (O.A.R.) are a mendicant Catholic religious order of friars and nuns that began in sixteenth-century Spain as a reformist offshoot from the Order of St Augustine that had commenced in the year 1256, and both orders follow the same Rule of St Augustine.

Their reform emphasized fidelity to the Rule of Saint Augustine. The reformers placed special emphasis on community prayer and simplicity of life. On 5 June 1621 the Augustinian Recollects were raised to the level of an autonomous Religious Congregation, giving it the right to divide itself into provinces. They were formally recognized as a mendicant order in the Catholic Church in 1912, the last to be so designated.

They quickly developed the interest to share in this spirituality among lay men and women. They are present in nineteen countries including in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, England, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Taiwan, the United States, and Venezuela. By 1997 the Recollects numbered 1,258 in 201 religious houses, sectioned into eight provinces (regions) on four continents, but strongest in Spain, the Philippines and Colombia. The official languages of the Order are Spanish, English, and Portuguese.

Although the OAR Province of the Philippines was only created in 1998, the Recollect Mission came to the Philippines from Spain in 1606, only 17 years after the Recollection had been formed. Ten priests and four professed brothers sailed to the Philippines. By their arrival on 12 May 1606 in the Island of Cebu, they became the fifth order to begin Philippine evangelisation and to lay the foundations of many of its towns and cities.

Although they first set foot in the island of Cebu in 1606, the Recollects built their first priory in 1606 at Bagumbayan outside the walls of the present-day Intramuros in Manila. The house is still preserved by the national government today, although it is in an uninhabitable state. Three years later, they founded another house within the walls which became their Provincial House until the end of World War II. In 1616 they also founded a house in Cavite and went back to Cebu in 1621 to found yet another one. In the same year, they also began constructing the order's most prominent sanctuary in history, the Minor Basilica of San Sebastian.

On 1 March 1621 the colonial government divided the Island of Mindanao into two. The north-eastern section of the Island was given to the Recollects while the rest was given to the Jesuits. Their most prominent area was in Butuan City, Cateel and the Dinagat Islands. However, during the Jesuit Expulsion, the task was left solely unto their shoulders.

Perhaps, the province that carries the heaviest imprints of the Recollect mission is the island of Negros (now divided into Negros Occidental & Negros Oriental). Given to them in 1626, the Recollects not only founded parishes but also the very towns they have today. Today, most of the names of their towns bear the same names as those of Spain, mainly those areas where the missionaries came from.

By 1898, the year that the Filipinos declared their freedom from Spain, the Recollects were attending to about 1,203,399 people in 203 towns and 20 provinces in the Philippines.

The Recollect missionaries in the Philippines did not restrict themselves to evangelizing only in the Philippines, but also embarked an ambitious mission to other areas, most notably in Japan in 1623 where two Recollect priests experienced martyrdom in 1623 and two more in 1632. They had given some catechetical instruction to a young girl named Magdalene in the Prefecture of Nagasaki, who later became an OAR lay tertiary, was martyred and became the order’s very first saint. The province also sent missions to some of the Islands of the Marianas.

Presently, the Philippines Province is also in charge of the mission in Taiwan and Sierra Leone. Today in the Philippines the OAR Province administers two universities: the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in Bacolod City founded in 1941 and University of San Jose - Recoletos in Cebu City founded in 1947. They also administer two colleges - the San Sebastian College - Recoletos in Manila founded in 1941 and the San Sebastian College - Recoletos inCavite City that was founded in 1966. They also manage four secondary schools namely Colegio de Santo Tomas-Recoletos in San Carlos City, Colegio San Nicolas de Tolentino - Recoletos in Talisay City both in Negros Occidental, and the two San Pedro Academy in the Brgys. Poblacion and Caidiocan in Valencia, Negros Oriental.

Formation houses and seminaries include the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Recoletos Formation House (High School) in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental; Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary / Seminario Mayor - Recoletos (Philosophy) in Baguio City; and the Recoletos Formation Center (Theology) in Miranila Homes, Congressional Avenue, Quezon City.

The Augustinian Recollect Sisters were founded by the Dionisia Talangpaz and her sister Cecilia Rosa in 16 July 1728, and are the second oldest female congregation in the Philippines, plus the third oldest Congregation founded in Asia. It is one of the active congregations belonging to the Augustinian Recollects family and a fruit brought forth out of the missionary zeal of the Order; the congregation was declared an Institute of Pontifical Right by Pope Paul VI on 20 November 1970.

Two recent Recollect saints are Saint Ezequiél Moreno y Díaz (9 April 1848 - 19 August 1906). Born in Alfaro, La Rioja, Spain, the saint arrived in the Philippines on 10 February 1870. He was ordained a priest in Manila on 2 June 1871. He was missionary most notably in Palawan where he founded the Cathedral of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa. He was later sent to Colombia where he was appointed as bishop of Pasto.

A second saint is Magdalene of Nagasaki. She has already been mentioned above. She was canonised a saint by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

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