The Holy Father Pope Francis, has appointed our brother Fr. Luis Marín de San Martín, OSA as undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, nominating him titular bishop of Suliana. Until now, Fr Luis Marín is one of the Assistants to the Prior General of the Order of Saint Augustine responsible for the South European region being Malta, Italy and Spain.

Bishop-elect Fr Luis Marín, was born on 21 August 1961 in Madrid, Spain. He made his first vows in the Order of Saint Augustine on 5 September 1982, and his solemn vows on 1 November 1985. He was than ordained a priest on 4 June 1988. He was awarded a doctorate in sacred theology at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas of Madrid. Along the years, he has held a number of responsibilities, including: formator at the formation house at Los Negrales (1996-1999); provincial counsellor (1999-2002); prior of the monastery of Santa María de La Vid (2002-2008); and professor of theology in the Augustianian Centres in Los Negrales, San Lorenzo de El Escorial and Valladolid. Since 2004 he has served as a visiting lecturer at the Facultad de Teología del Norte de España in Burgos. He is the archivist general of the Order, general assistant of the Augustinians and president of the Institutum Spiritualitatis Augustinianae.

Together with Fr Luis Marín de San Martín OSA, the holy father today nominated also Sr Nathalie Becquart Xaviere, a French national, both under secrateries of the Synod of Bishops assisting closely his Emm. Mario Grech in his role as Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.

The Prior Provincial together with the friars of the Province of Malta would like to express their gratitude to Fr Luis Marín de San Martín for his continuous support along the years and wish him every success in his new role at the service of the Universal Church.

The Prior General of the Order of Saint Augustine Fr Alejandro Moral Anton sent a message to all the brothers and sisters of the Order on the Occasion of the World Day of Consecrated life celebrated on the 2nd of February. It is a message to particularly express his closeness in this ‘moment of crisis’ caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and offering a word of encouragement and moreover an invitation ‘to transform the hearts hardened by selfishness’. He has invited all brothers and sisters of the Order to walk a path of renewal and hope ‘accepting the newness that comes from the Spirit, in living our charism: so suggestive, so attractive, so demanding, so current.’ The Prior General reminded all the members of the Order of their ‘obligation to rethink their reality as Augustinians in the Church and in the world’ highlighting that this is also what the Pope asks from us.

In putting such challenge he proposed three points which he considers especially urgent for everyone to consider:

  • Option for life - Everyone is called upon to promote life and care for the weakest, decisively involving himself in the defence of the dignity of Life, with all that it means and entails.
  • Option for Fraternity – In line with what Pope Francis as asking from the Church in his latest encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti and with our own charism it is important to dream together. We should be masters and creators of communion having an open mind and a feeling of unity which goes beyond borders.
  • Option for Creative Risk-Taking - The entire church renewal essentially consists of strengthening and living the loyalty of one's own calling. We are called to follow Christ in the Augustinian charism. He who finds Christ shares his radical novelty and opens up to the good news, taking responsibility to proclaim it, to witness it and to make radical options for a much needed renewal.

The virus that prevailed over the past few months and which created so much tension and restrictions on our lifestyle, these last few days hit also a member of our Community of Augustinian Friars at Rabat. As a consequence, St. Mark’s Conventual Church is presently closed and the friars comprising the community are in quarantine. Although certainly this is not a pleasant experience, these days also served to make us appreciate the nearness of so many persons close to the Community. Hereunder is what the Prior of the Community wrote:-

“On Friday afternoon, as soon as we became aware that one of the religious at our Convent was Covid-19 positive, without waiting for us to be advised by the authorities to go into mandatory quarantine, respecting all those who enter our convent and to whoever frequents our Church, we quickly took the decision to close everywhere with immediate effect so that this virus will not spread any further. Thus, we Augustinian Friars at Rabat, together with our Provincial Fr. Leslie Gatt, with due respect to everybody, closed everywhere for the coming days until we reopen again the convent and St. Mark’s Church for the usual services to all.

We cannot thank sufficiently the many persons who, throughout the day yesterday did not cease phoning and writing to us offering their help during this time that we Augustinian Friars are obliged to remain indoors. Your solidarity gave us friars serenity during these times of such uncertainty and even fear. Many others like us experienced , or are going through, a similar experience in which we friars find ourselves. We do not wish anybody to experience such uncertainty and fear that this virus brings with it. However, at the same time, we pray to God that whoever has to face up to the situation created by this pandemic, finds someone ready to communicate, to offer solace, offers whatever help may be necessary. Throughout the day yesterday we Augustinian Friars truly experienced how many persons there are who have us very much in their mind and love us. Thank you from the bottom of our heart for your great heart.”

Whilst we augur a quick recovery, we promise to keep you in our prayers.

St. Rita’s name engenders so much devotion from so many persons who have recourse to this Saint of the Impossible for her intercession before God. Thursday is the day when so many of her devotees turn to her in particular in all the Augustinian Churches, more so when the Thursdays of devotions in preparation for her feast day are celebrated.

St. Rita was an Augustinian religious who lived in central Italy more than 600 years ago but various aspects of her life, particularly the suffering she bore with so much faith, make her a very popular saint throughout the Catholic world. The devotions of the 15 Thursdays originates from the fact that St. Rita bore one of Christ’s thorns in her forehead for fifteen years, after she implored Jesus to share with him the suffering he had experienced for us. In this traditional context, so many persons turn to St. Rita’s intercession when enduring their own crosses and tribulations, and they fervently seek her help to convey to God their prayers.

The Augustinian religious, one can say throughout the world, spread over the years this devotion towards this saint and presented her to the people of God as a model of hope in facing the difficulties of life. In the course of the Thursdays leading to the feast of St. Rita, in all Augustinian churches throughout Malta and Gozo prayer sessions are held seeking her intercession.

Her feast will be celebrated on 22 May principally in the Augustinian Churches in Valletta and in Victoria, Gozo. The feast is also celebrated in all the other Augustinian churches. We are urged by the Augustinian communities to turn to this saint and to invoke her help in our journey towards God that He will never leave us alone, especially in the difficult moments of our lives.

“The one who made you without your help will not save you without your help”. (St. Augustine – Commentary on Psalm 169,13). Therefore, we Augustinian religious always feel the need to renew ourselves. One of the ways how this can come about is by way of continuous formation. This Formation makes sense because as religious friars have the need to sustain and to give a new life to the vocation with which we have been graced.

As St. Augustine reminds us: “If you say ‘This is enough’, you die. Always walk forward, don’t stop don’t look back don’t take the wrong road. Whoever does not walk forward, comes to a stop, whoever does not move forward, goes backwards’” (St. Augustine, Sermon 169,15.18).

For this reason, on Wednesday 13 January 2021 we started a series of formation  meetings entitled: Let us be a cradle of an Evangelical Community. The meetings are being led by Fr. Philip Cutajar OFM Cap.

The first meeting was held in the Church dedicated to St. Nicholas of Tolentino, Ħal Tarxien. We decided to hold the meeting in the church so as to be able to maintain the physical distances required during this time. The meeting commenced with the Evening Prayers and was followed by Fr. Philip’s talk.

We ask you to pray for us Augustinian religious in Malta and Gozo so that these meetings will bear spiritual fruit in us, so that we will always improve our community spirit, and reflect the Gospel amongst God’s People in these islands.

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