Provincial Retreat14 Aug 2015, by Augustinians in
The Augustinians of the Province of St. Augustine of Nigeria came together in Jos for a retreat with the theme; rediscovering our Augustinian identity. It was also an opportunity for us to come together in celebration of the year of consecrated life. The arrival was on the 10th of August 2015, and the venue was the Augustinian Monastery, Jos, Nigeria. It was a day that brought so much laughter, smiles, handshakes, embrace, and Joy. It was a beautiful reunion of Augustinians from different parts of Nigeria, a reflection of who we are; brothers of one mind and one heart intent upon God.
Soon after all the excitement and exchange of pleasantries, the brothers converged in the monastery Chapel for evening prayer and then dinner.
Renewed and encouraged by the presence of each other, we gathered again in the Chapel the next morning for Mass. Rev. Fr. Gary McCloskey O.S.A. from the United States of America was the chief celebrant and the retreat director.
The Holy Mass opened the door to the reason for the gathering. Our coming together was not just a social reunion but, most importantly, a spiritual one. We were made not only to understand and appreciate who we are but to continually rediscover our identity.
During the plenary sections, Fr. Gary led us through the teachings of St. Augustine and reminded us of who we are.
Some fundamental questions about the restlessness of the human heart flowed from Fr. Gary’s talk on the restlessness of St. Augustine. Sure, we all experience this restlessness of heart; it comes in different forms. Even in our biological families, these “tumours” are also experienced, but the good news is that our friendship with God and with one another helps to calm the Soul. St. Augustine says in his confessions, my soul found all manner of joy when I was in their company-to talk and to laugh and to be kind to each other-to read engaging books together, to go from the lightest joking to talk of the deepest things and back again-to differ without discord, as I might differ with myself, and when on the rarest occasion disagreement arose, to find it highlights the sweetness of our normal agreement-to teach or to learn from each other-to be impatient for those absent and welcome them with joy when they return-these and similar things, emanating from our hearts as we gave and received affection, shown in our faces, voices, our eyes, and a thousand other gratifying ways, ignited a flame which fused our very souls together and made the many of us one. (Confessions, lV ,8, 13).
Fr. Gary was able to take our minds back to Augustine’s essential teachings. It was actually a period of renewal and rediscovery of our identity as Augustinians. We prayed in the unity of spirit with our over 20 Nigerian Augustinians working and schooling outside Nigeria and the few working in Nigeria who could not attend the retreat.
The retreat came to a close on Thursday evening, August 13th, with the Holy Mass.
The Prior Provincial was the chief
celebrant and the brothers left for their various parishes and communities the next morning, renewed. We look forward to another opportunity to come together again to celebrate our oneness and continue to search, discover and rediscover the hidden treasures of St. Augustine.