Bro. Maxime Villenueve, OSA, earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies at San Diego State University. While there I was very involved in the leadership of the SDSU Newman Center. After graduating he entered the Diocese of San Diego priestly formation program in a year of discernment. During that year he studied philosophy at the University of San Diego and was able to discern that he didn’t fit the independent model of diocesan life. He left the diocesan program and worked for two years as Director of Faith Formation at Blessed Sacrament Church in San Diego. During that time Fr. Mark Menegatti, OSA began inviting him to dinner at the Augustinian Friary at St. Augustine High School where “I felt the warmth and feeling at home of the friars in that community pulling me toward the Augustinians.” Through their guidance he contacted Fr. Tom Whelan, OSA who invited him to a Province of St. Augustine discernment retreat. Within a short time he asked Fr. Tom about entrance into the Province of St. Augustine formation program, telling him what his experiences were telling him.
During the Fall Retreat of 2011 he was accepted as a pre-novitiate candidate and entered the St. Rita of Cascia Augustinian community in San Francisco, CA. While there he completed his undergraduate philosophy requirements at the University of San Francisco and the University of Steubenville Distance Learning Program. He also volunteered at the San Francisco Food Bank throughout the year and was asked to begin his Novitiate in August of 2013.
“During the summer before my Novitiate I helped Fr. Kirk Davis, OSA, and other members of the province, chaperone students from St. Augustine High School during the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with Pope Francis. We also attended Augustinian Youth Encounter (“AYE”), meeting students from around the world with similar ties to the Augustinians.
Now, having lived my year of novitiate, and professing my vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for one year, I am beginning my study of graduate theology at CTU, living with fellow Augustinian students in the St. Augustine Friary, in Chicago.
Bro. Robert Baiocco, OSA, is from Batavia, NY, which is near Buffalo, NY. His family moved to Palm Beach Gardens, FL in the 1980’s. Robert speaks of being involved in church activities, social groups, and having a supporting family. After high school he studied hotel management for two years at Palm Beach State College and began a career working in many US cities and several foreign countries. This first career was pursued for approximately seventeen years. During that time Robert speaks of spiritual discoveries and a growing focus on God and where he felt God was calling him to grow. “It was then that I began to surrender to a dominant missionary spirit and desire to serve God that had been developing within me. During this time St. Augustine came into my life. The Confessions of St. Augustine, a book filled with words and feelings, spoke to the deepest reaches of my being.”
During his time of discovering God at work in his life, Robert speaks of working with migrant farm workers in New York, who are confined to rural camp areas. “I gave up the successful life I had been living, moving further away from having possessions to giving to others.” He speaks of meeting Fr. Jim Clifford, OSA where Fr. Jim was pastor of the parish where he had become involved in Southern Oregon. “Fr. Jim suggested that I attend an Augustinian discernment retreat in San Diego. There I discovered the ministries in which the Augustinians of California are involved, especially Hogar Infantil Orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. I helped there for four months after the retreat and then became involved with the Missionaries of Charity in the Philippines and India. These experiences led me to discern that I was being guided by the Holy Spirit to investigate joining a religious order. My experience with the Augustinians drew me to enter their Pre-Novitiate community in San Francisco, where daily prayer, and daily Mass, helped me realize I was growing in my response to God, and where God is calling me.”
Bro. Philip Yang, OSA, became acquainted with the Augustinians while studying graduate theology at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago IL as a Maryknoll student. Becoming friends with Augustinian graduate theology students he felt a tug from the Holy Spirit to inquire about the Augustinian Villanova Province. During his novitiate year he felt another tug to request permission to enter the Province of St. Augustine in California, allowing him to live near his parents in the Los Angeles area. During the 2015-2016 school year during the summer, Philip is studying Spanish in a intense course at a language school in Monterey, CA. In the Fall he will be assisting at a Korean/Catholic Church in San Diego, and learning the liturgical formats and customs of Catholic Koreans in the United States.