Campus Ministry at St Augustine High School

sta-16-campus-ministryThe Campus Ministry at St Augustine High School in San Diego is seeing some additions. Fr Kirk Davis is the new Chaplain, and Director of Liturgy. Nicole Quirk, a member of last year’s Augustinian Volunteer community, is the new Director of Christian Service. Fr Mark Menegatti retains his position as Director of Retreats. Bro Maxime Villeneuve, on his pastoral year, teaches two classes, and assists in various Campus Ministry Projects. Jonathan Heisler, a member of this year’s Augustinian Volunteer community, is assigned to Campus Ministry for the year.

Saints Campus Ministry provides weekly Liturgy to students. Bro Max has been focusing assistance here as Fr Kirk transitions into his new role. Fr Kirk has also relied on members of the St Augustine Monastery Community, including Fr Harry Neely, Fr Gary Sanders, and Fr John Grace to hear Confessions on Tuesdays.

The Christian Service Program at Saints includes a variety of opportunities for Saintsmen to be involved in their community. Christian Service provides rotating Spring Break trips, monthly Hogar Infantil trips, weekly Vincent de Paul village trips, and other helpful connections to the students.

The Retreat Program offers annual all-class retreats to each grade, as well as an opportunity for Seniors to attend Kairos. On a weekly basis Jonathan assists Fr Mark in preparing students to serve as leaders on each of these retreats throughout the year.

Novices Receive their Habits

Augustinian Novices, Novitiate Community & ProvincialsOn the Feast of St Nicholas of Tolentino twelve Augustinian Novices received their habits. Very Rev. Kevin Mullins OSA and Very Rev. Bernie Scianna OSA Priors Provincial of the Westcoast and Midwest Provinces joined the Augustinian community at Saint Rita’s Church in Racine, Wisconsin for the ceremony.

Novices from the California Province are Sarfraz Alam, Adnan Ghani, Cole Dryden and Dominic Smith.

Novices from the Midwest Province are Fr Joe Broudou, Bobby Carroll, Joseph Roccasalva, Sam Joutras, and Jeff Raths.

Novices from the Villanova Province are Elizandro Contreras, Daniel Madden and Atsushi Kuwahara of the Japanese Vicariate.

Augustinian Novice Habit-7


Photos courtesy of Dominic Smith, nOSA


Our Mother of Consolation

Behold your mother was simultaneously Christ’s last will and testament to the beloved disciple and his first message to the newly-born Church. When in our era the Holy Spirit came upon the 2,000 year-old Church to invigorate and strengthen its life and mission, and the college of bishops in solemn council concluded their blueprint for renewal by pointing to “Mary, sign of true hope and comfort for the pilgrim people of God” (Lumen gentium 68), a twentieth-century seal was most firmly set on the tradition of honoring the Mother of God, united with her Son, now gloriously living forever for all who come to God through him (Hebrews 7:25)

Mary’s motherhood had been full of mystery from it very beginning. Then, when it all seemed to end in meaningless cruelty and destruction on Calvary, as her innocent Son suffered a criminal’s death, the Spirit once more overshadowed her and another astonishing word came from God: Woman, behold your son. In silence she gave herself anew to a motherhood set free from the limitations of flesh and blood, time and space, to embrace all the disciples of her Risen Son and Lord. The tradition of praying to the Mother of God for the gift of consolation dates back to the early centuries, an expression of the Church’s belief that the cloud of witnesses, the elect in glory, never cease to pray for the Church on earth. The first written evidence of prayer to the Mother of God, theotokos, is written in Greek on a scrap of Egyptian papyrus dating from between 300-540. And she is invoked as the compassionate one:

Beneath the shelter of your tender compassion
we fly for refuge, Mother of God.
Do not overlook our supplications in adversity
but deliver us out of danger.

This prayer, perhaps written by a believer in danger of death because of allegiance to Christ, makes clear a vivid faith in Mary’s consoling role. It has been hallowed by centuries of use, private and liturgical, in both the Eastern and Western Churches.

ourmotherofconsolationIn Augustinian tradition the particular devotion to Mary under the title of Mother of Consolation appears to have sprung from two different sources. both originating from a mother’s distress over a son in danger. The earliest story has been treasured by the Order of Saint Augustine. It tells of Saint Monica in the fourth century, distraught with grief and anxiety for her wayward son, Augustine, confiding her distress to the Mother of God, who appeared to her dressed in mourning clothes but wearing a shining cincture. As a pledge of her support and compassion, Our Lady removed the cincture and, giving it to Monica, directed her to wear it and to encourage others to do the same. Monica gave it to her son, who in turn gave it to his community, and so the Augustinian devotion to the wearing of a cincture as a token of fidelity to our Mother of Consolation came into being. In the sixteenth century the flourishing devotion gave rise to the Confraternity of the Cincture and to the popular picture of Mary with the Child Jesus, who holds the end of the cincture in his right hand.

The feast of Our Mother of Consolation is celebrated by the Augustinian Family on 4 September.

Rotelle, John, Book of Augustinian Saints, Augustinian Press 2000
Our Mother of Consolation by Juan Simon Gutierrez (1645-1724), Augustinian Nuns, Carmono, Spain.
More from the Shrine of Saint Rita

Saint Augustine


o the world at large, Saint Augustine is known above all as the great thinker who peacefully influenced philosophy and theology, the thrust of the spirituality of the Latin Church, and the development of apostolic endeavors. The source from which he drew the great strength for his achievements should not be overlooked: his monastic ideal of the search for God and contemplation.

Augustine was born in Tagaste, about fifty miles from Hippo in North Africa, in 354. His father. Patricius, was a minor Roman official who became Christian only at the end of his life. His mother, Monica, was deeply committed to the Catholic faith. Neither parent was a saint in the beginning; Monica became one in trying to bring her son to the Lord.augustine

Like many middle-class parents, they were extremely interested in their son’s education. If his parents appear rather ordinary and perhaps disturbingly familiar, Augustine brings them quite remarkably to life in his writings. He praises his father for going beyond his means to supply what was necessary for his son’s studies. Of Monica, Augustine tells us that she wept more for his spiritual death than most mothers weep for the bodily death of their children. “For she saw that I was dead by that faith and spirit which she had from you, and you heard her, O Lord.” He also relates how a local bishop once turned away Monica’s plea that he have a talk with her son with this comment;” Go your way and God will bless you, for it is not possible that the son of these tears should perish.” She accepted the answer, says Augustine, as though it were a voice from heaven.

More than a few mothers have been able to identify with Monica, at least with the general outlines of her concerns. She had a wayward son who not only rejected the Church in which he had been enrolled as a catechumen, but was living a life which in many ways was a dissolute and immoral one. What a supreme irony it must have been for Monica when Augustine, at his mother’s behest, tore himself from his common-law wife to prepare for marriage to a “pleasing maiden,” only to grow impatient with celibacy and take another concubine. Fortunately, God seemed to have given Monica a remarkable degree of persistence.

From the ages of eighteen to twenty-seven, Augustine lived a live of which, he says, caused him much shame. “For in this lay my sin, that not in him but in his creatures, I myself and the rest sought for pleasures, honors, and truths, falling thereby into sorrows, troubles, and errors.” Augustine did earn a living, opening a school of rhetoric. In those days rhetoric was the study of philosophy as well as skill in speaking, and this required Augustine to be familiar with the intellectual currents of his day and the writings of earlier times. He also became involved with the Manichees, a sect to which he gave decreasing allegiance over a period of nine years, as it became apparent to him that its leaders were unable to provide satisfactory answers to his probing questions. Still, Manicheism was a religion and, in its own way, a step closer to the faith.

Equally important was his deepening interest in Latin literature. This led him to Rome and eventually to Milan, where he had won the post of professor of rhetoric. He was by now a professional success and a personal wreck. Unhappy with his lifestyle, dissatisfied with Manicheeism, “gnawed within.” As he put it, by a hunger he could not explain, Augustine was a disturbed young man. But in choosing Milan he had gone to precisely the right place. Milan was a city of a great bishop of the Catholic Church, Saint Ambrose. He was known throughout the world as a courageous leader and brilliant exponent of Catholic dogma. Augustine, with Monica at his side, went to hear Ambrose preach, at first only to listen to his eloquence. Yet he was led to a new understanding of the Bible and of the Christian faith by the bishop’s explanations. The scriptures, which has seemed to him to be “old wives’ tales,” now seemed to come alive. It was the beginning of the end of Augustine’s former self. Something was happening. This is his account of what happened when he and his friend Alypius went to pray in a garden in Milan:

I was suddenly asking myself these questions, weeping all the while with the most bitter sorrow in my heart, when all at once I heard a sing-song voice of a child in a nearby house. Whether it as the voice of a boy or a girl I cannot say, but again and again it repeated the refrain “Take and read, take and read.” At this I looked up, thinking hard whether there was any kind of game in which children used to chant words like these, but I could not remember ever hearing them before. I stemmed the flood of tears and stood up, telling myself that this could only be a divine command to open my book of scripture and read the first passage on which my eyes should fall. So I hurried back to the place where Alypius was sitting, for when I stood up to move away I had put down the book containing Paul’s epistles. I seized it and opened it, and in silence I read the first passage on which my eyes fell: “Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh (Romans 13:13-14).” I had no wish to read more and no need to do so. For in an instant, as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled.

During the fall of the year 386, Augustine, having turned away totally from a life of sin, resigned his teaching position and began his preparation for baptism. Bishop Ambrose baptized him during the Easter vigil in 387, along with Augustine’s son Adeodatus, then fifteen. On the way back to Africa, Augustine and his mother were delayed in Ostia, where Monica fell ill and died, happy and at peace.

Having found the truth at last, Augustine, in characteristic fashion, sought to embrace it fully. Back in Tagaste, he shared a house with companions who, like himself, had turned away from the world. They observed rules of discipline and personal poverty, did manual work, and spent much of their time in dialogue debating questions of the faith.

Here was the nucleus of the fellowship perpetuated today in Augustinian communities throughout the world. It seemed to Augustine that his days of working and traveling were over. But God had other plans for his servant.

In the time of Augustine, talented persons were pressed into the service of the Church, frequently despite their heated or tearful objections. It happened in this way to Augustine while he was on a visit to Hippo. The aged bishop of Hippo, Valerius, was looking for an assistant, and both he and his people decided that they wanted Augustine. He at first declined the honor but finally accepted it for the good of the Church. When the bishop died five years late, Augustine took his place. His life and those of many others would never be the same again.

From 396 to 430, the man who now desire above all else, “complete detachment from the tumult of transient things” was one of the busiest and most productive men in the world. Like any priest or bishop, he ministered to the spiritual needs of his people. He functioned as a civil magistrate at a time when this was a part of the job of being bishop. He traveled to meetings and councils, some forty to fifty journeys in thirty-five years as a bishop. He went to the metropolitan see in Carthage, a trip which took nine days, some twenty or thirty times. He was often gone from Hippo for four or five months at a time. He defended the Church, The record of his debate with Felix the Manichean in the church at Hippo tells us that when the debate was over, Felix was converted. Above all, he kept up extensive writing, which was his principal output, his main means for expounding the faith. In all, he produced over two hundred books and nearly a thousand sermons, letters, and treatises.

Among these many writings was the Confessions, an immensely popular book which has been read, meditated upon, and imitated byaugustinus many generations. One of his greatest literary works, The City of God, was occasioned by the sacking of Rome by armies in the year 410. This was a devastating blow to the ancient world. Many asserted that the great city had been destroyed because so many Romans abandoned the pagan gods in favor of Christianity, which was powerless to protect them. Augustine set forth to demolish that argument in a monumental book that appeared in installments over thirteen years. Its fundamental thesis is that the ultimate importance of a “city” is not measured by its temporal significance, for in fact there are only two cities that really matter.

Augustine had expressed the most profound existential choice that can confront a human being. It is as valid now as ever. One must either place one’s trust in God, or place it elsewhere. On this issue, there is no middle ground.

Augustine’s demanding responsibilities never induced him to abandon his monastic ideal. Until his last hour he remained inflexibly a monk. As a priest, he founded a monastery on a portion of the church grounds given to him for this purpose by Bishop Valerius. As a bishop, he turned his Episcopal residence into a monastery in which the members of his household lived the common life. The monastic ideal of Saint Augustine came to full fruition centuries later when numerous religious communities which adopted his Rule sprang up. They became a powerful force in evangelization, preaching the gospel to the poor in the cities, bringing the Good News to the New World, defending the faith in the pulpits and in universities, taking the initiative in founding schools, orphanages, and hospitals, and doing other works of charity.

In the year 430, four years after The City of God had been completed, Augustine fell ill, while a Vandal horde laid siege to the gate of Hippo. He placed the penitential psalms of David near his bed and spent his final days in prayer, urging his brethren to preserve his library and his other works. The monastic foundations he established were eventually destroyed, but his spiritual heritage has become the world’s common property.

Saint Augustine died on 28 August 430. His feast is celebrated throughout the Church on 28 August.

Rotelle, John, Book of Augustinian Saints, Augustinian Press 2000.
The Vision of Ostia by Álvarez Sotomajor.

Saints Alypius and Possidius

Saints Alypius and Possidius were two of Saint Augustine’s dearest and closest friends, sharing his life, ideals, and goals. Alypius was a student of Saint Augustine’s, who later witnessed and joined in Augustine’s conversion to Christianity.

saintalypiusAlypius was born in the middle of the fourth century in Thagaste, a small town in the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis. He was a member of the aristocracy, and his parents were leading citizens in Thagaste. In conformity with his parents’ desire he studied law, which he later practiced as an assessor in Milan.

Alypius first met Augustine while at school in Carthage. In the Confessions Augustine mentions that there was mutual admiration between the: “He studied under me again at Carthage and held me in high esteem, because I seemed to him good and learned, while I for my part was fond of him on account of his great nobility of character, which was unmistakable even before he reached mature years.” Elsewhere in the Confessions Augustine refers to him as “the brother of my soul.”

While at school in Cathage, Alypius heard of Augustine’s rhetorical skills, but decided not to attend his classes because of a disagreement between his own father and Augustine. Eventually, however, Alypius did become Augustine’s pupil, and was deeply influenced by his sincerity and honesty.

In 384, Alypius followed Augustine to Milan. Here Augustine had opened a school of rhetoric and the two soon fell prey to the skeptical Academicians. It was in this city also that the two friends listened to the powerful preaching of Saint Ambrose, bishop of Milan, and found guidance in their spiritual search. In one of the most famous scenes of the Confessions, Augustine tells of his soul’s torment before his conversion; all the while his friend Alypius was by his side. They were both converted to Christianity and later that year of 386 returned to the hills of Milan at Cassiciacum where they prepared for baptism by Ambrose at the Easter Vigil, 25 April 387.

Following their reception into the Church, the two friends returned to Africa where Alypius helped Augustine establish the first monastery in North Africa, at their hometown of Thagaste. When Augustine was later made priest at Hippo, Alypius moved there with him, and became a member of the first monastic community Augustine founded there. In 394/395 Alypius became bishop of Thagaste. His death took place around the year 430.

Rotelle, John, Book of Augustinian Saints, Augustinian Press 2000
Saint Alypius of Thagaste by Mario Ferrari, Rome, Italy.

Possidius, like Alypius, was a native of Roman Africa. Little is known of his early life, however, until he joined Augustine’s monastic community in Hippo in 391. Of the members of the first community at Hippo, ten were appointed bishops in distant cities of North Africa. Around the year 397 Possidius was named bishop of Calama, which had been plagued with Donatist and pagan factions for years. He entered a highly volatile situation which was only to become worse as time went on. In 404 Donatist extremists sacked a house which Possidius was visiting and set it afire. Possidius narrowly escaped the attack, but continued to be consumed in the Donatist struggle throughout the next decade.

Despite his departure from the monastic community at Hippo, Possidius kept in close contact with Augustine. The two monk-bishops saintpossidiuswere reconciles to frequent traveling, the one means — aside from correspondence — of keeping their friendship and ideals united. The two were often traveling companions on trips to bishops’ conferences. In 411, Possidius, together with Augustine and Alypius, were selected to represent the 266 Catholic bishops at the great conference between Catholics and Donatists held at Carthage.

The conference was a great success for the Church, as many Donatist followers were converted. Possidius, in his biography of Augustine, credited his eloquent friend for the victory.

Despite the unity achieved for the North African Church, problems once again beset the bishops of in 428 in the form of barbarian invasions. After the sacking of Rome in 410 several barbarian tribes moved southward in the Empire. Their arrival on African shores in 428 was to mark the end of Roman Africa. When Calama fell to the Vandals in 429, Possidius took refuge with Augustine within the walls of Hippo. When Augustine fell sick with fever and died in 430, Possidius was at his side.

Hippo was burned in 431. Possidius eventually returned to Calama, but in 437 he and the other Catholic bishops were exiled as King Generic, ruler of the Candals, imposed Arianism on the conqueored cities of North Africa. Possidius died in exile, but not before he completed his invaluable biography, The Life of Augustine, in which he described the word and influence of his brother and friend.

The Augustinian Family celebrates the memory of Saints Alypius and Possidius on 16 May.

Rotelle, John, Book of Augustinian Saints, Augustinian Press 2000
Saint Possidius of Calama by Mario Ferrari, Rome, Italy.