PROMOTING AUGUSTINIANS IN AFRICA
One mind, one heart intent upon God
U.A.F.A. MOTO: “one mind and heart in the search of God.”
U.A.F.A. VISION: “Evangelize people in Africa and elsewhere through Gospel values, Saint Augustine teachings and his spirituality.”
U.A.F.A. MISSION: “To contribute to positive transformation of lives through preaching the Gospel, making known Saint Augustine's and his spirituality in Africa and elsewhere.”
U.A.F.A. CORE VALUES: “Gospel values, Augustinian spirituality of unity in diversity, human dignity, responsibility, justice and fairness, option for the poor, etc.”
BRIEF HISTORY OF U.A.F.A.
U.A.F.A stands for “Union of Augustinian Friars of Africa”. The idea of forming a union for the African Augustinian circumscriptions was born in a group session within the intermediate general chapter which took place in Philippines 2010. Friars from different world regions of the Order were asked to meet and propose ways which the Augustinians in particular regions can collaborate better among themselves as one Augustinian family and not isolated units.
Among regions which met was the African region. And the group that represented Africa was composed of: Fr. Hyacinth Kangyep (Prior Provincial of Nigeria), Fr. Martin Banga (Vicar of DRC), Fr. Cosmas (Delegate Superior of Tanzania) and Fr. Robert Karanja (Representative of the Delegate Superior of Kenya). This group of four representatives of the African region agreed that there was need to have a union similar to other regions in the Order where the male African Augustinian circumscriptions could collaborate effectively. This proposal was made in the chapter plenary and the chapter fathers supported it. It was left for the different African circumscriptions to make consultations with mother circumscriptions and make the formal application to Rome for the establishment of a new union.
After the whole process of application was completed, the Prior General with the approval of the General Council established “ UNION OF AUGUSTINIAN FRIARS OF AFRICA “ through the letter dated 22nd September 2011. In his decree, the Prior General mentions that the Union includes: Province of Nigeria, Vicariate of Congo , Delegations of Tanzania and Kenya and the houses of Durban in South Africa and of Annaba in Algeria. The purpose for this new union was to reinforce the bond of fraternity among the Augustinians in Africa and to be an effective instrument of growth and development of the Order, in the service of the Kingdom of God.
This purpose was to be achieved through: common formation programs, exchange of personnel, Undertaking common missions and projects, collaborating with Augustinian Federation of Africa which brings together male and female Augustinians who follow the rule and spirituality of St. Augustine among many other possibilities of uniting Augustinians as one family in Africa and in the whole world.
The first meeting of U.A.F.A. took place in Nairobi Kenya from 1st to 2nd February 2012. Since then there has not been much happening until the latest meeting of U.A.F.A. in Nairobi Kenya from 2nd to 6th July 2018 where a secretariat was formed to revive the activities of UAFA for the original purpose to be achieved.
Prepared by: Rev. Fr. Robert Karanja Ireri O.S.A., Delegation Superior Kenya and a member of U.A.F.A. executive board.
Meeting of UAFA in Nairobi 2nd-6th June 2018
The Address of the Assistant General for Africa
I wish to thank the President of the Union of Augustinian Friars of Africa (UAFA), Very Rev. Fr. John Abubakar for his kind words of welcome, the International Friary House for hosting us here in Nairobi. May I, at the same time, convey to you the warm greetings of the Prior General and the members of the General Council who are united with us in prayers for the success of this event.
This is one of the rare moments in which we Augustinian Friars from the circumscriptions in Africa are meeting. Since the founding of this regional body, brothers have met a number of times in different places but in the last few years, for some reasons, we have not been able to come together. Our number here may appear insignificant. Nevertheless, it is appreciable and your enthusiasm is encouraging. It is our hope that there will be a follow up with periodic gatherings as resources and time permit so that we can strive together in the unity of mind and heart to make this organ more stronger through our commitment to the Order. Most of us will be wondering: why is this UAFA when we already have AFA? What is the actual purpose of this UAFA meeting? What do we aim to achieve?
The main purpose of this meeting is to fraternize: to know ourselves, our circumscriptions, share our life experiences together, to explore areas of collaboration as Augustinians and to strengthen the bond of fraternal unity as means of renewal for a better witness in the Church and in the world. Our continent is richly endowed with superabundant blessings of human and natural resources for the well-being of mankind and the glory of God. The variety of our cultures expresses the beauty of divine splendour in Africa. However, the situations in which we live are full of contraries and challenges which we cannot feign ignorance of. It is within this context that we Augustinians are called to evangelize as some of our brothers will highlight in their presentation. “If we Augustinians want to continue our mission as servants of humanity, we must be capable of being in touch with reality in order to listen carefully to the voice of a changing world.”
At the Ordinary General Chapter of 2001, the Order took a decision to give special attention to strengthening the Augustinian presence and commitment for the proclamation of the Gospel in Africa. It affirms that: “it is the responsibility of the community, the Christian community as a prophetic stance, to proclaim today the Good News in Africa, a continent close to us because there Augustine founded his first religious communities. As our response to the signs of the times and as faithful heirs of St. Augustine we choose to direct our hearts and energies towards Africa, contributing with our spiritual traditions to the evangelization of such a continent that is so much in need of the Good News.” These words underline the consciousness of the Order’s affinity to Africa because of the root of its Spiritual Father, Augustine and his start of what later spread to Europe as a result of the invasion of North Africa by the vandals. The Order keeps faith to its word translated in concrete action over the years. The number of Augustinians in Africa has increased notably through the promotion and care of vocations, the establishment of more formation houses and fostering of ongoing formation. The Order is now making considerable impact in the area of human and social development through the opening of some schools especially secondary schools. Whatever Augustinians have in all the circumscriptions in Africa are fruits of the collective effort of the whole Order. We thank the Order especially the circumscriptions and the African Augustinians who labour tirelessly to make the Order flourish in this part of the world. It is a big heritage that we have received. What do we or can we make of it? We can do a lot more even though we have a lot of challenges.
There is a change taking place within and around us that calls for reflection. What can we do for the renewal of ourselves as friars and communities to strengthen our commitment, to enable us to give the best of ourselves in order to consolidate and make the mission project of the Order meaningful in Africa and in the world? What is our vision for the future? Or what kind of future do we envisage for ourselves and for the Church? St. Augustine speaks about time as the measure within which we reveal and define ourselves by our actions in life. “And you all say, The times are troubled, the times are hard, the times are wretched. Live good lives, and you will change the times by living good lives; you will change the times, and then you 'll have nothing to grumble about.” How do we live as Augustinians in our communities and circumscriptions today? The quality of our personal and community life today has an effect on our mission and carves a niche which will be evaluated in due course by successive generations. If we are good and our actions are in conformity with goodness, we become yeast that leavens and light that shines around; if we work for the growth and spread of our circumscriptions, we are equally doing it for the Order and contributing for the common good. All that we have are means or
instruments to assist us in the service of the Order and the Church. The papers that some brothers will present will enrich us and lead us to understand some of the realities and the apostolates carried out in the various circumscriptions as response of the Order in the service of the Church and the people. Our gratitude goes to you the Superiors of the African circumscriptions for making this event possible and to the brothers encouraged to participate and share their life experiences.
May Mary our Mother of Good Counsel plead for us before her Son; and may the Holy Spirit illumine our hearts to listen as we dialogue.
Rev. Fr. Edward Daleng, OSA