From July 12 to 26, Augustinian communities from around the world participated in the twelfth international Augustinian Youth Encounter!
Here's what a few of our Augustinian pilgrims had to say about their experiences on this trip:
“Yesterday we went to Wadowice, the birthplace of John Paul II. We saw his home and local church. His home has been turned into a museum. The museum was first class! It was professionally done and contained many original documents, vestments, furnishings, and memoirs of his life. ALL OF US were very moved spiritually by it. Having been to the darkest side of life the previous day at Auschwitz, we hit a spiritual high the next day at John Paul II’s museum. Wow!
— Fr. Steve Curry OSA
"The highlight was when we visited the Augustinian Church in Vienna. Fr. Nikolaus Schachtner greeted us with open arms. He gave us an awesome tour and history of the Augustinians in Vienna since our establishment there in 1327. He also showed us the Hapsburg hearts. Just when we thought that the tour was over, he invited us into the friary for lunch. He went out of his way to offer us delicious sandwiches and traditional Austrian beverages."
-Fr. Steve Curry, O.S.A.
The group spent a little more time in Vienna exploring around...
“After visiting with our Augustinian friars in Vienna, we were given a guided tour of Schönbrunn Palace. Although the palace was impressive, visiting 40 rooms was exhausting! Whew! The kids were very anxious to see the palace gardens.
— Brother Joe Ruiz, OSA
Then the group traveled to Prague ...
"What a terrific day today! The students meet us at St. Thomas this morning for mass with the whole Augustinian contingency. The church was packed with blue AYE shirts and the portions of the mass were said in English, Spanish and Czech. Fr. Faix had a wonderful homily and he is such a wonderful example of piety. After mass, Trevor and I had the opportunity to personally greet Fr. Farrell and Fr. Faix and we were warmly received by both... After mass, the Augustinian community hosted a lunch reception and on our way out, we were provided sandwiches for dinner as the students had the day to explore Prague. The group I had the pleasure of escorting through the city graciously, and unselfishly, shared their sandwiches with several homeless people we encountered on the streets. I can't explain the excitement these young people had in wanting "to be next" to give someone in need their sandwich. At the church that houses the Infant of Prague, the kids signed their names and placed them on the World Youth board to commemorate their presence during this wonderful time for young people."
There were far more stories, memories, and sights than we're sharing here in this blog post, of course. However, Father Curry summed up the trip well on the final day of the encounter:
“Our final two days at the AYE were wonderful. Yesterday we celebrated Mass in Italian with Cardinal Miloslav Vlk. He was the cardinal of Prague until his retirement a couple of years ago. Afterward, we had our final meeting with our small groups to process the whole experience. Everyone said that they loved it. They got an international sense of the Augustinian Order, our spirituality and an opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Any sense of bias or racism that they may have had prior to attending the AYE had dissipated. They realized that it didn’t matter what language people spoke or their country of origin, we are all one body in Christ. We proceeded to have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and individual confessions.
— Fr. Steve Curry OSA
The trip then concluded by witnessing four young men from the Belgian Province of Augustinians profess their first vows as religious brothers. We then celebrated with a communal dinner celebration, and went our separate ways.
So What Can You Take Away From This?
The trip is over now. But if reading this and looking at the pictures inspired or excited you, perhaps its time to begin planning a spiritual journey of your own! By participating in a group, traveling to other places outside of our own neighborhood, and exploring the global perspective of your faith, you can learn a lot!
Others are presently participating in the World Youth Day experience in Krakow. And, if you want to begin thinking about the future, the Augustinians have also announced that the 2019 Augustinian Youth Encounter will be held in Panama!
If you can, reach out to us and see if you can plan a visit to any one of our Augustinian parishes or schools, too! You can learn more about where we serve by clicking here.