Starting tomorrow, August 28th, the Feast of Our Holy Father St. Augustine, we will open our General Chapter in Rome. We are honored and privileged to have Pope Francis saying our opening Mass (6 pm Roman CEST time—11 am Chicago CDT) at the Church of St. Augustine in Rome near Piazza Navona where St. Monica, Augustine’s mother is buried. Please see the link below: we have been told that this Mass will be televised and may be available through www.vatican.va or through the Order's website www.augustinians.net.
Speaking of St. Monica, I wish all of you a Happy Feast Day today, August 27th, as we honor our spiritual Grandmother, Monica! Even though I am staying at St. Monica’s in Rome, we are not celebrating it here today. They have kept the original May 4th date, so as they say, “When in Rome….” Monica was a faith-filled and hope-filled person who never gave up on her son. With her prayers and tears, she kept begging God to show Augustine the way to conversion. Let us be grateful for such an example of perseverance and trust in God’s saving and merciful grace!
I arrived in Rome last night with my classmate, Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A., after a few days in Palermo Sicily. We stayed with one of the Augustinian communities there, and the hospitality was outstanding! We were also able to visit the small village of Altavilla Milicia near Palermo where the Scianna Family originated. My great grandfather, Agostino Calogero Scianna (translated to Augustine Carl Scianna) left there for the United States in 1899. So while there are many people with the name of Scianna there (and in nearby Bagheria) we do not have any direct connections with them…..but in the grand scheme of things, we are probably all cousins!
The other delegate from Chicago is Fr. John Merkelis, who has arrived here today. There are 83 voting members of the Chapter and one of our main tasks is to elect a new Prior General (world-wide leader) of the Augustinians. Fr. Bob Prevost, O.S.A. from our Province, is completing twelve years (two six-year terms) of service in this office. We are very proud of his tenure as General and we look forward to his return to the U.S.A. to take on his new ministry of Director of Students in our Theologate in Chicago after some well-deserved time off!
Be assured of my prayers for all of you, your loved ones and your intentions while I am here in Rome and especially at our Mass tomorrow with the Holy Father! Please pray for us—for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit during this significant moment in our history as an Augustinian Order!
Sincerely in Christ and St. Augustine,
Very Rev. Bernard C. Scianna, O.S.A., Ph.D.