When bishop Lacunza had scarcely begun to take on board the idea of his new position, this official site of the Order of Augustinian Recollects put to him a few simple question, to which he was kind enough to reply.
At the conclusion of his Sunday Angelus on 4th January, Pope Francis announced the creation of twenty new cardinals from 14 nations, effective from 14th February. He also emphasized that they“show the inseparable link between the Church of Rome and the local Churches present throughout the world”.
One of those nominated was Bishop Jose Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan, the Augustinian Recollect bishop of David (Panama). It is the first time that a pastor of the Panamanian Church has received this distinction, and the first time that an Augustinian Recollect has been made a cardinal.
-As a bishop and as an Augustinian Recollect, how do you feel at being named a cardinal of the Church by Pope Francis?
I am the first Panamanian bishop and the first Augustinian Recollect to be called to the College of Cardinals, and being the first one always creates a big responsibility given that in one sense it is blazing a path, and for good or for bad can affect the future. Whatever the case, the nomination has left me stunned, and I’m still not out of my sense of amazement. And of course, I’m very much aware that all this goes beyond me personally and also involves the Church in Panama and the Order of Augustinian Recollects.
-What is your mission within the Church going to be? What are your wishes?
On the one hand, so far as I am aware, Pope Francis has no other plans than that I should continue as bishop of David; so I shall have to continue with the pastoral mission I have been carrying out until now. On the other hand, I will have to add on the responsibilities that the office creates as a member of one of the Vatican departments, attending consistories and fulfilling the tasks entrusted to me by the Holy Father. In all this, I shall endeavor to be a motivating force, helping the Pope to carry out his vision and mission for the Church. With everyone’s prayers, I aim only to be faithful to the mission entrusted to me.
-What message do you have for the whole Augustinian Recollect family: friars, contemplative nuns, female religious, fraternities, members of the Augustinian Recollect Youth?
I have received many messages from brothers and sisters congratulating me and also congratulating themselves on this appointment. I believe it should be interpreted as the Pope looking at our religious community which, although small – we could say ‘on the outskirts’ of the Church – has much to offer in the revitalization of the consecrated life, so that freed from the restrictions and the trappings which have accumulated over the years, it can offer to the world a living, consistent, and joyful image of the Gospel which can and must give full meaning to the man and woman of today. Let’s hope we can get the most out of this Year of the Consecrated Life.
The first Augustinian Recollect Cardinal.
The news spread rapidly throughout the world, but the appointment of bishop Lacunza has had a particular impact in Panama and amongst the Augustinian Recollects. Going back to the start of the Augustinian Recollection in 1588, bishop Lacunza will be the first cardinal the Order has had.
The prior general of the Augustinian Recollects, Miguel Miro, was in Brazil carrying out his visit of renewal to the community of Portel in the prelature of Marajo. From there he got in touch with bishop Lacunza to congratulate him, and offer him his services and the prayers of the entire Augustinian Recollect family. Congratulations and messages of support and of thanks have been coming in from the nineteen countries in which the Order is present.
Celebrations in Rome and Panama.
Bishop Lacunza will be going to Rome to take part in the celebration during which Pope Francis will install the new cardinals on 14th February. He will then return to Panama to participate in the national pilgrimage to the basilica of Atalaya together with the other bishops of the country, and on 23rd February will make his entrance to his diocese of David.
(from the OAR website: agustinosrecoletos.com)