On January 6, 2015 the friars joined the Mary Star of the Sea community for the retirement Mass and dinner for long-time Mary Star of the Sea Parish secretary, Mrs. Terry White. She was parish secretary all the thirty-plus years that the Augustinian Recollects have staffed Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Oxnard and knows many of our friars.
February 24, 2015 the Spanish SARs celebrated the Rite of Admission to the Candidacy Period during a special Mass presided by Fr. Domingos Machado, OAR, Prior. The evening Liturgy of the Eucharist was followed by a festive gathering in the refectory. This group of 22 candidates is the first group of Spanish speaking SARs here in Oxnard.
On March 18, 2015, the Priory celebrated the Vigil of St. Joseph with Mass at 6:00 PM during which the new officers of the St. Ezekiel Moreno Guild were installed. Following the liturgy a dinner was held for all those who help the Priory in various ways.
The Priory priests helped this spring with confessions and Masses at Mary Star of the Sea and several local parishes, convents, and the naval base. Weekend vocation retreats were held in February, March, April, May, and June.
In March Father Ramon Gaitán, OAR, was transferred full-time to the Priory and at the end of May, Deacon Ramiro Muñoz, OAR, joined the Priory community, too.
On Palm Sunday Father Domingos Machado, OAR, led the traditional procession and presided at the Mass. The friends of the community had worked very hard to decorate the shaded walkways with an abundance of palm branches. The community joined the Easter Triduum liturgies at Mary Star of the Sea Parish, while Brother Anthony Torretti, OAR, helped at Cristo Rey Parish during Holy Week. On Holy Thursday, to celebrate the institution of both the Eucharist and priesthood, we invited our brothers from Mary Star of the Sea to join us for a special dinner at the Priory. Holy Saturday, prior to attending the Easter Vigil at Mary Star of the Sea, we enjoyed an anticipated Easter meal with Priory volunteers.
Throughout April, May, and June many parts of the Priory were repainted, carpets shampooed, and the electric gate at the monastery entrance repaired. In addition, just in time for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Chapel of Our Lady, the tabernacle was refinished, thanks to the very generous support of local donors. This tabernacle is originally from St. Augustine Monastery in Kansas City, Kansas and it truly gleamed for the June 18, 2015, anniversary Mass. Priory landscaping had also been embellished and countless other jobs completed thanks to the many volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to the Priory.
On April 12, 2015, Father Frank Wilder, OAR, conducted a retreat day for the English SAR Fraternity. The day included a Mass at which two new members made their promises.
The Priory celebrated the 50th Anniversary of profession of Brother Anthony Torretti, OAR, on April 22, 2015. Father Joseph Gallardo, OAR, Prior Provincial, presided at the 11:00 AM recitation of Midday Prayer, which included adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, chanting of the Sequence to St. Augustine, renewal of vows by all the Recollect Friars present, and concluded with Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament. Father Michael Stechmann, OAR, and Father Eric Crelencia, OAR, beautifully chanted the Sequence. In addition to the friars from the various Augustinian Recollect communities, Brother Anthony's brother Ronald and sister-in-law Suzanna, cousins from Pennsylvania and California, one of his former students at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, and parishioners from Mary Star of the Sea, Cristo Rey, and St. Benedict's also attended the chapel service and dinner. Both in the chapel and in the refectory we publicly thanked Brother Anthony for his example of faithful service to God, the Province of St. Augustine, and so many others. Indeed a golden example.
Since Father Domingos Machado’s birthday and Father James Brown’s birthday were so close together, June 5th and June 8th respectively, good friends of both Father Prior and Father Brown joined the community on June 7th for a Sunday evening potluck dinner to celebrate both birthdays.
On June 18, 2015, the community celebrated the 25th Anniversary of its foundation. On the exact date of the consecration of the Priory Chapel dedicated to Our Lady. Msgr. Michael Jennett, Episcopal Vicar for the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region, presided the Solemn Liturgy of the Eucharist. Father John Oldfield, OAR, who had been Prior Provincial at the time of the building and opening of the Priory, delivered the homily at the 11:00 AM Mass. Also concelebrating and assisting at the Mass were Father Domingos Machado, OAR, Prior, the priory friars, and the Recollects from our parishes in California. After Mass a festive lunch was enjoyed by all.
While many of the over 200 people attending were from Southern California, several had traveled from out of state. Father Oldfield flew in from Suffern, New York, accompanied by Mr. Joseph Marsico, who is president of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity at Tagaste Monastery. Father Francisco Legarra, OAR, of the Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine also flew from Newark, New Jersey in order to join the celebration. Also attending were local clergy, Augustinian Recollect Sisters from Milpitas and Sun Valley, members of the local Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternities, members of the St. Ezekiel Moreno Guild, friends of the community, and benefactors who have been friends of the Priory from its establishment. It was especially meaningful that members of the John and Barbara Friedrich Family, the donors of the Chapel of Our Lady, were also present for the festivities.
Two days later, June 20, 2015, the West Coast Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternities held their Annual Congress at St. Augustine Priory, allowing all the Secular Augustinian Recollects (SARs) the opportunity to meet each other and to join our Silver Jubilee celebration. Over 200 participated in the gathering including the Spanish speaking and English speaking SARs from Santa Ana, Montebello, Los Angeles, and Oxnard. Augustinian Recollect Sisters from both Milpitas and Sun Valley also attended. Priory SAR members cooked a delicious lunch for everyone. The day included tours of the Priory and a bilingual Mass in honor of the patroness of the Secular Augustinian Fraternities, St. Magdalene of Nagasaki. Father Domingos Machado, OAR, Prior, presided the Liturgy of the Eucharist. He was assisted by Deacon Ulises Feliciano, OAR, and Deacon Ramiro Muñoz, OAR. Father John Oldfield, OAR, and several local Augustinian Recollect priests concelebrated. Group pictures followed Mass and everyone left, eager to bring new SAR members with them when they come back next year.
The Priory 25th Anniversary celebration will continue July 11, 2015, when the Silver Jubilee will be the theme of the annual St. Ezekiel Moreno Guild Dinner Dance. Reserve your tickets now!
-- Father Frank Wilder, OAR