A Brief History
The Augustinian Recollects originated as a reform movement within the Augustinian Order (O.S.A.) in 16th century Spain. This reform emphasized fidelity to the Rule of St. Augustine, especially in the areas of community prayer and simplicity of life. The Augustinian Recollects were formally recognized as an Order in the Catholic Church in 1912. Currently the Order is divided into eight provinces (regions), works in 19 countries, and consists of approximately 1240 members. The official languages of the Order are Spanish, English, and Portuguese.
The Origin and Purpose of the Order
Among the many religious families, we find the Order of Augustinian Recollects.
In the XVI Century, a number of religious of the Augustinian Province of Castle [Spain], moved by a special collective charism, expressed their desire to live with renewed fervor, and according to new norms, the type of consecrated life which St. Augustine established in the Church, illustrated by his doctrine and examples and ordered in his Rule.
The capitular fathers of the Chapter of Toledo (1588), aware of this divine inspiration and unwilling to oppose the work of the Holy Spirit, decided that some houses should be designated or established for the observance of this new way of life, according to norms which the Provincial Definitorium [Council] would prescribe for the government of "this reformation that the Lord in his mercy has awakened in some of us, sending us His Spirit."
The Church ratified the authenticity of the charism by its approval of the norms, or Forma de Vivir, and of the Constitutions and by numbering the new family among the religious Orders.
The purpose of the Augustinian Recollection is that which is proper to an Order or religious body brought into being in response to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and approved by the authority of the Church. Its members, living in community as brothers, desire to follow and imitate Christ, poor, obedient, and chaste; they search for the truth, serving the Church; they endeavor to achieve perfect charity according to the charism of St. Augustine and in conformity with the spirit of our early legislation, most especially our Forma de Vivir.
The aforementioned charism of St. Augustine is subsumed in the love of God without condition, that unites hearts and souls in the common life of brotherhood and is diffused outward toward all human beings in the hope of winning and uniting all people in Christ within His Church.
The spirit of the primitive legislation is expressed in the Fifth Definition of the Chapter of Toledo: "Since there are or can be among us some brothers so desirous of monastic perfection that they would want to follow a more austere plan of life, and whose legitimate desire is to be furthered so that no obstacles be placed in the path of the work of the Holy Spirit . . . we determine that, in our Province, three or more monasteries for men be set aside or newly founded ... in which a stricter form of life may be practiced."
This was the objective of our founders and it has continued to develop in the vital and evolutionary process of the Order.
The Order of Augustinian Recollects is rightfully a true heir of the religious family founded by St. Augustine. The life, doctrine, and Rule of St. Augustine are the spiritual patrimony of the Order, as are the example of sanctity and self-abnegation for the Kingdom of God that were given throughout the centuries by so many illustrious religious whose lives have given splendor to the great Augustinian family. (Constitutions, Chapter I, Article I)