Fr. Benoît Grière, Superior General of the Augustinians of the Assumption, talking to young people in Escopa (a poor area in Metro Manila) on Santo Niño feast day, January 20, 2019
In one term (six years), to meet nearly 1,000 religious in thirty countries. This is the goal of the Superior General of the Augustinians of the Assumption in the frame of his canonical visit. As the year 2019 begins, Father Benoît Grière starts his journey in Manila, Philippines. A privileged time to know better and encourage the young community.
What are the current challenges for the Assumption in the Philippines?
The Filipino community is celebrating its thirteenth anniversary. It is still in a foundation period. My role is to help the brothers to build on the rock, so as to strengthen their community and make it grow with discernment. My visit is also an opportunity to take part in the creation of the Vicariate of Asia, foreseen in 2020. Before coming to Manila, I have participated to a preparation meeting in Korea. The challenge for Asia and Oceania communities, including the Philippines, is unity. With very different cultures and identities, Korea, Vietnam, the Filipino archipelago and New Zealand must learn to build the Christian “unidiversity”, as used to say François de Sales. That is: unity in diversity.
What is your message to the brothers in Asia and Oceania?
Asian communities have a role to play in opening our congregation to the Third Millennium. The economic and geostrategic weight of China and India, the meeting of many religious currents, the dynamism of vocations in this region make it a key area in the construction of the world of tomorrow. Christianity has a future in this new world, provided that we roll up our sleeves. As missionaries, we must never prefer our tranquility to the needs of the Church. The Word of Christ is the ferment in the dough. It is up to us, brothers, to spread it, both through liturgical life and our apostolates.
What are your assets in your mission as Superior General, and more broadly, in your spiritual life?
I entered the congregation about thirty years ago. The Augustinian spirituality is very important to me. Before joining the community, I also carried out many solidarity actions as a doctor, especially in Africa. An experience that made me sensitive to the suffering of others. Thus, the gospel of the good Samaritan is particularly inspiring to me. I also developed an ability to listen. An important asset in my mission. I like to quote this sentence of doctor Ambroise Paré: “I was looking after him and God was healing him”. But the essential moment in our spiritual life is our personal encounter with God. To brothers who have not yet experienced it, I advise to cultivate interiority. To reach their inner “riverbank”, so as not to get carried away by the current. To see where to go. Finally, to act in coherence with what drives them deeply.