The 2015 Leaders’ Conference for Friends of St Augustine took place in Sydney on a September weekend. In the thirteen years that “Friends” in Australia has existed in its present form, such annual gatherings as this have been a powerful way of exchanging ideas and for reinforcing a “national” rather than a “local” identity for this lay organisation.
Sylvia Philipps, the National Leader in 2015, welcomed participants from Mareeba (Far North Queensland), Coorparoo (Brisbane), St Clair (western Sydney), North Harbour (Northern Sydney), Kyabram (northern Victoria) and South Yarra (Melbourne). Fr Paul Maloney OSA, the Friends’ founding and continuing chaplain welcomed the delegates to St Kieran’s Augustinian Priory at Manly Vale within the North Harbour parish, and Fr Dave Austin OSA, the Augustinian Provincial of Australasia, attended and addressed the gathering.
Regional reports were given demonstrating the dedication and leadership at work across these Friends’ lay groups. The subsequent Friends’ newsletter reported, “All had made good use of our theme for 2015 which was a focus on Prayer. It was interesting to hear how the different groups had arranged the resource material to suit their local scene. Some had managed Seminar Days and some had created Power Point presentations. Lectures from a variety of speakers had been the experience for others. Movies had been shown and the preparation of a Home Mass were all part of the year’s program. All groups had sought to provide opportunities for Augustinian spirituality to be further understood and experienced always in an atmosphere of friendship and hospitality.”
The Conference delegates were informed told how their resources on Prayer had found their way to Augustinians in Nigeria, where these resources had been used in such a variety of ways within the different groups. Following on from Nigeria, there have now been several exchanges of emails with the Augustinians in Nairobi, Kenya.
Affirmation was received for the quality and the presentation of the Friends’ quarterly Newsletter names Amici (the Latin word for friends) and the Prayer Resource Guide that accompanies it. Various ideas were put forward for Amici such as, feedback with comments from readers, and a segment called Moments of Illumination telling of special insights, particular moments or comments from our personal journeys. It is hoped that more people may receive their copy electronically.
Newly available resources were reviewed and discussed. One particular item was a new book by Gabriel Quicke, Come Love With Me. Material emanating from Mr Joe Kelley and Fr Art Purcaro OSA in the United States and Peru was appreciated.
Similar Friends’ organisations operate in other parts of the word, including the United Kingdom and the USA.