What's the Difference between Archdiocesan & Augustinian?

Dear friends,

As you know, the Augustinian friars established OLGC parish in 1899. We have worked here for over 117 years.  It truly does pain us to leave here after all this time.  As of July 1, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York will become the new pastor here.

Many people ask me, what is the difference between an Augustinian friar and an archdiocesan priest? Let me begin to explain by telling you about religious orders.

Seal of the Order of St. Augustine
Front door of Our Mother of Consolation Friary,
Lawrence, Massachusetts
You have heard about the Jesuits, the Franciscans, the Benedictines and the Dominicans. These groups, plus the Augustinians, and many other groups are called “religious orders.” Usually, most of the members of men’s religious orders are priests, but many of them are brothers. They may never become priests, but they are full members of the order.  They are teachers, counselors, artists, administrators and many other professions.  All members of orders take religious vows.  Poverty, chastity and obedience are the three that most of the orders take.  All of them dedicate their lives to Jesus and to the Church.  Among the mendicant orders (Augustinians, Carmelites, Franciscans and Dominicans) all members are called “friars,” a term that comes from the Latin word “frater,” meaning “brother.” All of us are brothers (friars) from the time we make our first vows.  Although I am a priest, I never quit being a brother.  So it is as correct to call me "Friar Liam" or "Brother Liam" as it is to call me "Father Liam."  My blog, in fact, is called "Friar Liam's Blog." 

Members of religious orders usually live in community. They pray together, eat together and very often they work together and recreate together too. These religious orders have a special “charisms,” or characteristic. For the Franciscans, it is poverty; for the Dominicans, is preaching. For the Benedictines, it is monastic life. For the Augustinians it is community life, hospitality and a spirit of searching for God.

Religious orders report directly to the Pope, but they are also very much involved in serving the local church.  They can be sent to work almost anywhere.  For instance, I have worked in Troy, NY, Boston, North Carolina, Tokyo, and Nagasaki.

The Catholic Church is divided up into regions.  Each region is called a diocese or and archdiocese.  Each of these regions is placed under the care of a bishop or archbishop.  Priests who belong to these regions aid their bishops in the care of the souls of the people of these regions.  They are called diocesan [or archdiocesan] priests. 

Diocesan priests also dedicate themselves to Jesus Christ and to His Church. Unlike members of religious orders, they do not take the three vows, but on the day of their ordination they promise to obey their bishops.  Most of them will work in parishes, high schools, or in special ministries in their own diocese for all of their life.  They “belong” to the diocese and they “belong” to the bishop. 

Many of you know Father Louis Jerome who was pastor of Sacred Heart and is now pastor of St. Charles.  Both Father Jerome and I have the same boss.  Our boss is Cardinal Dolan.  The difference is that besides working for Cardinal Dolan, Father Jerome also “belongs” to Cardinal Dolan as a priest of the Archdiocese of NY.  I work for Cardinal Dolan, but I “belong” to the Villanova Province of the Order of Saint Augustine. 

Many OLGC parishioners are afraid that things may change when the new pastor comes.  Even when one religious order priest replaces another one, some things change to some extent.  But Bishop O’Hara and Cardinal Dolan want to make sure that the new pastor will have the pastoral leadership qualities of wisdom, understanding and flexibility needed to continue the Augustinian tradition here at OLGC.

Fr. Liam
This is based on my letter to the people of 
Our Lady of Good Counsel, SI, NY 
for the May 29, 2016 Sunday Bulletin. 

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