This is the restorative effort of the Order that was flourishing from 1572 onwards throughout coastal India, especially at Goa and Cochin until the time of the Portuguese suppression of religious orders in 1834. The Augustinians reached Cochin in 1579 and settled at Kalvetty, Mattancherry. On 29 January 1577 Pope Gregory XIII had appointed Mattheus de Medina O.S.A. as Bishop of Cochin, and he arrived in Goa on 9 October 1579. He served as Bishop of Cochin until 1588, when he was appointed Archbishop of Goa. In 1580 a small chapel in Cochin dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe was entrusted to their care by Bishop de Medina O.S.A.. Later on, the Augustinians built a monastery and a larger Church of Our Lady of Purification there.
Augustinians remained in India, and especially in the regions of Goa and Cochin, until the time of the Portuguese suppression of religious orders in 1834. The European-born Augustinians died out, and the native-born Augustinians were persecuted and scattered. After 1834 no more Augustinians came from Portugal. Over ten years later, however, an Irish Augustinian came to India as the Bishop of Madras, but he remained there for only five years. There was then an absence of Augustinian ministry in India for well over a century. At a General Chapter of the Order held in 1968 at Villanova University in Philadelphia, United States of America, Agostino Trape O.S.A., who was the Prior General of the Order at that time, called for the return of the Augustinians to India. Augustinians from the Augustinian Vicariate of the Orient (Manila, Philippines) subsequently visited India, searching for a suitable place to start an Augustinian monastery. After considering various locations, the Augustinians in February 1982 selected the Ballard Bungalow at Fort Cochin.
The inauguration of the Augustinian priory there took place there on 4 February 1982, on the 425th anniversary of the foundation of the Diocese of Cochin (4 February 1557), where five Augustinians had served as the local bishop in previous centuries. The Augustinians then bought a property near Pashnithode, Edacochin in 1984 so as to have a house for youth who will formally become candidates of the Order a few years later. The foundation stone of Saint Augustine's Minor Seminary there was placed on 5 May 1985. The Augustinians and the young Indian aspirants to the Order moved into this new Edacochin monastery on 1 November 1986.The completed building was solemnly blessed on the feast of Saint Augustine, 28 August 1988. The Augustinians in 1986 were given the pastoral care of a small church dedicated to Saint Antony of Padua in Edacochin, in order to give spiritual assistance to the faithful of the locality. This shrine became the Order’s first formal ministerial responsibility in in modern times. It is a popular shrine, and not a parish church. The Order built a new church at the shrine in 1996. The golden jubilee celebrations at the Shrine were a highlight of communion and cooperation between the local church and the Order of Saint Augustine. In 1986 Saint Augustine's Study House was opened at Alwaye (Aluva) in Kerala, India as a pre-novitiate, novitiate and professorium. The minor seminarians from Edacochin move there formally to join the Augustinian Order and to prepare for priesthood. In 2007 there were a total of forty-seven young men in initial formation. Seventeen of these men were solemnly professed.
In July 2006 consent was given for the Prior General to advance to the status of being an Augustinian Delegation, in that India has now achieved the necessary numbers of members to take this step. The Delegation began with three centres: Edacochin, Alwaye, and Thalappuzha. Located at Thalappuzha is St Thomas Parish, which the Order began staffing early in 2006; it is a country area where most people live on subsistence farming. Late in 2006 the new Delegation of India of the Order of Saint Augustine purchased a school with 900 male and female students.
Photos (at right) Picture 1: An Augustinian becomes a deacon in Kerala, India. Picture 2: Signing the book of solemn profession at Aluva, Keralla, India. Picture 3: Young visitors to St Anthony's Shrine, Edacochin, India.
Begun in 1996 as the Sembagam Matriculation Higher Secondary School, it is located in the city of Pollachi (200 kms from Edacochin) in the State of Tamil Nadu. In conformity with Indian law and practice, the school is open to persons of all religions. Since 2008 six Augustinians have been involved in the school, variously in teaching roles and in administration. By June 2008 two new staff rooms and fourteen new classrooms were ready for use, and another eight classrooms added a year later. The school enrolment had increased to almost 1,180 by June 2009. An Augustinian priory has been established at the school. It became the fourth Augustinian Priory currently in India.(Continued on the next page.)Photo Gallery
For photographs of the Order of Saint Augustine in India, click here. AN4834