Drawing from the homily of the Holy Father Pope Francis at the inaugural Mass of the Augustinian General Chapter during August 2013, the Commission came up with a proposed theme for the next Augustinian Youth Gathering: “Restlessness of the Heart among Young People Today. An Augustinian Response.”
(Photo: The eleventh Augustinian International Youth Encounter at San Paolo, Brazil on 16th-20th July 2013. To see this image in a larger size, click here.)
These encounters began in 1987, when the Order of Saint Augustine took steps to support multi-nationally the Augustinian ministry to young adults that was flourishing in numerous parts of the world. It was agreed that the various regional and national Augustinian initiatives for adults would be greatly enhanced by having a multi-national or international Augustinian Encounter for Young Adults, which would henceforth be held at regular intervals in a variety of nations.
And so the Augustinian International Encounters for Young Adults began. The first (and second) venue chosen could not have been more appropriate. It was the Augustinian monastery at Lecceto, which is near Siena in Italy. Since 1972 the Lecceto monastery has been conducted by Augustinian contemplative nuns, but for most of six earlier centuries it was a special centre of spirituality and saintly recollection for successive generations of Augustinian friars from Italy and beyond. Right from the first Encounter at Lecceto in 1987, the practice began of having the Augustinian Prior General as a special guest and a key participant. These Encounters at Lecceto attracted young adults not only from Europe but also for the United States, Latin America, Australia and Korea.
After the Italian Augustinian hospitality of the first two Encounters, the third Encounter took place at the Augustinian Monastery of La Vid during Spain’s national year of celebration in 1992. The fourth and fifth Encounters moved to Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Ireland in 1995 and to Munnerstadt, Germany in 1998 respectively. The sixth Encounter took place in Rome, Italy around the time of World Youth Day 2000 in that city. The seventh Encounter happened at the Augustinian fincha (park and retreat centre) at Guadarrama, which is near Madrid, Spain. It had young adults from all five continents, with a young adult attending from an Augustinian ministry in South Africa. Italy (when winners of the World Cup in football!) again was the host nation in 2006, with the eighth Encounter happening in the very Augustinian city of Pavia.
Thus far, four nations have hosted the Encounter at least once, viz., Italy, Spain, Ireland and Germany. In July 2008 Australia became the fifth host nation, as well as being the first host nation outside of Continental Europe. This Ninth Augustinian International Encounter for Young Adults took place in Sydney, Australia from Monday evening, 21st July 2008 until Sunday morning, 27 July 2008. The Tenth Augustinian International Encounter for Young Adults took place near London, England in August 2010. The Eleventh Augustinian International Encounter for Young Adults occurred at San Paolo, Brazil on 16-20 July 2013.The Twelfth Augustinian International Encounter for Young Adults will take place at Prague in the Czech Republic in July 2016.