When the Augustinian International Encounters for Young Adults began, the venue for the first (and second) gathering 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 will enter the list as the fifth host nation, as well as being the first host nation outside of Continental Europe.
The Ninth Augustinian International Encounter for Young Adults took place in Sydney, Australia from Monday evening, 21st July 2008 until Sunday morning, 27th July 2008, which was immediately after World Youth Day that Pope Benedict attended.
The Tenth Augustinian International Encounter for Young Adults took place near London, England in August 2010, and the eleventh Encounter took place at San Paolo, Brazil on 16th-20th July 2013, after which 500 of the participants travelled together to the World Youth Day at Rio de Janeiro. Friars and young adults from Australia attended nine of these ten Encounters.The eleventh gathering took place at Zaječov near Prague in the Czech Republic in July 2016. In this monastery founded over 750 years ago as the first Augustinian foundation in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) the Encounter drew its theme from the homily of Pope Francis at the inaugural Mass of the Augustinian General Chapter during August 2013: “Restlessness of the Heart among Young People Today. An Augustinian Response.” For a full page on this Encounter, click here.