SAN DIEGO — Next year, the Order of St. Augustine will mark 100 years in San Diego.
“We’ve been in San Diego longer than San Diego’s been a diocese,” said Augustinian Father Gary Sanders, provincial of the Province of St. Augustine in California. (The Diocese of San Diego wasn’t created until 1936.)
The Augustinians can trace their history back to the mid-13th century when, at the direction of the pope, various groups that were living according to the Rule of St. Augustine were united into a single community. The Rule of St. Augustine is an outline for communal living that was developed by St. Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century.
Today, there are about 2,800 Augustinians worldwide in almost 50 countries.
The California province itself has more than 35 members, most of whom live in San Diego. With its members hailing from nine different countries of origin, Father Sanders said, the province is “a wonderful microcosm” of the world itself.
Father Sanders likened his province’s membership to an hourglass: At the top are its elderly members; at the center is a smaller number of middle-aged Augustinians; and, at the bottom, are about as many younger members — priests, brothers and seminarians — as there are older members. Two men will be ordained to the transitional diaconate Dec. 18 in San Diego and to the priesthood six months later.
Within the San Diego Diocese, the Augustinians are most closely associated with St. Augustine High School, an all-boys secondary school in the North Park neighborhood, which they founded in 1922. But, for almost as long, they also have pastored neighboring St. Patrick Parish.
The local Augustinian community also currently includes a university chaplain (John Paul the Great Catholic University) and a hospital chaplain (Kaiser Permanente Zion Medical Center and Alvarado Hospital).
The California province has sponsored Casa Hogar La Gloria, an orphanage in Tijuana, since its founding in 1975. Meanwhile, the St. Augustine Foundation disburses about $1 million a year to charitable causes, including many ministries in the diocese.
“Augustine was a big promoter of spiritual friendship and community life,” said Father Sanders. “And I think … that sense of brotherhood is present in the way we live and, hopefully, the way we treat other people.”
The Order of St. Augustine
Founded: 1244 in Tuscany
Active in San Diego region: Almost 100 years
San Diego leader: Father Gary Sanders
Phone: (619) 235-0247
Vocation information: Email Vocations@CalAugustine.org