Timeless Work, Timeless Success A Religious Augustinian inspired by the great teachings of St. Augustine
A Religious Augustinian inspired by the great teachings of St. Augustine
“I am not a writer; I always find it painful to put my ideas into writing,” asserted Fr. Mamerto Alfeche, OSA, as he sat back on his desk. The confused look on his face became visible than it was before. He scribbled in different kinds of words, finding the right ones to begin his masterpiece. He held his pen, his brain churning to come up with the answers he was seeking forthwith— scribbled, and then he felt like it was not the right one yet. It has always been St. Augustine’s works that consistently fueled his ardent pursuit of grasping the latter’s thoughts and the entirety of it.
He stopped in his pace, then went over it again. The next thing he knew, he officially published four books.
THE STORY BEHIND
Fr. Alfeche is an advocate of broader and more profound knowledge about the life of St. Augustine. Fascinated by Augustine’s innovative ideas on language, skepticism and knowledge, will and emotions, freedom and determinism, and his way of doing philosophy, Fr. Alfeche wanted to introduce him as an influential figure with his commitment to the truth of biblical revelation. He found the answer in writing. Because of this, he translated The Life of Augustine into Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a languages and authored a book entitled My Two Families.
Launched virtually last October 16, these books are manifestations of Fr. Alfeche’s love for Augustine and creating pictures with his words. “I have been interested in St. Augustine’s beliefs, his family background, and how he lived his life since my days as an Augustinian seminarian when I first started reading some of his works. I wrote a thesis entitled The Problem of Evil as tackled by St. Augustine for my Licentiate in Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas. I also did a paper on St. Augustine’s System of Values for my master’s degree at Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Belgium. In addition, I wrote on his ideas on The Groaning Creation and Its Hope in the Resurrection of the Body for my doctoral dissertation at the same University. Meanwhile, My Two Families offers brief accounts of my life experiences as well as reflections on how I
reacted to events and phenomena that impacted my life from birth,” shared Fr. Alfeche in an interview with The Augustinian.
FOR THE LOVE OF WRITING
Before bringing The Life of St. Augustine to native languages, a Filipino translation was already written by Professor Felicisima Campos. However, this was a translation from the English language by F.R. Hoare. This perhaps aggravated the hope of Fr. Alfeche to do a straight translation from original Latin – the first of its type. “This book is a real contribution to Hiligaynon ad Kinaray-a literature,” commented John Iremil Teodor, literature writer and scholar of De La Salle University.
Aside from advocating Augustine’s life and literary outputs, Fr. Alfeche further shared he would like to continue the work of the Spanish Augustinian friars who were assigned to some of Panay’s parishes back in the 1600s and 1800s, such as Fray Alonso Metrida, who published Vocabulario de la Lengua Bisaya Hiligaya y Haria and Fray Raymundo Lozano, who wrote Flores ni Maria Santisima, a translation from Spanish to Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a.
“I would like to inspire my Augustinian friar brothers to share their ideas and discoveries in writing. They may inspire many teachers and students to write literature in the academe if they start doing so. More research could be published and distributed, not just in science but also in other sectors. The University is basically a place where new ideas and research are developed and published,” added Fr. Alfeche.
GO BACK IN TIME
In his authored book My Two Families, he believed it would be prudent for him to write his biography while he still enjoys the clarity of his mind. “I completed mine when I was seventy-three years old (I am now 74 years old and showing signs of mortality) and completed it while quarantined during the pandemic. So, it’s been an ideal opportunity for me to think about how I’ve interacted with others and with my Creator throughout the last seventy-three years. What St. Augustine did in his later years of life – seeking happiness in the company of his fellow monks and the service of the Church when bad elements besieged it – was what inspired me to write my biography, which also includes some of the events of his life,” he expressed.
Along with his short narrations, he also wanted the public to recognize the things that he had gone through, both victories and hardships, saying, “I also wanted my relatives, future generations of our clan, fellow Augustinians, acquaintances and friends, vineyard colleagues, and many others, to know about my struggles and wins in living my life as an ordinary citizen and as an Augustinian. So, I considered writing many of them - my evaluations and reflections in light of the Bible, St. Augustine’s teachings, and the Rule and Constitutions of the Order of St. Augustine.”
Despite the shortcomings Fr. Alfeche has encountered when publishing his books, his modest contribution of Ang Kabuhi ni San Agustin and My Two Families heightened the source of life brought with a holistic approach depicting faith, realism, and retrospect of his twilight years as an Augustinian Religious.
When he finished the last words he needed—just adding the final touch of his masterpiece, Fr. Alfeche was enthralled by his anthology, mesmerized by the turnout of everything he planned. Those lines of compassion that he wrote, not be known but to know himself.
Published: April 25, 2022