An iconic historian marks his diamond jubilee in religious life (1957-2017)


Fr. Ángel Martínez Cuesta, OAR, is a historian renowned not only in the bosom of the Augustinian Recollect Family but also in church historians’ circles in the Philippines and in the Spanish-speaking world. He was born in Brullés in the Spanish province of Burgos on 26 September 1938 to a big family. A few days after his birth, his elder brother Jesús, who later authored textbooks in Spanish—then a mandatory course for college and high school—used in Recollect educational institutions in the Philippines, entered the Augustinian Recollect minor seminary in Lodosa, Navarra.

From 1949 to 1956, the young Ángel studied basic and secondary education at the minor seminaries in Lodosa, Navarra, and Fuenterrabía, Guipúzcoa, respectively, both belonging to the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino.
In September 1956 he commenced his novitiate at the convent of Monteagudo, Navarra, and he pronounced the monastic vows on 14 September 1957. He celebrates this year 2017 his diamond jubilee in the religious life as Augustinian Recollect friar. A festschrift issue of the annual historical review Recollectio will soon come out to mark this cherished event in his religious life.

Fray Ángel underwent his theological formation at their theologate in Marcilla, Navarra, until his ordination to the priesthood on 29 September 1961. He then came to Manila and studied English and Sociology until he began his studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy in October 1962. He obtained his Licentiate in Church History summa cum laude in 1964. He finished his Doctorate in Church History summa cum laude in 1972 with his dissertation on the socio-religious history of Negros Island that won for him the gold medal from the Jesuit university. In 1964, he took up studies in the German language.

Since 1962 up to the present he resides in Rome dedicating his life to research and writing of history and spirituality of the Order of Augustinian Recollects as well as to other Order-related topics. For five decades now he has delivered countless lectures in most countries where the Order has established, especially in Italy, Spain, Colombia and the Philippines. He always makes time for confreres and researchers who seek research materials either personally at the gneral curia, through mail or e-mail as well as those who request brief histories of Recollect parishes, institutions or apostolates.

For over forty years he supervised the General Archive of the Order of Augustinian Recollects and for thirty years (1973-2004) he headed the OAR Institute of History. In 1978, he founded the Recollectio that he almost single-handedly edits up to now.

Apart from his doctoral dissertation translated into English as History of Negros (1980), his works include the Spanish biography of Bishop Ezekiel Moreno El camino del deber, The Road of Duty (1975), and that of the Servant of God Fr. Jenaro Fernández Si no soy santo, ¿para qué quiero la vida?, If I Am Not a Saint, What Do I Want to Live for? (2008). He authored two of the three volumes of the Historia de los Agustinos Recoletos, History of the Augustinian Recollects (1995, 2015). He edited four tomes of the Epistolario de San Ezequiel Moreno, Collected Letters of Saint Ezekiel Moreno (2006). He penned entries in ten volumes of Italian Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione, Dictionary of Institutes of Perfection (1974-2002), and numerous research papers in historical reviews, most notably in Recollectio.

The Recollects in the Philippines also published his three works: The Augustinian Recollects: 375 Years of Continuous Presence (1981); The Order of Augustinian Recollects: Its Charismatic Identity (1994) and The Augustinian Recollects: Arrival in the Philippines and Spread of Missionary Activities (2006). His articles are included in the anthologies Ardent Desire to Proclaim Christ (2011) and Holiness and Heroic Witness: Augustinian Recollect Saints and Blessed (2014).

It can be said Fr. Angel Martínez Cuesta has been a fixture in renewal courses, general chapters. permanent formation weeks and in the month- long preparation for solemn profession, organized since the 1970s. We can likewise affirm that his participation was always requested in major commemorative events anent to the Order’s history, starting from the Augustinian Recollection Quadricentenary (1988), the Philippine Revolution (1998), Birth of the Recollection in Colombia (2004), Recoletos 400 in the Philippines (2006), Saint Pius X’s decree Religiosas Familias Centennial (2012), Conference on the Recollect Educational Apostolate in the Philippines, etc.

In these anniveraries, Fr. Martínez Cuesta has taken the pulse of the times and highlighted the interests of the Augustinian Recollect community and those of his confreres. His conference papers were well researched, prepared, delivered and published, which were all aimed to revitalize and promote the dynamic life of the Order and its members. They were not mere academic events. They definitely met the needs of his listeners, creating queries to which answers were sought for and provided ahead of time. His total fidelity and love for the Holy Mother Church and the Order of Augustinian Recollects have doubltess come to the fore in these major events as well as in numerous publications.

— Retrieved from the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino website
reportaje=cuesta&id=01], translated and enriched by Emmanuel
Luis A. Romanillos.

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Prof. Emmanuel Luis Romanillos

Prof. Emmanuel Luis Romanillos

Author and Church Historian