Fray José María Lorenzo: A good man; a good shepherd
Note: This article was posted on the official website of the Order of Augustinian Recollects (www.agustinosrecoletos.com)
The Augustinian Recollect Jose Maria Lorenzo will always be remembered for his permanent and indelible smile, his courage and strength. He was Vicar Provincial in Mexico and dedicated his life to the people, to the religious and to the people who came to him. Francisco Javier Jiménez recalls some snippets of his life.
José María Lorenzo Lerena was a good man, a good Augustinian Recollect friar and a good pastor. He was born in San Millan de la Cogolla, La Rioja, Spain on January 21, 1937. He was the youngest of eight siblings, among them a sister, Felisa, an Augustinian Recollect missionary. At the age of ten, he entered the apostolic college in Lodosa to prepare himself and respond to his missionary vocation. Lodosa, Fuenterrabía, Monteagudo and Marcilla marked the milestones of her formative journey. He made his simple profession on August 14, 1956 in Monteagudo, solemn profession three years later in Marcilla and received the priesthood on July 17, 1960 in Marcilla. He began his priesthood with a year of pastoral preparation in Madrid, preparing for his experience in Mexico.
After his year of preparation in Madrid, he arrived in Mexico with a youthful strength. Twenty-one consecutive years in Mexico left an indelible mark on his life. He spent the first five years in ministries in Mexico City. He then spent ten years as a missionary in Madera, in the north of Mexico, and six years as Vicar Provincial, directing and organizing the life of more than eighty religious of the Vicariate of Mexico.
He returned to Spain in 1982 to live in the provincial house in Madrid and serve as vicar of the Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine for six years. Within the provincial council, he was entrusted with the task of animating and disseminating an informative bulletin to keep in touch with the religious of the province and their families. He dedicated himself to this with eagerness, perseverance, interest and commitment, as always.
He returned to Mexico in 1988 to take on a very different task: to animate, accompany and form the Federation of Augustinian Recollect Contemplative Nuns. He dedicated himself body and soul to this enterprise for six years. He was the assistant pastor, but he was also the insistent father, given his tenacity and constancy, unapproachable to discouragement. As a result of those efforts, details and attentions is the affection that the Recollect nuns of Mexico still have for him today and, above all, the development and consolidation of some convents in those very young years, very much in need of formation and attention.
Having completed his mission with the Recollect nuns in Mexico, he returned definitively to Spain in 1994. The parish of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, in the neighborhood of La Elipa, Madrid, was the scene of his efforts and pastoral care for the people of God. It was another world, another reality, another people, another problem, but the shepherd of that flock entered into everything with affection, interest, dedication and kindness.
The change of destination brought him an air of peace, rest and tranquility. In 2001 he left Madrid to live in the convent of Monteagudo, as pastor of St. Mary Magdalene for 17 long and fruitful years. He left in the wake of all the parishioners a man of goodness, kind, faithful, dutiful, enthusiastic, cheerful, always smiling. A smile that is a message, a gift, a lesson. The sacristan, the catechists, the choirs, the Secular Augustinian Recollect fraternity know well of his zeal, his dedication, his unwavering fidelity, his determination to improve the church (he had to rebuild the roof and renovate the interior), as well as his eagerness to take care of his sheep, his parishioners, his beloved people.
Twenty years in the same community is a long time. In addition to his work as pastor and parish priest, his presence in the community of this formation house contributed greatly to the formation of the novices. His kindness, his permanent and indelible smile, his encouragement, his strength in the face of ailments and difficulties, his deep faith, devotion and religiosity left a beautiful legacy to all the generations of novices who have passed through Monteagudo during this XXI century.
In the final stretch, limited and marked by pain in his hip and knee, he continued to take care of the news for the provincial bulletin every day. He never missed a single community event, participated in many classes with the novices and was an outstanding animator at parties and birthdays.
Francisco Javier Jiménez OAR