“To be a bishop is to be at the total service of the Church”

For Carlos María Domínguez, his appointment as bishop was “a big surprise. The hitherto vicar of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova in Spain will leave his work as an Augustinian Recollect to begin his episcopal ministry in San Juan de Cuyo as an auxiliary bishop. “I told the bishop: ‘You are going to have to teach me how to be a priest because I always lived as a friar'”.

Although on Monday, April 22, it was made public that Pope Francis named the Augustinian Recollect Carlos María Domínguez as the new auxiliary bishop of San Juan de Cuyo (Argentina), the former vicar provincial in Spain had known of his appointment for several weeks. “The nuncio called me and we agreed that two days later we were meeting because he had news to give me,” he says. He became nervous and confesses that it was difficult for him to sleep. “When he gave me the letter announcing the appointment of the Pope, it was a big surprise because I did not expect it.

From the time he found out until the official announcement, these were difficult days. “The most difficult thing was to keep the secret I wanted to tell out loud,” he says. Once the appointment was known, the telephone exploded: more than 500 congratulatory messages. “Many bishops wrote to me saying ‘take advantage of the day because this day is unique’; and the truth is that never in my life had I lived a day like yesterday (for Monday).

The 20th Augustinian Recollect Bishop

Carlos María Domínguez becomes the 20th Augustinian Recollect bishop. With his appointment, he ceases to be obliged to obey the Prior General or superiors and live the vow of poverty. Nevertheless, “affectively I will continue to belong to the Order of Augustinian Recollects”. For this reason, he affirms that “it will be impossible for me to stop printing my Augustinian Recollect being in my episcopal ministry”.

The new bishop understands his episcopal appointment as a “recognition” to the Order of Augustinian Recollects and not to the person. He points out that, being a small order, he has a large percentage of Augustinian Recollect bishops.

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“Joyful in hope”

Understand that “to be a bishop is to be at the total service of the Church and of the diocese that you are sent. For this reason, and taking as a reference the Servant of God Cardinal Pironio, he has chosen as the motto for his episcopal ministry the phrase from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Rejoice in hope. “I believe that the bishop should be that: first, to serve the people of God with joy which is the fruit of the presence of the risen Jesus in our midst; and second, he has to encourage in the hope which does not disappoint and which comes from God”, he indicates.

This is the “attitude of service” that Carlos María Domínguez wishes to have in his new work as bishop, in which he will keep in mind Saint Augustine. From him he remembers the phrase “I am a Christian with you, for you I am a bishop”. “St. Augustine said that being a bishop is a dignity, but also a burden; that is why I am shaken by the responsibility,” he affirms. He is not afraid of what is to come “because when I said yes to God, I did it with certainty; in fact, God is a rock”. But he does feel expectation.

As until now, Carlos María will have in San Juan de Cuyo a “preferential action” for young people. “One thing that the post-synodal document says and that the Pope recalled in the Easter message is that ‘everything that Christ touches, he makes young’, and I believe that everything that young people touch, will continue to be young,” he affirms.