“Thousands of 'Eindhovenaren' have been a guest at the Augustines.”

Many people in 2019 may have forgotten what the Augustines meant for Eindhoven. They commit themselves to the more vulnerable groups of society. "Without putting themselves first. They are just glad to be able to do that together with others," according to Ingrid van Neer-Bruggink. She has been the librarian of the Augustine institute for over 25 years, which was until recently housed in one of the outbuildings of the former monastery Mariënhage.

Sense of community

She met the fathers each morning at a quarter past eight in the hallway of the monastery on her way to the library. They were all dressed in original clothing. When she started there in 1995, Ingrid van Neer-Bruggink wondered how the fathers would be recognized outside the walls of the monastery. After all, they did not walk in original clothes outside and the traditional cross is not that obvious on their regular clothes. "They are very good listeners while staying grounded. A big sense of community is their characteristic. This ensured that they played a big part in building a social cohesion in the city and in creating big projects for vulnerable groups", according to the librarian.

An example of this is the construction of the Rita- and Labrehouses for shelter of the homeless or the creation of the Thomas van Villanova foundation who offers help to the poor in the city. They were also involved in the care of elders, by already taking the initiative in 1975 for the construction of elderly residences at the terrain of Gagelbosch in Eindhoven. In 2001 they founded Augustinianum Sorong, a foundation that supports schools in West-Papoea. All foundations who are still present today, albeit under a different name.

In the middle of society

The fathers also show their connection with society in a different way: they were the first to open their theological education for new members. They regularly shared their knowledge in the Wijsgerige King in Eindhoven. Besides that they also welcomed thousands of Eindhovenaren in the southern wing of Mariënhage at the end of the nineties who came to drink a cup of coffee, attend a reading or workshop, play bridge or draw meditatively. "They are very hospitable. Everyone is welcome."

Kind confessors

Despite all of this, the Catholic Eindhovenaren know the Augustines from their colorful church services in the Paterskerk. Those drew quite the audience because the fathers had a very well taken care of liturgy with a strong musical composition. Moreover, they were known for being kind confessors with a lot of room for forgiveness. That is why the church became a real church of confessions.

A heart for each other

With the departure of the Augustines from the former monastery Mariënhage a certain sense of Catholic social color disappeared, although they were less visibly present in the past few years due to their age and their declining numbers, according to Ingrid van Neer-Bruggink. "They are, however, realistic and realize that the day would come when they had to leave their monastery in the city center. They hoped that the new owner of the area would be sensitive for their spirituality so that in one way or another their existence would remain visible. In DELA they found a good match. Augustine values such as meeting each other, offering space and providing hospitality can be found in DELA. The fathers appreciate that. In a respectful way, an old building becomes a new centre of meeting and inspiration, with a heart for each other."

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