Spanish Association for Adventist University Students Celebrates 50 Years

Organization has a key role in helping students keep their faith during college years.

Julian Melgosa
Spanish Association for Adventist University Students Celebrates 50 Years
May 3-5, 170 college and university students and professionals gather in Montserrat, Barcelona, Spain, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Association of Adventist University Students and Graduates of Spain. [Photo: Ana Riveira, Hope Media]

From May 3 to 5, 170 college and university students and professionals gathered in Montserrat, Barcelona, Spain, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Association of Adventist University Students and Graduates in Spain (known as AEGUAE, the Spanish acronym). The membership represents several generations in a very active organization that has continuously served the Seventh-day Adventist Church, particularly Adventist students attending public higher education.

The Event at the Abbey

The celebration took place at the Montserrat Abbey, a 1,000-year-old complex amid stunning natural surroundings at 2,400 feet (about 720 meters) of elevation, about an hour’s drive from Barcelona. The site has hosted many historical events, and it remains a symbol of resilience and faith for the Catalan people. Participants of various age groups attended the event with the common purpose of affirming and sharing their faith amid their postmodern environment — campus or workplace.

Several notable speakers presented relevant topics such as “Creation vs. Evolution,” “The Bible and Gender,” “Manuel Lacunza’s Millenarianism,” “The Apostle Paul as a Paradigm of a Committed Intellectual,” “Challenges and Opportunities of Adventist Education,” and “The Role of Women in AEGUAE,” among others. All were followed by rich discussions.

The name Manuel Lacunza resounded often at the meetings. Manuel de Lacunza y Díaz was a Jesuit priest who published The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty in 1812. The original publication is a clear precursor of the Millerite movement and the birth of the Adventist Church. The presence of this early 19th-century work in several locations and languages after its publication shows how the Lord prepared the minds of many to receive the Adventist message. One of the presentations was about the latest edition of Una celebridad en el olvido: Manuel de Lacunza y Díaz (A Forgotten Celebrity: Manuel de Lacunza y Diaz)by Alfred-Félix Vaucher, published jointly by Aula7Activa and Chile Adventist University. This is a richly annotated 867-page book that contains extensive commentaries, with 1,673 footnotes to Lacunza’s The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty.

In addition to the organized activities, the anniversary event provided abundant networking opportunities and visits to the abbey’s basilica, library, and museum, which contain treasures accumulated across 10 centuries. There was even some time for hiking in the beautiful surroundings.

The Purpose

For 50 years, AEGUAE has provided a secure context for students and graduates to ask questions and discuss perspectives. The anniversary meetings provided safe and open context where educated minds could discuss issues and emerge with a stronger faith. According to the testimonies expressed, meetings and publications have provided an invaluable tool to affirm Adventist faith and share the gospel.

A review of AEGUAE’s history shows a number of significant accomplishments: regular yearly meetings for half a century; six international meetings; the periodic publication of the magazine Aula 7; and the online publication of Aula7activa, which includes 34 books, 23 reviews, and several children’s stories. In addition, the organization has offered leadership opportunities to 270 men and women who have served as AEGUAE executive committee members over the years.

AEGUAE Past, Present, and Future

Founded in 1974, AEGUAE served a crucial role for the church when Spain was under a dictatorial regime with limited religious freedom and no legal protection. As the Spanish society changed, AEGUAE adapted to the times and became active in bringing a clear Adventist identity to public university campuses and other cultural and intellectual circles.

During the past decade, AEGUAE has been working together with the Adventist Church’s Youth Department to prepare Adventist upper high-school students for the rigors of a dominant atheistic academic environment at state universities and to help them preserve their Adventist faith. To this effect, AEGUAE organizes yearly meetings (apart from the annual convention) for those about to enter college or university.

During these events, young people are equipped with tools to cope with loneliness, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, and depression, and to establish good habits of academic discipline. In addition, they are prepared to affirm their faith and to remain loyal to their Adventist values, principles, and beliefs as they interact with faculty and peers at their educational institutions. At these events, a mentor is made available to each young man and woman to help them navigate the complex adaptation process of the year ahead.

The anniversary was a historic occasion for reflection on the work done in the past decades. More importantly, members committed to continue to serve, under God’s guidance, as a lay entity to further the mission of the church via the influence of university students and graduates in the postmodern world that surrounds them.

Asociación de Estudiantes y Graduados Universitarios Adventistas de España (AEGUAE) is a nonprofit supporting ministry association and is not owned or operated by the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Julian Melgosa