Last update : 2001-07-28

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Fr. Carlos Alfonso

Biographical Data

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Fr. Carlos Alfonso Azpiroz Costa was born in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, on October 30, 1956, the eighth of a family of fourteen children (thirteen boys, one girl). His mother, Nélida Victoria Costa Colombo, who died in 1976, was a homemaker, and dedicated herself especially to the raising of her many children. Fr. Carlos' father, Francisco Azpiroz Gil, who died in 1988, was an agricultural engineer by profession. He oversaw the family properties, including a farm which was and remains a meeting place for the whole family. Fr. Carlos' younger brother Fernando is a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) who currently lives in Taiwan. In total, Fr. Carlos has thirty-one nieces and nephews.

Fr. Carlos' two paternal grandparents were Spaniards, from Navarre: Miguel Azpiroz Razquin, who was born in Huarte Araquil at the feet of the Sierras del Aralar, and Enedina Gil, who came from Luquin, in Tierra Estella. The two met one another in Buenos Aires and married there. Fr. Carlos' maternal grandparents, Luis Julio Costa and María Colombo, were Argentineans of Italian extraction: the Costas were from Genoa, and the Colombos, from Milan.

Fr. Carlos completed his primary and secondary education (1963-1974) at the Colegio Champagnat de Buenos Aires, which is run by the Marist Brothers; in fact, all thirteen boys in the family studied there. At the age of eighteen he entered law school at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA). During his years of study (1975-1979) he worked along with his father in the family business. For the period of 1978-1979 he was elected president of the law school student center at UCA.

In 1978 he met two professors in the University who were friars of the Order of Preachers, one of them holding the chair of moral theology at the law school and the other being his assistant. He began to dialogue with them about the restlessness he felt about his vocation. His restlessness was transformed into the certainty of a Dominican calling, especially after two experiences while on retreat at the novitiate of the Order in Mar del Plata.

He entered the Dominican novitiate of the Argentinean Province of Saint Augustine on March 1, 1980. He made first profession on February 28, 1981 in the hands of Fr. Michel Jean Paul Ramlot, who was at that time Prior Provincial of the Argentinean Province. A little while afterward he passed his one outstanding final exam at the law school at UCA, thus obtaining his law degree.

After being assigned to the Priory of Albert the Great in Buenos Aires (the philosophy studentate of the simply professed), he began his philosophy studies at the Centro de Estudios Institucionales, Priory of Saint Dominic of Buenos Aires. On March 10, 1984 he made solemn profession in that same priory. He received his Bachelor of Philosophy degree at the Universidad del Norte Santo Tomás de Aquino (UNSTA), a university of the Argentinean Dominican Province. He began his theological studies in the Centro de Estudios Institucionales (which is affiliated with the theology faculty of the UCA), and there received the Bachelor of Theology degree.

During his years in the studentate, he was teacher of catechesis in the high school run by the Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary, and began his university teaching career both as assistant of the chairs of theological anthropology and dogmatic theology at the UCA (in the faculties of economics and law), and also as assistant professor of social philosophy in the philosophy faculty of UNSTA. He had pastoral ministry among various groups of youth of the Movimiento de Jornadas de Vida Cristiana (of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires) and in the missionary activities of the Argentinean Province, especially during his summer vacations in Valcheta (Río Negro), El Alto (Catamarca), Maipú (Mendoza) and Puerto Viejo (Corrientes). These activities were developed in teams, with Dominican brothers and sisters and various laypeople united with the Order.

He was ordained deacon by Cardinal Eduardo Francisco Pironio on August 8, 1986. The following year, on the vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption, he was ordained to the priesthood, again by Cardinal Pironio. Not long afterward, the provincial chapter named him Secretary of the province. He continued his academic and pastoral activity (especially with the Movimiento de Jornadas de Vida Cristiana and as overseer of the mission in Puerto Viejo, Corrientes).

In September, 1989 the Prior Provincial, with the consent of the then Master of the Order Damian Byrne, sent Fr. Carlos to Rome to study canon law at the Angelicum. Being assigned to the Priory of Santa Sabina during those three years, he collaborated with various assistants to the Master of the Order in secretarial jobs, and he was syndic of Santa Sabina for two years. He received the doctorate in canon law in November, 1992, and later published his thesis, "The Provincial Chapter in the Book of Constitutions and Ordinations of the Order of Friars Preachers--A Comparative Study with the Constitutions of 1932."

While still living in Rome he was elected Prior of the Priory of Saint Martin de Porres (in Mar del Plata), the novitiate of the Argentine Province. During which three years that he held that elected position, he also worked as a professor in the Universidad FASTA de Mar del Plata, teaching Introduction to Law to law students, and moral and dogmatic theology to students in other degree programs in the same university. He also gave theological lectures at the Center of Study and Reflection in the diocese of Mar del Plata. From Mar del Plata he would travel to Buenos Aires to teach courses on consecrated life at the canon law faculty at UCA and in the studentate of the Argentinean province. He was given the charge of ministry to university students in the diocese of Mar del Plata. He worked quite a bit giving conferences and coordinating days of reflection on behalf the diocesan conference of religious sisters, and likewise being involved in the formation process of the diocesan conference of men religious. All the while, he gave pastoral attention to those living in the various neighborhoods surrounding the priory, along with the rest of his community.

The Provincial Chapter of 1995 named him Secretary of the Province and he was elected in November of the same year as prior of the Priory of Saint Dominic in Buenos Aires, the house of formation of student brothers in theology and the seat of the Centro de Estudios Institucionales. As prior of the community there, he once again took up teaching in the Centro and in the UCA. He was elected a member of the conference governing the UNSTA. He presence in Buenos Aires involved him once again in pastoral work with the Movimiento de Jornadas de Vida Cristiana. He continued working in this pastoral/missionary activity in Puerto Viejo (in the Province of Corrientes) in the northeast of Argentina. From 1993 to 1997 he was a member of the Theological Reflection Team of the Argentinean Conference of Religious (CAR, which now goes by the acronym CONFAR, for religious men and women).

Around the middle of 1997 the Master of the Order, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, named Fr. Carlos Procurator General of the Order in Santa Sabina, in Rome. From that point on, he was professor of "Law on Religious Life" in the canon law faculty at the Angelicum. He was Rector of the Basilica of Santa Sabina from 1997 to the end of 2000. Participating as a peritus in the General Elective Chapter of the Dominican Order at Providence College, Fr. Carlos was elected Master of the Order on July 14, 2001.


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