Yasmine Cajuste, VMY International President, writes on the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to Saint Catherine, an event that led to the establishment of the Vincentian Marian Youth Association.
Dear members of VMY:
Living our faith with joy!
Receive our heartfelt greetings on this special day when we celebrate the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to Saint Catherine, an event that led to the establishment of the Vincentian Marian Youth Association!
As we celebrate this anniversary today, the events we are currently experiencing invite us to live our lives rooted in the present and to deepen our understanding of those events as we live from day to day as Christians and Vincentian. At this time I would like to reflect with all of you on some of the different events that have occurred (and that will occur) this year.
As we entered into the celebration of this Year of the Faith, the International Council proposed that we reflect on the words of our annual motto “Living our Faith with joy”. Therefore, it would be good to pause and to ask ourselves: have we taken advantage of this opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of our Catholic faith? Are we living our faith with joy? Since the beginning of this Year of the Faith, what have been some of the obstacles that we have had to confront in order to move forward with our commitment? But above all else, how often have we taken the time to give thanks for the fact that we are bearers of the Good News and are able to proclaim this news to men and women who are thirsting for hope, peace, justice and love? We still have four months left in this Year of Faith; it is still a time of the grace … and as Pope Benedict XVI told us in his last general audience, “Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith; it is our most precious possession, which no one can take from us! Let us thank the Lord for this daily, in prayer and by a consistent Christian life” (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, February 27th, 2013).
In order to give witness to this faith hundreds of young Vincentian men and women will gather together in Belo Horizonte, in the days prior to the celebration of World Youth Day 2013. Our gathering, in which you will be united with us spiritually if you cannot join us physically, will be an opportunity to strengthen our commitment to be missionaries of charity, missionaries who are personally and directly involved with those persons who are poor. The Vincentian Youth Gathering will be an occasion for much joy and will also provide us with time to reflect on the reality of the world in which we are called to serve. Through sharing and prayer we will recall Vincent’s ever present call, namely, to find Christ in the poor, our lords and masters. For our personal encounter with the poor, in which we also come in contact with the suffering Christ, is a privileged place of encounter with God. Yes, it would be more comfortable, in spite our Vincentian heart, to avoid those places, those situations and those people who will not allow us to remain indifferent, those people who question our lifestyle, those persons who demand from us a charity that is more authentic and continually creative and those persons who ask for greater truth and justice. The decision to respond to the needs of others, especially the needs of the poor, is not an option. Rather it is an urgent call that invites us to put aside our selfishness and thus become true disciples of the Lord, disciples who communicate to others the experience of our personal encounter with God.
The conversion, which we are called to live on a personal level as a result of our direct encounter with the poor, also requires a change in structures. For some years now the Vincentian Family has invited us to change our lives in such a way that we are able to respond with greater boldness to the challenges of the old and new forms of poverty that continue to oppress our sisters and brothers. The movement from inside of our groups and Councils … the movement that must accompany us so that our institutions do not suffocate our charism … this movement must be the work of the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis encourages us with his words and his example. On April 16th, 2013 he told us: “The Holy Spirit upsets us because it moves us, it makes us walk, it pushes the Church forward… but …. we don’t want to change…. that is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit. The Spirit pushes us to take a more evangelical path but we resist this.”. Perhaps at this time when we celebrate our anniversary, we can discern the manners in which we are resisting the Holy Spirit, in a personal way and in a communal way.
As an International Association that recognizes the urgency to become present in all countries of the world so that young men and women might be formed in their faith and strengthened in their commitment to serve those who have the greatest need, we have been led to reflect on the ways to sustain our ministry economically in the present and in the future. Therefore, we continue our International Campaign of Self-financing that was launched on December 8th, 2011 with the goal to raise 835,600€. As previously reported, as of July 2012 we had raised 25,715 Euros and $26,322 dollars, and we are now happy to share with you the following information about this campaign:
1) As of June 15, 2013, we have raised 165,889,02€ and US$108,472,32. The Councils and members of VMY have been able to raise 30,339,58€ y US$3,472,32. We have made a great effort, but most of this money comes from donors who are members of the Vincentian Family.
2) Knowing that this campaign is our campaign and that it ought to be the fruit of our own efforts, a foundation offered us $25,000 if the members, groups and Councils of VMY, raised that same amount before June 2013. The objective has been achieved! And so we give a special thanks to the National Councils of Europe who committed themselves to the accomplishment of this objective. This gives us great hope as we move forward.
Our campaign will continue until the General Assembly in 2015. Will we accomplish our objective? Certainly, because we can do great things when we are committed with what we are and what we have, because it is in this way that we allow the Lord to multiply what we offer.
At this time when we celebrate the gift of Mary, a gift that has been given to each one of us and to the Church, a gift that stirs our heart to expressions of gratitude for the person that we are becoming in VMY, I would like to invite you, dear young men and women, to join together with the millions of young men and women who will gather around the Vicar of Christ in Rio de Janeiro to proclaim the reality that they are disciples and missionaries sent throughout the world, to all those places where Christ is not fully known and loved. Your life is a gift to the world. Your membership in the VMY should impact the life of the poor. Pope Paul VI repeats the words he used at the close of the Second Vatican Council and speaks to each one of us as he states: “It is in the name of this God and of His Son, Jesus, that we exhort you to open your hearts to the dimensions of the world, to heed the appeal of your brothers, to place your youthful energies at their service. Fight against all egoism. Refuse to give free course to the instincts of violence and hatred which beget wars and all their train of miseries. Be generous, pure, respectful and sincere, and build in enthusiasm a better world than your elders had .The Church looks to you with confidence and with love.”
Sustained by this vision of the church and the faithful proximity of Mary and also encouraged by the Vincentians and by every young man and woman from throughout the world who will participate in World Youth Day, let us continue to live our faith with joy and thus reaffirm our commitment to be sentinels of the dawning of the Kingdom of God in this world.
To Jesus with Mary,
VMY International President