Last Sunday, the Church celebrated the Feast of Pentecost reminding us of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. The Holy Spirit filled the Apostles with grace and inspired them to do miraculous things. Some 400 years ago in a small French town Saint Vincent de Paul was also inspired by the Holy Spirit. He was set on fire with a special mission to preach the Gospel and serve the Poorest of the Poor.

At Tarrytown, New York, last week on the eve of Pentecost, a group of 100+ members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul gathered to celebrate the Eucharist as part of a Regional Meeting. Coincidently at the same location the Sisters of Charity Federation also gathered for a meeting. These different branches of the Vincentian Family are both inspired by Vincentian Charism to work to preach Gospel values and serve people living in poverty or in serious need.

This year marks the 400th Anniversary of this Charism of Saint Vincent de Paul. This Vincentian Charism has resulted in the formation of about 210 different organizations numbering about 2 million that trace their origins to Saint Vincent de Paul, and form the Vincentian Family.  In October, representatives of these various Vincentian Organizations will gather with Pope Francis in Rome to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of our Vincentian Charism.

The various branches of the Vincentian Family all share a common mission of preaching the gospel and serving people living in poverty. They all work to improve the lives of the millions of people who are deprived or treated unjustly by society. These Vincentians seek to bring justice to these individuals by utilizing different strategies.

Members of the Vincentian Family Team at United Nations Headquarters in New York work together along with other NGO’s as part of The Sustainable Development Committee of ECOSOC trying to influence Member States to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) also called the 2030 Goals. Some of our team, known as The Grass Roots Group which is part of the SDG Committee, are currently assessing the results of a survey sent to 44 countries in different regions of the world. The survey will be utilized as a snapshot to try to determine awareness of the SDG’s at the Grass Roots level. This survey will subsequently be submitted to nation states when they assemble a High Level Political Form (HLPF) later this year. Other members of the team work with other NGOs in advocacy work by contacting ambassadors of different countries to persuade them about other issues.

An important initiative is trying to persuade Member States to adopt Social Protection Floors in all countries.  Social Protection Floors would provide certain basic human rights to people who are forgotten members of society, widows, orphans, disabled, and the unemployed, who are often the victims of poverty and discrimination. Most people already know that migration is also a big problem. It’s caused by different circumstances including: religious, political, social persecution. Lack of employment, as well as hunger and lack of food are also a cause. There are no simple solutions to any of these and other problems face by countries around the world.  The members of our team at the United Nations ask for your prayers to help us in our mission of serving Christ’s Poor.

Ed Keane is the UN NGO Representative for the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul

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