Commitment of the Congregation of the Mission to Collaboration

From Vincentian Encyclopedia

Constitutions

"St. Vincent brought together as many people as he could, rich and poor, humble and powerful, and used every means to inspire in them a sensitivity to the poor, who are the privileged image of Christ." (Constitutions of the Congregation of the Missions, Introduction, p.19)

"In order that he might better respond to a wide variety of needs, St. Vincent brought together as many people as he could, rich and poor, humble and powerful, and used every means to inspire in them a seminary to the poor, who are the privileged image of Christ. He moved them to help the poor, directly and indirectly. They made this voluntary and generous dedication their own. There followed the Company of the Daughters of Charity and the Confraternities of Charity founded by him, and other Associations derived from these as well as individuals who, up to our own day, have resolved to take on this same spirit." (From the INTRODUCTION)

General Assembly 1998

VINCENTIANA Issue with Commentaries on the 5 Commitments Made in the Assembly

Excerpts from the Final Documents of General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission (1998) of possible interest to those exploring the Vincentian Charism.


  • “In this General Assembly, we engaged, for the first time, in a week of discussion, 9-14 July, with 33 leaders and members of various groups of the Vincentian Family. We, the members of the assembly, learned much from them, and recognize how much we need to collaborate in the service of the poor.”
  • “Together with the other members of the Vincentian Family, we experience the call to actualize the forms of the mission for our own times, when the relationship between evangelization and human promotion is especially important.”
  • “The vitality of the Vincentian charism does not belong exclusively to the Congregation of the Mission. “
  • “Solicitude for the poor, in the following of Christ, belongs to the very heart of the Gospel and is a sign of Christian authenticity and of belonging to the community of Jesus’ disciples. Many persons and groups that are part of the Vincentian Family give expression to this prophetic power today.”
  • “We are convinced that throughout the world, the Vincentian Family shares the same desire to live faithfully in the following of Jesus Christ, the evangelizer of the poor. During the course of our assembly, we experienced this joyful reality. Together with us, the members of the Congregation of the Mission, many other persons and groups are working in the Church, the Family of God, and are on fire with the same enthusiasm and the same zeal which animates us.”
  • “In the spirit of communion and participation, we in the Vincentian Family, like the Church as a whole, are convinced that the central role of the laity is irreplaceable in the process of evangelization. The needs of the poor are enormous. All members of the Vincentian Family have to proclaim the Gospel together and work against all forms of poverty.”
  • “When, together with other members of the Vincentian Family, we share in the life and goals of the poor, we will discover the presence of the Spirit of the Lord who renews us to speak with them, listen to them, and consider them as the agents of their own way to liberation. Then we can let ourselves be evangelized by them.”
  • “If we work in unison with the other members of the Vincentian Family, we can be a more effective force for evangelization and works of charity and justice in today's world. We will also strengthen the bonds that link us to one another. “
  • “As we work together we also wish to respect the autonomy and identity of each group and individual within the Vincentian Family. “
  • “We recognize, as members of the Congregation of the Mission, the need for a change of heart if we are to collaborate generously with other members of the Vincentian Family and so recognize the gifts and talents of others in promoting the reign of God. “
  • “For these reasons we commit ourselves to:
    • a. create the conditions for collaboration with members of the Vincentian Family by:
listening to one another
getting to know one another
sharing experiences of working with the poor
praying and reflecting together;
    • b. set up structures to coordinate what is already taking place, or will take place at local provincial, interprovincial and international levels, so that the different levels complement one another and subsidiarity is respected. “
  • c. plan specific projects at local, provincial, interprovincial and international levels to respond to the cries of the poor in our day in partnership with other members of the Vincentian Family and with the poor themselves;”
  • “Today, the many branches of the Vincentian Family draw from this common heritage and so are able to nourish one another in their efforts at formation. At the same time, each group in the family has understood him from its own experience and so has a unique wisdom about him to hand down to its own members.“
  • “The formation program of one group can enrich other groups while still continuing to form its own members in its individual tradition.”
  • The Congregation of the Mission desires to collaborate in common formation projects, while respecting the autonomy of the different branches as they go about forming their own. “

For the context in which these statements appeared get the full text at http://www.famvin.org/finaldoc/final_document.htm

There is also some wonderful material on Fr. Maloney's presentation to the Vincentian Family.

See especially his talk on the Vincentian Family as Missionary

This material is alaso available in spanish (and french) at www.famvin.org

Conversion to Collaboration

In our formation, whether initial or ongoing, we need to pay attention to this "forgotten truth" about Vincent and his followers
This will entail a formation which will also foster learning the skills of collaboration.
Above all it will call for conversion to collaboration. The Final Document makes this explicit when it says
"We recognize, as members of the Congregation of the Mission, the need for a change of heart if we are to collaborate generously with other members of the Vincentian Family and so recognize the gifts and talents of others in promoting the reign of God." (p. 5)
This is an ongoing task. I do not mean to imply we have not been collaborating. This is not a new task. I merely wish to underscore the importance of refining our skills. Without this we could degenerate into a Pharisaical self-justifying reciting to each other of all that we do.
Given our lack of contact with one another it is important to create conditions for contact The very first steps would involve identifying the other members of the family who work in our locality if not already known. Then there needs to be contact. We need to learn their stories and share ours.
To me it was striking that when Bob was asked publicly at the General Assembly what he did for his own ongoing formation as Superior General he immediately responded that it was in listening to confreres and family members around the world that he learned the most.
There are so many different ways Vincent's charism is being refracted by individuals and various branches. As we share our stories effective and creative collaboration will follow.

Collaboration in the pages of VINCENTIANA

"Interprovincial collaboration maybe a phrase of recent use but its reality has been with us for a long time now.... even going back to the time of St. Vincent.,,, discuss the advantages/disadvantages, the merits and benefits as well as the problems of interprovincial collaboration. Perhaps, too, we can encourage each other to let our needs be known and allow ourselves to be inspired to meet these needs, not just from our abundance but also from our insufficiencies."
"Why talk about collaboration with others? What is the goal of this collaboration? How can we collaborate? In practice what would be the actions that manifest this collaboration?"
"A brief description of the diverse branches of the Vincentian Family...Let me formulate some questions: "What is the situation of the Vincentian Family today?" "Are we taking significant steps to enrich the concept and the reality of the Vincentian Family?"
The focus of this conference will be to begin with a historical perspective, then the present reality of collaboration, with a view to the future."

Eastern Province USA Provincial Plan

Initial Draft

Provincial Plan 2006 – 2010

St. Vincent brought together as many people as he could, rich and poor, humble and powerful, and used every means to inspire in them a sensitivity to the poor, who are the privileged image of Christ. (Constitutions, Introduction, p.19)

We, the members of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission, having been inspired by St. Vincent de Paul’s charism, will seek over the next four years to grow more deeply ourselves and to inspire and deepen others in this charism.

I. Year One and Year Three: “…to grow more deeply ourselves…”

A. Each Confrere will:
1. Reflect and pray on his understanding and living the charism.
2. Assess in his life and ministry what he needs to do to grow more deeply in the charism
3. Commit to act on his assessment. Some ways of doing this include participation in a house, apostolate, provincial or appendix activity.

B. Each House will:

1. Reflect and pray annually on how its members live the charism.
2. Assess the lived expression of the charism.
3. Commit to act on their assessment. Some ways of doing this include incorporating this action into the house plan, or by participating in an apostolate, provincial or appendix activity as a house.


C. The Province (us as a whole) will:

1. Reflect and pray on how we are living the charism. Some of the ways of doing this include participation in the annual retreat or convocation and by an activity in the appendix.
2. Assess our lived expression of the charism.
3. Commit to grow in a particular expression of the charism as revealed by the assessment.

II. Year Two and Year Four: “…to inspire and deepen others in this charism.”

A. Each Confrere will:

1. Familiarize himself with how the Vincentian charism is expressed and lived by those with whom he ministers through dialogue and reflection with them.
2. Assess how the Vincentian charism could be better promoted among those with whom he ministers.
3. Commit to act on his assessment.


B. Each Head of the Ministry with the confreres in the Ministry will:

1. Study how the Vincentian charism is expressed and lived by this ministry.
2. Assess how the Vincentian charism could be better promoted in this ministry, especially with immigrants and youth.
3. Commit to act on the assessment.
Some ways of doing this are by initiating a youth group, by promoting membership in the Congregation of the Mission and other branches of the Vincentian Family, by encouraging Vincentian Spirituality and our particular view of Gospel living and by doing an activity in the appendix.

C. The Province will:

1. Study and gather ways in which the confreres and apostolates may be assisted in their collaboration with their co-workers and the Vincentian Family.
2. Assess and determine the best ways, both locally and corporately, to assist the confreres to inspire and deepen the expression of the charism in the apostolates.
3. Commit to act on the assessment. Some ways of doing this are by sponsoring regional gatherings of the Vincentian Family members, by publishing and making available Vincentian resources and by doing an activity in the appendix.

III. Evaluation and Outcomes

A. The provincial shall appoint someone to review the implementation of the Provincial Plan.
B. Each house at the end of one year shall evaluate whether this plan is effective in deepening and inspiring the charism.
C. The house plan in years one and three will reflect the local community’s commitment to growth in the charism.
D. As part of his house visitation, the provincial shall discuss with each confrere his growth in the Vincentian charism as promoted in this plan.
E. Each Provincial Newsletter will have an article about this Provincial Plan created by the Provincial administration.
F. In years two and four, the head of a ministry will give to the provincial a copy of their study, assessment and commitment (II. a. 2.).


Appendix Possible Activities to Fulfill the Provincial Plan

Possible Confrere Activities to fulfill Provincial Plan

1. Read what the Province sends
2. Participate in Provincial workshops/presentations
3. Do the On-line study of the Constitutions
4. Be attentive to the young and the ways in which their idealism and energy may be attracted by and directed toward our charism
5. Read various Pastoral letters on the subject of immigrants such as "Strangers No Longer," "The Hispanic Experience in the United States." "Many Faces in God's House," "Encuentro & Mission," "Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity," and Pope John Paul's Exhortation "Ecclesia in America." The confreres will use House Meetings and Sharing of the Word to discuss these various documents.
6. Invite others to use our formational resources in Brooklyn, North Carolina, Oyster Bay, Panama, Philadelphia, and Princeton.
7. Create/invent an activity appropriate to you.


Possible House/Ministry Activities to fulfill Provincial Plan

1. Share what we know with our lay collaborators (those who work with us and believe in this charism – including religious & laity) by giving a presentation or talk about St. Vincent, his charism and our work(s).
2. Pray and celebrate, both socially and liturgically, the Charism with other Vincentian groups and with religious & laity who work with us and believe in this Charism.
3. Plan a monthly prayer around a Vincentian theme.
4. Focus on creating a Vincentian youth group from existing adult/youth groups or immigrant groups by inviting their young adult friends and relatives.
a. Fundamentals for the group are prayer and work with the poor.
b. The group should be visited by the vocation director annually.
5. Be attentive to the young and the ways in which their idealism and energy may be attracted by and directed toward our charism
6. Pray and reflect with other groups and religious & laity on Vincentian themes, particularly on our common feasts.
7. Invite a group who shares the Vincentian Charism to tell the house about its work.
8. Visit annually, as a house, one of the ministries of a Vincentian group.
9. Invite others to use our formational resources in Brooklyn, North Carolina, Oyster Bay, Panama, Philadelphia, and Princeton.
10. Create/invent an activity appropriate to the house/ministry.

Possible Provincial Activities to fulfill Provincial Plan

1. Appoint someone to inventory the activities of formation in the Vincentian Charism in our apostolates and distribute them to all confreres. It should emphasize “good practices” that are applicable/useable in all apostolates.
2. Have each group of our ministries give a presentation at a day workshop on how they form others, especially youth, in the Vincentian Charism.
a. Have an individual at this workshop note activities that are formational
b. Distribute to each house/confrere these notes.
3. Form a committee to put together a program on Immigration to be presented at an annual provincial gathering. This program should address the issues of immigration in a deeper manner.
4. Form a committee to put together a program on 21-35 year old people. It should include demographics, what they like and how to attract them. Research Specialists and “youth” theologians should be a part of this.
5. Sponsor an annual workshop on developing Vincentian preaching, spiritual direction, advocacy and/or formation.
6. Open an annual provincial gathering to those who collaborate with us in our ministries, especially the immigrant poor ministries; we should also invite our collaborators from the wider Vincentian Family.
7. Hold a 4 – 6 hour workshop on a Vincentian theme.
8. Invite other U.S. Provinces, especially the New England Province, to give presentations on 1 & 2 above.
9. Send Vincentian themed Advent and Lenten Readings.
10. Suggest Monthly Readings from St. Vincent de Paul.
11. Convene 5 area gatherings (Niagara Falls/Buffalo, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charlotte/Greensboro) of Vincentian Family Members for mutual sharing and possible collaboration.
12. Use both the Superiors' Meeting and its accompanying Education Day to offer to the Confreres an overview on the issues of immigration or youth.
13. Create/invent an activity appropriate to the province.