1. From being disparate organizations operating largely on their own to becoming a “Vincentian Family” that meets often (as we are doing today), plans together, does formation programs together, works together, and prays together.
2 .From being shaped predominately by European ideas and customs to being a truly international Family where the ideas and customs of all regions are honored and where personnel and economic resources pour across borders.
3. From an attitude of “assistentialism”, characterized by giving to the poor, to an attitude of solidarity with those in need, working hand in hand with them, engaging them in their own human promotion and their struggle for justice.
II. ST. VINCENT IN HIS TIME
Today, let me mention just two aspects of Vincent’s personality and then apply them to the topic, St. Vincent Today.
Vincent’s “filial relationship with his Father” …
Vincent’s charity toward the neighbor …
III. ST. VINCENT TODAY
I hope that our Vincentian Family in the future will abound with “contemplatives in action”. …
I hope that our worldwide Vincentian Family, with its million or so members, will continue to grow as collaborators – a united force in the evangelization and integral human promotion of the poor…
I hope that, in addition to practical works of charity, which play such an important role in our tradition, our Family will stand at the side of the poor in their struggle for justice.
I hope that our Family will continue to be inventive in developing systemic change projects….
I hope that our Vincentian Family in the future will be active in sowing seeds of peace.
IV. BEING ON FIRE FOR THE POOR AND FOR JUSTICE
St. Vincent described love of God as a fire and zeal as its flame. I encourage you to spread that fire. Charity and justice are not either/or options, they are both/and imperatives. There are times when we must rush to serve the poor in their immediate needs, lest they die of hunger or thirst or sickness or abandonment. And there are times when we must lobby for the basic human rights of the marginalized in society. In the fifty years since the 300th anniversary of the deaths of St. Louise and St. Vincent, the documents of the Church and our own documents have emphasized a demanding methodology:
to work within the world of the poor, not just with isolated poor persons
to work on the level of structures, not just in responding to particular situations
to work to confront injustice, not just to meet the needs of individuals
to work so that the poor person is an agent, and not an object, of evangelization