What is the Vincentian Way? Reflections from Mike Syslo, National Senior Director of Governance of the Vincent de Paul Society
We often hear the expression, “That’s the way we do things as Vincentians.” Or the reverse is heard as well: “That’s not the way Vincentians would do it.” If you think about it, can we easily define what “the Vincentian way” really is? Can we boil it down to something simple? The answer to these questions is “yes” and that is what we will attempt to do here.
First, it is an attitude rather than a set of rules of action. This attitude is focused on love – sharing Christ’s love with those we encounter. Remember, it was Jesus who told us “to love one another as I have loved you.” The Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is not enough. He asks more of us. Our love for others must be Christ-like, it must be visible, and it must be the motivating factor behind our actions.The Vincentian way is special.
The Vincentian way is special.
- When a person in need calls for help, Vincentians try to make themselves available as soon aspossible to respond to their needs – usually this is within a day or two, many times the same day.
- Vincentians make an appointment to go to the home of the person calling for help. Where no phone number is available, the Vincentians go to the home (more than once if necessary) to meet with those calling for help. If the applicants are not at home, usually a note or card is left indicating an attempt was made and asking them to call again. St. Vincent de Paul said, “We are their servants, they are our masters.” The servant goes to the master, not the other way around. We humble ourselves to serve the poor at their, not our, convenience. We should not place the burden of travel (sometimes with children) on those in need who may not have ready or reliable transportation.
- Vincentians always go in pairs. This way two people are listening, observing and sharing in the decision to be made.
- Vincentians do not require a lot of paperwork to be filled out and only request the information that is necessary to fulfill the request. Generally, identification is not necessary. In fact, the Vincentians are the ones who do the paperwork that is necessary.
- The type of assistance given by Vincentians is not limited to one particular type. Vincentians are open to whatever is presented before them. Vincentians view each case they encounter based on its own circumstances and needs. Like other organizations, the type of assistance is limited by the amount of resources available. Vincentians get the majority of their funding
from the parishioners in the parish they represent or from funding within the Vincentian family.
- As the opportunity presents itself, Vincentians pray with those they encounter. They bring
God to those in need, showing that He cares for and loves them. If Vincentians are not able to meet the need presented, they often work with other churches or service provider agencies in trying to share the costs involved. Sometimes, Vincentians refer those in need to other organizations. Knowing the difficulty involved in making and keeping appointments with other agencies, Vincentians attempt to lighten the burden of the poor as much as they can.
As can be seen in the example shown above, the Vincentian way is special. It is founded in LOVE – a LOVE they feel and share with others. LOVE motivates them and inspires them.
Growing in the LOVE of God is their first goal.
So, whenever the question (What is the Vincentian way?) comes up: you know the answer. The Vincentian way is to be the servant of the poor, serving them with LOVE.
From Frédéric’s E-Gazette