Who are Vincentians?

by | Jan 15, 2015 | Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Vincentian Family

Vincent de Paul with poorTHE SPIRIT OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL

So, who are the Vincentians? What are their characteristics? They are:


From a talk by Fr. John Allt to Tucson Vincentians, during their retreat at St. Rita in the Desert in Vail, AZ, – Oct. 25, 2014 Notes taken by Joan Grecchi (Thanks John)

I want to begin with a few words about ministry. It is essential that we know and experience our ministry as a consequence of a call from God. Our call to serve is a concrete expression in our life of God’s love for us.

We serve first and most purely, because we are called in love and we choose to return that love. We serve because we are the Lord’s. Blessed with His call, we answer “yes” and we as we are filled with grace, we are filled with even more life.

To recognize our calling requires FAITH. This, perhaps, more than anything else, characterizes the power of St. Vincent de Paul: in those we serve, we see and know the crucified, suffering Christ. Our brothers and sisters broken by unemployment and forced to idleness, struggling to feed, clothe and house their children; those bound by addiction; those beset by the demons of mental illness, or the loss of loved ones, or the homeless, the incarcerated and the sick, they all mirror to us the sufferings of Christ.

As we love the crucified Lord, we BELIEVE, because we see Him in those we serve. In faith, what we see does not lead us to fear, revulsion, anger, or pity, what we see leads us to love. As we serve, we deepen our faith and enriched our lives by the love of God.

So, who are the Vincentians? What are their characteristics? They are:

PEOPLE OF COMPASSION: Vincent tells us to see more deeply. We are to see, however dimly, Jesus THE LORD, broken, hurt, and in need. As we see Him, we are not afraid to keep looking, no matter how searing or overwhelming the challenge… Our hearts move from pity to compassion and our lives are joined together, our hurts shared.

PEOPLE OF WEAKNESS: A man or woman called in love to serve must be weak. We must not feel so strong as to think that we can always help, always know what is right or always have solutions and resources at hand. Growth as a loving servant happens when we serve with weakness. Why? Because then we depend on the Lord for help.

PEOPLE OF COURAGE: What we do when we are helpless at the foot of the Cross? We stay because what we see leads us to love, trusting through the darkness.

Service to those whose lives are marked by deprivation is risky; deprivation can make life seem illogical, random, senseless, and out of control. Service to the poor requires courage based on trust in the Lord. In our weakness, we are brave enough to serve the dying Lord and to bring the resurrected Lord.

PEOPLE OF COMMITMENT TO SMALLNESS: Schooled or, no person can be wise, able to know and understand what matters the most. We ordinary people are serving ordinary people who have plunged into suffering. We have been blessed in our lives, but those in poverty also have been blessed, perhaps, with other things.

Smallness can be freeing. If it is embraced, there is nothing to fool us, nothing to seduce us with our own importance. We must become more and more people who trust in the Lord. Smallness brings the great grace of simplicity.

PEOPLE OF CHANGE OF HEART: Vincent’s service to the poor was one of faithful, effective, love of God. He knew the touch and power of evil but he chose to love. True servants are people who stand for what is right and constantly call that forth in others. We must change and be more trusting and loving, forgive repeatedly and accept the harsh reality of the Cross that comes our way.

PEOPLE OF VISION: We must be people of vision nurtured by hope. A people without vision, a servant without hope, cannot endure. He or she will break apart and disintegrate. We keep hopes and dreams alive through prayer. Time spent in prayer is time spent with the Source of life and love.

For instance, we may plant, water, and never see the results. Can we trust and keep going? In due time, God will bring about what is promised, what our dreams tell us is to be. Nurtured by prayer, we keep our hope and vision alive, so that we can continue to work and remain at peace.

It is the Body of Christ, who we serve; this fills us with power, which we use with God’s Grace. We are His servants, not His replacements… He is the Savior.

PEOPLE OF DESIRE: As a Vincentian, I am privileged to be called to serve those in poverty, inspired by the spirit of St. Vincent. Daily, as I serve, I ask myself the questions that will keep in focus my desire to respond to God’s call. The responses help me to know that the power of the Lord will work through me. This knowledge of God’s power so moved St. Vincent de Paul in his own life of service. By responding to God, I am hoping that He will lead me to greater compassion, love and faithful service as I live out the Vincentian way.

Giulio Grecchi
Tucson Diocesan Council
Voice of the Poor – Western Region Representative

Graphic courtesy of the DePaul Image Archive.


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