Sr. Valentyna Riabushko, Congregation of the Charity Sisters of St. Vincent, Greek Catholic rite, describes the participants as greatest resource for CIF formation program.The significant aspect about this year’s program was that for the first time ever it was open to all members of the Vincentian Family. She writes movingly and includes a photo gallery of her experience in the month-long Vincentian Formation program (at CIF-Centre International de Formation) in Paris. Especially striking is her realization that together, we are a powerful force that can make a significant contribution to the creation of a better world. Here is her letter.
Dear Vincentian Family,
I would like to share my experience and impressions from my participating in the CIF formation program (of FamVin International Formation Center) held between October 6 and November 3 of 2015 in Paris.
The significant aspect about this year’s program was that for the first time ever it was open to all members of the Vincentian Family.
The beginnings of CIF formation date back to 1994. During the first years of its existence it was developed and geared toward the members of the Congregation of the Mission. Later, it was made available to the male branches of the Vincentian Family, and just this year the first pilot session has been successfully completed … a session attended by the representatives of male and female religious institutions, laypersons and representatives of the Permanent Diaconate.
There were 25 participants from 14 countries: Ukraine (2), Slovakia (2), Slovenia (1), Croatia (1), Rwanda (1), Benin (2), Madagascar (1), Mexico (3), Columbia (1), Brazil (2), Indonesia (2), Korea (1), the US (1) and Canada (5). The were held in the three working languages (French, English and Spanish); however, during the course of any one day we could hear about 10 different languages being spoken.
Seven priests (Congregation of the Missions), one Permanent Deacon (Congregation of the Mission), and seventeen women (3 laypersons and 14 sisters from different congregations) participated in the course.
The duration of the program has also changed through the years: in 1994 it lasted 16 weeks, in 2010 the program was 12 weeks, and this year it was 4 weeks.
The main focus of the one month session was learning, joint prayer experience and living in community.
During our formations sessions we were assisted and supervised by experts from different countries and we had a chance to explore and discuss such themes as the origins of the Vincentian Family, life and spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Frederic Ozanam. We were also able to share information about the founders of our specific branch and learned about the manner in which the Vincentian charism is being lived today in various parts of the world.
Our time of shared learning, praying and living was enriched by a series of pilgrimages to the most important Vincentian sites in Paris and other parts of France. During those pilgrimages we had the privilege of praying at the family houses of Vincent, Catherine Laboure, at the churches in Folleville, Ars, Lourdes, at Frederic Ozanam’s crypt and in many other significant spiritual centers. We gained a deeper understanding of the spirit of St. Vincent as well as an appreciation of the challenges that the Ladies of Charity in Chatillon and first Daughters of Charity had to confront.
A great deal of time was spent in discussion and in small groups where we were able to reflect on the present reality of our various We also reflected on collaboration as it is being developed in our respective countries/regions.
Each moment of the formation course was important, interesting and carefully developed by the organizers: Fr. Daniel Borlik (Congregation of the Mission, US) and Fr. Adam Bandura (Congregation of the Mission, Poland). However, the participants were the greatest treasure of that formation course. Despite our belonging to different nations and cultures, we became united and realized that we are members of one family. We created a community during our brief time together. We were open to one another, friendly, respectful of each other, mutually helping and caring for one another. We were united by our common interests and began to develop a common vision for our Vincentian Family. I am grateful for this experience and I believe the Lord enabled me to enhance my development through the people I encountered at the Center. By sharing with others, we were enriched and we developed together as a family.
Now, when looking at the world map, I see not just six continents and many countries. Rather I realize that in those distant and nearby countries familiar brothers and sisters live and minister there:
* we not only grow in one faith, but we also share one common charisma … that of serving to the poor and the destitute;
* we receive spiritual strength from our common ancestors and mentors;
* we share the same source of inspiration, St. Vincent de Paul.
Together, we are a powerful force that can make a significant contribution to the creation of a better world. We are sincerely grateful to God and to Fr. Tomaz Mavrich CM for providing us with this opportunity to participate in such a program.
Sr. Valentyna Riabushko,
Congregation of the Charity Sisters of St. Vincent,
Greek Catholic rite