We Vincentians are part of a wonderful spiritual family. We drink from the springs of the purest evangelical love, with charity being at the center of our spirituality and our action.

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This year 2016, we celebrate the Year of Vincentian Collaboration, an event that encourages us to be reflective and to renew ourselves, in our spiritual life as well as in our journey and work as Vincentian Family. It is a wonderful opportunity to affirm our commitment and to give community witness to the Father’s love, manifested in his Son, Jesus Christ, who came to announce the Good News of God’s mercy to the poor, from St. Vincent de Paul’s perspective, who sends us to serve the poor.

We are not islands. Or we ought not to be so, either as individuals or as a community. We are not just branches that are unconnected to each other. We are a tree with many beautiful branches, we are one common trunk, through which flows the same sap. If one part of the tree suffers, all the branches suffer; if one part of the tree is damaged, the whole tree is endangered. Similarly, the strengths of one part of the tree affect the whole tree.

The Vincentian Family is a tree with hundreds of branches. Some are large and robust; others, small and delicate. All branches are important, all contribute their little bit to create a healthy and harmonious whole. And each branch of the Family brings together hundreds, thousands, millions of people that follow the charism of evangelization and service bequeathed to us by St. Vincent and St. Louise. Can we ignore the problems or the successes of other branches, simply because they do not belong to us? Of course not. We are all part of the same tree!

So the challenges facing the Vincentian Family are the challenges facing each branch, and, ultimately, the challenges facing every member. Everyone is important, everyone is doing an essential work to bring the Kingdom of God to this disconsolate land.

To God, we are unique: no one is like me or you. God looks at each of us, on our smallness, with an immense and incomprehensible love. That was what Jesus Christ revealed to us, that we are children of God, and, therefore, brothers and sisters. And as brothers and sisters, we take up the challenges of our Family, helping one another, collaborating, going far beyond what other worldwide institutions do in this regard. That’s because we are not a business enterprise with departments. Rather, we are a family, we love one another, we value each other, and we want to work together more day by day and take on projects and tasks as a community.

The Vincentian Family today has one necessary —perhaps indispensable— work to do. There is so much pain in this world, so many wounds to heal, so many poor people in need of our attention and support! When we work and take up these challenges together, our work is enhanced and our charism attains its full meaning.

I am more than me. You are more than you. We are. We live and work in community. The challenges of my family are my challenges.

For our reflection:

  • Do I know the Vincentian Family, beyond my own branch?
  • Do I know the challenges, struggles and difficulties of our Family?
  • Do I work for the good of the poor, from the Vincentian Family, together with my Vincentian brothers and sisters, beyond the initials and names we use for our branches?
  • Read, reflect, comment and pray:
There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit; there are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord. There are many different forms of activity, but in everybody it is the same God who is at work in them all. The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good. To one is given from the Spirit the gift of utterance expressing wisdom; to another the gift of utterance expressing knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit; to another, faith, from the same Spirit; and to another, the gifts of healing, through this one Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the power of distinguishing spirits; to one, the gift of different tongues and to another, the interpretation of tongues. But at work in all these is one and the same Spirit, distributing them at will to each individual. For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts —all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body— so it is with Christ.

(1 Corinthians 12: 4–12)

Javier F. Chento
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