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At the beginning of 2013/2014 season, a Spanish soccer team, Real Madrid, was worth approximately 571 million euros (520 million US dollars). It corresponded to the total market value of its 23 players. The value of the team rose, however, to nearly 2,500 million euros (about 2,270 million US dollars). Why? Because the value of a team that has players who work together properly is always greater than the sum of the value of each of its individual member.

There is a word of Greek origin that captures the truth that union among several individuals produces an effect that is greater than the sum total of individual effects. It’s synergy: “When the efforts of two or more companies are combined, each with a different but complementary specialty, obtained are far greater benefits than those that could possibly be attained through individual strategies.”

Nowadays, no one doubts the effectiveness of collaborative work. We are used to partnerships and teamwork.

In our Vincentian Family, too. Without going far, a few weeks ago the leaders of the different branches met. Had we not been called to collaboration, meeting and action of this kind would be entirely unnecessary. It is important, moreover, to transform these meetings into guidelines for action that will invite us all to turn this collaboration into a reality, at the local level, in order to provide better service to the poor. The benefits it can bring to the carrying out of a given action, in any field, are undeniable, tangible and measurable. We all have something to contribute, a special touch that makes actions more effective when we work together.

Our Vincentian Popular Missions teams in many parts of the world are now made up usually of members of the Vincentian Family from different backgrounds, of lay people, Daughters of Charity, Vincentian missionaries and other members of the Family as well, and sometimes of diocesan priests and lay people without affiliation to any particular group. The teams include Christians of any age, youngsters and adults and senior citizens also… for they all have a job to do, and all bring something that would be missing in the team and would thus render the team’s action not so effective, unless they participate.

That is, at least, my experience. I have participated for 30 years in Vincentian Popular Missions in my country, Spain, and normally, teams are put together in such a way: mixed, diverse, creative. Each person adds to the team something different that turns into fruitful unity—a different point of view that complements others’ points of view, a charisma that covers areas that others cannot easily reach.

We said the other day that we are all needed… Thank God, in our Vincentian Family we are capable of collaborative work. We are called to do it. We do it. And we are called to give it impetus every day. Let’s think… In what areas of the Vincentian Family can collaborative work be given stronger impetus? What actions and places can’t we reach, but which we’ll be able to as a particular branch of the Family, if we can count on the other’s collaboration?

For our reflection and dialogue:

  1. “Unity is strength.” Is it palpably true that this saying is a reality within the Vincentian Family in my area?
  2. What actions can we carry out in my local area to promote active cooperation within the Vincentian Family?
  3. What is the “value” we give to collaboration among the different branches within the Vincentian Family?

Javier F. Chento
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