The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is an Association maintained by its Faith and Catholic beliefs, but in which it is also essential, in order to preserve its identity and mission, its spirituality to be centered and geared towards people in poverty and social risk. The initiation and development of Conferences is understood from these two conditions, the faith professed and attention to the most vulnerable, our neighbor in need, and this forms the well-known Vincentian charism that always seeks to meet the poverty, whatever the origin or condition, seeing Christ in the poor and the poor in Christ.
But the Vincentian charism of love and service to the most vulnerable people is done with a sense of promotion that dignifies and greatly respects to the person who receives help, maintaining the central objective of its charity to the human being as a child of God and our brother. For this reason, it is not an aid outside the social, community and family reality of the person served, but this service project is greatly personalized, making a unique regenerative plan, which is primarily counting on the individual to whom it is addressed (both in their spiritual and material side), adapting to the qualities and characteristics of those who receive our support, a reflect that conferences do not help “in series,” but treat each person from his genuine and unique condition, which is known and cared with a close relationship, with friendship and love. A concept we define as systemic change.
And this helping plan, imbued with our charism, must be done from an attitude of service that has a number of skills that we have to feel and style, polish and live each day. Our call is not “distant,” is closeness, touching and listening, living and giving, give us personally and with generosity. And, in that closeness, there is only Truth, which it is transmitted through reciprocity, love and understanding. But also, as we shall see, through firmness and perseverance, with caution and humility. Approaching poverty and live with our brothers is, obviously, a service that requires our full responsibility, commitment, skill and love.
In this sense, every step we take (individual and institutional) in favor of people living in poverty brings us closer to others who, like us, feel urged to collaboration, aiding those who need it most. This Network of Charity —which has its internal structure in the Conferences around the world, in the Vincentian Family and the Universal Church, and its external relationships to Third Sector institutions and public and private organizations— is vital for poverty to be cornered or, at least, that “discarded people” by society would find in that “periphery” a helping hand, ready to give a sincere and unconditional, human response and, in our case, also Christian.
Because of the closeness and sincere concern for others, it comes the effect of adaptability to a changing world and the responsiveness to new needs and emerging poverty to which can only be reached from the alert position of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, that never slumbers, which is never satisfied, always ask for more, always demanding more itself on its way of service. Loneliness, mental illness, the family reality and the value of life, the drama of the refugees… are some of the important issues the Conferences must face with the best disposition and knowledge, with the anticipation of an Organization that can, for its expertise and experience, anticipate and/or delve into the causes of poverty (referred to in our Rule as “structures of sin”), which are constantly forming in our world and that are installed from the foundation of the “injustice, inequality and exclusion.” (Rule SSVP, Art. 7.6)
Poverty is, as we said, a fundamental and indissoluble matter for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and, for this reason, part of our journey and traveling companion for all Vincentian and Conferences. Poverty to which we must know to the full extent and in the different faces it shows throughout a service full of difficulty but, also, full of love.
Source: Bulletin “Ozanam,” SSVP in Spain, February 2016