Getting to #IamVincent: Formation Experiences

by | Apr 27, 2016 | Formation, Spirituality and Spiritual Practice | 3 comments


Sr. Pat Evanick, D.C., writes, “Learning is our Vincentian Way….”

You will find
that charity is
a heavy burden
to carry, heavier
than the bowl of
soup and full basket.
You will keep your gentleness and
your smile. It is not enough to give
soup and bread. This the rich can do.
They are your masters, terribly
sensitive & exacting, the more unjust
and insulting, the more love you must
give them.
It is only for your
love alone, that the
poor will forgive
you the bread
you give them.
~ from the film “Monsieur Vincent”

Let me tell you a little about how we get it done. The Vincentian Initiative To Advance Leadership (VITAL) aims to enhance and develop personal and spiritual values, a commitment of service to others and leadership skills in our Vincentian Tradition.

The goal of the program is to develop spiritual values, Vincentian leadership skills and a strong commitment to service, which are rooted in Catholic traditions. This will enable students to discern God’s call and influence society in their field of study or life’s work.

V.I.T.A.L. serves as a four-year developmental program, where students apply for membership at the beginning of their freshman year and recommit themselves to service, prayer, and growing in a deeper understanding of our Vincentian Mission each academic year. V.I.T.A.L. calls upon the potential of each member to build community, deepen personal insights through values-based experiences, and develop a lifelong commitment to serving God’s poor.

The V.I.T.A.L. program was developed as a response to societal examples of seemingly strong leadership that was not grounded in integrity. Our students are surrounded by business people, politicians, and athletes whose professional success is so often tarnished by arrogance and lack of accountability. Graduates of the V.I.T.A.L. program will be challenged to operate from a values perspective that includes using their leadership to make the lives of those on the margins better. Simply put, V.I.T.A.L. helps to form our future alumni in a way that requires responsible, faithful citizenship.

WHY is this a success? Each month VITAL 1, 2, 3,and 4 come together to engage in challenging values-based activities, service opportunities, insightful conversations and prayer. VITAL encourages community and development of each student. Each VITAL level provides new challenges and combines leadership training and the wisdom of alumni, faculty and administrators that are rooted in our Catholic, Metropolitan and Vincentian Tradition.

The program is rooted in four areas. First, the 1985 Bishops’ pastoral letter on Campus Ministry, Empowered by the Spirit, continues to stand as the foundation of strong pastoral program efforts directed towards young people in higher education. This pastoral letter underscores the importance of ministry on campus and highlights the unique privilege and opportunity of this role. Empowered by the Spirit speaks of campus ministry as the opportunity to bring the Gospel alive on campus. The document encourages all campus ministry programming to work towards six basic tenets. They are:

  • Forming the faith community
  • Appropriating the faith
  • Forming the Christian conscience
  • Educating for Justice
  • Facilitating personal development
  • Developing leaders for the future

Secondly, the program combines the important perspectives of two leading student development theorists, William Perry and Arthur Chickering, with the faith development work of James Fowler and Sharon Daloz-Parks. Third, the leadership development experiences, and activities that are used are based on corporate leadership training models. Finally, the charism and spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul permeates each session. The Vincentian aspect of V.I.T.A.L. involves reflection and hands on service that offers students the opportunity to understand through experience.

A Fact Of Life

If I cannot find the face of God in the face of those who are my enemies, if I cannot find him in the “unbeautiful,” if I cannot find him in the poor and the defeated, then how can I expect to find him in my life?
If I do not reach out in this world to those with whom he has identified himself, why do I imagine that I want to be with him, and them, in heaven? Why do I think I want to be for all eternity in the company of those who companionship I avoided every day of my life?

Therefore let us pray:

Lord, You are with us always and everywhere. Thank You for remaining with us. We cannot avoid Your company, for You are wherever there is suffering, loneliness, a person in need, wherever there are enemies. Thank You. Please free us from all that blinds us – our fears, our prejudices, our hatred – so that our eyes will open to Your face, and we will meet You in Your mercy and Your way of mercy, Your welcome and Your way of welcome, Your peace and Your way of peace.

Has there been an impact? Listen:

“I have enjoyed my time in VITAL because I was able to learn and understand the teachings of St Vincent more deeply. It has been so fulfilling to cultivate the Vincentian Ideals with my peers over the last four years.” Marissa R. Senior ’16

“For four years VITAL has taught me how to incorporate Vincentian values and leadership skills into my life. The person I have become today is due to the lessons I learned in VITAL over the past four years.” Alexa S.Senior ’16

evanickSr. Patricia Evanick, D.C., is Campus Minister for Vincentian Service at St. John’s University, and is never seen without at least one cup of coffee. To learn more about this exciting program, contact Sr. Pat at St. John’s.


  1. Sandra Watson

    Great article! Is this something that can be replicated in other areas?

    I am with the Society of SVdP in San Diego. We are looking to form Young Adult Conferences at a local university.

    • Aidan R. Rooney, C.M.

      Click the link in the article for Sr. Pat and she’ll be happy to speak wth you!

  2. marguerite broderick

    This is well done, Sr. Pat and I love the pix of you with 2 coffee cups!!