1. A timely announcement
It was a beautiful and inspiring idea from our Superior General, Fr. Gregory Gay CM, to convene a Year of Vincentian Collaboration. The fact that it coincides with important dates in the Church that are close to each other made the idea even more attractive. The Year of Vincentian Collaboration comes right after the Year of Consecrated Life and the Fifth Centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Jesus; it takes place during the Year of Mercy, and just before the year when we will be celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism. All this makes one think that the Spirit’s inspiring power had an active role in the birth of the project of convoking the Year of Vincentian Collaboration.
It is up to us, to each and every branch of the Vincentian Family, to each and every one of those who feel moved by the creative force of Vincent and Louise, to give life and fullness to the idea. It is not enough to have had during this past year some brilliant initiatives; it is not enough that we have improved our family relationships by making lavish provisions for special meetings; it is not enough that we have held international meetings.
During his visit to Albacete (Spain), Father Eli Chaves, from the General Curia in Rome, gave us clear cues that may well serve as a script to run by or as a starting point. With a lucidity that is grounded in his experience as a missionary, he said that the Vincentian Family is based on three pillars:
- Having a clear idea of our Vincentian identity
- Celebrating together this identity
- Building up together this identity through collaboration in projects of service and care of the poor wherever we are located
These general principles give us wings with which to fly high. Eli Chaves himself, to avoid misunderstandings, qualified his statements very well. “Our business,” he said, referring to the whole family, “are the poor, the poor …, the poor in everything—in material goods, resources, social perspectives… The location of the poor—where, how, whom do they live with—is a sign of authenticity in the recognition of the poor…” One cannot be any clearer…
Fr. Eli hinted at other ideas that are worth analyzing in depth, so that we may take them seriously afterwards. He spoke about the new image that is taking shape of the Vincentian priest or brother, about the pressing demand for new missionaries to send to mission lands. He talked about the need to concentrate our efforts on what is specifically Vincentian to avoid our spreading ourselves too thin in parish pastoral tasks, about unity in plurality, about international collaboration in terms of finances and personnel, about the urgent need for collaboration between different branches of the Vincentian Family. To drive home his point, he said at the end that we all have much to learn from each other.
P. Félix Villafranca, C.M.