Vincent, Frederic, the Dreams of Youth and WYD

by | Jul 23, 2016 | Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

vincent-life-lessons-series-facebookWhat Vincent and Frederic have in common, they also share with the hundreds of thousands of today’s participants in World Youth Day 2016 – the energy and dreams of youth. A question for us is what can we do to nourish those dreams in our Vincentian Youth and help them channel their energy.

The world knows Frederic and Vincent today through their marvelous legacy. But they were once young, swept up in their times. Neither planned to “make a dent in the in the universe.” (Steve Jobs).

Both can be said to have made huge dents. When Vincent died it was said that he “changed the face of France.” Frederic’s dream to “encircle the globe in a band of charity” can be seen in the Society that bears his name with hundreds of thousands of members serving in over 140 countries.

I am convinced that there are many Vincents and Frederics, Louises and Rosalies among the anticipated million plus energetic dreamers present these days in Poland. And even more who were not able to attend.

J. Patrick Murphy reminds us in his booklet Mr. Vincent.

Vincent spent his life to the age of 36 (1617) looking for himself, for God, and for a steady income so he could retire in style. He found his personal mission to the poor.
Lesson: Sometimes what you find is better than what you look for.

Certainly all those journeying to Krakow are searching, looking for who they can be. Most will be wondering what they can do with the future that lies before them. Maybe some will be discerning a religious vocation. No doubt there will some who just tagged along because it would be fun and something different… but who might be surprised at the impact of the experience.

Hopefully, there is something else that they have in common with Vincent and Frederic.

What Vincent and Frederic had in common was the blessing of mentors. I wrote earlier of Vincent and his mentors.  We all know the story of how Frederic and his companions were mentored by Sr. Rosalie Rendu.

What we forget is that Vincent and Frederic both became mentors themselves. Which brings me to a challenge to support  our youth and especially those who return from World Youth Day inspired to walk in the way of Vincent. Do we recognize our opportunities to serve as their mentors? What kind of mentoring are they looking for and might they find that in us?

Fortunately, we haver an article by former Superior General Robert Maloney, the 22nd successor of St. Vincent, on Vincent and Formation.

[See a visual presentation of his article.]

The thesis of this article is that being a Vincentian also means being a mentor… leading others to a fuller participation in the evangelization of the poor.

He does of quick review of Formation in The Life And Writings of St. Vincent. He then offers his insights on ten characteristics we can learn from St. Vincent.

In the days that I taught at the university level I would be haunted by the question “Is there a Frederic or a Rosalie sitting in front of me?

As we support our youth in prayer as they participate in World Youth Day let us commit ourselves to be both good listeners in dialogue with them and their lives. Who knows? We may be listening to a future Vincent, Louise, Frederic, or Elizabeth.

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