Humbly, I dare to share with you my five wishes for the beginning of this year, five small reflections on how I would like us to grow even more as a Vincentian Family and as Vincentian People, during the next twelve months:
1. Let’s keep up collaboration.
The past Year of Vincentian Collaboration (from Pentecost 2015 to Pentecost 2016) has undoubtedly produced many fruits, many good deeds that have been carried out all over the world, and which have made it possible to know, to approach, to work together and love one another more. We can not, now, leave the objective as fulfilled, as if collaboration were a one-time event and finished action. There is much to advance still; we must deepen in this aspect, and get the Vincentian Family strengthening its ties and expanding its links, to more and better serve the poor.
2. Let us take the opportunity of the 400th anniversary to better understand our charism within the Church.
400 years ago St. Vincent de Paul went through several experiences (Folleville, Châtillon …) that affected him deeply, and which were the starting point of an important turning point in his life, giving rise to a new spiritual family within the Church, based on the experience of Vincent and Louise, dedicated exclusively to the service and evangelization of the poor.
Surely we will have opportunities to gather locally and deepen our call this year in our vocation of service, following Jesus Christ evangelizer of the poor. In .famvin, in Vinformation and in Vincentians you will find three platforms trying to help you to deepen in this vital aspect of knowing ourselves better to be more faithful to our charism.
The motto proposed to us (“I was a stranger and you welcomed me”) is so timely today, in these times where we see the movement of people fleeing from wars, devastation and poverty, refugees looking for a better place to live. What can we Vincentians do to these realities?
3. Let us work to bring the young people closer to the different branches of our Family.
In some parts of the world, and in some branches of the Vincentian Family, the “wear and tear” of an aging membership is showing. What can we do to attract more youth to the branches that need rejuvenating? How can we better convey the joy and enthusiasm that comes with following Jesus Christ in the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul? Can there possibly be some kind of collaboration between the different branches, so that members of one can follow their Vincentian process —along with the growth of people— in other branches more in line with their age?
4. Deploy more, and more effectivly, Systemic Change.
We have been talking about Systemic Change in the Vincentian Family for years. Its methodology has helped to transform the reality of thousands of people throughout the world, and is a proven method that not only assists people, but also manages to transform their reality, transforming their environment and making the poor the main Protagonists of change.
Do we know what systemic change is? Have we implemented it in our works? Can we improve on this at a local level?
5. Let’s get to know Frederic Ozanam more and better!
Those who know me are aware of my deep devotion to Frederic Ozanam. It is not strange, therefore, that I want the whole Vincentian Family to know more and better the life, message and testimony of this layman of whom —I have the impression— we still have much to discover.
The vast majority of the members of the Vincentian Family are lay people. We have, in Frederic Ozanam, an example of how to concretize the charism of Saint Vincent de Paul in our present society. Frederic lived through turbulent times, of wars, social mobilizations, serious injustices and poverty … Although more than 150 years have passed since then, reality does not seem to have improved much, and we are currently experiencing similar situations.
Frederic lived with passion his belonging to the Church and his service to the impoverished, in three dimensions that —as it can not be otherwise— are still fully valid:  personal growth in faith, culture and education,  the real and direct service to the helpless, even at the expense of his pocket (he devoted 10% of all his annual income to the service of the poor), and  denouncing injustice in all forums in he became present: social, educational, political, etc …
Let us also pray for his prompt canonization.
And you, Vincentian who read this … what are your wishes for the Vincentian Family, during this year that begins? Cheer up, share them with all of us! You can do it by commenting on this post, or on our Facebook page. Your word is very important!