Can you imagine being at a family gathering planning to celebrate a 400th Anniversary? How many of us can trace our roots back 400 years?
How about adding to that the direct successors of two saints, St. Vincent de Paul (Patron Saint of Charitable Works) and St. Louise de Marillac (Patron Saint of Social Workers).
Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, CM, Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, and Sr. Kathleen Appler, DC, Superior General of the Daughters of Charity, are the direct successors of these two saints. Yet they are part of a larger Vincentian Family which contains more than 200 branches who currently serve in 150 countries across the globe. Together they certainly breathe life into the dream of the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Frederick Ozanam, who dreamt of “circling the globe with a band of charity.”
For the first time, the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Vincentian Family is being held outside of Europe. With the assistance of a team of trained translators, they will focus on issues of collaboration for more effective evangelization and service of those in need. The meeting took place in the newly-created office space on the grounds of St. Vincent’s Seminary, whose offices are adjacent to the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Germantown. The property also has a more than 100-year-old oak tree grown from a seed of St. Vincent’s oak which still stands near his birthplace. The property houses the Provincial headquarters of the Vincentians of the Eastern Province.
The group, whose membership consists of a core group of four branches and a rotating group of three branches, meets annually. The core group contains the three branches directly founded by Sts. Vincent and Louise, viz. the first foundation known nationally as the Ladies of Charity and internationally as the AIC, the Congregation of the Mission, and the Daughters of Charity, as well as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, founded 200 years ago.
Presently the current rotating branches are: the Sisters of Charity Federation of Strasbourg, the Brothers of the Congregation of Mary Mother of Mercy (CMM), and the Sisters of Charity Federation of North America. Each Vincentian Family Executive Committee member branch is represented by two people: the international leader of that branch and an assistant of his or her own choosing.
This year marks not only the 400th Anniversary of Vincent’s first foundation but follows upon last year’s 200th Anniversary of the arrival of the Vincentians or Congregation of the Mission in the United States.
The Vincentian Family began 400 years ago with the collaboration of two saints, St. Vincent de Paul, Patron Saint of Works of Charity, and St. Louise de Marillac, Patron Saint of Social Workers.
They never imagined that 400 years later their influence would be the powerful force for evangelization and relief of those on the margins of society worldwide.
The Vincentian Family Office, as a function of the Vincentian Family Executive Committee, coordinates activities, provides information, and delivers formation experiences on the heritage and charism of St. Vincent de Paul to the branches of the Vincentian Family (VF) throughout the world.
This includes promoting communication and collaboration among the various branches of the Vincentian Family, as well as opportunities for leadership to meet and to develop ways to work together.