Updating the Vincentian Family • A Weekly Reflection with Louise

by | Jul 14, 2017 | Formation, Reflections

The Procurator General “asked me if we considered ourselves regular or secular. I told him that we aspired only to the latter. He told me that such a thing was without precedent […]. He said many good things about the Company and added that he did not disapprove of our plan. However, he said that something of such importance merited much thought. I expressed my joy that he felt as he did about the matter, and I begged him, if he thought that the Company was unworthy to be, or for some reason should not be continued, to destroy it entirely. But if he considered it good, I said that we begged him to establish it on a solid foundation. I explained that it was this thought that had motivated us to give it a trial for at least 12 or 15 years, and that during this period, by the grace of God, no insurmountable obstacles have appeared. He replied, “Let me reflect on this, I do not say for months, but at least for a few weeks” (L. 283).

Letter from Saint Louise to Saint Vincent, when they were trying to get the Company of the Daughters of Charity approved, considered a great novelty.



  1. From the end of World War II (1945), it seemed that society had achieved its autonomy without the need for religions, subordinating faith to earthly realities. This departure from religion led the Second Vatican Council to propose modernizing Christianity, and the aggiornamento, or “catch-up” of the Church was formulated. But in 1978 Pope John Paul II was elected and the Church took a radical turn, trying to Christianize modernity instead of modernize Christianity. The aggiornamento is no longer worth, but the “new evangelization.”
  2. The preoccupation with the spiritual influence on life has taken time in the civil world, as Malraux said: “the third millennium will be spiritual or there will be no millennium.” But it is the Muslim religion, practiced by a majority of believers, that dominates the world, while the Catholic religion finds indifference, especially among young people. What is the role of the Vincentian Family?
  3. In today’s society the Vincentian Family no longer finds anything to lean onto. Today it is sustained only by its faith and its vocation. In the midst of an unbelieving world, its plan to establish the Kingdom of God causes irritation, mockery or contempt. But its charism is to help the poor, and has not lost any novelty. What the Spirit revealed to St. Vincent, St. Louise and Blessed Ozanam was something evangelical and permanent.
  4. Implanting the Kingdom of God in the world of the poor is an urgent need, but with new activities and attitudes, because the world changes rapidly. The change that Pope Francis intends in the Church is to go to the peripheries, and the Vincentian Family today is needed in these peripheries.
  5. It is easy to think that the Vincentian Family can not do much to alleviate the situation of poverty, that the remedy comes from State social policy. Our family will be able to do much if it has the shock force of Saint Vincent de Paul in 1617, when he discovered the poverty and hunger of the peasants and founded the Ladies of Charity (AIC), the Congregation of the Mission to evangelize the poor and, with Saint Louise, the Daughters of Charity to create schools and teach girls.
  6. The same shock force had Emmanuel Bailly, Frederic Ozanam and his five university colleagues in 1833 to promote and evangelize the workers, creating the Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP).

Questions for dialogue:

  1. Do our present works cause admiration in people?
  2. Does society see the Vincentians inseparable from the poor whom no one wants to go to?
  3. Is our presence necessary in the peripheries? Are we in them?
  4. When updating the Vincentian Family, are we considering creativity and charisma? Do you complain or accuse others of the direction your group takes?

Benito Martínez, C.M.