Vincentian Spirituality is a spirituality that emerges from the contact with the poor. The two events of Folleville and Chatillon marked the life of Saint Vincent de Paul.
These two episodes lead him from the beginning in the elaboration of his itinerary of faith: an experience of faith centered on following Jesus Christ, Evangelizer of the poor and Servant of the poor.
The main point is the experience of Charity, which manifests itself through
- affective and effective love; and
- a spirituality not disembodied, but intimately directed to action.
Following the guidance of our holy founder, Saint Vincent de Paul, the Vincentian Family of Panama met in the Province of Chiriquí, District of Boquete, to get to know each other, to work and to grow in our spirituality, this time in the framework of the First National Congress for Systemic Change. All Vincentian branches and groups — working in sectors where the Vincentian Fathers and the Daughters of Charity are present — and the regional councils that guide and work within the Vincentian Family of Panama, were welcomed and invited. It was a great success with a participation of a hundred members: honorary, registered, associated and in process of association; it was conducted from February 15 to 18 this year to experience solidarity and collaborative help as a family. This Congress aims to provide training programs for advisors and leaders of the Vincentian Family, to introduce or to develop an understanding of Systemic Change as a way to provide sustainable development of the Poor, to share the experiences of progress, to propagate strategies of Systemic Change within the Vincentian Family and to deepen Vincentian Spirituality.
Those responsible for this work were James Claffey and Juan Pablo Jácome, both members of the International Commission to Promote Systemic Change, accompanied by Argelys Vega, a member of the Latin American Commission of Systemic Change.
Between the experience of the speakers, the joy and the dynamism of the participants, we concluded that we must continue to be trained in Vincentian Spirituality to carry out a more organized work, structured with our Masters and Lords, the poor. They deserve, because of their dignity, that we do not improvise, that we are responsible to work with them; even more, that our work be collaborative work where the Vincentian branches contribute their grain of sand.
Reaffirming the two keys to Systemic Change:
- Everything is connected to everything else … nothing happens in isolation.
- Think systematically: see everything, in a holistic way, the composite of all the parts that interact and affect each other, for good or for bad.
Those who work committed to Systemic Change in working with the poor must focus not only on the particular problem, such as providing food, important as that may be.
Experience shows that quick solutions, even when they are useful for a while, are inadequate in the long term. Going beyond these solutions, we must examine the total socio-economic situation in which the Poor live, and then we must intervene in a way that changes its system and environment in its entirety.
Prepared by Rolando J. Morales R.
National Secretary of the Vincentian Family in Panama