The International Center of Formation Saint Vincent de Paul (CIF) held its Third Encounter for the Vincentian Family. It took place from Tuesday, April 10 to Friday, May 11, 2018, in Paris. This group was made up of people from different congregations and associations, as well as from different countries and languages. Do you want to know who they were? Again, the largest group was the members of the Congregation of the Mission: Alfredo León Navarro (Peru), Arturo Ernesto Hernández Gutiérrez (Mexico), Francisco Ivo Nascimento Sousa (Brazil), Silvio Alfredo Batista Mitozo (Brazil), Franciscus Hardjodirono (Indonesia) and Stephanus Rudy Sulistijo (Indonesia). We had the grace of having other congregations of the Vincentian Family, let’s see who: Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy: Blasius Perang (Indonesia), Rofinus Banunaek (Indonesia). Several women’s congregations participated: Sisters of Mary of the Miraculous Medal: Ivančica Fulir (Croatia), Marie-Reine Avade (Benin) and Rolande Alafia (Benin). Daughters of Charity: Luz de María Tumialán Francia (Peru). Sisters of the Holy Faith: Veronica Maguire (Ireland). Servants of the Redeeming Love of Christ: Cunegonde Arlette Gómez (Benin). Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul of Gijzegem: Nsafu Florentine Nzebo (Congo).

We were happy with the increase of lay people in our meeting: Andrés Lizondro (Panama), Carlos Centeno (Panama), Mónica Cobos (Ecuador), Orlanda Rodrigues Alves (Brazil), Claudio Gastón Minuche Córdova (Ecuador), Wirawan Margo (Indonesia)… A very varied group! The countries with the greatest presence were Indonesia, Brazil and Benin. Likewise, the greater presence of laity came from Latin America.

This group of men and women of different ages and ministries, some more silent and others more talkative showed us the interculturality and internationality of our Vincentian Family. As the deputy director was missing (and even if he were there) each participant helped in some task: computer, cleaning, photocopying, liturgy, events, helping to make purchases, photos, the succulent coffee breaks that revived students, teachers and translators, etc. Some collaborated in an exceptional way. Personally I was very happy and grateful for this group since I saw in them the desire to learn, the ability to pray, joy and collaboration. In spite of the difficulty of the different languages, as pope Francis said, we speak the universal language: charity.

As teaching is a fundamental element of our meeting, we saw various topics. What classes were given and who dictated it? Evangelize through the Media; Vincentian Presence in the Media and Saints of the Vincentian Family (Elizabeth Ann Seton and Frederic Ozaman), by Joe Agostino and Javier Chento. Saint Vicent: Sources and bibliographical searches; Vincentian Studies; Vincentian spirituality and ethics, given by Andrés Motto. The Miraculous Medal: Historical context and study of the Marian apparition imparted by Jean Daniel Planchot. Theology of the poor; Vincentian option for the poor and Service to the poor within the Vincentian Family, explained by José Antonio Ubillús. In the classes we have added a novelty in prayer, we make a small continuous reading of the Bible. This prayer was lived with an intensity that surprised me. We left it in chapter 2 of Genesis … Will we reach the Apocalypse?

The three pilgrimages we made reinforced this approach to the richness of the Vincentian charism. Pilgrimage reminds us that life is a journey. And that on this trip we should be attentive to the spiritual. Each year we make pilgrimages to places seen in the other encounter, but we also visit new ones. Where we went? Pilgrimage I: Richelieu, Perigueux, Sarlat-La-Canéda, Le Berceau, Buglose, Pouy, Dax, Lourdes, Angers and return to Paris. Pilgrimage II: Gannes, Folleville and Amiens. Pilgrimage III: Taizé, Chatillon, Annecy and return to Paris. We also made two Vincentian visits to the city of Paris. One by the left bank of the Seine and the second, the old San Lazaro. With this group something very good happened… none was lost in the departures!! In addition, we have included a novelty visiting places where the poor are served.

We have had something else: the visit of two Superiors General: Kathleen Appler, Superior General of the Daughters of Charity and Tomaz Mavric, Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission. Their participation illuminated the meeting and made us love the Vincentian Family even more.

I thank Jesus for his mysterious presence among us and for how he has cared for and blessed us.

Fr. Dr. Andrés Motto, CM.
Director of the CIF.

PROPOSAL FOR THE NEXT YEAR: We want to reach 30 participants! So go write down the next date. I am giving you the price, as this is a subject that it is always asked. IV CIF MEETING FOR THE VICENTIAN FAMILY. Friday, May 3 to Monday, May 27, 2019. Cost: 1900 euros. You can write me to my personal e-mail.

Two testimonies about the CIF:

Sister Ivančica Fulir, Mary’s sister of the Miraculous Medal

What a great joy it is to be a part of the Vincentian family.  One month has passed as one week. That happens only when you are with your nearest ones. It does not matter that we come from 4 different continents, different congregations, cultures, traditions, languages.  Saint Vincent is gathering all of us in the name of Jesus Christ to serve the poor. First day I heard the question how will we communicate? But I also hear an answer: with the language of love. Yes, it is really possible and it happened to this CIF group. To exchange thoughts, feelings, successes and failures with each other in our walking with the poor is priceless.

Returning to the sources of our Vincentian heritage was to light a fire in our hearts, or to increase the flame is what we often need in our ordinary life. Without knowing our roots we can be easily lost in this world. After a series of excellent classes, pilgrimages, the time has come to return to our reality, to light a fire in our communities, to give hope, to heal hearts with God’s love, to go on mission to the peripheries. To be a real Mystic of Charity.

Mónica Cobos, Coordinadora Familia Vicentina Ecuador

“Charity is the center that unites the community with God and all its members among themselves; it contributes to the union of hearts and links them indissolubly to God.” (SVP)

I thank infinitely our Lord Jesus, for offering me the opportunity to rejoice in His love during the days of formation, in the “III CIF Meeting of the Vincentian Family”, held in the city of Paris, France.

It has been a wonderful experience, which impels me to continue in the mission that Christ himself has entrusted to me, for the formation received by prominent speakers, the pilgrimages made to the different Vincentian places, highlighting Gannes-Folleville and Chatillon, which are the two pillars of our charism. The fraternal integration achieved with my fellow participants to live for a few weeks is a bond that can never be extinguished, because they were moments in which we could share great experiences, prevailing spirituality, love, respect, empathy, solidarity and service.

To be Vincentians is to embrace the charism of Saint Vincent and his preferential option for the poor. It is to lead a life committed to evangelization and charity. As members of the Vincentian Family we have to strengthen the work, in order to help build a worthy future for our brothers, in which opportunities and spiritual development is driven by the brightness of thought and heart, as was the experience lived in this formation, where in addition, the language gap was destroyed by the language of love and dedication of each of the attendees.

“The Vincentians are mystics of charity,” it is the light for which I encourage you to welcome this initiative of formation, to wider our body, soul and spirit, and to reach to our brothers in need with firm conviction and commitment.

I am very grateful for all the learning received in the CIF, driven by the Vincentian spirit and the teachings that St. Vincent has offered us in his legacy of love, solidarity, faith, hope in the service of our impoverished brothers. In Christ, Mary, Saint Vincent, Saint Louise.


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