By: Joseph V. Agostino, CM
During the months of April and May 2018, I crisscrossed Europe to meet with members of the Vincentian Family, and most especially with the Superiors General of the various congregations which comprise the Branches of the Vincentian Family.
Emile Ghali and I went to Belgium where we visited two congregations headquartered around Brussels. Our meeting in Gijzegem afforded us with an opportunity to plan for a full day meeting in the Fall with all of the Vincentian Family congregations of Belgium.
The last country I visited was the Netherlands. There I was hosted by Brother Lawrence Obiko, CMM at their Generalate in Tilburg. Though I had been there before, this was my first opportunity to visit the works of the Brothers in the city.
At this time, I also had two formal meetings in the Netherlands.
The first was with the Vincent de Paul Center for Social Spirituality based in Nijmegen. We discussed the request that the Vincentian Family Executive Committee made of them, namely to facilitate a process by which lay theologians could develop a new language for the Vincentian Charism, one that can be easily understood by the laity. We had a wonderful discussion about what this means, what it might entail, the methodology which could be used to accomplish this, etc. They accepted the challenge and will be leading the Vincentian Family in this process.
I also visited with Vincentian Family leaders and representatives of Superiors General in the Netherlands. It provided another forum to discuss all that is occurring locally and internationally.
Of great significance in the Netherlands is the reality of the aging religious and its implications on their ministries. In their annual meeting, someone pointed out to them that the current generation is standing on the shoulders of all those who have gone before them, continuing what they have begun. It is a powerful reminder of our continued call, not to do it all, but to empower those around us to rise to the challenge.
A final note: Nathalie Bastiaansen, the communications coordinator of the CMMs interviewed me when I was in Tilburg. I share with you now a little of what she wrote (which also appeared in FamVin):
At the Generalate of the Brothers CMM, Father Agostino expressed his appreciation for the way the various branches of the Vincentian Family in Europe live their Vincentian heritage and charism, by stating: “You all have your own specific way of looking at this, and together you form the many beautiful facets of a brilliant diamond.”
Hunger for deepening the charism
So far, Father Agostino has experienced in Europe a hunger for a deeper understanding of the Vincentian charism. The challenge is: how to do this in a good way, and in such way that it is also valuable for future generations, for young people, lay people, and people who are less involved in Church and religious life. The Vincentian Family is looking for ways to develop a lay-friendly vocabulary about Vincent’s charism.
Reasons to feel blessed
“The call to see Jesus in the face of the poor,” Father Agostino says, “as Vincent de Paul did, is still needed today, and it is definitely still vibrant, and will give us the energy to go on towards the future. There are a lot of reasons to be grateful to God. One of these is His invitation to us to be partners in this mission. It is a reason to feel blessed, since it is as relevant now as it was 400 years ago.”