St. Vincent and St. Louise – Ideal Collaborators?

J. Patrick Murphy reminds us in his booklet Mr. Vincent of the collaboration of two exceptional people – Vincent and Louise.

In Louise de Marillac Vincent found the perfect partner to build his business model and bring about change that shocked the world. Louise, like Vincent, was imperfect and troubled but together they were inspirational.

Lesson: Imperfect people are all we have; accept them where they are and work with them.

For 35 years, they journeyed together, learning to know, esteem and respect each other as they collaborated intensely establishing missions all over France and beyond. But let’s not be fooled. They experienced some disagreements, tensions and conflicts which challenged their relationship.

They had to work at collaboration

We are blessed to know the outcomes of the intersection of these two lives. In their final chapters, they were true collaborators and equals. However, in the early chapters, any collaboration between these two, so very different in backgrounds, experiences, personalities, and ways of operating, seemed doomed only to end in disaster.

Sr. Maggie Reynolds, DC of Australia offers insights in what it took for their collaboration to be successful.

Their personalities were very different.

Vincent was outgoing, flexible, confident, affectionate, adventurous, practical, realistic, cautious, prudent, patient, pragmatic, observant, charming, organized, visionary, moody and wise.

Louise was introverted, anxious, scrupulous, sensitive, reserved, creative, melancholic, impulsive, tenacious, impatient, serious, reflective, pensive, organized, assertive, strong willed and a worrier.

Their ways of operating were very different.

Vincent was action orientated and practical, a collaborative, organized, confident and outgoing man. He was also flexible, adaptable, reflective, prudent, objective, patient, steady and a great networker.

Louise was resolute but had the gift of gentle persuasion. Like Vincent she was collaborative and organized, but was also introspective, and a great planner who paid incredible attention to detail. She was complex, sensitive and impulsive. So it is not surprising that they experienced some disagreements, tensions and conflicts which challenged their relationship.

Yet, their journey together changed themselves, France, the Church and Religious life.

[For details and other examples, visit the reflection of Sr. Maggie Reynolds, D.C. “Collaboration between two exceptional people“]

We see their dedication to the same goal, the service of Christ in the poor that attracted them to one another, as both gave their life to following the promptings of God. They were true collaborators and equals.

What does the collaboration between Vincent and Louise have to say to us?

They are proof that whatever our background, whatever our personality, whatever our life experiences, whatever trials we have, and whatever conflicts and tensions we experience, these are not impediments to doing good and achieving goals. Vincent and Louise stand out for us as models of true collaborators in ministry, indeed for those in every walk of life.

But there is even more. At the heart of collaboration, I find its true value and it is nothing short of Eucharist itself. Christ offers new life to us through his dying and rising. Just as the bread and wine of Eucharist had to give up their individual properties to become something greater than a single grain or a single grape, so too, we surrender our individual properties.

As we work together, we learn how to die to self and to our ways of doing things. We experience the power of God at work in our midst, slowly transforming us into His own Body and Blood.

This is the ultimate value of collaboration. May all our collaborative efforts lead to transformation!

Just as Vincent and Louise learned to collaborate as equals, so too Vincentian Family branches can learn the deeper meaning of the AIC/LCUSA motto “Together against all forms of poverty” … and change the face of our world.

Collaboration is challenging, time-consuming, even frustrating, but, it is also trusting that our time together is well spent and that our efforts will produce new life.

Some things to think about

  • When and how have I collaborated with someone to get something important done?
  • Do people think of me as a collaborative person?
  • What have I learned about myself from my efforts to collaborate with someone, especially a person in need?

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