On October 5, 2018, the day on which the Portuguese celebrate the establishment of the Republic, the XIV National Encounter of the Vincentian Family took place in the Sanctuary of Fatima.
It was a day of communion among all the vincentians of Portugal, who came to Fatima from different parishes throughout the country. In this meeting, which brought together more than 1,000 people, representatives of the seven existing branches of the Vincentian Family in Portugal, were present: the Congregation of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, the Association of the Miraculous Medal, the International Charity Association, collaborators of the Vincentian Mission and the Vincentian Marian Youth.
The day began with the welcome at the Paul VI Pastoral Center, a meeting point for all the participants. Afterwards, all together, we went to the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity to participate in the Eucharist. The Eucharist, presided by Bishop Augusto César, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Portalegre – Castelo Branco, also a vincentian, had from the beginning a sign of the presence of the Vincentian Family: in the initial procession, a representative from each branch entered with the representative flag of the respective Branch. In the homily, Bishop Augusto César made reference to the great gift for the Church that is the Vincentian Family, and recalled the work of Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Louise de Marillac and Frederic Ozanam.
In the afternoon, after lunch, the prayers and personal devotions, the group met again in the Pastoral Center of Paul VI to resume the work.
After the reception with joyful songs of Christian inspiration, the moment of the presentation of the diverse Branches of the Vincentian Family followed. Communion is generated from mutual knowledge and sharing experiences. It was precisely what we wanted to do, through this moment of presentation of the origins and work of each Branch.
Then, Fr. José Alves, CM, Visitor of the Portuguese Province of the Congregation of the Mission, highlighted the changes experienced by the Vincentian Family. If some years ago there was talk of the double family of Saint Vincent de Paul (referring to the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity), fortunately today we can speak in a single (and great) Vincentian Family, which brings together all the associations and movements inspired by the charism of Saint Vincent de Paul. The Provincial of the Congregation of the Mission highlighted the growing work of collaboration between the various Branches of the Vincentian Family, which is reflected in the Program of Collaborative Action of the Vincentian Family, formation program of the Vincentian Family that, in the year 2018 , formed more than 200 Vincentians from all over the country, for an effective collaboration among all branches. In the end, starting from the reference to the Extraordinary Missionary Year, Fr. José Alves highlighted some initiatives of missionary work of some branches, encouraging everyone that the mission be deepened and intensified in this missionary year.
Also present at the meeting was Sister Corina Bastos, General Counselor of the Daughters of Charity, who was visiting the Portuguese Province. Sister Corina also addressed a few words to those present, emphasizing the joy of seeing the palpable unity and vitality of the Vincentian Family in Portugal.
During the afternoon, in the auditorium of the Pastoral Center of Paul VI, we also had the opportunity to listen to the Choir of the Pastoral Unit of Orcos and San Salvador, led by Fr. Albertino Gonçalves, CM, who presented two new works, recently composed in the framework of the Jubilee Year for the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism and the 300th anniversary of the presence of the Congregation of the Mission in Portugal, which took place last year.
One of the great moments of the afternoon would come next: the premiere of the piece of musical theater “Jesus Christ Superstar”, staged by the MacPiRemo group. It is a rock opera adapted from Andrew Lloyd Webber, with a script and lyrics by Tim Rice. Presented in 1970, it highlights the political and personal struggles of Judas Iscariot and Jesus, and has been staged throughout the world. The action occurs, in large part, according to the gospels of the Bible on the last week of the life of Jesus, beginning with the arrival in Jerusalem and ending with the crucifixion.
This great show of music, light and sound left no one indifferent. The beauty of the songs, the symbolism of the expressions, the portrayal of current dramas (wars and shipwreck of refugees), the simplicity of the scenarios that contrasted with the games of lights … all contributed to the spectators being subjugated by the history. A very old story (the story of Jesus Christ), but that always touches us a lot and, especially, when it is so well interpreted. In the end, an extensive salvo of applause was the gratitude more than deserved by all the members of the Vincentian Family present in the auditorium.
At the end of the afternoon, the Choir of the Pastoral Unit of Orcos and San Salvador went up again to the stage for the sending prayer and to sing the well-known “Hymn to Saint Vincent de Paul”. It was the way to close with a flourish this holiday and unity of the Vincentian Family of Portugal.
“Jesus gave us people who reveal themselves to us as examples of life to walk towards the love of God,” thus began the XIV Encounter of the Vincentian Family and it was these words that were present in the heart of each one in this meeting. Saint Vincent was and is an example for us and this meeting served to once again remember the footsteps of our founder. It also served to be in communion with one another and together feel the commitment to help the poorest.
Vincentian Family in Portugal