From the end of August to the end of September 2018, Fr. Joseph Agostino, CM (international coordinator of the Vincentian Family Office) and Pamela Mantuhac (member of the Vincentian Family Office Advisory Committee for this region) visited 15 countries in which the Vincentian Family is serving the poor. Below is a brief overview of an experience that defies words and was more spectacular than pictures.
Part One: Oceania
Our visits began in Sydney, Australia. There are currently five Branches of the Family working in Australia: the Congregation of the Mission (CM), the Daughters of Charity (DC), the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SSVP), the Association of the Miraculous Medal (AMM), and the newly arrived Vincentian Congregation (VC). At this time, no coordinating council exists. However, there is hope for the future growth of the Family there, especially through the lay members of the parishes and institutions under Vincentian sponsorship.
We next visited Papua New Guinea, site of an international mission of the CM’s. The Vincentian Family is in the process of being born there and we were touched by the energy and interest which people expressed in learning about St. Vincent, his spirituality, and his methodology for the service of those in need. There is a wealth of talent and experience among the people of the country which will serve well in the development of the Family. Currently, there are three Branches in PNG: the CM’s, the Brothers of Charity (BC), and the DC’s. The Congregation is in the process of forming the SSVP, the AMM, and the Vincentian Marian Youth (VMY) in the country. They also expressed great interest in inviting MISEVI (Lay Vincentian Missionaries) to work with them.
We flew from PNG to the Solomon Islands, another international mission site of the CM’s and another country in which one can watch the Vincentian Family being born.
Here, various Branches of the Family are a little further along in their development. Serving in the Solomons are the CM’s, VMY, SSVP, and the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul of Zagreb, Croatia (SC-Z). They plan to form a coordinating council to help them better focus and extend their efforts.
Fiji was our next stop on our swing through Oceania. There are eight branches of the Vincentian Family ministering there: SSVP, AMM, International Association of Charities (AIC), JMV, Sisters of Compassion of New Zealand, CM, DC, and SC-Z. The Branches have well-defined leadership structures. There next step is forming a coordinating council so that they can come to know each other on the Islands and form a “national” Vincentian Family identity.
Our last stop brought us to New Zealand. Two Branches of the Family work there – the Sisters of Compassion and the SSVP. Both these groups work in Wellington, which serves as the point of contact for the Family. While there, I met with Sr. Margaret Ann Mills, the Superior General of the Sisters. Her congregation was founded to work with the indigenous poor in New Zealand. Their foundress is one of our Vincentian Family Venerables – Suzanne Aubert!
There are many things to be said regarding ministries, aspirations and needs in each of these five stops. I will try to summarize them at the end of this series of articles.
Fr. Joe Agostino, CM