Cloistered, Conflicted or Concerned – Which Are You?

by | Aug 11, 2019 | Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

As Vincentians we are “prayer in action

In other words – get active in the community! Is “community” – local, national or global?

St. Vincent de Paul spoke often about the “mutuality” of our mission when we serve those in need. To accompany people on their life’s journey is a privilege as much as a kindness.

We all know how good it feels to give support to people we love.

‘Blessed is the hand that gives because it will receive abundantly’ Proverbs 22: 9-19



Hopefully, we don’t remain too cloistered that we rely on our prayers to create concrete opportunities – speaking out to advocate for the helpless!

When I am conflicted – by the Migrant/Asylum-seeker/Refugee uncertainty of situations…..

am I remaining naive in my assumption that the confusion of terms and people’s circumstances are too extreme for me to have any impact at all.

Perhaps the situation in Italy can shine a light on matters of migration world-wide and the strong, hostile opinions it creates.

Can I afford to remain innocent, inert or ‘turn concern into action’ (SVP Great Britain motto)

Pope Francis has given us a very strong steer since his first visit outside Rome in July 2013 was to the island of Lampedusa refugee reception center. Currently he has made a veiled criticism of the USA administration’s policy of holding refugees, including children, in detention camps. Migrants, he said are “abandoned and cheated into dying in the desert: those least ones are tortured, abused and violated in detention camps”.

Pope Francis is on a collision course with Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior Minister who has banned migrant boats from entering the country’s waters. The right-wing politician, who rose to power on an anti-migrant platform, has criticized the Pope’s stance on refugees.

AIC ( Italy President, Gabriella Raschi and I have been corresponding about this and other issues. AIC is a primarily women’s organization of 100,000 members, and is the longest operating Catholic lay women’s organization in the world, founded by St Vincent himself in 1617. A branch of the Vincentian Family, in Italy AIC is called Gruppi di Volontariato Vincenziano AIC Italia.

AIC ITALIA’s work is certainly not cloistered or conflicted! They make their concern concrete with a myriad of programs that involve both local vulnerable native Italians and migrants.

“According to United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) data, between January 1 and December 31, 2018, 23,371 people arrived in Italy, almost one hundred thousand less than in 2017.

This is a clear turning point compared to previous years, a turning point that started in July 2017 with the first agreements of the former Minister of the Interior Minniti and then made even more evident with the new government taking office in June 2018.”

“Among the countries of origin (data updated to 30 November) the most represented is Tunisia (five thousand people, 23% of the total) followed by Eritrea (3.3 thousand people, 15%), Iraq (85), Sudan and Pakistan ( 7%). Nigeria, Algeria and Ivory Coast follow.

72% of people arriving on Italian coasts are male, women 10%, children 18% – mostly unaccompanied minors.

1,311 people died trying to cross the central Mediterranean in 2018. 2,872 died in 2017, but with many more departures.

The issue of migration has been at the top of the political agenda. It has gained the attention of European public opinion for the past five years and has not lost relevance in 2018. The European Union struggles to find a common policy.”

The paradoxes offered by Saint Vincent’s advice on how to be active in the community challenges us to;

  • “Work until you drop – but be sure to get enough rest.
  • Act as if everything depended on you – proceed as if everything depended on God.
  • Leave God – for God.”
  • However, we find that, “as with any paradox, one side acts as a check on its opposite.” (Tom McKenna CM).



Dee Mansi is a lay member of AIC, Vincentian Collaboration Commission, Vincentian Family Executive Committee & Depaul Assembly; a retired School Principal, Schools Inspector and Leadership in Education Lecturer. Dee is Irish, living in London with her husband and son, she travels in Europe and beyond.

1 Comment

  1. Christine Crump

    Informed opinion as a prelude to action is invaluable- so thank you Dee. And the picture of the baby and caption was powerful.

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