In January 2020, Rome will host a meeting of the Superiors General and Presidents of the Vincentian Family. We continue this series of posts to deepen our knowledge of the many Vincentian Branches. Here we interview Father Salvatore Russo, Superior General of the Missionary Servants of the Poor.
How and when did your foundation take place?
In the second half of the 19th century, at the initiative of the surgeon and later priest, Giacomo Cusmano, first a doctor of the body and then a doctor of the souls. As a young man, Giacomo Cusmano exercised his medical profession as a mission and had the opportunity to meet many people whom he tried to comfort spiritually, according to the spirit of the Gospel. He realized that the sick were not always satisfied, because many people wanted something more. Thus, Giacomo began a long personal reflection, seeking advice from his spiritual director, Domenico Turano, who urged him to give his life to others in a more special way, becoming a priest. Cusmano did not find himself worthy, but in 1860 he gave himself to others, becoming a priest: “I consecrated my life for to poor in order to relieve their misery and bring them to Jesus,” said Fr. Cusmano.
How does the International Association of Charities reflect the Vincentian charism?
Certainly, by the sacramentality of the poor: the poor are the sacrament of Jesus Christ, that is what Saint Vincent thought; Father Giacomo communicated this ideal to others and inculcated it in his collaborators. The poor are our lords and masters, St. Vincent said, and this concept entered completely into the mind of Father Giacomo, and is the most important aspect of our ministry. To leave God for God: to have the capacity not only to be present in prayer, because in the moment I serve the poor, the poor – who represent Jesus Christ – deserve this and more.
Your hopes and expectations for the Vincentian charism as we approach the meeting of the leaders of the Vincentian Family, scheduled for January 2020, in Rome.
To discover what we can do to collaborate together in order to respond to the needs and poverty of these times: we are very encouraged in this sense by Pope Francis. If we could thus organize something together as a Vincentian Family, it would be wonderful, highlighting among us the sense of Church with the characteristic and charismatic spirit of St. Vincent. We have to do something to meet those who are far from God, far from the Church, who say they do not have faith, to invent something together to help them, because it is a poverty even greater than that of those who have nothing materially.