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 Bertin Sanon, Superior General of the Religious of Saint Vincent de Paul.
How and when did your foundation take place?
Thank you and welcome to our home on the Via Palestro. It is a pleasure for me to be able to share with you some reflections about our religious family and about the Vincentian Family.
Our congregation, the Religious of Saint Vincent de Paul, was founded by Jean-Léon Prévost in Paris on March 3, 1845. This took place in front of the mortal remains of Saint Vincent where Clément Myonnet and Marurice Maignen took vows of service to the poor in front of Bishop Guillaume Angebault.
We are an offshoot of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul because our Founder, Jean-León Le Prévost, was a member of the first conference that was established by Frederic Ozanam and his other companions. The bond with Vincent de Paul and Frederic Ozanam is a strong spiritual and historical bond. The Religious of Saint Vincent de Paul could also be called “the consecrated members of the Conferences.”
How does your Congregation reflect the Vincentian charism?
Given the spiritual greatness and apostolic strength of Vincent de Paul, we could say that we are a small reflection of Vincent. Nevertheless, despite our limitations, we have the same profound conviction as Vincent: we are to love God and to make God known to the poor and loved by the poor. We do this throughout the world, in Burkina Faso, Canada, France, Brazil, the Ivory Coast, the Congo, and we do this in different ways: among young people, the poor, families. We also do this in the many different precarious situations that arise in our present-day world and in accord with the time and the place where we find ourselves ministering. In summary, we attempt to incarnate Saint Vincent de Paul by loving God … and as servants of the poor, we also attempt to make God known and loved by the poor.
What are 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?
I believe this interview, as well as the meeting in January 2020, reveal that there is an underlying reality, namely, that we are part of the same family. We are all daughters and sons of Saint Vincent de Paul, and this reality is what we are all attempting to live. For me it will be a great opportunity, and I take this opportunity to greet all the organizers and everyone who is working for the success of this meeting. I think that everything has its starting point in this reality: that we can consolidate the bonds of fraternity and that today we, in our world, with its riches and its magnificence, but at the same time with its poverty and its limits … we can offer people the values that St. Vincent embodied: love of God and love of the neighbor. This is an eternal charism, because love will survive everything. Thank you, therefore, and I think we will have the opportunity to work towards a great cohesion in the Vincentian Family and in the search for common goals.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM
Eastern Province, USA