First of all, I would like to thank you for the confidence the executive committee has placed in me by asking me to carry out this proofreading task.
I also extend a thank you to my colleagues in Strasbourg who helped me take notes throughout the various interventions, group sessions and round table discussions.
What, through your instrumental, did the Lord want to tell us throughout these days?
Before sharing with you my analysis of these days, I would like to speak with you about my joy at seeing the mobilization that this international meeting sparked … an historic event as Father Thomas, our President, stated.
This first meeting, with more than half of the branches of Famvin, is a big step in the continuation of the structuring of our worldwide organization that was begun in 1995. We are 200 representatives who have shared together this experience in Rome. Each one, religious or lay, on our return home, will have the opportunity to sow new seeds with regard to the manner in which we live our Vincentian charism.
I would like to reference a phrase that Pope Francis uttered during the audience on Wednesday morning: “a believer and even more a Christian, must have a heart open to solidarity.” This is what we try to do when we claim the charisma of Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, and all the others … The foundation of our charism is not in the defense of values but in the acceptance of being convinced and inspired and animated by the Gospel which reaches out to all men and all men. Our Vincentian commitment must speak to our contemporaries about God’s concern for people who find themselves in the midst of poverty, disease, frailty…
Our commitment must demonstrate the dignity of these people. This dignity is not linked to individual performance but must take into account the history, relationships, family and social dimension of the individual person.
I will continue this summary by addressing the different themes shared since our arrival here:
Bold prudence, solid collaboration, essential communication, a vocational policy and finally the future of the charism.
1- In his presentation, Father Maloney reminded us that the charisma requires bold prudence and this prudence nourishes a deep love for the poor, an unshakable attachment to Jesus Christ, and an unconditional confidence in providence. “Dare to be revolutionary, do not prohibit anything as long as love and respect for the poor remain first …”
I noted three points:
– is it a call from God? Can we read the signs of the times?
– does our action give rise to hope? Does it open paths of hope?
– what is the added value of what we do compared to what others do?
2- We then heard how our charism requires a solid collaboration, an inventive collaboration that opens to dreams, as our elders dared to dream! These dreams have a catalytic effect, they prevent the mission fire from going out.
But let’s also remember these two points about collaboration:
– we have to make sure that there is no power struggle between the different actors,
– We must avoid isolation and therefore join forces while keeping our own identity.
3-With the work of the Vincentian Family Communication Commission, we heard abut the priority of implementing a communication strategy, on the level of internal communication as well as external communication.
Like Vincent de Paul in his time, we are invited to multiply the opportunities to communicate and to live in our time, that is to say, by using new means of communication. We are invited to spread the joy of the Gospel using the new technology and new communication techniques. Social networks are a way to make the Vincentian family known, its action and to promote formation and reflection in connection with the social doctrine of the church.
In presenting us with this great initiative that is the film festival, Father Joe reminded us that “Films can be parables for today. ”
About this communication, here are three points of for further reflection:
– are social networks used with respect and empathy?
– are the websites subject to regular updating .. such updating is essential to foster communication
-Finally, social networks seem essential but are not an end in themselves … human interaction can never be replaced.
4 – the charism requires an adapted vocational policy. We are called to invite, to welcome, to listen. We have much to offer as individuals and as a family: we are able to with enthusiasm and to listen with open minds and loving hearts. This vocational policy is vital in the recruitment process for the different branches of the Vincentian family. I see three points of further reflection: – do not live in “yesterday” –work in a collaborative spirit? – be present in those places where young people are found today.
5 – For the congregations, the charism requires a creative, thoughtful and dynamic transmission.
The purpose of this transmission is to maintain the vision of the charism, to allow members of the congregations to stay on mission until the end.
Points for further reflection
–Promote formation in Vincentian values
–Guarantee vitality and respect for values when the founding members are no longer present.
Yesterday, we wondered what we were invited to do in the coming years. What dream do we have for the future of the charism?
All I am going to share with you are things that have been said here in this assembly.
During morning prayer, Sister Mary Stated: “What the charism will be tomorrow depends on us, on our commitment, on our discernment today. ”
The charisma is constantly evolving and adapting itself. The only constant over the centuries is: “the charity of Christ urges us on”. The charism is therefore alive!
In my opinion, four avenues emerge from the various exchanges, but we could probably find more.
– “From collaboration to communion”
Collaboration between branches, within and outside, must increasingly evolve towards communion. We must create and build a network, a web in a society in constant motion, in a society subject to globalization.
–We are all experts in our fields, we all have qualities.
We have in our hands, threads of different colors, different textures, and different sizes. By uniting his sons and daughters, by weaving this canvas, we draw the Vincentian charism and we act as a family as requested by the president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
The right time to do this is now, today !
What we do, the manner in which we live today, builds and foreshadows the future. Maintaining the status quo cannot be an objective in itself.
– “Love is endlessly inventive”
To give substance to this exhortation, we must appeal to our imagination, to our creative faculties.
We have to move from the abstract to the concrete, from the imaginary to the real. So we will always have an open heart, attentive to the new forms of poverty.
It is always a question of the answers to be provided. This requires defining priorities with regard to our resources and our energies.
Responding to new forms of poverty also requires each of us to avoid entering into confrontation with one another, within the family or with other organizations. It is about knowing how to rejoice in the good that is done and in the kingdom of God that is advancing.
– “Dignity is not a concept and action is a struggle”
Learning and applying the process of systemic change seems essential for the future. Carrying out service projects with the poor and analyzing systems and policies will bode well for the future of our charism. This will involve solidarity with every person.
Another idea in this area could be the development of a formation plan for the whole Vincentian family.
– “Living the charism fosters spiritual and human growth”
This is a path that is open to everyone who engages in journey of following in the footsteps of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac.
Living the charisma is not an end in itself nor is it a search for personal satisfaction. Rather it allows everyone to ask the right questions, to act with courage and to consider a future filled withg hope.
To serve holistically was the concern of Vincent de Paul de Louise de Marillac and should not be concern of all Vincentians … of all these men and women whom Sister Bernadette listed yesterday.
To serve holistically with zeal, gentleness, simplicity, and humility.
I will end my remarks with what we heard on the first day of our meeting. The Vincentian family of the 21st century will be and must be more collaborative. It will be rich in all its diversity. It will be deeply spiritual. It will help people find new hope that will allow them to start anew. The Vincentian Family will be committed to systemic change and will remain prophetic through her love of creation.
Thank you for your attention, I do not doubt that we will meet again very soon since there is so much to do and to do in a collaborative manner.
Sister Blandine Klien, SC