I will be leaving the UN on February 14, 2020 when the negotiations of the UN resolution on homelessness will hopefully be pretty much finished. I was asked to serve as the new Vice President of Mission and Ministry at DePaul University which I am excited about because I worked before at this place – my Alma Matter – for seven years in three different areas of ministry. The main purpose of this final UN article for the Famvin is to tell all of you thank you! Thank you for your openness to the work of the Coalition of Vincentian Family of NGOs at the UN on behalf of the entire family and especially on behalf of those who are left behind in our society.
This has been without any doubts the most enriching experience of my entire life. My time at the UN helped me to understand the real challenges of life, our planet and our human family more deeply. It is going to be impossible for me to ignore or to be indifferent to these challenges as I immerse myself at DePaul University. I leave for DePaul with a conviction that I learnt from a UN group of advocates, centered around the fourth goal (SDG Goal #4 = Quality Education). I was once told that quality and universal access to education is not simply a solution to break the cycle of poverty but rather it is THE solution though. I bring this passion to my new job as I engage in the commitment of advancing the Vincentian mission at this important institution.
I like to send a simple message to the Vincentian family today. I am convinced that there are three main transformations our charism has been experiencing in the past thirty to forty years. The first one is the understanding that we are a family, that we have a common mission, a common inspiration, a common spirit. Today, we clearly understand that we are the Vincentian family, even though there are still many challenges to operationalize this reality. Respecting our own identities and individual mandates while finding the common ground, we need to emphasize more what unifies us rather than what distinguishes us in order to take advantages of the vast opportunities of our collaboration.
The second part is the transformation of our ministries and works into systemic change projects. Today, we clearly understand that the Vincentian triad of justice will always include charity works although those works will never be enough. For our projects to advance systemic change, they need to be brought about sustainability which mandates us to constantly engage in political advocacy. That brings me to the third transformational element of our Charism. We, the Vincentian family around the world, are increasingly committed to local, national, regional and international socio-political advocacy to advance the agenda of the full liberation of humanity and of our planet.
From this perspective, my invitation is very simple. In whatever you are doing, in whatever we are doing together, we must make sure to include those three transformational elements in a systemic and sustainable way. They are essential for the reinterpretation of our identity and our mission today in the 21st century. These three areas of our charism will force us to live in permanent awe, not just before a broken reality, but also before the mystery of God, especially in His/Her constant creation of a “new earth and a new heaven.” Due to these elements we will also be forced to engage in internal and “beyond us” collaborations extending, in everything, our fraternity and sorority. Through this engagement, we will be following Pope Francis´ call to become part of the prophetic work of “awakening the world.”
My dream is that one day we will be one Vincentian NGO at the UN with all the individual delegates working under just one mandate, the mandate of our Charims! We clearly can carry each other’s burdens and gifts while we do together our prophetic work with joy. We can give signs to the poor, the hopeless and the homeless that the reign of God is happening here and now, in the midst of us. Our collaboration as one family can be an amazingly powerful sign to a broken society, a broken world. The world´s pain is here to be carried, but we will be able to do it only if we do it together, if we are there to do it with others from other cultures, religions, races or geographical spaces.
To the Congregation of the Mission, to my colleagues at the UN, to our colleagues of Famvin, to all of you: thank you! Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for this unique opportunity!