COVID19 – Insights for Vincentians

by | May 15, 2020 | Formation, Reflections | 2 comments

What is COVID 19 Teaching Me About the Vincentian Thing?

COVID19 is both similar to and very different than the Vincentian Thing (Vincentian charism or movement).


  • have the power to change the world as we know it
  • can infect indiscriminately – rich and poor, male and female, young and old
  • spread by social contact
  • have a history and mutating strains
  • are contagious via close contact
  • can be mitigated by social distancing, etc.
  • often hide quietly in people
  • change the host
  • mutate into different strains and families
  • have a variety of symptoms

Covid is different from the Vincentian Thing

  • Covid is bad news. The Vincentian Thing is Good News (especially for those on the margins).
  • Covid is focused on self-perpetuation and reproduction. The Vincentian Thing is gospel-driven and focuses on others.
  • Covid is self-serving. The Vincentian Thing is the imitation of Christ who came to serve, not to be served.

Vincent’s way of spreading the virus of Good news

St. Vincent was “patient zero.”

  • In his mid-thirties he was infected by the Good News of Jesus Christ he encountered in pages of Scripture.
  • He spent the rest of his life committed to spreading this Good News by word of mouth and action.
  • He instinctively knew that all people were called to be, and spread, the Good News
  • He was amazed at the end of his life what a source of Good News.

The Vincentian Thing he set in motion…

  • Had the energy to change not only his life but the face of his France
  • Has lasted over 400 years
  • Has mutated to some 200 strains or branches today
  • Has infected some 4 million people in over 150 countries

Vincent’s way of spreading this movement

  • He lived a life characterized by 5 attractive values or virtues.
  • He had close contact with those who were poor.
  • He identified key clusters of those interested in living the Good News.
  • Among these clusters were “influencers” drawn from the Clergy as well as the unrecognized resources of laypeople and for the first time women.
  • He inspired them to embrace the mission of Jesus Christ, Evangelizer of the poor.
  • Using his gifts for organization, he developed key supportive structures for an initial 3 clusters – Confraternities of Charity, Congregation of the Mission, and the Tuesday Conferences (which were much more than gathering on Tuesday evenings but an expression of a commitment to a way of life.)

How Mindwalk fits in

Mindwalk is a website intended where Vincentians can explore together their insights and questions .. a kind of kitchen table.

At one level it is like any other website that focuses on the Vincentian Thing. These sites tend to focus on:

  • Information
  • Formation
  • Collaboration in projects

Each of these three goals obviously overlap, as will Mindwalk.

At another level, Mindwalk hopes to be quite different. Rather than function as a newspaper, resource library, or workroom, Mindwalk seeks to function more as a kitchen table around which those committed to following Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor can have conversations that foster personal and collective explorations of the news of the family, the resources available to those who wish to delve deeper, or collaboration a task or project.

Mindwalk is a vehicle for contact, inspiration, mutual support. In short, a place of mutual encounter where people share their experience, learn from one another and inspired in their following of Christ the evangelizer of the Poor.

Next steps

If this makes sense and meets what might be an unrecognized opportunity for encounter then consider not just “liking” as is a frequent request on Facebook Lets encounter one another. At various points in our cor personal and collective journies, we can be observers or auditors, while at other points we can be contributors who share our experience, insights, and even our questions.

We also have a Facebook page not surprisingly, called Vincentian Mindwalk for those who prefer its style of give and take. On Mindwalk the website, only subscribers can comment. Of course, comments will be screened for appropriateness and respectfulness of different approaches.

P.S. If you are wondering about why I refer to the Vincentian thing rather the charism, it is simply to speak plainly. Perhaps I am revealing the fact much earlier in my life I had never heard the word charism, even in seminary formation. Yet I knew I was.committed to something… this Vincentian Thing.

Vincent de Paul, in glory, blesses his works


  1. Paulinah Appiah Antwi

    Thanks for the insight. Well read and understood. Stay blessed. I will like to be participating in ‘mindwalk’.

  2. Ross

    Thanks, John. I like your using “Vincentian Thing” for “Vincentian Charism.” It is easier to understand, much less daunting, at least at first sight or hearing.

    And in my mind, it is what St. Vincent keeps saying time and again in shared reflections on, or repetitions of, prayer, in talks or conferences, in letters and notes on paper, especially in his May 17th, 1658 talk to missionaries: “He sent me to bring the Gospel to the poor,” the motto of the C.M. “It is to do what our Lord came to the world to do …,” having the “poor as our inheritance.” To preach by doing first and then teaching.

    It is to preach, then, the Gospel at all times, using words if necessary, as supposedly St. Francis of Assisi said. Which is to preach the Gospel by words and deeds to the poor, comforting them, providing for their spiritual and bodily needs, helping them ourselves in every way and seeing to it that others, too, help them so (Dec 6th, 1658 talk to missionaries). And with absolute trust in God’s mercy and providence that makes for boldness (parrhesia) and infinite inventiveness, for thinking outside the box, willingness to leave our comfort zones, not be like snails who withdraw into their shells no sooner than they have taken a peek at what is outside.

    My two-cents worth or even less.