An Unrecognized Challenge For the Vincentian Family

by | Jul 8, 2020 | Formation, Reflections, Vincentian Family

Ten pandemics  not recognized as pandemics

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I was startled to read the catalog of unrecognized pandemics identified by Renato de Lima, International President of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. In his reflection on the number of pandemics that seem to be even more dangerous than COVID 19, we see some real problems. If we accept the definition of a pandemic as a condition prevalent over a whole country or the world then the following are some of the other pandemics today:

  • Abortion
  • Hunger
  • Spirituality
  • Unemployment
  • Addiction
  • Hopelessness and suicide
  • Refugee vulnerability
  • Lack of Health care
  • False news and disinformation
  • Loneliness

The list of other pandemics could go on and on!

We can not do it alone and Vincent can teach us how to collaborate

Daunting indeed! We can not do it alone! We need to gather together as a collaborative movement. We need to develop a culture of collaboration across and within the various branches of the Vincentian Family. Even more, we need to learn how to work with so many outside the Vincentian Family who share our concerns. Before we can act collaboratively we may have to learn to think differently. For years I have light-heartedly referred to a working definition of collaboration in the Vincentian Family. “Let’s you and me collaborate in MY project.” Most times I am met with a knowing nod. Vincent can teach us much about a “culture of collaboration.”

“Forgotten truths” we can learn from St. Vincent

Vincent taught us much about a “culture of collaboration.”

  • The truth is that he was convinced that others shared his vision and would be generous in their response to needs. “The poor suffer less from a lack of generosity than from a lack of organization.”
  • The truth is that he was humble enough to ask others to help. He was not wedded to any messianic delusions, “Lone Ranger” tendencies of thinking that he had to do it on his own.
  • The truth is that he was adept at involving others in what he saw needed to be done. He found his strength in accepting his limitations.
  • The truth is that so often he had the courage and the skill to lead others to walk together where few had walked before.
  • The truth is that he courageously spoke the truth to power.

Building a culture of collaboration

From time to time it may be good for us look at our approaches to networking in ministry and ask
  • Do I recognize in my tendencies to think I have to do things by myself or in isolation from other branches of the Vincentian Family?
  • Am I convinced that others share a vision that is concerned about the least of our brothers and sisters?
  • Do I look around me to identify who shares my concerns and actively seek to partner with them?
  • Am I open to accepting my limitations as reminders to ask others or to join with others?

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