I concluded my last article with the question: what makes us believe that any changes that might occur during 2020 will create a new society, a society of justice and equality? In fact, do we have any reason to believe that the social order, in the long-term, will be different from the present reality?
In an attempt to answer this question, I invite you to use your imagination as we explore the possible impact of a Vincentian approach to ministry on the present world situation. Here I am talking about a systemic change approach to ministry.
In 2007 the members of the Commission for Promoting Systemic Change (Robert Maloney, CM; Norberto Carcellar, CM; Ellen Flynn, DC; Joseph Foley, CM; Patricia Nava [AIC]; Pedro Opeka, CM; and Gene Smith [SSVP]) made a presentation to the heads of many of the branches of the Vincentian Family. They proposed that systemic change be our common theme for the next several years.
That means one-hundred sixty branches with four million members and collaborators working together in the struggle for justice. Let us remember that in 1971, in the Final Document of the First Synod of Bishops, we read: Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation (Justice in the World, #6).
We know we can have an impact. The 13 Houses Initiative has opened our eyes and we have seen that together we can make a difference. Together we can create a new society in which people can live with dignity and respect. This Initiative has empowered men and women in many different countries to begin to write a new chapter in their history.
Working together from the perspective of systemic change in order to transform racist and violent institutions involves us in a process in which we listen carefully and seek to understand the needs and aspirations of the poor, creating an atmosphere of respect and mutual confidence and fostering self-esteem among the people.
Listen carefully … allow people to share their story … listen to people speak about their dreams and hopes … establish relationships with people. Various branches are involved in the ministry of home visitation. What a wonderful opportunity to listen and share and empower people to seek new horizons.
Do we have any reason to believe that long-term change is possible? I believe that as members of the Vincentian Family, if we collaborate and work together from a systemic change approach, we have all the reason in the world to believe that such change is not only possible, but is inevitable.
What do you think?
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