Kilver, what is your relationship with St. Vincent de Paul and the Vincentian Family?
The parish I started attending when I was around 8 years old, and am still a part of to this day, is a Vincentian Parish (Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, Charlotte Diocese, North Carolina, USA). Initially, I didn’t know anything about St. Vincent de Paul, but through the exposure to St. Vincent from the parish I began to learn more about the Vincentian charisma. My first true exposure to St. Vincent de Paul and to the Vincentian Family was when I got the opportunity to go to Rome In Jan 2019. This was when I had a firsthand experience of all the work that was being done worldwide.
What is your spirituality and what are the initiatives that characterize you?
I don’t know how to properly answer this question. Until a couple years ago I wasn’t even sure what it meant to be Vincentian. However, I have come to understand that my actions can lead to one of two outcomes (and sometimes both): I can be bettering myself or those around me. The easy route is to only focus on me, and as tempting as that may be I have learned that God does not live in solitude. God lives in the midst of those who are poor spiritually and financially. That is where I must be.
In this time of pandemic, what are the most difficult situations you have faced?
It has been very difficult to engage in a meaningful way with the youth groups in the parish. Even with social media and digital connections as advanced as they are, there is nothing like face to face encounters with people and knowing that they are listening. Online everyone can hear you, but no one really pays attention to what you are saying. The face to face interaction that I took for granted turned out to be very meaningful to everyone, including myself.
Last January you participated in the international meeting of the Vincentian Family. What was the impact with this reality and what are the things that struck you most.
For the first time I saw how much of an impact St. Vincent de Paul had left on so many people. It is not just a devotion – it is a life style. A life style inspired by St. Vincent and Jesus. We are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That means that if I love myself enough to buy clothing for the winter time, then my neighbor, who may have less than me, deserves the same. It is more than just sharing what I have. It is about making sure that everyone has a dignified life.
A word or phrase to describe your mission
My life does not belong to me, it belongs to God and to the poor.