Growing Up – a Movement Becoming Aware of Itself

by | Oct 5, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

Have you ever watched time-lapse photography of the amazing process of a flower blooming or a moth becoming a butterfly?  Have you ever watched a slow-motion video of a golf swing or a gymnastic routine? In either case, you can see things that you don’t ordinarily see.

Less than five years ago leaders of 97 branches of the Vincentian Family gathered in St.Peter’s Square. They represented over 2 million people bringing “good news” to countless millions in 156 countries. To the surprise of almost everyone present, they began to “see” a new blooming of the Vincentian Family.

Fr. Tomaz Mavic, current President of the Vincentian Family Executive Committee,  highlights the movement From A Vincentian Family structure to a Vincentian Family movement.

In this Vincentian Mindwalk I explore how Vincentians are becoming aware of themselves as a movement rather than just branches of a specific family. People from all walks of life and professions seek to serve the poor and the marginalized wherever they may be and whatever their needs.

 My own journey toward an awareness of a “Vincentian Movement”

I grew up in an era when the Congregation of the Mission (or Vincentians), implicitly considered themselves the center of the Vincentian universe. After all, the Vincentian Fathers and Brothers were founded by St. Vincent de Paul himself!

In my early years as a Vincentian, I heard of the “Double Family” of St. Vincent – the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity.  This was a term apparently first in common use some 200 years after St. Vincent died.

Thirty years ago, I noticed Superiors General began drawing attention to the “Vincentian Family.“

About the same time, I remember my first personal encounters with members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. I smiled to myself when they referred to each other as Vincentians. It had never occurred to me that Vincentians were anything other than male celibate priests in the Congregation of the Mission!

It was also a jarring realization when the President of the Ladies of Charity asserted. “Remember we were the first foundation of St. Vincent.”

Then, 25-five years ago I was privileged to be part of a General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission when it publicly declared

“The vitality of the Vincentian charism does not belong exclusively to the Congregation of the Mission… Many persons and groups that are part of the Vincentian Family give expression to this prophetic power today.

What is  Vincentian Family Movement today?

It’s a way of looking at things

  • adopted by Saints Vincent and Louise who saw themselves following Christ the “Evangelizer of the Poor.
  • shared by more than four million people  who bring good news to the forgotten in over 150 countries in the world today.
  • most often embodied in religious institutes… but today includes “unaffiliated Vincentians” who are spontaneously uniting with other professional who seek to use their skills as artists, lawyers, teachers, writers to serve the marginalized. “Flying under the radar! – Vincentian Professionals

It’s all of the above and more!

People in this movement seek to do what Jesus did. If I have washed your feet you will be recognized as my disciples if you wash the feet of the poor and forgotten today.

They recognize the almost unbelievable generosity of God to themselves.  They also realize that they can never pay God back… unless it is by paying it forward in foot-washing imitation of Christ.

A Challenge

How can we recognize, encourage, and support one another in a movement following Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk