We Have More Troubles Than Ever – What Must Be Done?

by | Nov 2, 2023 | News, Vincentian Family at the U.N. | 1 comment

“We have more troubles here than ever.”

These words could easily be said today, couldn’t it? But these words were not spoken on the news this morning, rather it was written in a letter by St. Vincent de Paul in 1652 to one of his priests. St Vincent was 72 years old. [1]

The context: Paris was in a civil war. Poverty was relentless, and many “country folk” as Vincent called them, sought refuge.

What did Vincent do?

Vincent did, as he always did and as generations of Vincentians have from generation to generation, answering that Vincentian question, “What must be done?”

Vincent responded by running massive relief programs in collaboration with other kind-hearted people who felt the tug on their heart to do something.

In a separate letter, referencing the various spiritual and charity projects that provided care for thousands in need. Vincent writes, “this is how God chooses to have us participate in so many holy projects.”

At the United Nations, the Vincentian family is well represented to respond to on the global stage, where we too can say, we have more troubles than ever.”[2]

The rising tensions, violence, and trauma in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine and armed conflict in over 110 countries, rising numbers of homelessness and migrants, our planet’s temperature on the rise, and the continued increase in the injustices facing women and girls, among other marginalized groups- this list could easily go on and on.

We too must ask, “What must be done?”

I recently asked this question as I witnessed, only a few blocks from the United Nations, a rise in women and children calling the streets of New York home. After nearly two decades of forming college students in how to serve those underserved in our own backyard, very rarely did I see women, and certainly not children, when we brought food and clothes in the late hours of night to the cold and dark corners of Manhattan.

Most justice issues intersect, and while the topic of homelessness is having its moment at the United Nations, where our calls for a housing first approach, better data collection, and recognition of the complexities and forms of homelessness, this does not help the person and the family who will soon experience a harsh winter, who lacks water and shelter, and who fears for their safety. The pace of a global and political system doesn’t match the urgency of those who are facing persecution, marginalization, and the consistent lack of human rights.

I find hope, not only in our Vincentian family, but the power of the charisms. At the United Nations, the Vincentian Family is joined by over 50 Catholic religious congregations, and many more religious and non-religious members representing civil society. These communities, like us, have teams on the ground offering grassroot ministries to respond with charity and advocacy. There truly is power in our numbers. We must hold on to hope where we can find it.

Like it was for Vincent centuries ago when he too was overwhelmed by the troubles around him, he turned to prayer and then into action. Then, prayer again, to continue to inform and guide their care for and with neighbors in need.

This is another moment for our charism, around the tables of the United Nation, and on the corners of our community streets and roads. May God continue to bless and strengthen us in these “holy projects.”

[1] https://vfhomelessalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/St.-Vincent-and-the-Homeless_ENG.pdf

[2] https://vfhomelessalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/St.-Vincent-and-the-Homeless_ENG.pdf

1 Comment

  1. Ross

    Thank you so much for your uplifting message and challenging call to prayer and action at a time when “we have more troubles than ever.”