The Gift of Vincent’s Charism

by | Jan 26, 2024 | Formation, Reflections

Huge “Mega Millions” and “Powerball” jackpots have not been claimed by winners!

Astoundingly, they range from a ticket sold in Florida in 2013 that was worth $16.5 million, to a $77.1 million prize in 2011, with the winning ticket purchased in Georgia.

And beyond those top prizes, there are lesser amounts that have ended up unclaimed, whether due to loss of a ticket, forgetting to review the winning numbers, or other mishaps.

These facts got me thinking about another valuable, often unrecognized, gift.

Vincent’s gifts to us

“St. Vincent left a wonderful gift within the Church. He has placed it, to a large extent, in your hands and in mine. Pass it on to the young.” (Father Robert Maloney to the Vincentian Family in 1998)

Indeed, Vincent left a wonderful gift to the Church.

We all know and appreciate his passion for the poor. His foundations came out of his passion for the poor.

But Vincent was also a genius in organizing and networking. His passion for the poor expressed itself through an empowering humility that invited others to share their gifts.

He crossed all barriers of class and caste, whether secular or ecclesial. He inspired many to walk in his footsteps.

Naming Vincent’s Charism in Everyday Life

Let me tell you a story, a true story. It is a story connecting the dots of one person’s life with the Vincentian Charism or culture. It is the story of a married woman who was interested in learning more about a group of women who proudly call themselves Sisters of Charity. She was considering becoming a “lay associate.

In conversation with a Sister she respected greatly, she heard the story of Vincent instructing one of the first groups of the long line of women who became known as Daughters of Charity, Sisters of Charity, or some other variation. She heard from this Sister the words of Saint Vincent to his early followers about how they were to have

for monastery only the houses of the sick,

for cell a hired room,

for chapel the parish church,

for cloister the streets of the city…

It was a moment of awakening for her. She burst into quiet tears, tears of recognition. After a few moments, she was able to explain what had happened.

A moment of recognition

In those words of Vincent, she recognized the lives that she and her husband had lived for years serving the marginalized in the southwest of the United States.

And, in that moment, the Sister also learned another level of meaning for those words. She realized immediately that she was not “forming” this woman for becoming an associate. She was merely helping her to recognize or name the charism she and her husband had been living for decades.

Pope Francis has done something similar in naming the “ordinary holiness” of “the saints next door.”

The challenge to inspire people to claim their gift

So many people today are Vincentians at heart.  Just look at the phenomenal growth of professional associations of lawyers, musicians, teachers, etc. They are exploring with others in their field how they can use their specialized skills to assist the poor and the marginalized.

They are part of a growing movement of Vincentians at heart. CARA described them as “unafiliated lay Vincentians”.

I see the Spirit challenging Vincentians in the various branches of the Vincentian Family to identify and support people in naming and recognizing the gift and the tradition they stand in.

Recognizing and naming Vincent’s gift

  • Do we recognize the Vincentian hearts among us?
  • Can we find ways to help them name and claim Vincent’s gift?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk