Justice’s Role to Prevent the Attack

by | May 23, 2024 | Formation, Vincentian Family at the U.N. | 0 comments

Blessed Frederic Ozanam wrote, “Charity is the Samaritan who pours oil on the wounds of the traveler who has been attacked. It is justice’s role to prevent the attack.”[i]

My responsibilities at the United Nations representing the Sisters of Charity Federation started in January 2023, and in this short time, I have learned that so much of our advocacy work as representatives of the Vincentian Family and our unique organizations, is to do exactly what Ozanam advises.

I spent my first year learning the UN culture, structure, and how we, as NGO’s, can work together to influence political leaders to care and to act. So much of what we do is found in creating space for those with lived experiences of injustice to share their stories.

In my first twelve months, I often sat in awe of the leadership of so many good and skilled people of faith, advocating tirelessly for those wounded travelers that Frederic speaks of in the above quote, as well as the courage and determination of those with lived-experiences of injustice who shared their heartbreaking realities.

At the same time, I was often shocked and saddened by the magnitude of injustice. The complexity of issues that intersect can make even the greatest of optimists’ question where to even start. The data is just overwhelming.

The word hope is used often among us religious NGOs. We find some comfort and a way forward in the examples of success that past and present NGOs and their committees found in advocacy and systemic change. The role of the Vincentian family in its influence on the UN integrating the term “homelessness” in its language is one such example.

Quite often, I find comfort and hope in our Vincentian community. The experience, faith, and commitment inspire not just hope, but practical actions that is preventing future injustices, while knowing so many other members of our Vincentian family are responding with charity and love to those wounded in their midst.

The work at the UN is slow and it involves patience rooted in relationship building. Like Sts. Vincent and Louise, and countless Vincentians through the generations, it is our collaboration, rooted in faith and charity, that urges us forward to serve both the wounded traveler and to prevent future wounds from being caused.

[i] https://stalbanmacc.org.uk/st-vincent-de-paul-society/ozanam-sayings/#:~:text=Ozanam’s%20Words%20of%20Wisdom.&text=“Let%20us%20do%20without%20hesitation,role%20to%20prevent%20the%20attack.”


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