vinfam350logoIn view of the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the deaths of St. Louise and St. Vincent in 2010, the international leaders of the Vincentian Family named a Projects Committee to develop a specific initiative in favor of the poorest of the poor that would involve all the branches of the Family. They asked that this initiative also be in continuity with the Family’s focus on systemic change.

At the beginning of 2009, the Projects Committee suggested several options to the leaders of the Family.  From among these options, the leaders selected a pilot project in  microfinance based in Haiti. In that context, the Committee is exploring microfinance as an effective response to the global challenge of extreme poverty.  Microfinance, combined with educational programs and social services, has proved to be an effective instrument in transforming the lives of many who are experiencing poverty. The Committee will devise means for promoting maximum Family involvement from both Haiti and abroad and for giving the project a specific Vincentian thrust.  It is anticipated that such a pilot project could serve as a model that might be followed in other places.

The Projects Committee met in Paris in early April, 2009, in order to proceed with concrete planning. At that meeting, it was decided that, as a first step, it is essential to visit Haiti in order to enter into a dialogue with the councils of the various branches of the Family to understand the expectations of the Family, and to learn about the needs of the poorest of Haiti’s poor. The Committee believes that, before formulating a project, it is vital to explore the context of the country, to identify possible partnerships, and to involve the poor in the process.

A small subgroup comprised of Fr. Robert Maloney, C.M., Professor Laura Hartman (DePaul University) and Yasmine Cajuste (JMV) will visit Haiti in August, 2009, in order to gather information and, as a first priority, to meet with members of the Vincentian Family.

Subsequent to that visit, the Committee will propose means by which the worldwide family will be able to participate in this initiative. Further information will be provided as details about the project are concretized.

The Committee is enthusiastic about the opportunities presented by this further commitment to working together as a Family during the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the deaths of St. Vincent and St. Louise.  In our discussions, we focused intentionally on inclusion, subsidiarity and solidarity as our principles for decision-making. We look forward to working with our Vincentian Family members in Haiti to serve the needs of those living under intolerable conditions.

Visit the official 350th website for more details as they become available.

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