Vincent de Paul was not keen about the involvement of the Congregation of the Mission in parishes. His reluctance to accept them, while by no means an absolute refusal, is evident from the earliest days of the Company until the time of his death. In an article “ON VINCENTIAN INVOLVEMENT IN PARISHES” Fr. Robert Maloney, CM offers some reflections on the Congregation and parishes. He proceeds in three steps.

I.The attitude of St. Vincent

II.Some significant changes that have taken place between the 17th and 20th centuries

III.Some reflections on Vincentian involvement in parishes today.

In this final section he offers ten characteristics of Vincentian involvement in parishes.

  1. It is among the really poor.
  2. The diocesan clergy lack the resources to staff it.
  3. Our commitment to a parish is temporally limited (hopefully, by a clear contract).
  4. We have definite missionary goals to be realized within that time frame. Among these is preparation for ongoing pastoral care in the future, particularly for training leaders in various ministries.
  5.  Our commitment to the missionary parish is communal.
  6.  Organized works of practical charity are functioning in the parish in the service of the needy.
  7.  Vincentian lay groups are being formed (Vincentian Marian Youth Groups, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, AIC, the Miraculous Medal Association, etc.).
  8.  Systematic instruction on the social teaching of the Church is offered.
  9.  The “style” of ministry is simple and humble.
  10.  It is an evangelizing parish, with strong emphasis on the word of God.

He concludes… “These reflections on our involvement in parishes flow from an analysis of Vincent’s attitudes and actions and an examination of some significant changes that the Congregation has seen from the 17th century up to today. I hope that the ten characteristics listed above will serve as a help in evaluating, and also perhaps renewing, Vincentian parishes. Undoubtedly, many of the characteristics would be important in any parish, but they are especially so for us. If we are to serve in parishes, then they must be truly “Vincentian” and “missionary.” Otherwise, we should not be there. How do our parishes measure up to these criteria?

Further reflections …

  • To a large degree these criteria seem to be applicable to almost any work undertaken by the Congregation of the Mission.
  • Written in 1997 what might have changed in the last decade?


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