Fr. Guillermo “Memo” Campuzano, C.M. drew a crowd of 130 Sisters of Charity and Associates, Vincentian Priests, Colorado Vincentian Volunteers (CVVs), CVV Alumni and St. Vincent de Paul Society members to Risen Christ parish in Denver this past November. Calling on the Spirit of the Living God was a beautiful introduction to the two-part keynote address Fr. Memo’s presented. He invited listeners into a process of pairing justice with charity in an effort to work toward systemic change, emphasizing that systemic change begins with how each of us are, not what each of us are. He provided palpable real-life examples, balanced with a great sense of humor.

After each of Fr. Memo’s presentations, participants were encouraged to talk with their table groups which consisted of a variety of generations as well as a variety of exposures to the Vincentian charism. This variety provided for great perspective and conversation. The fruit of these conversations was to be the basis upon which attendees chose breakout sessions for the afternoon:

  • Just Love-‘ Justice is what love looks like in public,’
  • Foundations- Responses need a strong foundation,
  • Conversion of Heart- Only through prayer are we transformed,
  • Consequences- Taking the long view.

Dr. Vie Thorgren, Director of the Center for Spirituality at Work, facilitated the Just Love breakout.  Her approach was to encourage participants to assess their own sources of wealth and power that lead to privilege; some of which were very new ways of seeing our own privilege.

Jamie Van Leeuwen, Senior Policy Advisor for Governor John W. Hickenlooper addressed the political foundation upon which systemic change must be built by way of the local community’s interest and participation.

Sr. Melissa Camardo, SCL, V.P. of Mission at Exempla St. Joseph Hospital invited participants into a way of  looking at the work toward systemic change as needing the balance of a spiritual grounding in order to be meaningful work and thus, work that speaks to one’s heart and the larger community.

Lastly, John Kane, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Regis University, took the long view with participants, from the standpoint of personal change along with systemic change as being a way of life that may not elicit immediate improvements.

The followup discussion centered around how to live this reality without internalizing feelings of frustration, but rather the joy to which we are called.


In closing, the group was asked to gather with the folks they most closely associated with: Sisters of Charity with other Sisters, Associates with Associates, CM’s with CM’s and so forth.

The hope was to invite the many experiences of the day back to the same table to be articulated by group members, while taking a look at each individual organization and how it is accomplishing the goal of systemic change. At the same time, a challenge was issued to consider where each organization was falling short of such a goal with a resolve to work toward improving that.

As a means to ritualize this commitment, each group was asked to collectively write their goals and bring them forward during closing prayer. Overall it was a Spirit-filled day, one which has already seen fruits in each organization. As a Vincentian family we are committed to continue integration—and a new date to gather in 2012.

Just Charity: Colorado’s 2011 Vincentian Family Gathering

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