Provincials representing over 50 provinces around the world began two week of meetings with a day of retreat.
At the conclusion of his retreat reflections for the Provincials of the Congregation of the Mission Fr. Mendoza offered thoughts on concepts now accepted in the Congregation and asked Provincials leaders to reflect on next steps…
First, the concept of systemic change as an adequate method to provide charitable assistance to the poor. At the present time, there is nothing worse than to approach those in need with methods that were useful yesterday, but today are no longer valid. We therefore have an obligation to emphasize this method and a similar obligation to accept it wholeheartedly. The General Assembly which took place in Paris from June 28, 2010 – July 16, 2010 gave a decisive impulse to systemic change as “the” method to evangelize the poor. We must understand the needs of those who are poor, and must be aware of structures that create situations of poverty and marginalization. We must also remember that the poor are agents of their own liberation.
Second, reconfiguration of the Congregation of the Mission: Here, we are dealing with a profound concept that involves both individual confreres and institutions of the Little Company. Some confreres, it seems, reduce reconfiguration to the union of various provinces without being aware of the superficiality of such a view. Reconfiguration suggests a profound reform of the communities, the individual persons, the works and the institutions, and is always mindful that the purpose of the Congregation consists of following Jesus Christ, evangelizing the poor. The General Assembly of 2010 approved a text which refers to “intra”-provincial and “inter”-provincial reconfiguration.
Third, another congregational sign of the present era is seen in the emphasis that for some years has been given to the Vincentian Family, composed of those who follow Jesus Christ in the same way as Vincent de Paul did. Decisive steps have been taken in this regard. Nevertheless as a Congregation we must become more involved in this activity to make our evangelization of the poor ever more effective. With regard to our participation within the Vincentian Family, there is no room for clericalism or indifference. Indeed, the Congregation must encourage collaboration among the groups and associations inspired by the charism of Vincent de Paul. At stake here is our role as Vincentians in the evangelization of the world.
Fourth, the Regional Conferences of Visitors came into existence for practical reasons. Today we view these conferences as an accomplishment of interprovincial collaboration in various places throughout the world, for example, in the area of initial formation and interprovincial missions. We have only to recall Statute 79:1-3 which was approved by the XLI General Assembly and that includes numerous wise consideration to the Conference of Visitors.
Fifth, initial and on-going formation: in accord with the 2010 General Assembly, we, as Missionaries of the Congregation of the Mission, need to give a new impulse to the process of integral formation in order to evangelize the poor. We need to give a new impulse to the formation of aspirants and the on-going formation of confreres to strengthen our proper identity, guarantee Vincentian fidelity and promote creativity in ministry. Creativity is the concretization of our identity for the mission.
These are some concepts (by no means a comprehensive list) that the Congregation has assumed ownership of in recent years. In the context of this presentation, I would include those elements I have referred to in discussing objective identity. In accord with our creative fidelity for the mission these new rays of light have become part of our renewed and dynamic identity.
At this time of retreat allow me, the Visitor of a small province, to question myself and to ask you, members of the General Curia and Visitors of various provinces, if the new concepts and directives that have been embodied in recent documents: have these ideas been accepted readily and wholeheartedly by the confreres? Let us sincerely ask ourselves if the subjective identity, that is, if the warm acceptance on the part of confreres remains assured in various areas of the Congregation of the Mission.
The acceptance of these new concepts is not an act that is accomplished in one single moment. We need time, and we also need to renew our commitment, and to renew it again and again. Let us reflect on the depth with which the confreres of the provinces have accepted the new institutional signs that are proper to the present era. It is good to engage in this reflection in order to set out once again upon our journey, and what better moment to do this then during this day of retreat.
Whatever our situation, we as Visitors have before us a wonderful task, namely that of serving and encouraging the confreres of our respective provinces; and to do this, we can rely on the intercession of Saint Vincent de Paul.