Four Eastern Province people made it to the front row of the class picture – 1 Superior General, 1 provincial, 1 translator and 1 communication person (can you spot two others in upper rows?) See end of post for full size picture.
It was interesting to note how many of these Vincentian world leaders had benefitted from generous scholarships to pursue degrees or simply learn English as a Second language. They had two 6 day weeks beginning with prayer at 7 AM and a day off Sunday, July 11 for a tour of Manhattan and a cruise around Manhattan Harbor which provided a much need break.
From a post on the St. John’s University website….
The global leaders of the Vincentian family converged at St. John’s University from July 1 to 13 for an intense, two-week gathering focused on the direction and future of the Congregation of the Mission.
One of the reasons St. John’s was chosen for the Visitors Meeting was to showcase the many ways the University is embodying the Vincentian Mission, both locally and globally, said Rev. Gregory Gay, C.M., Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission.
“I wanted to bring home the fact that our Universities—St. John’s in particular—are doing great work in terms of service to the poor,” Fr. Gay stressed. “There are any number of programs that are really connected to our charism of evangelizing and helping those in need.”
Visitors from more than 50 Vincentian provinces around the world came together to discuss, pray and reflect upon critical issues facing the Congregation, such as its relationship with the laity and challenges to carrying out its mission in today’s world. A number of presentations included opportunities for questions and reflection.
The meeting was scheduled at the halfway point between the Congregation’s general assemblies, which take place every six years. “There we discuss themes involved in the present and future of the Congregation,” Fr. Gay observed. “This serves as a kind of progress report in terms of our direction as a body.”
Rev. Michael Carroll, C.M., Provincial of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission and former Executive Vice President for Mission and Branch Campuses at St. John’s, was pleased the University was chosen as the venue for the meeting. He noted that many of the confreres who attended pursued language studies at St. John’s themselves and have sent their priests to the University for their education.
“I think the University can be very proud of the Vincentian spirit that’s alive at St. John’s,” Fr. Carroll said. “Showcasing the work of the Vincentians and our colleagues on this campus who serve the Church in the spirit of St. Vincent represents a moment of great pride.”
“Anything that helps keep us focused on who we are as Vincentians has value, and that’s what this meeting seeks to do,” he added. “We’re focusing on what it means to serve the Church as a Vincentian. We’re called to be missionaries—we’re people who are always moving on from where we are to do other things and serve new people.”
Fr. Gay noted that in the midst of the two-week meeting the Visitors spent one day touring New York City, concluding with a visit to Ground Zero. “That was powerful,” he observed. “The message there was of the country coming together to support one another and receiving support from other countries. It was a good sign of the solidarity that exists between human beings in moments of crisis and tragedy, and parallels what we hope to accomplish here.”
Reflection, Preparation, Collaboration
Rev. Elie DelPlace, C.M., Provincial of the Congregation of the Mission in Paris, observed, “The meeting has allowed us to open our minds to other realities. It’s a place where we can develop new projects and new initiatives. We can enrich each other and go forward.” He added that Vincentian universities like St. John’s are called to take a leadership role in the formation of new Vincentians.
“I’ve been presented with pages of material outlining what the student body of St. John’s has done in terms of the Vincentian charism, and it makes me feel good,” Fr. Gay added. “This is what we’re supposed to be doing—passing it on. It’s not just about what the priests and the sisters do. It’s about what we all do together.”
“The meeting is an opportunity to plan for the future,” said Rev. Nicola Albanesi, C.M., Provincial of the Congregation of the Mission in Rome. “It expands our global view of what’s occurring in our community. It opens our minds and puts our problems in perspective. Here we develop concrete solutions.”
Fr. DelPlace and Fr. Albanesi were instrumental in the creation of the Paris and Rome campuses respectively, and spoke highly of their successful collaboration with Fr. Carroll and St. John’s. Fr. DelPlace observed, “We responded to a need that St. John’s had and they did the same for us. It was providence that we built something together.”
Visit the Congregation of the Mission online for more information about the Visitors’ Meeting.
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