Jorge Luis Rodríguez B., CM Director of the Office of Communication of the Congregation of the Mission presents this report.
On June 28th, 2017, the Vincentian Family participated in one of the most significant events in its recent history. At the invitation of the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Trajani, the International Office of the Vincentian Family reaffirmed the Vincentian charism and mission in the world as it spoke about its experience of service on behalf of those persons who are poor. This event also provided the Vincentian Family Alliance with the opportunity to launch its project on behalf of those persons who are homeless.
The participation of the representatives of the different branches of the Vincentian Family was coordinated by Joseph Agostino, CM, who also served as Master of Ceremonies at this event which was held in the Yehudi Menuhin Hall. The initial welcoming was given by Alojz Peterle (a member of the Parliament) and Tomaž Mavric, (superior general of the Congregation of the Mission). There was also a photographic exhibit which displayed the work of the Vincentian Family throughout the word.
This was a very cordial gathering during which all those who participated were very attentive to the various presentations which outlined the different ways in which the Vincentian charism is being lived as the members of the Family reach out to, accompany and minister on behalf of those men and women who are most poor.
The various testimonies and messages were an expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ as incarnated in the multiple present-day peripheries of the world: providing assistance to drug addicts in Italy, Peru, Colombia and the Ukraine; health programs in the United States; offering a new way of life and hope to the poor in Akamasoa, Madagascar and the many different programs that are presently in place and that are assisting people who are homeless.
Thus, in the place where decisions are made and public policy is formulated for the 28 member countries of the European Union, it was affirmed that the Vincentian charism is alive and active through the 225 branches whose members are at the service of the most vulnerable members of society and who have made this form of service an option for their life. Nevertheless, people who find themselves in different situations of poverty (refugees, people living with AIDS, homeless people, single mothers, etc.) continue to cry out for justice and for expressions of ever-deeper solidarity.
In his presentation, Father Tomaž stated that as we live the charism of the Saint Vincent de Paul, we want to reach out to the poor in every part of the world, to every sister and brother who is in need. Father also called upon everyone to do everything possible to combat the various forms of poverty … thus in accord with the plan of God we can make this work a better place. The superior general affirmed that many of these values are the values, goals, and priorities of the European Union.
Antonio Trajani proposed that we work together in order to recover that values that Saint Vincent instilled in the people of his era. He also highlighted the fact that it is important that the Vincentians help us find ways in which we can reach out to people and make the demands of the poor our own demands. There is a greater lack of love than a lack of money. We have money, but perhaps we lack the necessary love that will enable us to attend to the needs of those persons who are poor.
Father Pedro Opeka, CM, a missionary in Madagascar and a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, stated that the Vincentian Family ought to join together to eradicate those situations of misery that continue to be an embarrassment for the countries with so much wealth and possibility … In light of his own experience, Father Pedro explained: the poor have transformed me and changed me … when I was infirm, they raised me up.
Sister Carol Keehan, DC, President and CEO of Catholic Health Association of the United States reminded us that the experience with the poor changed the heart of Saint Vincent … one form of poverty transformed other forms of poverty.
Mark McGreevy, President of DePaul International affirmed that the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the birth of the Vincentian charism is not only an invitation to remember the past but is also an invitation to reflect on the future, to reflect on how we, like Vincent de Paul, might be instruments of God in the midst of the present-day situation.
There have been many events and activities during this Jubilee Year yet this event which took place at the European Parliament will be remembered for a long time. You can follow this event at Facebook in Live Streaming on the fanpage of the superior general.
Charles T. Plock, CM