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One of the familiar quotes of St. Vincent de Paul to his first followers was the hope they would live in the manner of dear friends. Based on what 500 young people in Panama experienced the weekend of January 18-20 as they gathered together, this hope is alive and well!

Young people who serve as Marian Youth, members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, MISEVI, as well as priests and brothers of the Congregation of the Mission and sisters in the Company of the Daughters of Charity, gathered in San Jose de Malambo for several days to discover ¨The Joy of Being Vincentian.” Fifteen nations were represented among the 500 pilgrims who traveled long distances to come together in praise of Jesus Christ, the Evangelizer of the Poor, His Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, under the watchful patronage of our Founders, Saints Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac.

The weekend began with a joyous Mass celebrated by our Superior General of the Vincentian Family, namely, Fr. Tomaz Mavric, CM, the 26th successor to St. Vincent de Paul. Fr. Mavric told the gathered group that, ¨The joy of the Gospel comes from the conviction that, as Vincent de Paul said, we continue the mission of Jesus on earth. We are called to announce through our words and work that we are at the service of the poor, and in fact, at the service of Jesus Himself.¨

The young pilgrims saw and heard from priests, sisters, and a dedicated party of the Vincentian family about the rich, deep spirituality that undergirds the charism of St. Vincent de Paul. There was catechesis on the joy of being Vincentian, and workshops on practical ways to live the Vincentian charism. There were also moments of great community as they gathered for prayer, Eucharist, meals, and to simply enjoy one another’s company.

The young people who were representatives of Honduras, Colombia, Panama, and Mexico were all trying to outdo each other in singing and dancing at the Folklore Fellowship Nights. However, pilgrims from Taiwan, Slovakia, Brazil, and the USA all gave them great competition!

Overall, this weekend was a time of great joy and coming together. Friendships among the young pilgrims blossomed and the priests, sisters, and laity who are leaders were able to renew the bond of charity that the Vincentian charism has awakened in them over the years.  The young pilgrims left this weekend with a better understanding of faith, the Vincentian charism, and the virtues that make it possible: humility, charity, simplicity, zeal, and sacrifice. Nothing can stop them now from living the joy of being Vincentian!

John Maher, CM

Province of Eastern of USA