What is COVID 19 Teaching Me About the Vincentian Thing?

COVID19  Is both similar to and very different from the Vincentian Thing (charism or movement).

Both COVID and the Vincentian Thing

  • have the power to change the world as we know it
  • can infect indiscriminately – rich and poor, male and female, young and old
  • spread by social contact
  • have a history and mutating strains
  • are contagious via close contact
  • can be mitigated by social distancing, etc.
  • often hide quietly in people
  • change the host
  • mutate into different strains and families
  • have a variety of symptoms

Covid is different from the Vincentian Thing

  • Covid is bad news. The Vincentian Thing is Good news, (especially for those on the margins).
  • Covid is focused on self-perpetuation and reproduction. The Vincentian Thing is gospel-driven and focuses on others.
  • Covid is self-serving, The Vincentian Thing is the imitation of Christ who came to serve, not to be served.

Vincent’s way of spreading the virus of Good news

St. Vincent was “patient zero”.

  • In his mid-thirties he was infected by the Good News of Jesus Christ he encountered in the pages of Scripture.
  • He spent the rest of his life committed to spreading this Good News by word of mouth and action.
  • He instinctively knew that all people were called to be and spread the Good News
  • He was amazed at the end of his at the power of the Good News was.

The Vincentian Thing he set in motion…

  • Had the power to change not only his life but the face of his France
  • Has lasted over 400 years
  • Has mutated to some 200 strains or branches today
  • Has infected some 4 million people in over 150 countries

Vincent’s way of creatiand spreadng this movement

  • He lived a life characterized by 5 attractive values or virtues.
  • He had close contact with those who were poor.
  • He identified key clusters of those interested in living the Good News.
  • Among these clusters were “influencers” drawn from the Clergy and the previously unrecognized resources of laypeople and especially women.
  • He inspired them to embrace the mission of Jesus Christ, Evangelizer of thePoor.
  • Using his gifts for organizing, he developed key support structures for an initial 3 clusters – Confraternities of Charity, Congregation of the Mission, and the Tuesday Conference (which were much more gathering on Tuesday evenings but an expression of a commitment to a way of life..)

How Mindwalk fits in

Mindwalk is a website where Vincentians can explore together their experiences, insights and questions .. a kind of kitchen table.

At one level it is like any other website that focuses on the Vincentian Thing. All in various ways offer

  • Information
  • Formation
  • Collaboration in projects

Each of these three goals obviously overlap, as they will on Mindwalk.

At another level, Mindwalk hopes to be quite different. Rather than function as a newspaper, resource library,  or workroom, Mindwalk seeks to function more as a kitchen table around which those committed to following Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor can have conversations that foster personal and collective explorations of the news of the family, the resources available to those who wish to delve deeper or collaborate in a task or project.

Mindwalk is a vehicle for contact, inspiration, mutual support. In short, a place of mutual encounter where people share their experience, learn from one another, and inspired in their following of Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor.

Next steps

If this makes sense and meets a desire for encounter with other members of the Vincentian Family, then consider not just “liking” as is a frequent request on Facebook. Let’s encounter one another. At various points in our personal and collective journeys, we can be observers or auditors, while at other points we can be contributors who share our experience, insights, and especially our questions.

We also have a Facebook page, not surprisingly called Vincentian Mindwalk, for those who prefer its style of give and take. On Mindwalk the website, only subscribers can comment. Of course, comments will be screened for relevance to the topic and respectfulness of different approaches.

PS If you are wondering about why I refer to the Vincentian thing rather the charism, it is simply to speak plainly. Perhaps I am revealing the fact that much earlier in my life I had never heard the word charism, even in seminary formation. Yet I knew I to be part of this Vincentian Thing I experienced at St. John’s Prep..