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Relationships that surprised us

I suspect we have all known relationships that should not have worked out but did. We have also known of relationships that looked so promising at the start but eventually fell apart.

Those familiar with the younger lives of St. Vincent and St. Louise would have been surprised by their journey. Vincent and Louise would have been considered a good bet to be a relationship that would not work out.

Yet we know, from knowing the last chapters of their lives they were both transforming and transformed. Together they did things that transformed the face of France. (Louise get little credit for reasons that would take us too far afield.)

What we forget is how they were transformed in their journey from opposites to equals

Why their relationship should not have worked

Vincent and Louise came from very different backgrounds.

Vincent was a country boy, a farm boy, who was loved and wanted by his family.

Louise was a city girl, illegitimate, lonely, isolated, not wanted and separated from her family.

Their personalities were very different.

Vincent was outgoing, flexible, confident, affectionate, adventurous, practical, realistic, cautious, prudent, patient, pragmatic, observant, charming, organized, visionary, moody and wise.

Louise was introverted, anxious, scrupulous, sensitive, reserved, creative, melancholic, impulsive, tenacious, impatient, serious, reflective, pensive, organized, assertive, strong willed and a worrier.

Their ways of operating were very different.

Vincent was action orientated and practical, a collaborative, organized, confident and outgoing man. He was also flexible, adaptable, reflective, prudent, objective, patient, steady and a great networker.

Louise was resolute but had the gift of gentle persuasion. Like Vincent she was collaborative and organized, but was also introspective, and a great planner who paid incredible attention to detail. She was complex, sensitive and impulsive. So it is not surprising that they experienced some disagreements, tensions and conflicts which challenged their relationship.

Yet, their 35-year journey together transformed, not only themselves but over 400 years ago transformed France, the Church and Religious life.

The relationship between St. Vincent and St. Louise worked because they discovered two things! Not only were they transformed as they grew in understanding of what they discovered was the common vision.

Why it did work?

The relationship between St. Vincent and St. Louise worked because they discovered two things! Not only were they transformed as they grew in understanding of what they discovered was the common vision.

They also came not only to respect their differences but also to use them creatively in the fulfillment of their common vision.

The details of their journey of becoming equals is a chapter in their lives that people are just now appreciating and seeking to learn more about.

Daughter of Charity Maggie Reynolds of Australia used her “sabbatical year” to explore that journey and share what she learned. (For more see an earlier post Collaboration between two exceptional people Vincent and Louise)

Lessons for us

  • We see their dedication to the same goal, the service of Christ in the poor that attracted them to one another, as both gave their lives to following the promptings of God. They learned from each other. They became true collaborators and equals.
  • Vincent and Louise are proof that whatever our background, whatever our personality, whatever our life experiences, whatever trials we have, and whatever conflicts and tensions we experience, these are not impediments to doing good and achieving goals. Vincent and Louise stand out for us as models of true collaborators in ministry, indeed for those in every walk of life.
  • Just as Vincent and Louise learned to collaborate as equals, so too Vincentian Family branches can learn the deeper meaning of the AIC/LCUSA motto “Together against all forms of poverty” … and change the face of our world.

Challenges for us personally and corporately

  • When and how have I collaborated with someone to get something important done?
  • Do people think of me as a collaborative person?
  • What have I learned about myself from my efforts to collaborate with someone, especially a person in need?
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