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Flying under the radar!
When we hear the phrase “flying under the radar’ most think of aircraft, flying undetected. Frequently it involves flying close to the ground where conventional radar is not accurate or even functioning.
I thought of this phrase last evening when I had an eye-opening Zoom session with Fr. Flavio Tercera of the Vincentian Family Office. He shared an unexpected blessing of the pandemic lockdown. He discovered laity in various professions are coming together to use their talents in service to the marginalized. Who knew of this undetected expression of the Vincentian charism?
An unexpected blessing
He was visiting his parents in Central America as the first lockdowns downs occurred. Stranded for the four months he discovered his ministry with the Vincentian Family Office was wider than ever imagined.
Over the last five years, he and the other staff traveled widely in an effort to foster collaboration among the branches of the Vincentian Family. Now he used the time to reconnect with these groups via Zoom. In this process, he accidently discovered many previously unknown groups of professionals dedicated to the service of the poor.
Members of these groups gather among themselves to discuss how they can use their unique skills. Musicians, lawyers, etc. seeking to serve others who are less fortunate. They walk in the way of Vincent from within their professions. I think we could call them Vincentian “professionals”.
Father Flavio bubbled with excitement as he described these groups of dedicated professionals. In the last four months, one conversation led to another. Flying below the radar of better-known branches he learned of vibrant networks of “Vincentian Professionals”.
On the other hand, “professional” Vincentians have only recently begun to think about “unaffiliated” Vincentians. Now we see in each of these groups highly trained professional people caught up in the Vincentian Vision. They are “unaffiliated” followers of Vincent.
Musicians, lawyers, graphic artists, psychologists, translators, alumni of Vincentian institutions and ministries such as our work with Indigenous people. The list goes on. They are discovering professionals like themselves. They desire to serve those in need with their specific skills. In a sense as Vincentian version of “Doctors without Borders” and similar groups.
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His lockdown became the occasion for Fr. Flavio to identify these groups, share contacts and a process of meetings that worked across their various disciplines.
Father Flavio learned to ask the right questions. These questions led to the discovery of more of these groups of Vincentian professionals.
Within these groups, excitement mounted as they began to network with similar groups beyond their national borders. Most meet via Zoom once a month. Fr. Flavio, using the resources of the Vincentian Family Office assists in coordinating these meetings. Through him, they now have access to a deeper understanding of Vincentian values. He points them to formational resources that support their goals.
The “reinvention” of the Confraternities of St. Vincent.
This phenomenon that had been “under the radar”. Yet in many ways, they reincarnate today the Confraternities founded by Vincent. Vincent recognized the value of laypeople, especially women, to help their brothers and sisters. He served as serving as mentor, supporter, facilitator, and organizer for their desire.
In many ways facilitating lay ministry is a forgotten truth about Vincent. Today the Vincentian Family Office considers itself blessed to have uncovered and support this new pool of followers of Vincent.
Later in his life Vincent often asked if anyone dreamed the many of the things that developed over the course of his ministry. He had not. So often his ministry developed by simply doing the next thing presented by God’s Providence.
Are there any professional groups you would like to know about?
Are you a musician, lawyer, graphic design artist, psychologist, translator… anyone with special skills who would like to get in contact with like-minded professional contact Fr. Flavio at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Aa new Vincentian group for those interested in indigenous issues.