I’ve Heard That Song Before…

When I was coming of age, the legendary singer Frank Sinatra made this song popular. “I’ve heard that Song Before”.

A few days ago, newly appointed Vocation Director, Fr. Luis Romero, CM, wrote to members of the Eastern Province. He asked for our prayers and support as he begins this new ministry. As I read his letter I thought I’ve heard this song before. I don’t mean that in a bad sense. I speak of the fact that over the last 6 decades of my life as a Vincentian I heard similar thoughts from some 20-25 of his predecessors.

They each used their own words. They basically reminded us that each one of us in the province has the opportunity and responsibility to foster vocations. I also thought about how over the years I did not like the characterization as “director”. I also recall how each of them said this ministry was more than just producing slick pamphlets, brochures, or videos. It was about sharing the vision of Vincent.

A new vocabulary

“A culture of vocations”.

In 1993 Pope John Pail II began using this phrase to touch on the same theme. Recent Superiors General have picked up on the theme. Fr. Thomas Mavric has stressed the need for such a culture in a number of his letters.

“Social media Influencers”

It happens that I was exploring the term as used in social media circles. Influencers are people who have won the trust of their followers and speak about some product that is meaningful in their lives. (The most trusted influencers earn amazing salaries.)

It struck me that that this is the task and desire of every Vocation Director. Earn the trust of people interested in committing themselves to the vision of Vincent – “following Christ the Evangelizer of the poor”

Vocation directors and other leaders ask us to develop a culture of vocations.  I think they are asking us to think of ourselves as influencers who know the Vincentian vision, live that vision, and, without necessarily saying a word, invite others into that vision.

Vincentian ‘influencers”

What do they look like? I go back to the Vincentian who ‘influenced” me, and six others, in my senior class alone to pick up the mantle of Vincent. He was a real “influencer’’. We saw him living out an attractive vision in the way he listened to us “Prepsters” trying to make sense of our lives. We heard Vincent’s song in his life!

He only rarely spoke of the virtues Vincentians seek to live – simplicity, meekness, mortification, humility and zeal. He did say that he heard people say Vincentians were different. Today we might spell out that difference as honesty, approachability, self-discipline, humility, and hardworking. When I learned more about them in my years of formation, I recognized his, and many others, embodiment of these virtues. Their lives made sense to me.

In today’s world, many are looking to change the situations that trap people in poverty and leave them wounded and scarred, physically and spiritually. They are looking for people who show the way by the way they live.

These are Vincentian influencers (Vocation Directors) today! St. Francis got it right… “preach the Good News always… and, if you must, use words.”

Singing Vincent’s Song

  • Can others recognize Vincent’s song in the way I live my life?
  • Whether I am in vows or not, does the Vincentian vision manifest itself in my life.?
  • Whether I am in vows or not, are the 5 “Vincentian values” or virtues what I try to live by?

Click below for an audio version of this reflection.

Vincent’s Song