Have you ever watched time-lapse photography of the amazing process of a flower blooming or a moth becoming a butterfly? Have you ever watched a slow-motion video of a golf swing or a gymnastic routine? In either case, you can see things that you don’t ordinarily see.
A little over a year ago leaders of 97 branches of the Vincentian Family gathered. They represented over 2 million people bringing “good news” to countless millions in 156 countries. To the surprise of almost everyone present, they began to see a new blooming of the Vincentian Family.
A “daring prudence”
Just thinking about those numbers and listening to “A Daring Prudence,” Fr. Robert Maloney’s overview of the development of the Vincentian Family evoked the metaphors from photography. He traced the main outlines of how the Vincentian Family was collaborative from the very beginning and quickly grew to 170 communities primarily of women. A truly revolutionary phenomenon in the church that flourished for the next 150 years!
Unfortunately, another revolution, the French Revolution, interrupted the further spread of the family. With the French revolution, the fire of the Vincentian charism was almost extinguished.
Fortunately, in the aftermath of this revolution, the Vincentian Family experienced a marvelous rebirth in the 19th century. Our Blessed Mother appeared to St. Catherine Labouré leading the rapid spread of the Miraculous Medal and the foundation of Vincentian Marian Youth. Numerous groups of Sisters of Charity sprang up to meet the needs of the day.
However, the branches of the family lost contact with each other as they tended to their unique ministries.
The last 25 years – A rediscovery of a community of communities
Father Maloney has shared his 1994 transformational experience or “Aha moment” in Mexico. As Superior General, he had had been invited to a meeting of leaders from various branches of the family ministering in Mexico. At its conclusion, he was deeply moved by the visible demonstration of its vibrancy in a Mass in a filled Basilica.
Reflecting on the experience as he left Mexico he asked himself “ Couldn’t it be this way everywhere.”
Fast forward to today and the “reinvention” of the Confraternities of St. Vincent.
Due to travel restrictions Fr. Flavio Pereira of the Vincentian Family Office was stranded in Latin America and unable to return to the Vincentian Family Office in Philadelphia. Undeterred he continued his work networking with members of the Vincentian Family via Zoom.
He accidentally, or better, providentially, discovered many previously unknown groups of professionals dedicated to the service of the poor. They were largely unconnected to established branches of the Vincentian Family. Members of these groups gather among themselves to discuss how they can use their unique skills as 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”.
This phenomenon has as yet has been “under the radar”. (See “Vincentian Professionals – Flying Under the Radar“) In so 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 mentor, supporter, facilitator, and organizer for their desire. They are picking up the mantle of Vincent.
- Have you ever thought of asking professionals you know who have Vincentian hearts whether they know other like-minded people in their professions?
- If you do, perhaps you can plant a seed of encouragement. They might be interested in deepening their commitment and network with other Vincentians.
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk