A true story of the moment when a woman discovered that she and her husband were already Vincentian.
In this Vincentian Mindwalk let’s explore the implications of what she learned.
Here is her story connecting the dots of her life with the Vincentian Charism or culture.
She was considering becoming a “lay associate” of the Sisters of Charity.
In conversation with a Sister of Charity she respected greatly, she heard the story of Vincent instructing one of the first groups of the long line of women who became known as Daughters of Charity, Sisters of Charity or some other variation.
She heard from this Sister the words of Saint Vincent to his early followers about how the sisters were to have for
- monastery only the houses of the sick,
- cell a hired room,
- chapel the parish church,
- cloister the streets of the city…
It was a moment of awakening for her. She burst into quiet tears, tears of recognition. After a few moments, she was able to explain what had happened.
In those words of Vincent, she recognized the Vincentian vision she and her husband already lived serving the marginalized in the southwest of the United States.
What the sister learned
In that moment, the Sister also learned something new.
She realized immediately that she was not “forming” her to become an associate of the Sisters of Charity. She was merely helping her to recognize or name the charism or gift she and her husband had been living for decades.
This sister learned that being a Vincentian was much bigger than being a member of this or that branch of what we call the “Vincentian Family.
Vincent’s vision is alive and well inside and outside any religious institute’s vowed membership. The health of a charism is not in the number of members who profess their vows in the institute. The health of the charism is seen in its vitality wherever it is received, nurtured and made operative.
Many other women and men are connecting these dots today.
The Vitality of the Vincentian vision
Is it an organization, a mindset, a federation of religious organizations?
As I have matured in my own understanding, I see Vincent inviting us to a way of looking at things.
It’s a way of living that has penetrated the hearts of more than four million people who bring good news to the forgotten in over 150 countries today.
It ‘s a way of looking at things most often embodied in religious institutes… but not exclusively.
It is people who commit themselves wherever they are in life. More than four million people bring good news to the forgotten in over 150 countries today.
The movement is sparking fire, especially in groups of lay professionals in various fields. They are discovering one another. When they come together, something happens. They brainstorm with others in their profession. “How can we (lawyers, teachers, social workers, communication specialists, etc.) use the skills of our profession in frontline “field hospitals” or mobilize those who are committed to seeking long-term solutions.”
(See a reflection “Vincentian Professionals – Flying Under the Radar“).
We are people with a mission…to do what Jesus did. It is a way of taking seriously Jesus’ question at the Last Supper. Do you understand what I have done? If I have washed your feet, you will be recognized as my disciples if you wash the feet of the poor and forgotten today.
It might be better to say the Vincentian charism is a movement based on following Jesus as the evangelizer of those on the margins.
Thanks, John, I find it quite uplifiting your reminder that there many “anonymousns” Vincentians.
And I’m trying hard to dwell on this. Sadly, though, it has dawned on me, too, that they are not a few who are “anonymous” antichrists who put conscious and unconscious Christians, Vincentians, out of houses of worship, and even kill them, thinking that by doing so they are offering worship to God.
Please say a prayer that we all love to the end. Thanks.