Vincentian Family Reaffirms Its Charism At the European Parliament

The Vincentian Family Reaffirms Its Charism At the European Parliament

Jorge Luis Rodríguez B., CM Director of the Office of Communication of the Congregation of the Mission presents this report.

On June 28th, 2017, the Vincentian Family participated in one of the most significant events in its recent history. At the invitation of the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Trajani, the International Office of the Vincentian Family reaffirmed the Vincentian charism and mission in the world as it spoke about its experience of service on behalf of those persons who are poor. This event also provided the Vincentian Family Alliance with the opportunity to launch its project on behalf of those persons who are homeless.

The participation of the representatives of the different branches of the Vincentian Family was coordinated by Joseph Agostino, CM, who also served as Master of Ceremonies at this event which was held in the Yehudi Menuhin Hall. The initial welcoming was given by Alojz Peterle (a member of the Parliament) and Tomaž Mavric, (superior general of the Congregation of the Mission). There was also a photographic exhibit which displayed the work of the Vincentian Family throughout the word.

This was a very cordial gathering during which all those who participated were very attentive to the various presentations which outlined the different ways in which the Vincentian charism is being lived as the members of the Family reach out to, accompany and minister on behalf of those men and women who are most poor.

The various testimonies and messages were an expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ as incarnated in the multiple present-day peripheries of the world: providing assistance to drug addicts in Italy, Peru, Colombia and the Ukraine; health programs in the United States; offering a new way of life and hope to the poor in Akamasoa, Madagascar and the many different programs that are presently in place and that are assisting people who are homeless.

Thus, in the place where decisions are made and public policy is formulated for the 28 member countries of the European Union, it was affirmed that the Vincentian charism is alive and active through the 225 branches whose members are at the service of the most vulnerable members of society and who have made this form of service an option for their life. Nevertheless, people who find themselves in different situations of poverty (refugees, people living with AIDS, homeless people, single mothers, etc.) continue to cry out for justice and for expressions of ever-deeper solidarity.

In his presentation, Father Tomaž stated that as we live the charism of the Saint Vincent de Paul, we want to reach out to the poor in every part of the world, to every sister and brother who is in need. Father also called upon everyone to do everything possible to combat the various forms of poverty … thus in accord with the plan of God we can make this work a better place. The superior general affirmed that many of these values are the values, goals, and priorities of the European Union.

Antonio Trajani proposed that we work together in order to recover that values that Saint Vincent instilled in the people of his era. He also highlighted the fact that it is important that the Vincentians help us find ways in which we can reach out to people and make the demands of the poor our own demands. There is a greater lack of love than a lack of money. We have money, but perhaps we lack the necessary love that will enable us to attend to the needs of those persons who are poor.

Father Pedro Opeka, CM, a missionary in Madagascar and a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, stated that the Vincentian Family ought to join together to eradicate those situations of misery that continue to be an embarrassment for the countries with so much wealth and possibility … In light of his own experience, Father Pedro explained: the poor have transformed me and changed me … when I was infirm, they raised me up.

Sister Carol Keehan, DC, President and CEO of Catholic Health Association of the United States reminded us that the experience with the poor changed the heart of Saint Vincent … one form of poverty transformed other forms of poverty.

Mark McGreevy, President of DePaul International affirmed that the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the birth of the Vincentian charism is not only an invitation to remember the past but is also an invitation to reflect on the future, to reflect on how we, like Vincent de Paul, might be instruments of God in the midst of the present-day situation.

There have been many events and activities during this Jubilee Year yet this event which took place at the European Parliament will be remembered for a long time. You can follow this event at Facebook in Live Streaming on the fanpage of the superior general.

Charles T. Plock, CM
Philadelphia Province

A Nonreligious Mom brought tears to my eyes!

This morning FamVin posted  “What my Nonreligious Mom Taught Me About the Vincentian Mission #IamVincent” It is a longer piece than usual…  but it literally brought tears to my eyes.

Some excerpts to get a feel of this moving reflection…

When I was a young child, “religion” and “church” were foreign concepts to me. My family didn’t have a home parish nor a religious sect.


…Finally, during 4th grade, I asked my mom why my siblings and I hadn’t been raised with a certain religion. “Because your dad and I think that’s something you should get to choose for yourself,” she said.


A couple of weeks after my mom’s death, I found out that I was selected for the Vincentian Heritage Tour and would be embarking on a journey across the world. I had applied for the trip a couple of weeks before her death, and later realized that I had never even told her about the opportunity. Little did I know that this experience would be foundational in my journey to understanding the important lessons given to me by my mom. And little did she know that she had already instilled in me some of the most important values the Vincentian Mission has to offer.


…If the class about the Vincentian Mission inspired me, the Vincentian Heritage Tour to Paris blew me away.


Learning about something as inspiring as the Vincentian Mission in a college classroom in Chicago was a great experience, but traveling across the globe to the place where the Vincentian Mission was born and bred took that experience to a whole new level. The full immersion into the Mission within a culture I had never been exposed to was an experience I can’t begin to put into words.


…It wasn’t until our final class session on our last day in Paris that the connection between the loss of my mother and this Vincentian journey became evident. During this session, each person on the trip had the opportunity to openly reflect on their experience. Karl Nass, a staff member at DePaul who came along for the trip, repeated an idea given to us by Fr. Ed Udovic, our class instructor and Vincentian guide through Paris: “Mortal remains are connected to immortal memory.”


My hand flew to the pendant of the necklace I had worn every day on the trip without even thinking about it. This necklace quite literally contains the mortal remains of my mom in the form of her ashes (my sister and I think it’s just morbid enough that she would find this funny — she was certainly known for her sense of humor). I had habitually put the necklace on every morning in Paris, even though I had only worn it a handful of times before the trip. Memories of my mom came flooding back.


Very suddenly, a realization hit me: my mom, who had no idea what Vincentianism meant, had taught me everything I needed to know about living the Vincentian legacy in my own life.

Continue as DePaul University student Megan Scoville unpacks her story.




FIrst report – video of Superior General addressing European Parliament

Superior General addressed European Parliament in response to their recognition of the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian Charism.

Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, hosted a Ceremony on the occasion of the Celebration of 400 years of the Vincentian Family at the service to the poor around the world on Wednesday, 28 June 2017 at 11 a.m., in the Yehudi Menuhin room, 1st floor of the Paul-Henri Spaak building, European Parliament, rue Wiertz 60, 1047 Brussels.

The Ceremony will be introduced by a photo exhibition of the work and projects of the Vincentian Family around the world from 10 a.m.


SVDP calls for action on health care

The President of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in the USA makes the following appeal…

Protect Health Care for Poor and Vulnerable People! Take Action!

My Dear Vincentians,

At the earliest possible moment, I urge you to either e-mail or call your US Senator to urge him or her to not support the just released Senate legislation which would decimate health care coverage for the poor and vulnerable – the very individuals, families and children we care so deeply about and minister to daily.

Time is of the essence.   The vote on this piece of legislation is likely to occur this coming Thursday, and minds are being made up right now.  By Wednesday, it will probably be too late, for if the bill is brought to the floor of the Senate it is likely there will be sufficient votes to pass it and the ostensible debate on the floor will be purely symbolic.

The Society has consistently maintained that the expanded health care coverage that the poor and vulnerable currently have not be rolled back.  We understand that there are parts of the Affordable Care Act that warrant revision and improvement.  Indeed, we join in the call for such changes.   But neither the previously passed House version or this new version, re-branded as the “Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017,” do that.  The BCRA does not even come close to adhering to the“Ten Commandments of Health Care Coverage” which the Society and many other faith-based organizations have developed to guide and measure proposed Federal legislation.

In short, here are key reasons why the legislation does not measure up, though there are many, more, too:

Around 25 million individuals are projected to lose coverage in the next 10 years.The Medicaid Expansion program, now in full operation in 31 states, would be phased out.  This program addresses the critical health needs of the poor and vulnerable we serve in countless ways every day across the country.  By legal definition, Medicaid Expansion covers those with incomes of 138% or less of the Federal Poverty Level, or, in other words, for a family of four an income of $33,534 or less.The proposed legislation effectively rescinds the substantial advances we have made as a country in extending basic health care coverage to all, regardless of economic status.  Such vital coverage has long been understood as a fundamental human and moral right in our Catholic Social Teaching tradition.This is hardly the preferential option for the poor that we Vincentians take so seriously and live out so meaningfully in our ministry.

It is also worth noting that the  Senate legislation, as you undoubtedly know from following the news, is being rushed through without any Senate committee hearings and no opportunity for meaningful public input.  It was developed in secret, the details have only been released in the last few days, and independent parties, such as the Congressional Budget Office, have only days to evaluate it and make their findings known.  This is an exceptionally poor way to make policy on any public matter, let alone one with such consequences as this.

By clicking on the link below, you will be taken to a template e-mail message to electronically send to your Senator.  You are encouraged to amend it and put it in your own words and add your personal story.   Alternatively, at the end of my message to you is a phone number for you to use if you wish to call your Senator, along with a suggested message you can leave.  Whichever method for communicating that you choose, do not delay.
Thank you for your prayerful and thoughtful consideration of this request to respond to the cry of the poor for health care coverage.   Our inspiration is drawn from the story of the Good Samaritan, who, as you all recall, not only delivered the badly injured man to the inn but also gave the innkeeper instructions to care for him and money to cover the costs.  We are today’s Samaritans and innkeepers.
Yours in the social justice spirit of Frédéric Ozanam,

Sheila Gilbert PresidentNational Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul

*When you call, here is what you might say:

*When you call, here is what you might say:

“Hi, my name is [NAME] and I am a constituent from [CITY/TOWN]. As a person of faith, I am calling to oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act. I oppose any efforts to cut or cap Medicaid, and no one should lose coverage as a result of any healthcare replacement. Please protect the human dignity of the millions of Americans who would lose coverage and oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act.”*
*Also add your personal story!

Also add your personal story!

Be sure to leave your complete name and address, to ensure your opinion is recorded.

Then, when you are done, forward this email to all your friends so they can make their calls as well. If you know anyone in Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, or West Virginia, forward this email to them — it is ESPECIALLY important that they make their calls!

Take Action Now!

Vincent never dreamed that…

Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament,  will host a ceremony honoring the service to the poor of the world by the Vincentian Family, on Wednesday, 28 June 2017 at 11 a.m., in the Yehudi Menuhin room, 1st floor of the Paul-Henri Spaak building, European Parliament, rue Wiertz 60, 1047 Brussels.

The ceremony commemorates the 400th anniversary of this spiritual family.

The ceremony will include:

  • A welcome by Mr. Alojz Peterle, MEP and Rev. Tomaz Mavric, C.M., Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission and international spokesman for the Vincentian Family;
  • an exhibition of photos of the international works of the Vincentian Family;
interventions by

A reception hosted by Mr. Tajani will conclude the event.

And keep in mind this invitation from our Superior General….

Dear Members of the Vincentian Family,

May the grace and peace of Jesus be always with us!

It is with great joy that I invite you to come to Rome on the weekend of 12 – 15 October 2017 for a Vincentian Family Symposium.  Our Jubilee theme “Welcome the Stranger” is the focus of this event.  The Symposium goes from Thursday (for registration only) through Sunday, 1:00 PM.  Details for the Symposium are found on the Schedule.

I believe it is a gift from God to us to be able to celebrate this event together with Pope Francis, who will join us on Saturday, October 14.  We are also privileged to have the reliquary with the Heart of St. Vincent, which has begun its journey throughout the world, with us in Rome for this weekend. It is a great blessing for the entire Vincentian Family and a beautiful opportunity for us to be renewed in our missionary zeal.  We will also be celebrating a prayer vigil in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, as well as the closing Mass on Sunday at St. Peter’s Basilica.

What the founder of Amazon and Vincentians have in common

Image courtesy of Chicago Tribune

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who is nudging Bill Gates for the title of richest person in the world, recently tweeted that he was seeking to help people “at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact,” adding, “If you have any ideas, just reply to this tweet…”

I am struck by the phrase “the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.” What a simple way of expressing where members of the Vincentian Family try to live. We have long had a history of addressing urgent needs. Recently we have been recovering a forgotten insight about the gift Vincent and Louise excelled in – collaboration which led to many unrecognized forms of systemic change. (Contributions of the Charism)

Heroic pioneers in systemic change such as Wolfgang Pucher and Pedro Opeka, among many others, come immediately to mind. They have lived at the intersection for decades. They have excelled at working at this intersection and have been recognized with international awards.

With the announcement, next week at a meeting of the European Union of the “Vincentian Family Homeless Global Initiative on Homelessness” the Vincentian Family as a whole seems about to grow into something of a movement.

This initiative to address homelessness in all its forms and root causes has grown out of the confluence of three strands:

  • The growing awareness among members of our Vincentian Family of our common heritage of practical concern for the marginalized
  • The recovery of the concept of collaboration as exhibited 400 years ago among the members of the Confraternities of Charity (AIC), the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity
  • The recognition of the necessity of changing systems which keep people on the margins and the potential of collaboration for collective impact.

The initiative stands in the face of counter influences of trends toward isolation, building to walls that attempt to look away from the misery of our brothers and sisters.

So it is exciting to read that our celebration of the 400th anniversary of our charism is moving toward an ambitious but achievable set of goals focused on homelessness in all its forms:

(1) People without accommodation; e.g. street sleepers

(2) People living in temporary accommodation; e.g. refugee camps or internally displaced people

(3) People living in inadequate/insecure accommodation; e.g. slums and favelas, bed and breakfast, hostels.

The Institute of Global Homelessness, as a Vincentian Partnership between DePaul University and Depaul International, recently worked with experts from the worlds of academia, service delivery, policy and advocacy to create the first-ever global definition of homelessness which has been acknowledged by the UN.

This thematic flows naturally out of the 2017 agreed goal of the Vincentian Family to collaborate around the idea of “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” It is envisaged that this 3-year pilot would extend into a commitment up until 2030 in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in which the European Union is playing a leading role.

The attached project plan covers seven areas:

  • Using Measurement and Data
  • Planning Together
  • Building Global Capacity
  • Institute of Global Homelessness
  • Encouraging Structural Change
  • Communicating Progress
  • Formation.

To facilitate the sharing of this information rapidly, .famvin is happy to make the letter and the accompanying documents available for download. Click on the following links to download the documents.

Not everyone will have the time or inclination to read the documents but it is important to know that at the least they describe truly significant and comprehensive planning for those who live “at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.”

Hopefully, someone will respond to Jeff Bezos and draw his attention to our initiative.

Corpus Christi – Reflections in a Vincentian Context

Corpus Christi – Former Superior General Robert Maloney offers reflections on the Eucharist Today –  Reflections in a Vincentian Context.( Article first appeared on FamVin)
He echoes St. John Chrysostom who focuses on the relationship between the Eucharist and the poor with challenging words:

Do you wish to honor Christ’s body? Then do not look down upon him when you notice him naked among the poor; nor should you honor him here, in the temple, with fancy offerings, if when you leave you abandon him to his coldness and nakedness. Because the same One who said, “This is my body,” and with his word made manifest everything that he said, also affirmed: “I was hungry, and you did not feed me,” and later, “whatever you failed to do for one of these little ones, you failed to do for me.”

“Vincent saw the Eucharist as the source of effective evangelization. In other words, the Eucharist, in his mind, is connected with life and mission. It is the fountain of the missionary energy and of the missionary virtues that his followers are to bring to the service of the poor.
In this era when the Church focuses in a renewed way on its preferential option for the poor, the Eucharist should renew our bonds with the poor of our own community as well as with those in distant lands. Paul, having been sent out on mission by the Council of Jerusalem to preach to the Gentiles, states: “The only stipulation was that we should be mindful of the poor — the one thing that I was making every effort to do.”
Some Reflections, in a Vincentian Context, on the Eucharist Today

These reflections were precede by sections devoted to

  • The Eucharist in the life and writings of St. Vincent
  • Some horizon shifts between the 17th and 20th centuries

“The Eucharist in the Vincentian Tradition – Love is Creative unto Infinity” .

Fr. Bicsko improves greatly!

Thank you for your prayers for Steve Bicsko.

Fr. Pat Flanagan writes..

I am very pleased to let you know that Steve has made remarkable advances in his healing.  Although the doctors indicate that his recovery period will be for approximately six (6) to eight (8) weeks, Steve already has shown incredible progress.  Steve has been moved from Surgical Intensive Care to 804 Tower in Long Island Jewish, a private room. This afternoon when I was with him it was as if, despite the surgical incisions that can prove painful at times, Steve was back to his old self – chatting away.  Here’s to continued progress!

Beatification of 60 Vincentian Family martyrs

On November 11th, 2017 sixty (60) witnesses of the faith, men and women who shed their blood and who are members of our large Vincentian Family, will be beatified in Madrid.

To the Members of the Vincentian Family

That is what a Christian is made of, and that is the courage we must have in order to suffer and die, when necessary, for Jesus Christ (words of Vincent de Paul when speaking about the death of Pedro Bourgñy (CCD:XI:290).

My dear brothers and sisters, we have just received a letter from the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Carlos Osoro Sierra, in which he communicates great news to the Vincentian Family in Spain and throughout the rest of the world: on November 11th, 2017 sixty (60) witnesses of the faith, men and women who shed their blood and who are members of our large Vincentian Family, will be beatified in Madrid.

  • 40 are members of the Congrega1on of the Mission (24 priests and 16 brothers)
  • 5 are diocesan priests (the diocese of Murcia) who served as spiritual advisors to the various lay Associa1ons of the Vincen1an Family
  • 2 are Daughters of Charity
  • 7 are members of the Children of Mary (today known as the Vincen1an Marian Youth)
  • 6 are members of the Miraculous Medal Associa1on.

All of these individuals were martyred during the religious persecution which took place during the time of Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Happily, the event of the beatification takes places during the 400th anniversary of the origin of the Vincentian charism.

We all know that Vincent de Paul, as a result of his experience in Folleville and Châtillon, discovered the need for mission and charity. Those are the most significant elements that will lead the Vincentian Family to its fullness and holiness. It is in that same missionary context and with that same option for the most vulnerable members of society, that we must place the courageous witness of these new martyrs. With calmness they professed their faith in Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord and with courage they defended the values that are proclaimed in the gospel.

The made the heroic act of forgiving their executioners, thus imitating Jesus himself. Our Founder once proclaimed: there is no greater love than martyrdom.

The martyrdom of these sixty Vincentians, is a gift, a grace and an example that encourages us to fidelity: Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12).

In a world characterized by caprice, short-term plans and the search for well-being at whatever cost, these new martyrs become points of reference who speak to us about the beauty of a life given to God and about disinterested service on behalf of others. It is clear that the witness of the martyrs is not some form of improvisation but rather, is the result of a life oriented towards the Gospel or, to say this in another way, martyrdom is the fruit of permanent fidelity, the heroic act of mature individuals and of convinced and principled Christians.

It is most probable that none of us will have to face a bloody martyrdom. Persecutions today are carried out in a “more civilized” manner. Nevertheless, we are all called to cultivate and strengthen and value the gift of fidelity, which is the basis of all martyrdom. Indeed, fidelity, understood in a dynamic way, will always give new life to our vocation as evangelizers and servants of the poor.

The beatification of the new martyrs on November 11th and this Vincentian Jubilee Year can stimulate us to grow in “creative fidelity”. May we live our vocation in a creative way in the midst of this world of unbelief, in the midst of this world in which so many of our brothers and sisters experience misery as an everyday reality.

This on-going dedication is what the Church and the world expect of us as Vincentians:

Take care of your poor life. Be content with consuming it little by little for Divine Love. It is not your own; it belongs to the Author of Life, for love of whom you must preserve it until he asks for it, unless an opportunity arises to offer it, like a good priest, eighty years of age, who was just martyred in England after a cruel torture (CCD:II:211-121).

Like St. Vincent, we also believe that the Vincentian Family is not weakened by the cruel death of several of its sons and daughters. From the history of the Church we know that the exact opposite is true. As Tertullian pointed out in the second century:

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians. The Church has grown and spread thanks to the silent preaching of her holy martyrs … the same can be said of our Family: for those who will suffer martyrdom, many more will come; their blood will be like the seed the brings forth fruit, and fruit in abundance (CCD:X:443).

Sincerely, your brother in Saint Vincent Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, CM
Superior General

Explanation in English of the logo 


The central element of the logo is the CROSS, an expression of Jesus’ great love … Jesus the first martyr.  The cross is also an expression of the martyr’s decision to lay down their life when confronted with the reality of death, thus uniting themselves to Jesus Christ.

The cross colored in red symbolizes the blood that was shed by Jesus and by the martyrs who gave their life for Jesus.  They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Revelation 12:11).

The “M” which supports the cross, reminds us of the back of the Miraculous Medal, reminds us of Mary of Nazareth who gave birth to the Savior, reminds us of the Virgin Mother who united herself to her son as she stood beneath the cross on Calvary (cf. John 19:25).  The martyrs of the Vincentian Family distinguished themselves by their devotion to the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal … Our Lady who strengthened them at the time of their witness and strengthened them at the time they shed their blood because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

The palm which accompanies the cross and that is formed as a flame of fire is a symbol of the martyrdom of the first Christians (with whom the martyrs of 20th century Spain united themselves).  Furthermore, it is a symbol of the final victory that has overcome the world (1 John 5:4).

The flames of fire represent the Holy Spirit who descended upon the Apostles on the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:3) … the Spirit who gave them courage to be witnesses for Christ.  The flames are also a symbol of the mission of believers who are called to be light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

The face of Vincent de Paul, taken from the logo for the 400th anniversary of the origin of the Vincentian charism, reminds us that the martyrs of the Vincentian Family of the twentieth century in Spain are also witnesses of charity and evangelization.  They gave witness to charity on behalf of their more vulnerable brothers and sisters … and their love led them to engage in the supreme act of charity as they laid down their lives as martyrs.

The circle around the cross (MARTYRS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY — VINCENTIAN FAMILY) is an expression of the fullness of life to which God calls us and which the martyrs now enjoy.

Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM