The Church and the Congregation each have specific themes that they ask us to consider and embrace simultaneously.
Since Pentecost, the Congregation has called us to greater Vincentian Family Collaboration. There have been multiple gatherings of the Vincentian Family on the local level, regional groups, and even nationally. All the gatherings successfully bring family members together thus forging stronger bonds and an awareness of the impact that this great Vincentian Family is having on so many levels.
Our Holy Father, Francis, calls upon the entire Church as well as the Vincentian Family to a Holy Year of Mercy. He entreats us all to be a door of mercy. Pope Francis says that this Holy Year is “dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which God constantly extends to all of us.” “The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.”
The motto of this Holy Year is “Merciful like the Father.” We are called to “rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”
As Vincentians, both of these themes are already so much a part of our lives and ministry. The challenge that I heard at the National Gathering of the Vincentian Family Collaborators is how can we dig down deeper in the works that we have so the Mercy of God might shine even brighter in our common efforts at serving God’s beloved poor.
The Holy Year is just beginning. May each of us immerse ourselves in living God’s mercy anew.
On January 30th and March 15thRev. Greg Gay, Superior General, sent letters to the Leaders of the Vincentian Family. He has named 2015 the “Year of Vincentian Collaboration.” The goal is to deepen our understanding of our shared Vincentian charism.
The theme chosen is: “Together in Christ we Vincentians make a Difference.”Werealize thatcollaboration is rooted in our charism as a Vincentian Family, especially in the example of the lives of our Founders. We also know that we will most effectively serve those who live inpoverty only as we collaborate with them and one another.
This“Year of Vincentian Collaboration” will begin on the Feast of Pentecost, May 24, 2015, and end on the Feast of Pentecost, May 15, 2016.
Fr. Gay has asked us to highlight three special days to celebrate during the year: May 24, 2015 (Pentecost);September 27, 2015 (St. Vincent’s Feast);and May 15, 2016 (Pentecost).
I would like to encourage all of us on Pentecost to ask the blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit on us, the Vincentian Family. May we begin this special year steeped in the grace of the Spirit that will enable us to respond with ever renewed energy to the needs of our time together.
The Vincentian Family Collaborative Commission has recommended the following three readings from St Vincent’s Conferences to be used as we open the year:
To Jean de Fonteneil August 29, 1635; Coste volume 1, #204
To Jean de Fonteneil December 7, 1634; Coste volume 1, #189
To Etienne Blatiron February 14, 1648; Coste volume 3, #1017.
I ask you also to remember on Pentecost the Daughters of Charity gathered for their General Assembly in Paris and the upcoming election of their new Superioress General.
May the gifts of the Holy Spirit surround us.
For the above texts and a video from Fr. Gregory Gay about the year visit FamVin.org
The members of the Congregation of the Mission will be participating in a series of meetings which will enable them to reflect on their past, their present and their future. In preparation for the General Assembly 2016, they will be meeting in Domestic Assemblies (local houses) on the local level to prepare for a Provincial Assembly in 2015.
The General Assembly is a gathering of representatives from all the Provinces throughout the Congregation who come together to focus on the life and mission of the Congregation. At this gathering they will also elect a new Superior General.
The motto of the General Assembly is “Let us allow ourselves to be renewed by the missionary vitality of our Vincentian vocation.” The Theme carried throughout all the upcoming meetings will be: “The Congregation of the Mission: four hundred years of fidelity to its charism and the new Evangelization.”
The local communities of Vincentians will begin the process by reflecting on specific questions in their Domestic Assemblies. These reflection questions focus on three specific areas developed from the theme: 400 Years as a Congregation allows us to remember our history; 400 years as a Congregation invites us to renew our Vincentian missionary vitality; and 400 years as a Congregation invites us to discover the possibilities and challenges for the New Evangelization.
Following the Domestic Assemblies, the individual Provinces will gather for a Provincial Assembly to address these same themes taking the contributions of the local houses, and then process that information into thoughts and actions to be sent on to the General Assembly. The Provincial Assembly also elects delegates to attend the General Assembly.
Hopefully, the conclusion will be a greater sense among all the members that we are international and multicultural, called to work in a spirit of Vincentian collaboration and solidarity in the service of the poor.
May we offer our prayers and support to the University and its new President as it begins a new era.
May this also be an opportunity to remember all the confreres who have served at the University since 1870, in particular the 16 who served the University as President. While the University leadership has changed, the Mission begun by our confreres continues.
May God bless all members of the St. John’s University Community.
Nearing the end of November the Vincentian Family celebrates two very significant Vincentian Feasts.
On November 27, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. The Feast marks the first of the visions of the Immaculate Conception given to St. Catherine Laboure.
And on November 28, we celebrate the Feast of St. Catherine Laboure, the Daughter of Charity favored with the Visions of
Both of these Feasts celebrate a wonderful gift given to the Church through Vincent’s children, the Miraculous Medal.
The striking of the Medal was a request of the Blessed Virgin and the name came from the Miraculous difference made in the lives of those who wore the Medal. It is my belief that the Medal was given to a Daughter of Charity and asked to be promulgated by the Vincentians so it would be a special gift to the poor who they encountered in their service.
May we share the hope promised by the Medal and encourage others to “Come to the Altar” and ask for those promised.
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
On January 25th, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. A remembrance of the fact that Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, was first a persecutor of the Church but in rather dramatic fashion, as this Feast recalls, went from persecutor to Apostle.
On January 25th. the Little Company in its quiet way celebrates the Foundation of the Congregation by
St. Vincent. Unlike the conversion of St. Paul, there was little drama in the conversion that happened in Vincent’s life in Folleville that cold day. The confession of a dying man made it vibrantly clear to Vincent what he must do with his life. And so as Vincent’s eyes were opened to the needs of the country poor, to those in need of missionaries, to share the Good News and the Sacraments of the Church, so began his mission for the next 40 years of his life, bringing the Good News to the Poor.
As we celebrate this Foundation Day, we do so in gratitude for the mission all members of the Vincentian Family share in, service to the poor. We are grateful that the vision of St. Vincent continues to be lived out to those in need of Jesus’ promise of hope and love. How happy he would be to know that what God shared with him that day has continued for so many generations.
At the beginning of this New Year, 2013, we celebrate the feast of two American Saints. Both are religious, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Sister of Charity and St. John Neumann, a Redemptorist priest and Bishop. Both had a relationship with the Congregation. Elizabeth Seton adapted the rule of the Daughters of Charity for her Congregation and Bishop John Neumann was Bishop during the earliest days of the confreres arrival in Philadelphia.
As we make resolutions for this New Year, they both serve as models for us in living the Christian life. Elizabeth Ann was a wife, a mother of five, a widow, and foundress of a Congregation of Sisters. She exemplifies a life of generosity and service.
John Neumann was filled with evangelical zeal and gave himself to the task of sharing the Good News without measure. He worked throughout the North East and Western New York often traveling church to church on horseback.
May 2013 find us recommitted to living the Christian life with the generosity manifested in the lives of Saints Elizabeth Seton and John Neumann.
In the days following the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, there was a story that appeared about a woman’s encounter upon returning home to the remains of her house. Amidst the debris of things large and small she found intact her set of Hummel Angels. They looked as beautiful and precious as always. The sight of them served as a reminder for her that God was with her and that she was not alone and that, while the days were challenging, the message of the angels remained the same – God is with us.
Certainly, while the sorrow found in the ten days before this Christmas is beyond comprehension and will never be forgotten, at Christmas we are reminded again that God is with us.
Each Christmas I like to focus on different persons present at the first Christmas and this year it seems so appropriate to focus on those who are celestial. Those who possess the innocence and beauty of children and who God holds so very close to himself, the Angels.
In the Miraculous Medal Shrine here in Philadelphia, it is easy to think about angels. They are all over the place. The three major pieces in this sanctuary each contain angels. The rotunda of the sanctuary is full of angels gazing down upon us. The Shrine has angels large and small. Remember it was an angel about the age of six who led Catherine Laboure down to her encounter with Mary.
And of course, the Nativity set has one representing the Choir of Angels that gathered in Bethlehem that night.
Angels bring us to God. They are God’s messengers and today they remind us that God is with us.
The task of the Christmas angels was to bring the message of hope that we are not alone, that as difficult as life may seem, that its burdens are carried with us by God himself who came and lived among us. If we recall from the Gospels, he comforted those who mourned, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, healed the sick, and gave hope to those who found the burden too great to carry.
The angels first brought that message to the shepherds who were alone in the fields – God is with us.
Once again in the reading of the Gospel, the angels bring the message to us – Rejoice, God is with us.
May we, this Christmas 2012, hear the message and be that message in the way that we make this child present every day to those we, Vincentians, serve the poor, to those most in need of hope, to a world in need of light.
The Angels are all around us. May we join them in singing Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill to all.