Before “Vincentian Family” and “collaboration” were Vincentian buzzwords, people in the city of Niagara Falls knew that collaboration was the only effective response. That response was “Heart, Love & Soul.”
A community-led, collaborative response to hunger and poverty that was begun 40 years ago by local lay leaders, and joined by area religious including Vincentian priests, brothers, seminarians, the Daughters of Charity and staff and students of Niagara University is moving to a new level of transformative service.
Watch as Fr. Joseph Levesque, CM President Emeritus of Niagara University makes the Vincentian Connection
A February 15 press conference announced the launch of a capital campaign to support Heart, Love & Soul (HLS) and its planned Daybreak program.
HLS’s “Daybreak” will build upon current HLS services – including a food pantry, daily meal service, case management, and care coordination – expanding the collaboration by providing additional basic services and dedicated space for partner agencies to deliver client services directly onsite.
“We are excited to move forward on this needed initiative that is the result of years of planning by many service agencies in the Niagara Falls community,” said Sr. Beth Brosmer, Executive Director of HLS. “By bringing a variety of services together in one accessible location, we can improve the effectiveness of our efforts and make a greater collective impact on our community and individuals in need.”
Join with Society of St. Vincent de Paul in recognizing the face of the Christ in those born 2000 years after the birth of Christ.
For members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul members, it is a spiritual journey of growth through service to people and families in need. From the Society’s traditional home visits, food pantries and assistance with rent and utilities, to innovative health care, financial and mentoring programs, the Society’s Vincentians see and serve the person of Christ in the people they encounter every day. In this 10-week series, Vincentians volunteer across the country to bring effective, personalized help to those in poverty and share with you their stories of Christ’s love along the way.
The documentary produced by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, “Our Faith in Action” will be featured on Eternal Word Television Network on Sunday, January 6 at 3:30 pm Eastern Standard Time.
David Barringer, National President of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul stated: The documentary makes it clear that the charism and spirit of St. Vincent is still very much alive … even 400 years after his death. It gives people the opportunity to learn more about us and our work. The film illustrates a wide range of Society’s activities and initiatives that have been developed throughout the United States. The documentary is a positive statement about the power of faith and the ways in which that faith is acted upon for the benefit of countless men and women.
The “Our Faith in Action” film will air on EWTN cable channels on Sunday, January 6 at 3:30 pm Eastern, 2:30 pm Central, 1:30 pm Mountain, 12:30 pm Pacific. Click here to find the EWTN channel in your zip code. Click here to view the program schedule.
One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (www.svdpusa.org) is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of about 800,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 153 countries on five continents. With its U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., membership in the United States totals nearly 100,000 in 4,400 communities.
About EWTN: EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 38th year, is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 298 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories. EWTN platforms also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates; a worldwide shortwave radio service; the largest Catholic website in the U.S.; electronic and print news services, including Catholic News Agency, “The National Catholic Register” newspaper, and several global news wire services; as well as EWTN Publishing, its book publishing division.
For more information about this release, please contact: Gary Stevens at (314) 576-3993 ext. 209 or (314) 378-5583 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (Vincentians) hand out backpacks with personal care items and information about social services to the homeless in Chicago. (Photo: Society of St. Vincent de Paul)
“We wish to dare to enter the world of cinema, the world of communication, to evangelize and globalize charity”.
These were the words of Superior General Father Tomaž Mavrič at a press conference in Rome. “Young people are there,” he said, “cinema and social networks are there, and they listen to the various actors, directors, producers and people who have influence because they are enveloped into the world of cinema.”
His words were put in context by Clarence Gilyard, a U.S. actor best known for his roles in “Top Gun,” “Die Hard” and “Walker Texas Ranger,” during a press conference inaugurating the event Oct. 16. He said “Cinema, mobile devices, what [young people] choose to see and how they binge on television shows has so much importance compared to our generation,” said
It’s impossible to underestimate the influence that films and TV shows have on young people and children today, with streaming devices bringing entertainment directly to your home and through cellphones right to your pocket. Organizers of the film festival know this all too well, with the story of the creation of the event being profoundly entrenched in young people from world youth day to this month’s summit of bishops.
No wonder Fr. Mavric said…“Our dream is to globalize charity using the instruments of cinema,” Mavrič said, “It’s an invitation to dream together because when we dream together the dream becomes reality.”
A Dialog with our future. So many questions that impact our futures!
[Given the stake we all have in our future as Church and Vincentian Family, this is the first of a series of posts devoted to the three week long Synod of Bishops.]
More than we may realize, our future is the hands of some 50 cardinals, 145 bishops and archbishops, 37 auxiliary bishops, and ten priests and brothers from religious orders. Thirty-four young people will be present as auditors, able to take part in all the discussions but unable to vote on the meeting’s expected final document. The issues of renewal of solidarity between the generations will be front and center.
This week begins a three-week long dialogue with the future of our Church – youth. From October 3-28th Bishops of the world will engage with each other, young people and a variety of experts. Their focus will be “‘Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment’
Don’t let the word vocational discernment lull you into thinking it is just about the future of priesthood or religious life. It is, in fact, about everyone’s future, yours and mine – whether and how the Gospel of Christ will be present in all walks of life in every corner of the world. The overarching question is “What will our church look like in 10-20 years from now” The answer lies to a great degree with the youth of today and the dialogue that begins this week.
The issues discussed will impact the Vincentian Family. Vincent said some 400 years ago “the community is not now what it once was nor is it what it will be.” Let’s just look at some the questions affecting visitors to Vincentian Family sites.
What will the Vincentian Family look like?
What will the worldwide Congregation of the Mission look like?
Will the Eastern Province look the same as it does today.
And bottom line…Who will announce the message of Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor?.
The future will be the same and yet quite different.
Of one thing I am certain. On one level, the future will look much different than today. But I will be very surprised if, at its core, our church will look much different than the lay-centered church of the New Testament. It is not always easy for us to appreciate the importance of the role of lay people in the early Church, even though we have read about it in the New Testament again and again.
When you find anyone wavering about the importance of the laity in the life of the Church, encourage them to read the Pauline letters and the Book of the Acts carefully. Based on his reading former Superior General Robert Maloney suggests five facets or characteristics that would express his hopes of the profile for lay women and men in the Church of the future.
They will be profoundly lay
They will be well-educated, well-formed, and knowledgeable about the social teaching of the Church
They will be electronically connected
They will be team players on a multi-racial squad
They will be truly missionary.
Youth today seem to fit well most of these categories.
Issues faced by the Synod
The run-up to the Synod has already garnered its share of controversy with even Cardinals offering quite contrasting views. Fr Giacomo Costa SJ, Special Secretary for the Synod of Bishops, says that the renewal of solidarity between the generations must be a priority for the Church and the whole of society (Rediscovering dialogue between the generations: Synod 2018)
He unpacks those problems.
Young people in particular point out the difficulty in feeling truly welcomed and listened to within the Church, in being trusted and finding spaces where they can take the initiative. They are kept away not only by a general lack of interest but also by the ‘poor preparation’ of priests, compounded by financial and sexual scandals.
Several Bishops’ Conferences say that there is not so much a generational conflict between young people and adults nowadays, but rather a ‘mutual alienness’:
The result of this strained communication is the estrangement of many young people from the Church, even though they have authentically spiritual questions and sensitivities.
They tend to shy away when they perceive that the interest in them is not genuine but motivated by institutional self-preservation. This connection makes young people suspicious that the real objective is not to recognise the meaning of one’s own life and to identify the concrete steps (in terms of family, relationships, work commitment, organisation of free time) that lead to the fullness of personal life (to the ‘joy of love’, in ecclesial terms), but rather to recruit more aspirants into the seminary.
Young people want help to grow to maturity, but it must not be tinged with paternalism or attempts at manipulation and control.
Lack of trust in institutions is undoubtedly one of the characteristics of contemporary culture, particularly for young people.
Being concrete or practical counts more towards credibility than any theoretical argument in the minds of young people.
The results of the Synod will determine if and to what extent this challenge is met, not so much in terms of documents – important as they are – but by processes of renewal and experimentation which will commence in local Churches and, ultimately, by the real conversion of ecclesial communities, which must be considered one of the objectives of the synodal process.
Taking young people seriously, with their culture, their needs, their resources, and their weaknesses, places the need for change squarely before us!
Taking young people seriously
How well do we really understand those who belong to a generation different than our own?
What can we learn from generations whose life experience is different than our own?
How can we come to grips with the underlying differences in modes of communication and culture?
Do you have an addiction to images? If so beware! Chances are you have seen graphics like these if you have visited FamVin.org, the website featuring news about the international Vincentian Family or VinFormation.org. You may even have wondered where to find more like these whether for your personal prayer or other use.
What you might not be aware of is that there is a searchable database containing over 700 such images. These picture-quotes draw on the wisdom of St. Vincent and other Vincentian Heritage figures.
As usual at this time of the year, Father Tomaž Mavrič, CM, 25th Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission and the Company of the Daughters of Charity, sends a letter to the Vincentian Family on the occasion of the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, which the universal Church celebrates on September 27, every year.
On this occasion, Father Mavrič invites us to deepen our knowledge of the saints, blesseds, and servants of God of the Vincentian Family, renewing our relationship with them, who are living models of the Vincentian charism.
Rome, September 3, 2018
To all the members of the Vincentian Family
My dear brothers and sisters in Saint Vincent,
May the grace and peace of Jesus be always with us!
In this year 2018, we celebrate the Feast of Saint Vincent for the first time at the beginning of the fifth century of the Vincentian Charism. Once again, I would like to suggest as first steps on this path the following two initiatives:
To renew and deepen our relationship with the Saints, Blessed, and Servants of God of the Vincentian Family around the world as models of the Vincentian
To renew and deepen the “Culture of Vocations.”
The Vincentian Family is presently active in 156 countries throughout the world. To celebrate the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul in the communities, parishes, schools, universities, and other services and projects in which the different branches of the Vincentian Family are involved, at the beginning of the fifth century of the Vincentian Charism, I encourage you to focus this year on the first point:
Deepening our relationship with the Saints, Blessed, and Servants of God of the Vincentian Family.
To do so, I suggest that each of the above-mentioned entities of the various branches choose one of the Saints, Blessed, or Servants of God within the Vincentian Family and make a presentation on him or her within the given group. In addition, develop a specific plan to present the Saint, Blessed, or Servant of God you have chosen to those in your surroundings, village, neighborhood, or any other place you choose outside your community or group. Presenting a member of the Vincentian Family, whose life is a model of the incarnation of the charism in the place and time of history God put him or her to fulfill the mission, will be a wonderful way to share the legacy, spirituality, and charism of Saint Vincent de Paul.
Here are some further suggestions for developing this project:
Reflect on the list of all the Saints, Blessed, and Servants of God of the Vincentian Family.
Choose, according to your judgment, the one who, in your environment or place of service, best speaks to the persons to whom you will present him or her.
Form a small committee to be responsible for preparing the project by
considering the best way to communicate to the people the life, spirituality, and charism of the one chosen;
developing means to present the information with PowerPoint, brochures, internet, social media, YouTube, Instagram, etc.
Encourage, in a particular way, young people to follow in his/her footsteps, such as considering a vocation to the Consecrated Life as a Sister, Brother, or Priest (thus deepening the Culture of Vocations).
If you are not able to prepare or launch the initiative for the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul, form the committee responsible for coordinating it and announce it on the Feast, with the plan as to how, where, and when you will develop the project and make the different presentations.
Encourage others to pray through the intercession of that Saint, Blessed, or Servant of God for various needs and to trust in his/her intervention before God, being open to graces, miracles, healing of soul and body, and conversions. To this end, compose a prayer through the intercession of the chosen Saint, Blessed, or Servant of God, indicating an address or e-mail where persons can communicate the graces received. This also will help to bring the processes of our Blessed and Servants of God to a conclusion. Many still need a miracle to be presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in order to be recognized officially by the Church as Saints.
Send us information, short articles with pictures, to famvin.org or cmglobal.org, in order to share your initiative with the entire Vincentian Family.
Saint Vincent himself expressed his thoughts on praying to the Saints when speaking to the confreres:
He told the Company that it should raise its mind and heart to God on this holy day of All Saints to ask for His grace and to pray for the needs of each one in particular and of the Company in general. “You see,” he said, “on this day Our Lord is accustomed to pour His graces in greater abundance on the faithful who ask Him for them in the way they should. He does so through the intercession of all the saints; for, since we have more intercessors before God, we must have no doubt that the graces He pours forth on the faithful on this day are more abundant than on the other special feast days of the saints.
“So that, my dear confreres, is what we have to do, that is, to thank His Divine Majesty for all the gifts and graces He’s been pleased to grant all the saints in general who are now in heaven, and to each of them in particular, for the good use they’ve made of those same graces and for their perseverance in the practice of good works until the end. We should thank God for all that because they practiced so well the first lesson Our Lord taught them and us: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven’ (Matthew 5:3).”
Your brother in Saint Vincent,
Tomaž Mavrič, CM
 CCD XI, 382; Conference 175, Repetition of Prayer, 1 November 1657. CCD refers to the series, Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, translated and edited by Jacqueline Kilar, DC; and Marie Poole, DC; et al; annotated by John W. Carven, CM; New City Press, Brooklyn and Hyde Park, 1985-2014.
Access to the document in PDF format, in several languages:
First Systemic Change National Congress in Panama, February 15-18, 2018
The Vincentian Family in our Region of Panama is asking questions… very significant questions!
Why do some projects fail to transform the lives of the poor?
What causes the success of some other projects?
What strategies have been implemented in those projects that have been successful?”
The Vincentian Family in Panama, aware of the need to serve in the best way possible our masters and lords, the poor, has asked the International Team for the Promotion of Systemic Change a day of training and sharing experiences, to take firm steps towards that answer. On behalf of the International Team, we were accompanied by James Claffey, Juan Pablo Jácome, and Argelys Vega by the Latin American Commission.
“The different forms of poverty increase day by day in the current situation in our country.” This challenges us and makes us strongly feel the need to collaborate in an effective and affective way, looking that our projects in favor of the most need be an alternative to change these diverse situations of poverty.” Faced with this situation, the following questions arise: “Why do some projects fail to transform the lives of the poor? What causes the success of some other projects? What strategies have been implemented in those projects that have been successful?” (National Council Vincentian Family Panama).
We entrust these days to God and his Divine Providence so that within this family environment we can make the most of them.
Day 1: we began this journey by placing ourselves in the hands of the Creator with the Eucharist. The morning served as the stage for us to enter this wonderful world of Systemic Change by the hand, first of all, of a real history of Systemic Change: “AGUA,” a project of San José de Ocoa (Dominican Republic), illuminating with this example that, when we attack the real problem, we can change an entire community. The morning progressed and also the development of the presentations, with a “Basic Notion” of Systemic Change, and I put it in quotes because it was a very complete and understood by the audience, which was demonstrated at the time of sharing in groups the presentations of the morning, which was concluded creatively with the presentation of the work once returned from lunch.
During the afternoon we reflected on the concept of Vincentian Spirituality in Systemic Change and what are the essential elements for work in our communities. The audience has been very receptive and participatory throughout the afternoon. We thank the Creator for the shared experiences and we hope they will be very useful for the entire Vincentian Family of Panama but, above all, for them to revert in favor of God’s favorites, the poor.
Who Can Help Us Change Perspectives on Poverty? It is hard for a day to go by without encountering distressing stereotypes of those who suffer poverty. What can be done to counter these images?
One of the initiatives of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of our charism seeks to identify and encourage creative ways of presenting the real face and faces of poverty in media. The Vincentian Family is sponsoring a Film festival and contest “Finding Vince 400,” focusing on exactly this issue.
The judges will select films that inspire direct service to the poor and change our vision of poverty. These films will be premiered at Castel Gandolfo, Italy during the Festival later this year.
We want to be sure that all in the Vincentian Family are aware of it and fully invited to participate.
You yourself might not qualify. But as a group, we do know some very creative people. Help the Vincentian Family Office spread the word to those blessed by God with such creativity.
In this short video, the actor, director and professor Clarence Gilyard Jr, responsible for the Festival and contest “Finding Vince 400,” invites us to participate in it, with a powerful reflection on poverty in the world:
Half of the world’s inhabitants live on $ 2.50 a day, that is poverty.
More than a billion others live on $ 1.25 a day, that is extreme poverty.
We can do something: storytellers, filmmakers, we need your help. Help change our perspective on poverty.
Please share the attached brochure with the members of your groups and all the collaborators with whom you live your apostolate: parishes, schools, institutes, universities, youth groups; and any other person or group that may be interested in participating.
This will be a wonderful opportunity for us – and especially for our youth – to carry forward the globalization of Charity.
Jesus’ vision: Good news to those on the margins – sick, prisoners, poor, immigrants, forgotten, powerless – THEY BELONG.
Vincent & Louise’s vision: Christ meets us in the poor who have a claim on us. WE NEED ONE ANOTHER-WE BELONG to one another.
Ozanam’s vision: Our world isn’t meant to be cold and heartless, but a place where all BELONG.
Elizabeth Seton’s vision: We must live, pray, work together in deep, caring relationships lived in lives of service.
She continues with words that ring true in the United States and many countries today…
Our call is to develop our capacity for hospitality, for communion. And isn’t this countercultural? Doesn’t this put us at one extreme of our U.S. society?
Yet our call always nudges us to do precisely that. Enlarge the circle, make room for more at the table, think outside the box, dream bigger, color outside the lines, scan the horizon and look always beyond ourselves. Ask questions like: Who else needs to be part of this conversation, this planning? Whose wisdom are we missing? What if we invited XXXXXX to join us?
And the reason for doing this – for heeding the call to conversion that translates into being servants of hospitality and communion and belonging? It’s not just because it’s a nice thing to do – it’s part and parcel of the Gospel challenge. It’s the way we must act if God’s dream is ever to be realized – the reign of God, the Kingdom that Jesus never tired talking about, and showing us what it might look like.
Lent is about Waking up to Belonging and the Tension of AND
How do we as individuals and organizations wake up to this vision of belonging… especially in an age stressing “me first” and isolation? More and more people are being excluded.
One of the keys ways to waking up to belong in the real world is living with the tensions of holding on to the values of both poles.
Once again Sr. Regina nails it…
As Vincent, Louise, Elizabeth, Catherine, Rosalie, Frederic, and Thomas listened to the Word of God and pondered God’s ways with humans, something happened, something clicked. As they contemplated Jesus Christ, evangelizer of the poor, source and model of all charity, they had the intuition that the WAY TO GOD IS THE WAY OF BOTH/AND, not either/or. As they faced the tensions and conflicts of their times, as the Spirit opened their eyes wider and wider to see the face of Christ everywhere, they planted themselves firmly in the “AND.” Not with their – heads in the sand, but with their heads and hearts and bodies in the “AND.”
Action AND prayer
Solitude AND community
Head AND heart Now AND not-yet
Charity AND justice
Service that is material AND spiritual
AND is a key Vincentian word. Our founders were people who lived at the extremes and chose to hold them together.
Embrace being in the middle
All of our ancestors to whom we look for guidance on this Vincentian way found energy there, in the AND. At times when we touch our truest self we know that too. Real life happens in the in-between, in the connections, in the struggle to live connected, to live an integrated, whole, holy life, not simply on either end. We get off balance, sidetracked when we resist the work of integration and opt for one side or the other. It’s a place outside of the COMFORT ZONE for most of us, isn’t it, a place where we often meet our own resistance.
Let us use this Lent to enter into the middles of our world and the in-between’s of life. Let’s be the bridge to belonging!
Read her full reflection… especially the section on how our resistances can be our teacher.
Have I ever thought that belief in belonging brings tension?
What is my response to tension? Do I run away to one side or the other? Do I honor the truth of both poles of the tension?
Where can I find guidance and strength to hang on to both sides and the people that live on one side or the other?
The many moving events of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the birth of the charism led to a greater awareness of the gift that has been entrusted to us.
Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, CM as President of the Vincentian Family Executive Committee now asks that this gift be further nurtured. Specifically, he asks that every country in which the Vincentian Family exists form a National Council (a coordinating body) to facilitate the growth of the work of the Vincentian Family internationally.
For, as Fr Mavrič says,
Without a concrete way for the Family to work together, and without a viable mechanism to facilitate such collaboration, those whom we serve will be deprived of the fruits of our best efforts. And we would not be able to say that we have made the maximum use of the gifts that God has given us.
The letter concludes recalling that “all that you can do to encourage these Councils will bear much fruit in the lives of the poor, as well as in those who minister to and with them.”
His letter follows
February 1, 2018
Dear Vincentian Family Members,
May the grace and peace of Jesus be always with us!
One of the many lessons we have learned through the celebration of this past Jubilee Year is that we are truly blessed by the gift of one another. The Holy Spirit has poured out an abundance of blessings upon each of us, upon our Branches, and thus upon our entire Vincentian Family Movement.
These gifts are not given for us to squander on ourselves – they are given for the building up of the Body of Christ, the Church. Moreover, they are given to us Vincentians so that those who are most special in the eyes of God – those living in poverty, on the peripheries, abandoned and alone – may be well served.
And the Holy Spirit has again taught us this year that nothing that can be done together should be done alone. This is not theory – it is a practical maxim that we are invited to live in our daily ministerial experiences.
Where this is made most concrete is in the building up of our capacity to work together as Vincentians, especially on the local and national levels.
To this end, I, along with the other members of the Vincentian Family Executive Committee, ask that every country in which the Vincentian Family exists form a National Council (a coordinating body) to facilitate the growth of the work of the Vincentian Family in your region.
We have directed the Vincentian Family Office to assist you. Where a Council already exists, please do all you can to further strengthen its collaboration. Where none exists, the Office has been asked to work with you to form one.
We recognize that every place is different, with its own needs and realities. We are not advocating a one-size-fits-all approach. But neither is doing nothing the correct response. Collaboration, our vibrant working together, is in the very DNA of our Vincentian spirit. Without a concrete way for the Family to work together, and without a viable mechanism to facilitate such collaboration, those whom we serve will be deprived of the fruits of our best efforts. And we would not be able to say that we have made the maximum use of the gifts that God has given us.
Thank you for all you do to guarantee that we are working as a true Family throughout the world.
Your brother in St. Vincent,
Tomaž Mavrič, CM
President, Vincentian Family Executive Committee