What do we mean when we use terms such as “charism” or “evangelized by the poor” — or even the very word “Vincentian” itself? Without realizing it, we often use words that are not readily understood outside of our circles. For example, we take for granted that people understand what we mean by “charism”, “evangelized by the poor”, “Double Family”, “formators”, etc. At other times, we do not realize that the same word means different things in different branches of the Vincentian Family.

For example, when a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul uses the word “Vincentian”, it refers to members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whereas when a member of the Congregation of the Mission uses the word, it most likely refers to a vowed member of the Congregation of the Mission. Even the phrase “Vincentian Family” has a number of meanings ranging from strictly canonical to figurative.

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