This informative and challenging video was presented at the 2016 General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission.
What is Vincentian Collaboration?
Vincentian Collaboration is nothing new. Its roots go back to Vincent, Louise and our founders.
Rev. Pat Griffin, CM:
If we define our Vincentian charism as a following of Christ through caring for the spiritual and material needs of those who are most poor, then collaboration has been part of our story from the very beginning.
When Vincent responds to the spiritual need of the peasant of Gannes in 1617, the de Gondi family notes his effort and recognizes their responsibility to care for the spiritual needs of those on their estates. This leads to the sermon at Folleville – the first sermon of the mission – and rapidly to the gathering together of priests to serve the needs of the poor.
When Vincent expresses an awareness of a sick family in his parish of Chatillon, his parishioners immediately and spontaneously respond. They cause Vincent to reflect on the possibility of meeting the needs of the most abandoned in an organized way. And so the Charities come to be as a result of the collaboration between Vincent and his people.
When Vincent begins to recognize the gifts in Louise and the likelihood of her ability to lead the first Ladies of Charity in their service, he enters into the great personal collaboration of his life. Louise directs these good women and enables their tasks to be more effective in the service of the sick and the hungry.
As the corporal needs of the poor receive greater and greater attention due to the efforts of Vincent and Louise in association with the Ladies, a peasant girl – Marguerite Naseau – arrives on the scene. She wants to collaborate with this growing force for love in action. She volunteers her service – in a most practical and physical manner – a way for which she was particularly well suited. Vincent and Louise take her under their wing and the care of the poor takes on a new face as the Daughters of Charity come to be alongside the priests of the Mission and the Ladies of Charity.
We can look to the 19th Century for another example of collaboration growing around and through our charism. As Rosalie Rendu responds to the needs of the poor in the Mouffetard area of Paris, she becomes well know to the governmental structures, which have this responsibility. They recognize her understanding and contacts, and so they begin to collaborate with her in their response.
When the young Frederic Ozanam wants to do something practical for expressing his Catholic faith, he and the first men of the St. Vincent de Paul Society find their way to the Daughters of Charity, seeking their particular talents for this kind of service. From the common charism emerges another collaboration, which continues to benefit the poor around the world.
The foundational collaboration among the Charities, the Company of the Daughters of Charity, and the Congregation of the Mission has led to wider and deeper connections with those evolving branches of the Vincentian Family.
We share a Common Purpose and Mission: the service of the poor; and we bring a “collective Vincentian intelligence” to that mission.
Mr. Yancarlos de Jesus de los Santos:
We are part of the Vincentian Family, which this year celebrates the “Year of Vincentian Collaboration.” Collaboration is not the exclusive invention of this year, nor something that we would place exclusively in this year. Collaboration is something that has been occurring in our family, from the time of our founder: St. Vincent de Paul.
We Vincentians have a common purpose. And this common purpose is the service of people living in poverty and need. Thus, through this service, we are called to offer and to contribute what we may call a Collective Vincentian Intelligence. This means putting all of our strength and skills together so that we may offer a better service to those persons who need us.
Something important to remember is that nothing worth doing gets accomplished alone. We always need to be accompanied. And much more so for us who call ourselves family, we have to be always united.
Vincent himself, in one of his letters in 1651 said: we must help one another……we must support one another, always seeking peace and unity. He says peace and unity first, because this is the wine that gives strength and joy to travelers on this road which we have decided to run; this road, which is Jesus Christ. This is what Vincent said, and we must always keep it in mind.
As a Vincentian Family, being united expresses our joy, our strength, but always with the common purpose of helping those living in poverty. Collaborate is the word!
At the heart of this collaboration is a spirituality that urges us to recognize Trinitarian community.
Rev. Vinicius Teixeira, CM:
The Holy Trinity is the source of the missionary dynamism of charity that drives the Vincentian Family. We ought to love and serve under the inspiration of the Trinity, collaborating with each other and ensuring unity in diversity. We are driven to follow Jesus Christ, evangelizer and servant of the poor, in the way of St. Vincent. A diversity of ideas, personal histories, experiences and efforts in our common mission promotes the dignity and hope of the poor; making collaboration between our branches bear fruit in a service always more generous, fruitful, and effective for the glory of God and the good of the others.
We do not work alone. We are most effective when we work together with one another and with those who are on the peripheries.
Rev. Vitaliy Novak, CM:
I think that, not only in our country, but in most countries, homeless people are not accepted into the hospitals. So most of the medical care they need, as we see here in this van, is given by the DePaul Project. The Daughters of Charity are the best nurses I’ve ever seen, working with the poor people.
Now all of our staff say – Fr. Vitaliy, if the Daughters of Charity left the projects, we will close the projects because we are not able to value how they serve the people; how they see the human dignity of every person. It doesn’t matter if he is drunk, if he is without everything, even sometimes without mental health. But they serve they serve everyday here, and we are very grateful.
It is another side of solidarity. When they heard that we needed their presence here and their service, we wrote to Paris after we started the project at another site. So in the next, I think, few months, the first community of Daughters arrived; and from that time, almost four years, they are here with us working and serving daily.
Greetings from the city of Odessa and the Ukraine! Please, pray for the Ukraine. Amen.
Collaboration demands a faith and a trust, in one another, which also engenders mutual support.
Ms. Kerry Anthony:
In Ireland, as with other countries, Depaul works to support people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. Our work started in Dublin when our group Chief Executive, Mark McGreevy, came to do some work for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul advising them on systems and structures in relation to help homeless services.
So as a family, as the Vincentian Family, here in Ireland, we have our differences at times. We all do this quite differently from each other but I think overall the glue that holds the family and the team together here, lie in our shared values. Reflecting on our relationships here in Ireland, I knew that we are an organization that is different from others due to our values and our heritage. And as a result, this has enriched the organization and it’s committed us to continuing in the way of St. Vincent by supporting those who need us most.
But we can only do this with help the others.
Collaboration is not easy but it is definitely possible. It absolutely requires the willingness to trust and to share, placing our gifts at the disposal of others.
Mr. Andrew Wagdy:
When we first started, the question even among VMY members was what’s the point of it? What’s in it for us? We’ve been doing things our way for a long time, why change now?
The answer to these questions was something that we reached together step by step. This answer was a result to our coming to the knowledge that we can trust each other and that we can assume positive intentions. Assuming positive intentions is the thing that makes my partner work with me in a more comfortable way. We came to this after we had proven that it’s more about actions than words.
When I, as a VMY member started proving to the others that I can be useful to them in a different way, and that they are important to me and can be useful to me as well. We’ve seen how fruitful it was when people started saying “Oh, that’s a good idea!” We didn’t know that you do that! Maybe you’ve got what we lack! And this is where mutual trust started and where everything we could do started. Without it, we wouldn’t have done anything.
In my opinion, if there’s anything that can shatter collaboration apart, it’s the absence of trust. Once people start losing it, they can’t do anything together. If they did anything, it would be each one holding his own part from his own point of view, not willing to show the others what or how he’s doing it.
On the other side, when sincerity and a good intention are assumed and there’s belief in the others’ potential, I can work more comfortably with them and the work we’ll do together will reach a point that I wouldn’t have reached alone.
Once we prove this to ourselves and to the others, we can surely say that we are on the first step of collaboration. Thanks and I wish to see you all soon.
Collaboration acknowledges that there is so much to do and so many issues to be addressed both locally and globally and offers the hope that we can have a real impact and make a real difference in the lives of those in poverty.
Sr. Maria Teresa Mueda, DC:
A world situation of suffering and misery, as complicated, far-reaching and overwhelming like our present condition, can tempt us to powerlessness and impotence. Especially when faced with the limitless needs of persons in poverty, and our own limits in personnel, expertise, organization, dynamism and creativity. The globalization of misery continues to succeed because the forces of greed and violence unite systemically to pursue their ends.
While we are under no illusion that we can respond to each and every need, we belong to a family that is international and we are carriers of a charism that is universal. When we bring to the table of Vincentian Collaboration our five loaves and two fishes in unreserved generosity and passionate commitment to collaborate in a systemic kind of way, when we weave together the energy and the dynamism of our unique charism within the family, then, we become a tangible, visible force of the tenderness of Christ for those who suffer.
The reach of the Vincentian Family is wide and deep. We are borderless because wherever and whenever any branch of the Family is present, there the whole Family is made present with all the possibilities this presence holds. In a world fragmented by competition, our collaboration witnesses to a communion that springs from the truth that we are richer because we have each other. And from this abundance, springs hope for the people we serve and for us who serve.
Love is inventive to infinity… it provides a fertile field for that creativity which stokes the fire of our zeal and helps us realize our dreams.
Rev. Bertin Sanon, RSV:
As you can see by this gesture that reflects the African wisdom, a finger cannot pick up the flour. But to collect the flour, and in quantity, it takes several fingers. For a work to produce all its fruits, we need the collaboration of several hands, of several intelligences, and of several forces. Let’s take advantage of this wisdom, which is only a pale translation of what Christ tells us in the Scriptures when he sends his disciples two by two.
Collaboration addresses the work for justice to which we are called.
Ms. Regine Theodat:
I believe that we, as Vincentians, have a moral obligation to create a more just society. I want to show you a little bit about the projects that we work on in Haiti, so let’s see collaboration in action.
We knew that Haiti had the potential to be great, just, and economically sustainable.
In our inter-branch meetings, we noted that Haiti had ample natural industries and resources, amazing countryside land, and all the potential to develop. Most importantly, we knew that the children in Haiti, deserved to grow up in a more just and equitable society.
Along came the Haiti Initiative – a collaborative action plan for systemic change, a push for economic justice and equitable distribution of wealth.
We focus on economic development in this rural area called Savanne Perdue through a fish farm. And we also focus on economic development through a rigorous 18-month poverty alleviation program.
We work in education in two ways. First, through a canteen program that provides one hot meal a day. Most importantly, we work to improve the education in each school through a strategic planning and execution process where each school determines their own fate.
“There is no charity without justice.” St. Vincent de Paul
Collaboration demands that together we confront the expanding circle of poverty so that people can live with dignity.
Mr. Jose Coelho:
I had my first experience as Vincentian Family with the priests of the Mission and the Daughters of the Charity. I saw the great generosity of the Family.
Over the past year, I had the opportunity to participate in a collaboration training program of the Vincentian Family, in Paris. During those days we looked for ways to enthusiastically strength our branches, so that the Vincentian Family may know each other better. I remember with joy all the people I met there.
Father Gregory Gay always says that we should connect with one another, working together to seek the most effective means to serve those in need.
We know we have many challenges because every day brings a new and different form of poverty. Thus we cannot remain indifferent. We cannot respond in any other way but to get together to reach these goals, working as a team and with the same vision.
Since we are in this year of collaboration of the Vincentian Family, let me take this opportunity to invite you all, as a family, to look for the most effective ways to better serve the poor. Together, in Christ, we Vincentians make a difference.
Rev. Vitaliy Novak, CM:
Let’s go! Good bye!
Good bye, good luck. Good luck, on your Assembly guys!