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New spirituality proposed to groups inspired by Saint Vincent de Paul. by Auréa Cormier, n.d.s.c. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Excerpts taken from a presentation by Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., DePaul University Indianapolis, IN: October 26, 2013. Outline of the presentation.
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New spirituality proposed togroups inspired by Saint Vincent de Paul by Auréa Cormier, n.d.s.c. (email@example.com) Excerpts taken from a presentation by Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., DePaul University Indianapolis, IN: October 26, 2013
Outline of the presentation • Vincent de Paul‘s love for the poor has been transmitted to millions of Vincentian Family members • Responding beyond the basic needs of the poor through commitment to systemic change • Vincentian charism: Spirituality of Systemic Change to create a just and equitable world • Becoming a prophetic voice and letting us be evangelized by the poor
Saint Vincent de Paul : a man transformed by the poor • Born in 1581 in France, Vincent was ordained priest at 19 and he received a bachelor’s degree in theology when he was 23 years old • Following an obscure period of his life, he became the chaplain of upper class families who supported him, throughout his entire life, in his works with the poor
For Vincent, the poor become our Lords and Masters and we their servants “From the moment the love of Christ shed away the scales from the eyes of Vincent and touched his heart, then his concerns totally focussed on the poor. They became for him a revelation of God through the continuity of His Incarnated Word and love for us, his path to sainthood, with his desire to share their lot” 1 1 Translated from Giuseppe Toscani. La mystique des pauvres, p. 38.
Impact of Vincent on his contemporaries • 1617: Formation of teams of women from the upper class, later known as “Ladies of Charity” who reached out to the needy • 1625 : Foundation of the Congregation of the Mission (C.M.), an association of Priests and Brothers whose purpose was to follow Christ who evangelized the poor • 1633 : Co-founder, with Louise de Marillac, of the Daughters of Charity
Influence of Vincent de Paul after his death • The rule of St. Vincent de Paul, written for the Daughters of Charity, was taken and adapted by Elizabeth Seton for the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity she founded in 1809 • The Sisters of Charity have mainly been educators but many also dedicated their lives in the service of the poor and the sick • Congregations belonging to the Federation of the Sisters of Charity share the spirituality of Vincent de Paul and Elizabeth Seaton; the congregation of Notre-Dame-du- Sacré-Cœur is one of them
Spirituality of Saint Vincent de Paul embraced by Frederic Ozanam • Young Frederic felt compelled to serve the poor • In 1839, at age 20, Frederic and six of his student friends founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “which should neither be a political party, nor a school, nor a brotherhood… but profoundly Catholic, at the same time as secular”; their motto: Let us go to the poor • Along with Sister Rosalie Rendu, Daughter of Charity, Frederic and his group went to the poorest of Paris, serving them with respect, just like Vincent Frederic was a scholar (Doctor in Law) and professor at the Sorbonne. He was a married man and a father.
Vincentian Family: over 10 million members Present in135 countries, the Vincentian Family regroups: • St. Vincent de Paul Society: over 175,000 members in 142 countries • The International Assoc. of Charities: 260,000 members in 40 countries • Vincentian Marian Youth groups: 240,000 members in 45 countries • The Daughters of Charity: 24,000 members in 87 countries • The Congregation of the Mission: 4,000 members in 80 countries • The Sisters of Charity Federation: approximately 7,000 members • The Religious of St. Vincent de Paul: some 250 priests and brothers • The Assoc. of the Miraculous Medal boasts 5-10 million members • MISEVI: 30 members in 4 countries Source : www.svdpmemphis.org/whoweare/84-vincentian-family
Common elements of the Vincentian Family • OPTION FOR THE POOR To be WITH the poor, to work WITH them and to let them speak for themselves – they have their own voice; we must let them show us the way 2. OPTION YOUNG PEOPLE We must integrate young people in the activities of the Vincentian Family
Commitment of the Vincentian Family to Systemic Change • In 2006, Fr. Greg Gay, Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, named a Commission for Promoting Systemic Change. • Mandate: “To help bring about systemic change through the apostolates of the members of the Vincentian Family, especially those ministering to the oppressed poor.”
Broad definition of Systemic Change • There are many definitions of systemic change. Perhaps the most broadly valid definition is “change that pervades all parts of a system, taking into account the interrelationships and interdependencies among those parts.” • This definition is useful to distinguish systemic change from piecemeal change. http://systemicchange.wordpress.com/systemicchange/
Working definition of Systemic Change for the Vincentian Family of North America Systemic Change, in works among those living in poverty, aims beyond providing food, clothing and shelter to alleviate immediate needs; it enables people themselves to engage in the identification of the root causes of their poverty and to create strategies to change those structures which keep them in poverty; this requires changing attitudes that have caused the problem Effects : bad weeds Causes : Hidden roots
Systemic Change within the Vincentian Family • Saint Vincent never limited himself to giving food, lodging and medication to the poor • He always sought ways to move them out of all forms of poverty, in a sustainable way Together, for a Sustainable change Charity versus Us The poor Nous
Working toward changing a system which impoverishes will have an impact • We need to understand that in government circles, certain systemic changes may irritate politicians; this will draw negative criticism toward those who try to break the poverty cycle • A systemic change approach transforms the way we see, understand and do things in life • We need to rethink our spirituality and our approach toward the poor: we need to do it WITH them
Working to ensure a better world • Systemic change is a specific way in which the Vincentian Family wants to transform the world so that ALL can feel at home in this human dwelling • Through systemic change, we can contribute locally and globally to articulate a minimum consensus to save and regenerate our common home, today victimized due to ecological devastation, international systemic injustices and violence
Before committing to systemic change, several questions must be answered Are we willing to personally commit ourselves, with all our energy, to work toward achieving a systemic change? • WHEN will we commit ourselves to alleviate the sufferings and revive the lives of marginalized people? • WHERE will we go when life calls us to “Go to the poor” • HOW will we respond with enthusiasm, in spite of our reluctances? Who will do the work once we get there?
Challenges to bring about systemic change • Increase the awareness of the public on the failings of political systems because the problem of poverty is often ignored • Overcoming the tendency to do nothing, to turn the switch “OFF” • Arouse passionate interest of individuals and institutions to move people out of poverty
Interactions of the Where, When and How of the Vincentian Family Today • Vincentian Family and Systemic change are inseparable • The Vincentian charism is a gift of the Spirit • The beginning of the spirituality of systemic change can be in action but it always implies a deep conversion Vincentian Family Charism Spirituality Systemic change
Charism of Vincent de Paul passed on to Louise de Marillac and Elizabeth Seton : source of inspiration An experience of the Spirit Vincentian Charism A new spirituality to face the challenges of the 21st century
Vincentian School of Spirituality presupposes… • A common experience of the Spirit • A methodology: a proper way to read and interpret reality, key to our Vincentian Spirituality • Elements of diverse/common identity • A doctrine • A life style • A specific way to develop our mission: using all our economic, structural and human resources to GO to the POOR of TODAY Vincent de Paul wrote in a letter to Father Codoing in Rome “This is my faith, this is my experience”
Spirituality of Systemic Change • Spirituality is our door to enter into the heart of reality • Energy to pursue the mission of Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac and Elizabeth Seton is given to the Vincentian Family as the starting point and source of life • The spirituality of Systemic Change implies a deep CONVERSION • The Vincentian charism possesses the necessary elements for us to become whole/holy • We need to overcome our doubts and fears, a process which takes time and progresses slowly
Spirituality of Systemic Change (continued) • We need to assume prophetic courage, as people of faith, following that primal urge to give our hearts away, to trust, to invest, to embrace and to love • We need to act, think, and pray together in a new way, making the link between Vincentian Family and Systemic Change • Unless we change our mentality (metanoïa in Greek), we perpetuate our old practices and our oppressive ways • If we do not see with new lenses, we won’t be able to understand where we are called to go…
Christian mystery in our spirituality of Systemic Change • We are in search of a global home, where POOR people also have a space, a place that is our habitat and theirs, where we feel at home and where basic needs are met • Planet Earth, our common dwelling, is being destroyed; the spirituality of Systemic Change will help us overcome the ecological crises before it is too late • Gustavo Guttiérrez wrote “It is a reordering of the great axes of Christianity in order for us to understand and act accordingly in the present time” • We must not rush into concrete actions but we must integrate the spiritual dimension to our actions
To regenerate the Earth and Humanity, we must… • Regenerate the cultural and social fabric and accept pluralism • Regenerate the religious fabric through interreligious dialogue and collaboration • Regenerate the ecological fabric – theological and anthropological ecology • It may possibly take 50 years before the results become visible • We need to overcome a romantic understanding of systemic change and avoid calling everything we do as systemic change
Becoming a prophetic voice • God speaks to the heart of prophets, giving them the ability to penetrate reality • The world will disappoint us, but it is worth investing in • Pope Francis insist on the contact with the poor, not so much to evangelize them but to become evangelized by them, much like Vincent did • His own life style has much in common with the Vincentian charism and it is a challenge to our own • His open attitude offers hope for today’s Church • His option for JUSTICE includes the poor and young people
Conclusion • The love of Vincent de Paul for the poor has been transmitted to the millions of members of the Vincentian Family • In this 21st century, the Vincentian Family wants to go beyond covering the basic needs of poor people and it has chosen to tackle the systems which impoverish them • Today’s Vincentian charism is best expressed in the spirituality of Systemic Change, where we are in search of a global home where the POOR also have a place and enjoy a minimum of justice and equity • As does Pope Francis, we must become prophetic voices and allow ourselves to be evangelized by the poor
Reflection period 1. Identify concrete seeds of hope in your life, community, congregation, in relation to this binomial Vincentian Family and Systemic Change 2. How can the Vincentian Family effectively contribute to save and regenerate our existential dwelling, humanity/earth? 3. Discuss some of the essential elements of the Vincentian School of Spirituality from a Systemic Change perspective