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09.03.2020 01:48:47 514x read.
My Impressions on International Vincentian Family Conference, Rome 2020.

My Impressions on International Vincentian Family Conference, Rome 2020.

The International Vincentian Family Conference was held from 8 to 12 January 2020, at Augustinianum Patristic Institute in Rome. Participants came from 97 out of the 157 branches all over the world. We were about 200 persons, including Religious Priests, Brothers, Sisters and Lay people. This Conference was of historic importance for the Vincentian Family and addressed the following issues: The Vincentian Family Mission; Communication in the Vincentian Family; the potential of the Internet and the Challenge it presents in the future; the impact of the 2018 Vincentian Family Festival; the Vincentian Family Alliance in Favour of the Homeless; The Culture of Vocations; and the Transmission of the Charism through the Family Branches.


The Conference opened on January 8, 2020, in the morning with an audience with the Pope, in a large auditorium within the Vatican where a crowd of thousands waited. The Pope gave a message based on the Gospel of the day, namely Jesus walking on the water, followed by a warm welcome to each of the visiting groups.

The group then had the opportunity to have a picture with the Pope, who also had the opportunity to greet us.

Some inspirations during the Conference include the following:

a)     From the history and overview of the Vincentian Family, Fr. Robert Maloney, CM reminded us that Vincent “dared to do what others tried but failed to do.” Vincent changed the whole systemic experience of religious life by instituting different apostolic approaches, such as the Sisters coming out from their cloisters into the streets in order to serve the poor. Vincent said we must have a “deep wisdom and daring prudence.” He practised this wisdom and prudence through collaboration with others and we are invited to follow. We have to “Be receptive to the newness of the Spirit.


b)    “A lack of access to information can be a new source of poverty.” Each Congregation has to be vigilant in the use of new technology. Today is the time of cooperation, a time to establish channels of permanent dialogue and active collaboration. Three basic principles to establish good communication are participation, collaboration and coordination. We have to use social media both skillfully and critically, and at the same time become aware that human contact is very important, that is, heart to heart communication.


c)     Homelessness is a burning issue suffered by the poor today. We are called to welcome the stranger in our midst today, both in terms of immigration and those who suffer homelessness.


d)    On vocation promotion we are encouraged to live out the following: do not be afraid to tell your story (faith sharing); do not be afraid to risk; be joyful and authentic in dealing with others in order to witness our charism; being an example is the most important; share the experience of God and to be with God and others, to live out the spirit of “Active Contemplative Attitude”. Bring about a shift in our thinking: from “mission = message” TO “Mission = Relationship”. Place the emphasis on BEING; not always on DOING.


e)     About generation Y and Z, we must create opportunities which allow them to explore their hunger and questions and affirm their relationship with God: provide stimulating theological reflection on service and social justice issues; teach and encourage the art of meditation and prayer; help them to have a spirituality that connects them to our loving and creator God; we have to establish the best “bridge” to reach them. Secularization is real. How can we really clarify the mission, vision and values of our Congregation to lay people (to the youth of generation Y and Z?).


f)     On “Transmission of the Vincentian Charism”, we are all invited to be on a journey of seeking and sharing the charism (with lay people). Refounding requires being willing to go through the darkness of loss but to maintain the charism.


g)    If we want a different future, we have to take the responsibility and be accountable for what we are doing in the present. The future is NOW, it has already begun.

The meeting shed more light on how other Congregations, institutions, religious and lay people are involved with the poor. I have also learned the importance of collaboration with people including the local church and the world at large, and how to express our charism in our mission and in the spirit of solidarity and unity. Together with others, we are capable of providing greater services to the poor and needy.

I admire the so many religious and lay people who are concretely involved in work for the poor, sometimes at the risk of their lives. This reminds me of our own “option for the poor”; art. 17 of our Constitutions “Our Principal Concern” (special concern for the poor and destitute, the under privileged and disabled, for those who experience little love); on promoting our solidarity with those in need, and General Chapter 2018 Resolution no. 16 B: Focussing our Apostolic Work on the most Poor and Needy, etc. I received a lot of support during the encounter, especially issues about our work for the poor.

Theodorus Suwariyanto

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