The Centre offers several programs:
The Ongoing Formation program is designed for confreres (priest or brother members of the Congregation) between 35 and 55. It is opportunity for personal renewal for confreres who, after decades after their seminary training, now have considerable life and ministerial experience. Themes that relate to Vincentian life and ministry are treated by experts, and reflected upon in groups by participants. The themes are: the life and work of Saint Vincent, the identity of the Congregation, signs of the times and personal transformation, our apostolates and social action, community life, prayer, Vincentian spirituality and prayer, the vows, the saints and blessed of the Vincentian Family. In recent years, other themes have been added, such as the Vincentian Family and Systemic Change, Evangelization and Media, living and working as a missionary outside one’s native culture, and Christian witness in the Muslim world. It is conducted in English, Spanish, and French with translators. There have been twenty-eight sessions from its beginning in 1994 through the fall of 2013 with a total of over 530 participants. Until 2010 it was a thee-month program; since 2011, it has been reduced to two months.
The Heritage program, begun in the year 2000, is a one month program for confreres over 55 years of age. The program follows the same themes as the Ongoing Formation Program, but the themes are handled, after a brief input, by the participants themselves based on their experience in the Congregation and their knowledge of Saint Vincent and the Constitutions and Statutes. It is conducted generally in our 3 official languages: English, French or Spanish, with translators. There have been 15 sessions through 2013.
The Servant Leadership Workshop, begun in 2006, is a one month program designed to assist select
confreres with the challenge to bring about “community for the mission” through re-visioning
their leadership roles within our Congregation of the Mission. Whether for the Provincial Visitors,
local superiors, pastors, and other role-positions, the servant leader is becoming our model. This
challenge is new and demanding. As the community has evolved over the past forty years, mission
has become separated from community. The role of the head of the apostolate, whether the president
of the university, the rector of the seminary, the pastor of the parish or the director of a specific work is often clearer and more authoritative than the role of the superior. The superior is left with maintenance and care giving, which, while very important, miss the full meaning of his role as leader and animator of the local community. The goal of the program is to encourage and facilitate dynamic leadership at the local level. Superiors of Vincentian houses and communities have been this workshop’s the primary target audience. The workshop is equally open, however, to present and future leaders in the Vincentian Family.
Mini-CIF Program has been designed for confreres who are eligible for CIF but cannot attend because of educational commitments or other pastoral demands. The normal Ongoing Formation program of CIF is concentrated in four weeks. It is a reading course in Vincent and the Vincentian Way using seminars and dialogue among the participants. Unlike the format in which “experts” do the work of analyzing and synthesizing the material, a seminar approach relies heavily on the activity of the participants. Though significantly shortened, the Mini-CIF retains the formational goals of the longer program, because it is the primary mission of CIF to focus on Vincentian formation and personal renewal. The optional fifth week is a tour to the Vincentian sites in the south of France.
The Brothers’ Session. In 2010 a special session of two months was held for the Brothers of the Congregation. The program was intended to recapture the appreciation for the vocation of the Brothers in the community and confirm the special contribution of the Brothers to the life and ministry of the Congregation.
These programs enable confreres to deepen their knowledge, love and appreciation of St. Vincent, the Vincentian community and its history as well as face the challenges of living out the Constitutions in our contemporary context.
The team invites experts in Vincentian Studies from around the world as visiting faculty. For the most part, they have been Vincentian priests and brothers and specialists from the Daughters of Charity.
The programs provide an experience of the international community at an interpersonal level. Confreres get to know other confreres from around the world and often make lasting friends. These relationships easily transcend language barriers.
Paris and the Maison-Mère offer a unique setting for the program. Paris has a meaning for the confreres and the Congregation that no place else has, and the confreres at the Maison-Mère extend themselves in warmly welcoming the participants.
The elements of the program are: presentations by Vincentian experts, sharing and group process, self study, liturgical celebrations, visits to “Vincentian Paris” and “Vincentian France” and the experience of fraternal communion.