In 1658 Vincent, after one of his conferences, distributed the Common Rules to the members of the Congregation that had already been in existence for some three decades. The season of spring was drawing to a close and so also was the arduous labor that had been continued for many years. Before writing down those rules Vincent wanted the missionaries to first live them. The result of that wise decision, was the endurance of the Common Rules of the Congregation of the Mission endure. On the occasion of the Meeting of Vincentian Seminarians of the Province of Colombia (July 14 -16, 2017) I would like to recall the beautiful text from the Common Rules which, when speaking about the reality of community, should be in the forefront of our minds. The universal patron of all charitable works stated: The community is continually responsible for its development, especially as we renew the principal elements of our way of living and acting. These are:  following Christ the Evangelizer as a community, which generated in us special bonds of love and affection; in this, we should, “like good friends,” (Common Rules, VIII:2) join reverence for one another with genuine esteem (Constitutions, #25)
Like good friends … Without a doubt, this was the theme of the 60 seminarians who participated in this meeting. It did not matter whether one was an incorporated or an admitted member, whether one was from Colombia or some other country (the presence of Peruvian and Venezuelan students should be noted) … the constant throughout the meeting was fraternity. Formation and recreation, dialogue and humor, did not go unnoticed. Confronting the doubts and uncertainties of those who were beginning their vocational pilgrimage, sharing experiences, the presence of our formators, the accompaniment of the Visitor and his Council … all these became a set of ingredients that enriched and stimulated both our vocational life and our community life.
As a result of this sharing among brothers, we remain committed to continue to be that light of hope for our Province, for our Congregation and of course, for our Church. We are aware that it is such “healthy friendship” enkindles the light. Indeed, if we live in this manner we shall be that generation of young people of which the Pope spoke when he stated: This new generation of young people gave the answer to today’s challenge. They gave a sign of hope, and this sign is called fraternity, because, in fact, in this world at war, we need fraternity, closeness, dialogue and friendship. And this is a sign of hope: when there is fraternity (During the celebration of World Youth Day in Poland, 2016).
Charles T. Plock, CM