The Congregation of the Mission, often known as Vincentian Fathers and Brothers or Lazarists, is a community of Roman Catholic priests and brothers founded by St. Vincent de Paul in 1625 for the evangelization of the poor and the formation of the clergy. Vincentian priests and brothers total over 3,000 worldwide and serve in 86 countries. We are a Congregation for the mission. (video).
Members of the community serve Christ among the poor and the marginalized. Visit Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
Vincent de Paul was born in the village of Pouy in 1581. As a boy he lived among the poor and experienced the conditions under which they lived. In 1600 he became a priest. For a time he sought to escape from the poverty of his origins, but with the help of spiritual directors he felt himself called to deeper holiness and, through the events of his life, was finally led by divine providence to a firm determination to dedicate himself to the salvation of the poor. While he was exercising his ministry in Gannes and, on the 25th of January 1617, in Folleville, he saw that the evangelization of the poor was an urgent need. He himself held that this was the origin of his vocation, and of the Congregation of the Mission.
We are called to serve…
- The abandoned, those rejected by society, the poor, the lonely
- Those who suffer from forms of moral poverty which are peculiar to our own times.
- The implementation of the demands of social justice and evangelical charity.
“If there are any among us who think they are in the Mission to evangelize poor people but not to alleviate their sufferings, to take care of their spiritual needs but not their temporal ones, I reply that we have to help them and have them assisted in every way, by us and by others, if we want to hear those pleasing words of the Sovereign Judge of the living and the dead, “Come, beloved of my Father; possess the kingdom that has been prepared for you, because I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was naked and you clothed me; sick and you assisted me.” To do this is to preach the Gospel by words and by works (CCD:XII:77-78).
“Do you think, Sisters, that God expect you simply to bring His poor persons a piece of bread,a little meat, some soup, and some medicine? Oh no, Sisters! that was not his plan in choosing you from all eternity to render Him the services you do for Him in the person of the poor. He expects you to provide for their spiritual needs as well as for those of the body. They need heavenly manna; they need the Spirit of God (CCD:IX:189).”
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We are priests and brothers who …
Trust In Divine Providence
St. Vincent had a deep faith and trust in God’s providential care for him and for all people, especially the poor.
Strive to be Contemplatives in Action
St. Vincent and St. Louise established a new form of religious life- an un-cloistered, effective blending of the divine and the human, the supernatural and the practical, the contemplative and the active. Through their encounter with the Christ of gentleness and compassion in prayer, Vincentians are prepared to go out and assist the same Christ in poor persons. As Vincent said, “Give me persons of prayer and they will be capable of anything.”
Live a “Preferential Option for the Poor”
The Christian charity we are called to practice is not giving away to the poor the left-over, our spare time, our extra money, our old clothes, etc. Charity for us must mean giving our best and at times our everything. Our life must reflect the life of Jesus Christ who has called us to this great vocation of love. Our respect for the dignity of poor persons must lead us to treat them like guests at our family table and not as beggars at our gate, waiting for the crumbs.
Practice Apostolic Reflection
Having encountered a poor person, or following an experience of service to the poor, we reflect together on that experience and its implications through prayer and Bible study. In this way we begin to learn how to cope with our own inner poverty. Vincentian spirituality maintains that this contemplation provides an experiential key that can help to unlock the true meaning of the Scriptures. This process of transformation prepares us to return to renewed service of our Lords, the poor.
Believe The Poor Are Our Masters
We believe that the poor have some claim over our time. Much like a subordinate would be deferential to someone of higher authority, we show a deep respect, even devotion, for those who are poor. Our speech is simple. We deny ourselves of things and pleasures in order that we might be in solidarity with a poor person; so that they will not feel embarrassed by our presence. We go to them; not them coming to us always. We remain approachable and are kindly disposed when greeting them. We show patience, when persons may be demanding or even angry. We listen attentively to them, and consider first their needs. They must have a say in how they might redirect their lives.
Have a Secular Presence
From the beginning, the role of the laity was pivotal to our mission. The laity revealed the needs of the poor to Vincent at both Folleville and Chatillon-les-Dombes. One could say that the laity led Vincent to the poor. Today the Vincentian Family still shares a secular character. The charism comes from an association with the laity (SSVP, AMM, JMV, AIC, MISEVI).
Commit ourselves to 4 Vows
The Superior General is considered to be the successor of Saint Vincent and governs the destiny of the Congregation according to the Constitutions and Statutes. He is elected by the General Assembly for a period of six years and was re-elected for another six years beginning 2010.
In the Constitutions the superior general is described as the center of unity and coordination of all the provinces. Consequently he ought to be a source of encouragement for their life together and their apostolic activity.
The present superior general, Father G. Gregory Gay was born in Baltimore, Md., USA on October 8, 1953. He entered the Congregation on August 8, 1973 and was ordained a priest on May 24, 1980. He was elected by the General Assembly of 2004 for a period of six years and re-elected in 2010 for a second term.
Offices, Commissions, and Conferences of the General Curia:
- Ad-Hoc and Ongoing Commissions of the General Curia
- Archives and Library of the Curia
- Center for International Formation (Paris)
- International Missions
- International Secretariat for Vincentian Studies (SIEV)
- Office of Publications, Media, and Digital Communications
- Office of the Vincentian Family
- Procurator General at the Holy See
- Postulator General at the Holy See
- Vincentian Solidarity Office & Patrimony Fund
- United Nations N.G.O.
Explanation and Listing of Commissions:
Ad-hoc and Ongoing Commissions of the General Curia
There are two forums utilized by the General Curia for collaboration and participation among members: Ad-Hoc, or temporary committees, with a specific task and timeline; and ongoing commissions, whose work and membership is more long term.
- Commission for Revised Ratio Formationis for initial formation
- Preparatory Commission for 2013 International Visitors Meeting
- Commission to Create Non-Profit Charitable ‘ONLUS’ Programs in Italy (Organismi Non-Lucrativi di Utilita Sociale.)
- Commission to Promote Dialogue with Islam
- Commission to Promote Systemic Change
- Vincentian Family Collaborative Action Program
- Commission for Wise Management of Funds and Resources
- Interactive map
- Organization – Visitor’s Conferences