It is a tremendous joy and an extraordinary honor for the worldwide Vincentian Family to have the opportunity to mark this year’s celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism at the European Parliament.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the President of the European Parliament, Mr. Antonio Tajani, for the invitation, and to his office and all the other committees within the European Parliament who have worked so hard to prepare this event. I also would like to thank Mr. Alojz Peterle, member of the European Parliament, who contributed so much to make this event a reality.
I too want to extend my thanks to Father Robert Maloney, CM; to the members of the Vincentian Family Office, coordinated by Father Joseph Agostino, CM; and to all the others members of the Vincentian Family who did so much in these last months leading up to today’s encounter.
I would like to thank all of you, members of the European Parliament, distinguished guests from Europe and other countries around the world, representing countries, Church and civil institutions, organizations, the different branches of Consecrated life in the Vincentian Family, as well as lay groups, who came here today to participate in this event.
Looking back with deep thankfulness on the 400 years of heroic service to the poor by millions of persons who were inspired by the Charism of Saint Vincent de Paul, we also look with great hope to the future. Those people gave themselves totally to assisting others most in need around the world, performing wonders and miracles in the poorest areas of the world. We want to continue meeting the poorest of the poor in every corner of the world, wherever there is a sister or brother in need physically, materially, spiritually, or any other area, and do all we can to combat the different kinds of poverties in order to make this world a better place, a place according to God’s plans. Many of these are also the clear values, goals, and priorities of Europe.
Four hundred years ago, Saint Vincent de Paul was touched so deeply by the material and spiritual poverty he had encountered, that he made two radical moves. Firstly, he began his own personal conversion in relation to persons on the margins of society. Secondly, he responded immediately, in a concrete and organized way, to the tremendous needs of the poor.
He involved all levels of society, all levels of government, institutions, different groups within the Church, as well as various civil groups. He build a network of charity that spread, first across France, and then to other countries of Europe and the world. This network of charity, the Vincentian Family, its collaborators and volunteers, now has spread this spirit of charity across Europe and the world, where in over 150 countries the flame that started 400 years ago keeps burning.
Because Vincent de Paul was in love with Jesus, he was in love with the poor. He made no distinction among persons, with regard to religion, color, race, background, etc. He rushed to help people in every way possible.
Vincent de Paul believed strongly in collaboration. He believed that every person could bring her or his gifts and talents together to achieve a single goal: the “Globalization of Charity.”
We are here today, in the city of Brussels, in this beautiful building of the European Parliament, surrounded by many other institutions of Europe that help this miracle that is Europe move forward.
Encouraged by the presence of representatives of many governments, institutions, Church representatives, branches of the Vincentian Family, Church and civil groups, our dream becomes more and more a reality, something attainable. The “Globalization of Charity” remains our common dream. If we dream alone a dream remains a dream. If we dream together, the dream becomes a reality.
Tomaž Mavrič, CM
Congregation of the Mission and
Company of the Daughters of Charity