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I believe that we would all agree that this year that is coming to an end has marked our history as citizens, as Christians and as Vincentians.
The scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic has not only ended the lives of hundreds of members of the Vincentian Family and many of our friends but has also created a situation in which there is greater poverty and hunger and therefore greater violence and many other highly complex social and economic situations in all the countries of the world.
But we, as children of Saint Vincent de Paul, cannot maintain a mere catastrophic perspective of the situation. The pandemic has also brought out the best in many of us, and it must be recognized that we have all sought new alternatives in order to continue to globalize charity.
The 13 houses project has been expanded in many countries and many poor men and women have benefited. It is my great desire that on the celebration of the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul in 2021, all those countries where the Vincentian Family is present (at this time the family is present in 158 countries) the 13 houses initiative will have been introduced. In many countries, defying fear of contagion, activities have been carried out to collect food, medicine and to continue to assist those who have been left homeless. Defying confinement, many of our houses have been opened to feed those who are forgotten and many individuals have delivered food to those who are fearful of leaving their homes. At the same time, once again defying contagion, many others have cared for those who have been hospitalized as a result of the pandemic.
Charity has not been limited exclusively to providing assistance to those afflicted by this pandemic. In countries in Central America and Asia hurricanes assaulted the peoples of these nations and we have been on the first lines, assisting and supporting those who have been left unprotected … and the list of activities on behalf of those who are most poor could continue.
On the other hand, thanks to technology, we have been able to overcome isolation, and because love is inventive to infinity, Through virtual meetings, we have prayed together, we have celebrated life together, we have participated in formation sessions together, we participated in musical concerts together, but, above all, we were able to strengthen the bonds of friendship … and yes, all of this was accomplished on the various social media platforms.
At first glance, we might say that 2020 has not been a good year, but I want to invite you to turn the medal because for us, as members of the Vincentian Family, this has been a year full of opportunities to serve, to be better, and to grow. That, in turn, makes us look forward and invites us to build. Pope Francis has told us we will not leave this crisis as the same persons that we were before all of this happened.
This is a year that has invited us to change our perspective with regard to the manner in which we view our vocation and give ourselves to others in service, the manner in which we build and relate to others in community and to our family, the manner in which we consume or accumulate goods, the manner in which we share and live in solidarity with others, the manner in which we establish a relationship with nature and commit ourselves to the protection of the “common home”, the manner in which we build family and transform society.
It is Christmas and it is a specific time, but in its specificity, I believe our present reality leads us to live it differently, without the hustle and bustle, without running around to buy gifts. I think this new reality is inviting us to what I spoke to you about in my Advent letter, namely, to pause in our journey through life and in the depths of our homes to contemplate the manger, to contemplate the face of Jesus who became a human person, to contemplate, in Jesus, the merciful face of God the Father, to contemplate all of humankind, all men and women who at this time are suffering and desire to overcome this difficult moment.
During these days when many families pray together before the crib, let us pray that to the Child of Bethlehem and ask this Child to fill us with grace during 2021 and to give us the strength to continue to serve and to be creative as we live the Vincentian virtues.
Merry and blessed Christmas 2020,
Happy and blessed year 2021
2020 Christmas Message of Father Tomaž Mavrič, C.M., the President of the Vincentian Family Executive Committee