We are a part of the Vincentian Family Any organization calling itself “Vincentian” must extend Vincent’s dream to its own time and place. All of us are inheritors of St. Vincent’s legacy and vision. The challenge before us, as with every generation, is to choose whether Vincent’s vision will be a piece of history or a living, breathing mission alive in its members.
Join Fr. Greg Gay ‘s 60 minute video tour of the Vincentian Family worldwide.
The Vincentian Family is made up of religious congregations and lay associations, that were either founded by St. Vincent de Paul or that follow his charism of service to the poor. Common elements found in each group in spite of their diversity and uniqueness:
- All the groups recognize Vincent as their founder or inspiration
- A common mission of evangelizing and serving the poor
- A common lifestyle and a concrete form of service to the poor.
- A common incarnational spirituality, which means that I experience God in an encounter with the poor, and that I serve and love God in the service of the poor.
Major Branches of the Vincentian Family
- The AIC (International Association of Charity or “Ladies of Charity”) was founded to honor Jesus and His Blessed Mother, and to assist the sick poor corporally and spiritually.
- The Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian priests and brothers) to evangelize the poor by word and works, and to help in the formation of the clergy.
- The Daughters of Charity, to be servants of the poor, seeing Jesus Christ in the poor and the poor in Christ.
- The Society of St. Vincent de Paul to deepen the faith of its members and to uplift the poor from their miseries.
- The Sisters of Charity Federation to respond to the cries of poor and marginalized persons.
- The Vincentian Marian Youth (JMV) to animate a missionary spirit in young people; to live and pray like Mary, with simplicity and humility, taking on the spirituality of the Magnificat.
- Vincentian Secular Missionaries MISEVI
- The Miraculous Medal Association to venerate Mary conceived without sin, for the sanctification of its members, and to aid the poor.
Vincentian Family Tree Project
Saints, Blesseds and Venerables of the Vincentian Family (YouTube video presentation)
Traditional Vincentian Ministries
Vincentians are obliged to attend to the salvation of souls anywhere that God calls us: above all, in places where there is a greater need and where workers for the Gospel are lacking. The 21st century missionary paradigm does not just envision established Churches sending personnel to the so-called young Churches; rather, it sees evangelization as beginning whenever a missionary leaves his or her own culture and crosses a human frontier (geographical or social) to announce the Gospel in a new culture. The missionary not only proclaims the mystery of Christ, but is evangelized too as he or she accompanies others in the process of discovering the Spirit of the Lord already acting in a local Church or culture. We see this as a way of living that not only does the world deeply need, but that leads us to happiness as well.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society encourages its membership to get involved locally in this very special ministry. Vincentians make thousands of visits to inmates each year, minister to the families of the incarcerated, and help in the rehabilitation of recently released convicts.
Vincentian priests serve as pastors, parochial vicars, as well as staffing a host of ministries in parishes around the world. While some parishes are located in very impoverished areas serving the direct needs of the physically poor, others respond to those same needs by calling others to participate in the mission of service and evangelization. Many Sisters of Charity are involved in pastoral ministry as chaplains, parish associates, vicars and pastoral care workers. The Daughters of Charity are involved at the parish level in catechesis, RCIA programmes, preparation to receive the sacraments, accompaniment of bereaved families, coordinating or supporting the people in those parishes which do not have a resident priest; and visiting people in their homes especially the house-bound.
Education continues to be an important choice in the life and work of Vincentian Family priests, Brothers, and Sisters. The Vincentian Family Colleges and Universities emphasize higher education as a means to engage cultural, social, religious, and ethical values in service to others.
In our health care ministry, we serve those at their most vulnerable. It’s important to treat them with the dignity they require at that moment in time. The Charity of Christ urges us to: recognize our own value and the value of others (Respect), provide care with gentleness and kindness (Compassion), act with integrity, clarity and honesty (Simplicity), support those who lack resources for a healthy life and full human development (Advocacy), be resourceful and creative (Inventive to Infinity). A number of major hospitals and health care systems in the U.S. are run by or sponsored by branches of the Vincentian Family. In other cases, the focus is no longer on hospitals per se; Sisters can be found in nursing, health care and retirement center administration, holistic health and alternative therapies, nutrition consulting, reflexology, massage therapy, psychology and therapy.
Direct Service and Social Services
Vincentians from all branches including the St. Vincent de Paul Society conduct many projects and programs in direct service of the poor, marginalized, elderly, children, migrants, and victims of war or natural disasters.
Systemic Change Projects
Over the last several years, Vincentian Family leaders have called for a focus on Systemic Change. Many Systemic Change strategies flow from the Gospels and the Vincentian Tradition:
- Involving the poor themselves, including women and young people, at all stages: the identification of needs, planning, implementation, evaluation and revision;
- Having a holistic vision with an integral approach toward prevention and sustainable development;
- Placing particular emphasis on self-help and self-sustaining programs, with a special view toward addressing the root causes of poverty.
Since systemic change is multifaceted and involves much collaborative activity, such projects are a good opportunity for the various branches to work together and also to cooperate with groups beyond our Family.
There are many Vincentian Youth associations, mainly volunteer groups of young lay people (for example theColorado Vincentian Volunteers or theGateway Vincentian Volunteers), or communities of faith, service, and evangelization (such as the Vincentian Marian Youth). For more links to Youth groups, see the Related Links section of this page.
The Vincentian Family has been using microfinance as an effective response to the global challenge of extreme poverty. For examples see the G.L.O.B.E. project, the Philippine Homeless People’s Federation – Community Savings and Loan Program, and Zafen (Microfinance for Haiti).
The members of the Vincentian Family place increasing emphasis today on collaborative projects.
The rural poor are most likely to suffer from hunger. Often it takes just a few simple resources for them to be able to grow enough food to become self-sufficient. These resources include quality seeds, appropriate tools and access to water. Small improvements in farming techniques and food storage methods are also helpful. Small-scale farmers should be given the opportunities and education they need to produce enough food and income to feed their families. Our natural resources need to be properly managed to ensure the land is not being over-used. Those without any land can be even hungrier: widows, orphans, the elderly, refugees. The wealthy eat first: grain, soy and other commodities are fed to animals to produce resource-intensive meat and dairy for the industrialized world, while the hungry lack the financial means to compete. The Vincentian Family focused on hunger in a special way during their two-year Campaign Against Hunger.
The availability of clean, fresh water is one of our most important issues. Our Sisters in particular have campaigned for water rights in many ways.
The Vincentian Family believes that we are all called to stop the devastation that humans are inflicting on the planet. We are committed to a way of living that values interdependence and the sacredness of the earth.
AIDS destroys communities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Orphaned children, whose parents died from AIDS, are suffering the consequences of the epidemic. Millions have to care for their ill parents, brothers and sisters, or have lost their loved ones, teachers, and others providing basic human services. The Daughters of Charity collaborate with the Community of Sant’Egidio on the D.R.E.A.M. project, whose special focus is to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS from a pregnant woman to her newborn child.
The International Daughters of Charity have taken an official position against Human Trafficking. The Daughters are involved at a local level to respond to human trafficking through existing networks and by providing direct services whenever possible.
Access to Basic Health Services
Part of our mission is to improve access for persons of low income or without health insurance to primary care and preventive health services. We are committed to stopping the inequities in access to healthcare between rich and poor, urban and rural, and from nation to nation. For example, Seton Institutesupports the primary healthcare work of Catholic Sisters in the least developed countries.
The Daughters of Charity, Sisters of Charity, and Ladies of Charity have served in Haiti for many years. The Congregation of the Mission also has two houses in Haiti. As part of our 350th Anniversary celebration, the Vincentian Family initiated Zafen, in partnership with Fonkoze, a Haitian microfinance institution, to empower sustainable economic development there.
In the U.S., the Daughters of Charity and other branches work locally in direct service with immigrants, and nationally to promote reform. Based on our person-to-person experiences, we see how the enforcement of laws and policies needs to be aligned with humanitarian values.
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