What Makes Vincentians Different From Social Workers?
What makes the work of the Vincentian Family different from other charitable organizations?
I have never forgotten a cartoon I once saw in a futurist magazine. It depicted two monks looking up at a jetliner high above them. The caption read:
“They have the “know-how”… but do they have the “know why?
I was reminded of that cartoon when I recently read an article that included testimony of a medical researcher about why she entered the medical field and her understanding of it now.
The impact of a theology course
In an article in CRUX, theologian Charles Camosy asked Maggie Musso (née Skoch): You’ve said that you became a medical student because you were a theology major. Could you unpack that somewhat surprising statement for us?
From the beginning of my undergraduate education, I intended to pursue a career as a physician. If you asked me why, I would have said something generic about helping others and being a lifelong learner. I also planned to select a major in the humanities, perhaps psychology, as I figured the pre-med courses preceding four years of medical school would offer sufficient engagement in the sciences.
However, after a captivating introductory theology course, I was swept away by the exploration and study of mystery and meaning, the celebration of liturgy, the study of ancient texts, and the questions of life, death, suffering, and what it means to be human.
This education of my mind and heart reshaped how I perceived the world and my place in it. Through the study of theology, I came to understand medicine as my vocation; sharing my gifts through service to my community as a physician is my response to this calling.
I will be forever grateful to the University of Notre Dame for its world-class Theology Department, as well as its inclusion of two theology courses in its core curriculum. I may still have gone to medical school if I had not studied theology, but I imagine I would be a very different kind of physician without this education. This education of my mind and heart reshaped how I perceived the world and my place in it.
What we bring…
The above speaks volumes about why Vincentians are in Catholic higher education and require theology courses, but it also speaks to all of our ministries.
We bring something different to our charitable work. We bring an underlying spirituality and world view. We see what we do as living out a Gospel vision.
We may do many of the same things that charitable organizations do. But we do them from a different base and see it as living out of two sayings of Jesus.
Whatever you do to the least of my sisters and brothers you do to me!
At the Last Supper, he washed their feet and then pointedly asked them … “Do you understand what I have just done?”
It may not change what we do, but it sure puts what we do in a context.
It might be similar to the care that nurses give in a neonatal unit. But most would recognize that a mother herself comes from an even deeper place.
Food for thought
- How conscious are we “why” we do what we do?
- How can we deepen our world view?