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In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right.
https://johnfreund.net/2022/04/27/asking-the-right-questions-about-social-media/

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

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THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the stage for the great Catholic social encyclicals on the rights of workers, beginning with Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (On Labor) in 1891. Fr. John Freund, CM, reflects on what some might call Pope Francis’ ‘Mayday signal’ for workers today.

Read the Post from Fr. John Freund: https://johnfreund.net/2022/05/02/mayday-pope-francis/

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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Fr. John Freund CM explores the “annunciation” of the greatest change in human thinking. Mary’s yes changed HER world … and OUR world!

Read More at Fr. John Freund’s Mindwalk

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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Spiritual heart transplants are examples of the repentance Jesus calls us to – “metanoia” or ”change your way of thinking”… and live according to that changed way of thinking. Fr. John Freund CM reflects on how the followers of Vincent have more become aware of Vincent’s radical change of heart in his life changing concern for the poor.

https://johnfreund.net/2022/03/25/heart-transplants-physical-and-spiritual/

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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Jesus spent much of his time forming a team filled with a sense of common mission. What’s more, they were so different from one another. Fr. John Freund CM reflects on why Jesus recruited ordinary people.

https://johnfreund.net/2022/04/01/jesus-drew-the-best-out-of-ordinary-people/

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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I don’t think I can ever again read Luke’s account of Jesus’ rejection in his hometown (4:21-30) without thinking of Pope Francis’ homily.

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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A monthly series in Vincentian Voices where we ask five random questions to an Eastern Province Priest or Brother.

We talk with Fr. John Freund, CM, who in May celebrated 55 years as a priest. The occasion of his five-and-a-half decades of priestly ministry seemed like a good time to ask him a few questions.

*

Vincentian Father John FreundNote from Fr. Freund:

First let me thank you for this series and the evocative questions you asked. I must admit I progressed from wondering how I would answer, then to the awakening some long dormant memories, and finally trying to figure how to not make the answers book-length!

  1. Outside of Sacred Scripture, what book or text (religious or secular) had an impact on you as a young man and why?

I had the forgotten the book until you asked the question. “When the Sorghum Was High” detailed the life and martyrdom of a young Maryknoll missionary martyred in 1938, the year I was born. I was in 8th grade when I read his biography.  I think God used it to plant the seed of my vocation, which took root with the Vincentians in the soil of St. John’s Prep.

A few years later it was “The Silver Chalice.” This the story of Damian, a maker of chalices. Before crafting a special chalice he traveled the land of Jesus in order to talk with those who knew Jesus. The search took me into wondering about the reactions of each person he spoke with.

  1. You spent decades teaching in higher education. Do you have a favorite moment from the classroom that comes to mind?

This was tough given that for over 50 years I have been teaching either in physical classrooms or the classrooms of cyberspace.

Perhaps because I just wrote a “Mindwalk” reflection on it, the memory that still impacts me today was not in a formal classroom, but in the classroom otherwise known as the chapel at. St. John’s University. And I was not the teacher. “But your students you will be taught.” I experienced the meaning of proclaiming God’s word from an undergraduate.

It was an Easter Vigil in the late 1960s. Liz reached into my heart as she forcefully proclaimed the passage from Isaiah: “Can’t you see I am doing something new?” I had “heard” the passage many times before. This time was different. In her passion I could hear the frustration of the prophet crying out “thus says the Lord…!” Israel was in cultural and religious crisis in the midst of their Babylonian captivity. Even more in these last years have I tried to proclaim as she proclaimed the word of God.

Vincentian Fr. John Freund

  1. You have a popular blog called Vincentian Mindwalk (johnfreund.net). What is the mission of Vincentian Mindwalk and what do you enjoy most about producing it?

This is actually related to the previous question. For almost 25 years I have been editing and writing “news” briefs for the Vincentian Family website FamVin.org. “Vincentian Mindwalk” is a metaphor for what I enjoyed most about teaching… walking with young people as they explored questions that were meaningful to them. “Mindwalk” is a digital space where three or four times a week I and other followers of Vincent and Louise can explore and share with like-minded people issues and questions that matter to us with people who matter to us.

  1. What movie or television show have you seen the most? Explain.

First, I must admit that I do not watch much TV. I look to the Internet to feed my almost insatiable curiosity (Thank you, Dad!). The exception, in terms of sustained watching, were two long-running and critically acclaimed British TV series: “Downton Abbey” explored in a relatable way the social inequality in British society in the early 20th century. “Call the Midwife” gave insight into the complexity of the life and death ministry experienced by a group of Anglican sisters serving in the slums of London. Both are parables for today.

  1. If you could have dinner with one non-religious historical figure (dead or alive), who would it be and why? What might you ask them?

Here I beg your indulgence as I cheat by expanding the invitation to two. I would like to sit down with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as they reflected on the great experiment known as American democracy. It would be fascinating to listen to what it was like at the dawn of the experiment… and then at the major societal crisis we call the “Civil War” (which was not so civil). I am certain their insights would be mutually enriching.

P.S.: I invite you to sit at the Vincentian Mindwalk table (click HERE).

 

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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Nuns and sisters? Are they the same?

Many would say there is no difference.

There is actually a big difference and St. Vincent de Paul is responsible for setting in motion the difference.

Prior to his time, the only ministry that was open to women was a ministry of prayer behind cloister walls. Vincent recognized the tremendous potential of women for a far greater range of ministries. He actively enlisted women  “confraternities” who wished to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the poor.

After about 10 years he realized that many of these women wanted to dedicate their lives so such service. They wished to formalize this commitment by vows. The problem was that the only vows recognized by the Church were the vows of “religious” nuns. By law, they lived out their lives in a cloister.

With his peasant ingenuity, he discovered a way for these women to care for the physical and spiritual needs outside of a convent. Instead of taking formal religious vows, he stressed that they take simple private vows and only for one year at a time. This exempted them from the requirement of life in a monastery. These women were called “Daughters of Charity.” They regarded themselves as “Sisters” rather than “religious.”

This is the background for his teaching: “The Daughters of Charity have… for a convent, the houses of the sick; for cell, a rented room; for chapel, the parish church; for cloister, the streets of the city; for enclosure, obedience; for grille, the fear of God; and for veil, holy modesty.”

Working as a young group of Sisters, the newly formed Daughters of Charity set up soup kitchens, organized community hospitals, established schools and homes for orphaned children, offered job training, taught the young to read and write, and improved prison conditions.

The rest is, as they say, history… but what a history!

So in Church law, there is quite a difference. They are covered by entirely distinct sections of church law.

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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They are men, women, members of organized branches of the Vincentian Family such as the AIC, the St. Vincent dePaul Society, the Congregation of the Mission (and former members of the Congregation). It is particularly encouraging to see what we in organized branches are still struggling to name… “unaffiliated Vincentians” or those who are attracted to the ideal of Vincent, but not part of any branch.

What struck me

In the spirit of “Mindwalk”, the critically unappreciated yet powerful movie that provides the title and the inspiration for this site, we are learning from one another. I know I am! In that spirit of exploration I share what struck me this week.

“Imagination – opens up avenues of terminology to describe and encourage the “spark” of our mission.” Dee Mansi

“Vincent realizing his own poverty (as a bridge to other peoples’ poverty), is often overlooked.” Tom McKenna

Imagination and scripture 

These, among other thoughts you shared,  prompted my second thoughts on Vincent’s Secret Sauce. So I wandered a bit with thoughts of the power of imagination and the power of reading scripture that shaped Vincent’s life and mission. With the help of my personal research assistant, Google, I discovered these two thoughts.

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” ― Lewis Carroll

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” ― Mark Twain

The reality of Vincent’s time was very harsh… and that includes realities we often don’t understand about Vincent’s time… the ravages of plagues, and devastating wars brought about by political and theological polarization.

Reading scripture, certainly inspired his imagination and shaped Vincent’s life… I believe that Vincent read scripture not for intellectual insight but as something that he saw connected with his daily life. He fed his imagination with scripture!

The scriptures were not only about other people who lived a long time ago in another culture. They were stories he identified with by letting his mind imagine what the stories of long ago and the actions of Jesus taught him about the possibilities of a different way of looking at his reality. Scripture became his lens and prompted his imagining what he would think or do in any given situation. Scripture allowed him to imagine his own poverty before God.

The Vincentian question, because it was the one Vincent always asked, is “What must be done?”

  • Do we imagine ourselves into the pages of Scripture?
  • Does this reading open up our imagination to what can be done?
  • What are we doing to live the scripture in our lives today?

PS FamVin has a series “Vincent’s Life Lessons”

This post first appeared on Vincentian Mindwalk

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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Fr. Michael Shea, C.M., Associate Director of the Miraculous Medal, Shrine reflects on Pentecost through the lens of some Irish mystics.

The Most Important Room in Christendom

The Irish mystics talk about a Thin Place … a Place where heaven and earth have intersected giving people a taste, a glimpse, a momentary experience of the presence of God.

The Upper Room in Jerusalem, the Cenacle where Jesus and a number of his followers gathered together on various occasions, is a Thin Place. Three majestic events happened there. First, on Holy Thursday evening Jesus gathered in the Upper Room with several of his disciples to celebrate the Passover meal. The Lord used this occasion to institute the Eucharist. The following Sunday evening, Easter Sunday, the risen Lord appeared to his apostles in the same Upper Room. He offered them shalom peace and instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Then fifty days after Easter the Holy Spirit, in the form of tongues of fire, descended upon the apostles in the Upper Room and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church was founded. On these three occasions the Upper Room, the most important room in Christendom, was a Thin Place … a Place where heaven and earth intersected giving people a taste, a glimpse, a momentary experience of the presence of God.

A Suggestion For Pentecost

May 31st is Pentecost Sunday. On that day I suggest that we visit the Upper Room virtually. As baptized Christians, as people filled with God’s Holy Spirit, we can do this by quieting ourselves down, raising our minds and hearts to God in prayer and allow the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts, to reach out to the Holy Spirit who descended upon the apostles in the Upper Room fifty days after Easter… and linger there. If we do this, heaven and earth may intersect within us and make our hearts a Thin Place.

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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What did “whole world ” mean? The Jewish world? Or did it include the Gentile world? In the Acts of the Apostles we see that it took them a while to figure out these and many other issues. They had to learn new languages and understand new cultures.

They were willing to go out into the world, but did not fully understand what that would mean. They had to change their mental maps. What was essential from their former culture in the new? How to discover the seeds of their former culture in what they had been taught? How nurture the seeds of the Good News in different soil?

Our world has changed radically

We have the same mission. Go out to the whole world. . But, with unprecedented speed, our world has changed radically. The world we are going out to is increasingly different from the world in which we grew up. The world today is more radically different than many of us realize.

Over a period of decades we have seen the slow demise of the Christendom in which we grew up. Pope Francis is very frank! “Christendom no longer exists. Today we are not the only ones who produce culture, nor are we the first or the most listened to. Christianity is often denied, derided, marginalized, or ridiculed.”

We can no longer assume that we in the West make the same associations. “Madonna” evokes Mary to an older generation. For many today Madonna refers to a pop star.

In the last 20 or so years the digital era has changed our lives enormously. These years have served as the formative world of those under 40. Many of us only have superficial glimpses of how differently digital natives think and what values are important to them.

Digital natives look at the world differently. Digital immigrants have learned to use email and other forms of social media. We have not yet learned to think digitally. Thinking digitally is not simply a matter of a new technology.

And now there is growing realization that the COVID19 pandemic will, in ways that are still unclear, most likely forever change us and the way we will live and work.

Each of these changes can be described in various ways. But the changes are real

Adjusting our mental and ministerial maps

No wonder Pope Francis says, “We are not just living in a time of changes, but in a change of times.” It is healthy, he said, to allow ourselves “to be questioned by the challenges of the present time with discernment and courage, rather than to let ourselves be seduced by the comfortable inertia that comes with leaving everything as it is.”

He continues in speaking to the Cardinals of the Curia, “It often happens that we experience change simply by putting on new clothes, and then we stay the way we were before.” It is not enough to do things in a way that once worked.

Whether we recognize it or not, this is not the world many on this Vincentian Mindwalk grew up in. A new generation thinks differently, communicates differently. And will increasingly use space differently.

Yet, whether we understand it or not, the time-honored missionary principle stays the same…Learn the language of the new world … understand the new culture.

It is as simple as that. It is a daunting as that! Are we who follow Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor up to it?

Our mental maps

  • What do you think is the most significant difference in the world today from what so many of us experienced in our formative years?
  • How well do we understand the mental maps of digital natives?
  • What will always be the same, and what needs to change in the way we bring good news, especially to the marginalized?

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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The Oval Office, Buckingham Palace? … Would you believe a simple “upper room” in Jerusalem!

Why? Because in that room on the day we call Pentecost, the most powerful movement in history was launched.

Today we tend to call that movement the Roman Catholic Church. But the facts at one level don’t do justice to what was unleashed that day.

Today there are well over one billion people, all under one Pope. We forget that the Catholic Church includes 23 other cultural expressions or “Rites” united under the Pope. We refer to them most often as Eastern Rites Churches. That a pretty crowded room!

Why do we think of Pentecost as the day when this movement was launched?

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.  Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,*which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues* as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. (Acts 2)

Those who listened to them were astounded! In amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?”

The four Gospels are a kind of prequel about the initial recruitment and training period that led up to the formal launch of this movement. They tell the story of how people were invited to join the movement and how a select few serious, even if very unlikely and ordinary folks, were formed to be leaders.

What is even more startling is who the Spirit chose to settle upon! The first followers of this Jesus who gathered in that room were confused, disheartened, and fearful –  hardly a group you would expect could start a world-wide movement. And they themselves clearly never saw coming what would happen to them!

With the power of the Holy Spirit, they boldly began to speak about what they seen, and been touched by. What is more people of different languages and cultures could understand their words!

The Acts of the Apostles tell us how the first followers “grew in wisdom, age, and grace.” It was too much to comprehend all at once! At first all they were aware of and understood was that they were part of “God’s story. And the more they understood, the more they began to act as “God’s storytellers.” (Pope Francis’ beautiful image in his letter for the 54 World Day of Communications.)

They thought they understood, but slowly began to realize they had to let go of many of misconceptions and even cherished religious practices. They began to realize how radical were the implications of this transformation. They began to live God’s story. History tells us how astounded their neighbors were. “See these Christians. They love one another!” They came to understand that Jesus was serious when he asked them to wash one another’s feet!

We are called to continue telling that story with the way we live our lives in imitation of ChristThey became foot washing disciples or servants of the servants.

That room where is started still exists today

Maybe not the actual physical space! They began to understand what Jesus meant when he said “Where two or three are gathered together there am I in the midst of them!”

“They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. (Acts 1:14)”

The pattern was set! They began to realize how important it was to break bread together. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” Act 2:42

That pattern continues to this day… and in this very place. Are we not today 2 or 3 gathered in his name. We are gathered here in this “upper room” waiting for unexpected things happen and ready to accept when they are not what we expected.

An upper room today is a gathering of praying Christians who encounter the manifest presence of Christ and his Spirit. Anywhere! Any size! Any time! Anyone! Today’s upper room comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

There is another more important upper room

The upper room of our heart is the upper room of our inner world from which springs all our actions. Inside each of us is an “upper room” where we experience the living presence of God. Wherever we are, whenever we take the time to find and speak and listen to God, we can experience his life-giving, sacramental, and transformative presence.

Our challenge today

The liturgy for Memorial Day says it so well!

“(Jesus) spoke a message of peace and taught us to live as brothers. His message took form in the vision of our fathers as he fashioned a nation where all might live as one. This message lives on in our midst as a task for us today and promise for tomorrow.

We thank you, Father, for your blessings in the past and for all that, with your help, we must yet achieve.”  (Preface)

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

Asking the Right Questions About Social Media

May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

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Manny Leyson offers us his insights into Vincent’s journey. I found them very concise and stimulating. They may lead us to recognize our own journey’s from looking for good news for himself to bringing good news to those on the margins.

He used the following personal reflections when he was village director of SOS Children’s Village Manila..He met with his staff once a week in what he called “Wednesday Conferences.” “Not only did it bring us together, but it also enabled us to work together as a team.”

Excerpts from the full document found at https://bit.ly/vincent-then-now

Part One: AWARENESS

Vincent tried for twenty years to distance himself from the reality of poverty and create a career for himself…

Now Vincent was no longer focused on himself or his family or on his social status. He is now focused on the poor people in the rural area and their spiritual needs.

Part Two: UNDERSTANDING

The turning point in Vincent’s life:

  • when he started to identify with the poor
  • when he began to realize his own poverty
  • when Vincent discovered the poor person in himself
  • when he reached the point of saying no longer “the poor” but could exclaim “we the poor”

It became a clear sign that he openly recognized his own poverty, his own weaknesses, his own sinfulness. From that perspective, from that moment on, he went out to meet others. Vincent de Paul discovered “Jesus’s face” in the poor and the poor in Jesus. This became his most precious treasure.

As we look outward to the cry of the poor, we should not forget to look inward, to the cry of the poor within us, to the poverty within us that cries for help, for freedom, for redemption.

It was Vincent’s acceptance and recognition of his own poverty that led him to purify his own heart, the heart that then beat so strongly for persons on the margins of society!

Part Three: ACTION

Vincent’s approach to the person was not the approach of a theology from “above,” but rather an approach to the person from Vincent’s own poverty, the approach of a theology from “below.”

To welcome the stranger within us, to recognize that he exists in every one of us, to embrace this stranger, accept him, and then give it all to Jesus to heal our wounds, to surrender completely to Him and trust totally in His Providence: this was Vincent’s way.

At the same time, he experienced his own personal conversion, dedicating himself totally to the spiritually and materially poor and bringing about the collaboration of so many, who followed in his footsteps, to make the Gospel a reality “here and now” for millions and millions throughout the 400 years that have passed since that time.

This mission will not end until Charity is globalized, until Charity has embraced all corners of the world and touched the heart of every person!

I hope the above excerpts will help each of us reflect on our own journeys’.

See full document at https://bit.ly/vincent-then-now

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“An element, quality, ability, or practice that makes something or someone successful or distinctive.”

I don’t know whether Vincent had some secret sauce that accounted for the change he brought to Church and society in 17th Century France.

I don’t know whether Vincent even thought of a secret sauce that allowed him to bring about such momentous changes. I suspect he would be like many good cooks. Their recipes seem sprinkled with words like “a little bit of this, heat until…” They seem to know instinctively what to do and when. But their recipes that would not be very specific.

Still, I wondered if, thinking a little more, I could gain some insight into his secret ingredients and how he used them to bring about such momentous change. If Vincent had a secret sauce what might be the main ingredient?

Vincent’s “Secret Sauce”

During this time of at-risk populations staying at home I have been thinking a lot about the secret to his success. Imagination was his secret sauce for changing his world. I finally realized the key ingredient of his secret sauce for change was his IMAGINATION… some would prefer the word “vision.”

He looked at the world that most accepted as, “That’s just the way it is.” But he sensed that there was something wrong with what he saw. Especially when viewed against the vision and mission of Jesus bringing Good News to the Poor. He imagined a different world, a world where people washed one another’s feet as Jesus said would be the sign of being true disciples.

Then he asked what we refer to today as the Vincentian question: “What must be done?”

Vincentian Imagination

I doubt he had any other plan than simply following the lead of Providence. This providence led him to inspire movements that shaped the “influencers” of his world and tapped into previously unrecognized resources.

Tuesday conferences – influencing the “influencers”

Few clergy in his day seemed to have any idea of the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus. Vincent was painfully aware of the lack of spiritual leadership by the clergy. He imagined a clergy on fire with the Gospel. But he went further than just imagining. He asked what must be done.

Enter the Tuesday Conferences, which became the secret sauce to influence the “influencers” (to use jargon from today’s systemic change literature).

I must admit that I thought I knew what these conferences were. I imagined clergy would show up to listen to Vincent give a talk. I am embarrassed now to realize how far from reality that was. It was so much more.

IF (notice the “if”) they were invited to the conference it actually meant they committed themselves to a more Gospel way of living out their specific vocation as front-line servants (influencers?) who would lead their parishes by word and example. That meant so much more than just a token one hour a week. It was more like a spiritual boot camp for priests who wanted to be more effective ministers of the gospel. (Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing descriptions of how this program  actually functioned.)

He re-imagined what was necessary to cultivate the “influencers”who would together change the Church.

The untapped resource of the laity, especially women

His well-known foundations (the Confraternities, the Daughters of Charity, and the Ladies of Charity) tapped the previously untapped resources of generous laity.

Keep in mind that even the Daughters of Charity are not religious but, in the Code of Canon Law, “societies of apostolic life,” the same category as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and many other branches of the Vincentian Family today.

It was another one of his pioneering insights. He broadened the concept of ministry to include laypeople, something we began to rediscover in Vatican II. It was doubly pioneering in the fact that, surprising as it may seem, there had been no way for women to engage in any kind of ministry or service prayer other than behind the walls and doors of convents.

He entrusted St. Louise with the inspiration and formation of these women. In effect, Louise developed a feminine and a lay form of the Tuesday Conference program.

What must be done today? Use our imagination!

  • Identify and form the influencers in our generation both male and female.
  • Inspire generous and gifted laity.
  • Help them recognize how they share in the mission of Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor.

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In the second chapter of the Gospel of John, there is a verse that the disciples attribute to Jesus as he drives out money lenders and sellers of sheep and cattle from the temple in Jerusalem: “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” [John 2:16]. The thought that most hit me was “our common home is also God’s own house, permeated by the Spirit of God from the dawn of creation, where the Son of God pitched his tent in the supreme event of the incarnation.

My Father’s House

On the eve of what Pope Francis calls Laudato Si Week marking the 5th Anniversary of his landmark  (pun intended) encyclical on the environment  Laudoto Si, he wrote four statements that stopped me in my tracks and made me think more deeply.
  • Today, we could, and probably we should, understand this house as our common planetary home. It is this common home which is being despoiled and desecrated today. Significantly, our common home is also God’s own house, permeated by the Spirit of God from the dawn of creation, where the Son of God pitched his tent in the supreme event of the incarnation. It is in this common home that God co-dwells with humanity and of which we have been entrusted with stewardship, as we read in the book of Genesis [2:15].
  • The contemporary ecological crisis, in fact, lays bare precisely our incapacity to perceive the physical world as impregnated with divine presenceWe have swapped the lofty vision of the physical world as God’s own abode, sanctified by the incarnation of the Son of God, with the one-dimensional mechanistic outlook of modernity.
  • Accordingly, the physical world gets reduced to a mere storehouse of resources for human consumption, just real estate for market speculation. . . . Through pollution of the planet’s land, air, and waters, we have degraded our common home that is also God’s own home. We have turned this sacred abode into a marketplace.
  • In a situation of planetary emergency like the collapse of our planetary abode, we need to be aflame once again with the zeal for our common home.
Pope Francis writes… “I do not want to write this encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. I don’t think I ever will read the story about ”My Father’s House” in John’s Gospel solely from that vantage of the “good guys”again.

About “My Father’s House”…

  • Is my concept of “my father’s house” too small?
  • Do I need to enlarge how I think of “my father’s house?”
  • And then the Vincentian Question: What must be done?

Mayday! Mayday! – Pope Francis and Vincentian Voices

May 10, 2022   /   Around the Province

Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, pioneered concepts of free, dignified labor, the natural wage, and voluntary unions which helped set the…

Continue Reading
“He has sent me to evangelize the poor” (Luke 4:18)

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May 17, 2022   /   Around the Province

In his new blog post, Fr. John Freund, CM, whether you and I are getting social media right

Continue Reading

THE WORD: Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2022   /   The Word

Fr. Rooney joins us for the Easter Season. This week, “How does the door of faith open?”

Continue Reading

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