Vincentian Charism: 400 years
January 3, 2017
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
Happy New Year to all!
Welcome back after the joyful reunions of Christmas and New Year. I know you had a nice time with your families and communities. I also hope you had some time to rest after the Christmas hectic activities.
2017 is a special year for the Vincentian family. It is the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism. On 25 January 1617, the young priest, Vincent de Paul, preached his first mission sermon in the small chapel of Folleville in France. This small church still stands today. It was a small village then yet hundreds came to confession that day so much so that they had to invite the Jesuits in a nearby town of Amiens – now a big city – in order to help him. The event came to be known as the “stampede to the confessional”. That was the beginning of the work of Congregation of the Mission “to go to the peripheries”, to borrow the now famous word of Pope Francis. While most priests then preferred to live in the cities, Vincent wanted his priests to go to the rural areas where the poor are to bring them the Good News of Jesus. Long before, Vincent already realized that the church should be a Church of the poor, with the poor and among the poor. And its ministers, if their lives are to be meaningful, are people whose hearts find their home among the margins.
Later on the same year, another crucial event happened. Vincent was a pastor of a small parish in Chatillon-les-Dombes. One Sunday morning before the Mass, a parishioner came to inform that a whole family was sick some kilometers from the church. Vincent set aside his prepared homily and preached about the need to help them. After the Mass, many parishioners came to the rescue of the sick family. The event was dubbed as the “stampede to the house of the poor”. Vincent realized that “charity” to be sustainable should be organized and systemic.
These are the two founding events of the Vincentian family to which we all belong. Thus, in SVST, we tried to organize activities in order to commemorate not only these past events but more importantly how the Vincentian charism plays itself out in our times according to the original spirit of Vincent de Paul. Beyond the usual academic and pastoral activities that we need to carry out, we also launch the following initiatives in SVST.
St. Vincent did not only live in the 1600s. After 400 years, we who belong to his family try our best to make his spirit alive in our times.
Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, C.M.