Gather as a group
Begin with a prayer. The leader
invites the group to pause and
recall that God is present in the
stories to be shared.
Ask for one volunteer to share
an experience from the past 1-2
weeks (for example, a home visit
or some encounter with a client). photo: St. Vincent de Paul of Salt Lake City
The person sharing the experience:
Tell your experience as a story, as concretely
and with as much detail as you recall. Who
were the persons involved or aﬀected in this
case? What were some reactions and
Try not to jump to the meaning of the story.
Simply describe your experience.
If you have trouble thinking of a story:
Try to recall a time when something
happened and you changed for the better.
Try to recall a time when you felt a need to
do something so things would get better.
Try to recall a time when something either
contributed to or jolted your faith.
photo: St. Vincent de Paul,
Sequoia Healthcare District
photo: St. Vincent de Paul, Wilmington DE
Those who are listening:
without interrupting, to
others’ experiences in
story form is a “getting
out of the way” in order
to hear the other. It is an
internal discipline; a
form of fasting.
Listen for the presence of grace in the speaker’s experience:
Listen for triggering events
Listen for the courage of the speaker to do self-examination
Listen for the presence of a conversion experience: whose attitude
was changed? Whose conscience was broadened? Who might
have become more receptive to the presence of the Holy Spirit?
photo: SSVP Bryanston South Africa
At this point:
Either invite the next person to
immediately share their story or
experience… without dialogue or
comments, without critique. Keep
going, welcoming each person’s
story as it is experienced and
shared. It is a non-judgmental, non-
critical, non-evaluative way of letting
people speak. It is permitted to ask
a question for clariﬁcation.
Or ask all present to reﬂect on the
story they just heard, before moving
on to the next story.
photo: St. Vincent de Paul Westford, MA
photo: St. Vincent de Paul Evansville, IN
Reﬂection and sharing
Pause for a period of silent reﬂection
Each person in the group responds and the
others listen: What were the reactions and
feelings of the person telling the story? of
the persons receiving help?
What words, images, dialogue from the story
stick with you? What is the “heart of the
matter”— what is the story about; its
meaning? (The story teller responds ﬁrst,
then each person in the group responds
while the others listen)
Does any Scripture passage or image come
to mind? Any saying of St. Vincent or Bl.
photo: St. Vincent de Paul Council of
After everyone has had a
chance to speak
What did we, as a group, hear
ourselves saying? What insights
did we receive? What might God
be calling us to now?
Close with a prayer, thanking
God for this experience.
photo: St. Vincent de Paul Council of Los Angeles
photo: St. Vincent de Paul Las Cruces, New Mexico
Saint Vincent de Paul,
Accompany us in our service and
intercede for us before the Son of
God. Help us abandon ourselves to
Providence, faithfully discovering
God’s action in all the events of our
Prayer to St. Vincent de Paul
Hugh O’Donnell, C.M., “Apostolic Reﬂection” Vincentian Heritage
Journal, Vol. 16, Issue 2
“Models of Apostolic Reﬂection” prepared by Sr. Joan Pytlik, D.C.
“Apostolic Reﬂection: The Power of Story” by Daughters of
Charity (author unknown)