Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians)who we are; our values, purpose, hopes, priorities
Who We AreThe Vincentians are a community of missioners(missionary priests and brothers) sent to servethe poor and marginalized throughout the world.We work in collaboration withother people of good will todiscover and help redresssituations of social injusticethat cause poverty, sufferingand need.
In Today’s WorldVincentians show that thepreferential option for the poor,professed by the Church, is notjust a beautiful idea, but rathera reality.
Providencebrought us aboutto meet twomajor needs inthe Church: evangelization (preaching the gospel to the poor) formation (helping the clergy and others who serve the poor, to acquire the knowledge and virtues necessary for their work)
Our BeginningsIn 1617 in France, a providentialevent occurred. Our founder,Saint Vincent de Paul, was aparish priest in a village outsideof Paris, and was a tutor andchaplain in the house of thewealthy and powerful Gondifamily. One day he was called tothe bedside of a man gravely illwho wished to relieve hisconscience which had beentorturing him for some time.
Our BeginningsLater the man related his story toMadame de Gondi, saying, "I would havebeen damned had I not made a generalconfession to Monsieur Vincent."Madame de Gondi and her husband wereboth devout persons. Deeply moved bythis statement, they asked Vincent toconduct missions among these poorpeople who had been deprived of theconsolations of religion for many years.
Our BeginningsSt. Vincent welcomed the opportunityand on 25 January, in the church of thevillage of Folleville, spoke on the need forconfession. So overwhelming was theresponse that in order to hear theconfessions of all who came he had tocall in outside help.This touching incident was responsiblefor Vincent de Pauls dedication of hisentire life to "preaching the gospel to thepoor, especially the poor country people."
Our BeginningsSt. Vincent would undertake a series ofmissions, preaching to the people to wakeup, deepen their faith, and come to a trueconversion in the conduct of their lives. Inorder to give the missions permanenceand organization, St. Vincent, with theﬁnancial support of his patrons theGondis, organized a group of priests whowere to evangelize the Gondi estates(1625). This group grew into theCongregation of the Mission.
Our BeginningsIt can also be said that the Congregationarose as a response to the deplorablecondition of the Church and clergy in early17th century France.France was still experiencing the effects ofthe Protestant reform and the religious warswhich had followed it. The Council of Trent(1545-1563) had attempted to counteract theconditions in the church that had led to theReformation, but its decrees were not yetwidely known in France.
Our BeginningsSo, in order to help instruct the clergy,St. Vincent began the TuesdayConferences (weekly gatherings ofpriests who wished to confer on thevirtues and the functions of their state),and held retreats for priests.Out of these retreats came theVincentian-directed seminaries thathelped to raise the standards of theFrench clergy.
Vision of St. VincentThis new Community was to meet a majorneed in the Churchs task of evangelization.Yet Vincent called it the "Little Company"and demanded of his brothers that they behumble about themselves. He stressed theimportance of day-to-day work anddedication to ordinary, unromantic tasks. Hewanted his priests to be workers rather thaninnovators. His attitude is summarized in hisoft quoted "let us love God, but let it be atthe expense of our arms and in the sweat ofour brow."
Important IssuesFacing the Congregation Today• The initial and ongoing formation of our members, especially in the young provinces where there is a large number of vocations• The lack of vocations and the aging of our confreres in the provinces of Western Europe and the United States• Formation of our formators• Central uniformity/authority vs. adapting to local circumstances in each province
Serving and advocating Spiritual advisors for the poor, the hungry, to groups serving prisoners, immigrants, the poor (St. the excluded Vincent de Paul Society, etc.)Formation ofclergy and laity Seal of the Congregation of the Mission Parish work “He has sent me to preach good news to the poor” Popular missions, shrines, pilgrimages, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Higher education
“At the end of every day Ithank God that I’ve been giventhe special privilege ofshowing people, especially PROFILESyoung people, that byaccepting the grace that comeswith God’s love, their time inthis world will be happier andmuch more meaningful.”- Rev. Peter Goldbach, C.M.
“But the heart of all this is teaching, and teaching is for me an experience of conversion, transformation. I am helping them transform themselves intoPROFILES effective ministers. And what I try to do is to bring to them my passion for the Church, my passion for helping people through the sacraments and through other aspects of our Churchs life.” - Rev. Paul Golden, C.M.
“I felt that God had put me in this placeto better understand that example ofservice and dedication to bringing thegood news to all people, especially those PROFILESwho are in poverty, those who arestruggling; being able to bring the goodnews of Gods love, of Gods mercy, ofGods grace was something that I feltcompelled to do.”- Rev. Jeremy Dixon, C.M.
Sources The American Vincentians: A Popular History of the Congregation of the Mission in the United States 1815-1987 by John Rybolt, C.M. (available online at via.library.depaul.edu) facebook.com/VincentianVocations