Celebrating 400 years of the Vincentian Charism 1617-2017 (Russia)
With the words “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35), the Vincentian Family has opened Year 2017 – a Jubilee Year. It is the time during which the celebration of the 400th anniversary marking the beginning of this charism of ministry for the sake of the poor takes place all over the world.
1617 was a crucial year in regards to Vincent de Paul’s vocation. Two important events took place then: on January 25, at the Feast of the Convention St. Paul, he delivered “the first sermon of the mission” in Folleville (France). That event took place several days after having heard a confession of a dying person Vincent learned about spiritual loneliness of poor country people. Some months later, in August of the same year, being a parish priest in Chatillon, Vincent experienced material poverty and poorness of his parishioners as the event that turned him into the Saint of Charity.
Vincent realized he needed to instruct people for them to know about their dignity as God’s children as well as to teach them the truths of God’s plan for the humankind.
The events that took place in Folleville and Chatillon in 1617 define the origin of the Vincentian Charism, and during the next 400 years followers of Vincent de Paul, members of the Vincentian Family, have devoted themselves to service on behalf of the less fortunate members of society.
Presently, the Vincentian Family is composed of 225 branches (different religious communities and lay associations) and is present in over 80 countries of the world. Among the more well-known branches of the family, we highlight here the International Association of Charity (AIC), the Congregation of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity (founded by Saint Louise de Marillac), the Vincent de Paul Society (founded by Blessed Frederic Ozanam), the Association of the Miraculous Medal (AMM), the Vincentian Marian Youth (VMY), Vincentian Lay Missionaries (MISEVI) and the Daughters of Charity of Saint Joan Antida Thouret.
The Vincentian Family is present on five continents and engaged in various ministries in which they “welcome the stranger” in their midst: health care ministry, works of education, formation, works of human promotion and development, works in which they care for homeless people, for refugees, for abandoned children and for single mothers.
In Russia, the Vincentian Family is present in several communities: priests of the Congregation of the Mission of St. Vincent serve in Nizhniy Tagil, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent serve in 4 Russian cities and towns – Magadan, Nizhniy Tagil, Omsk, Slavgorod. The Conference of St. Vincent serves in Krasnoyarsk, and the Association of the Miraculous Medal set in several towns.
The Jubilee celebration is held all over the world. It is just natural for the Vincentian Family to celebrate together with people in need. For this reason, in Russian cities and towns we have strived to bring all festive activities wherever they live.
We prepared a stage performance in Omsk telling about the life journey of St. Vincent as well as a small concert to feel gladness and gratitude, to glorify God for His gift of charity and to be beside those in need of help.
In Caritas social canteen and outside, we created one big family with the homeless, granting kindness and care to one another.
In Nizhniy Tagil, we explored the value of charity together with children members of Zabota children’s club – Caritas by helping elderly in a shelter. We gave assistance in providing food for patients of a tuberculosis dispensary. Finally, we reunited all together for the Holy Mass on the Feast of St. Vincent on September 27.
People wrote at that time: “Vincent de Paul became saint not for being charitable, but it was his holiness that made him truly charitable.” And holiness means whole-hearted dedication of oneself to Christ and the Church.