International Meeting of the VF. Rome 2012
Formation Meeting of the Leaders of the Vincentian Family
Rome, Italy – January 2012
Following a tradition the leaders of the different branches of the Vincentain Family gathered together in Rome in order to share and participate in a formation session which was focused on the person of Blessed Frederic Ozanam and the Social Doctrine of the church. The representatives from the thirteen branches gathered on January 13-15 in the house of Mary Immaculate in order to live a time of sharing and formation. Our Association was represented by two councilors: Ghislain Atemezing (Cameroon) and Anh Thu (Vietnam).
On January 13th our gathering began in the afternoon with a special dynamic in the chapel. Each branch wrote on a piece of paper their desire for the Vincentian Family and also wrote down their expectations for this meeting. This was then followed by an introduction of the representatives who were present. This year the Superior General has invited the Sisters of Saint Vincent from Zagreb and the Sisters of Charity, De Paul International and the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul.
The second day of our meeting was more intense. After Morning Prayer there was a wonderful conference by Dr. Austin Fagan (Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Ireland). Dr. Fagan presented the spirituality and the charism of Frederic Ozanam and put this in its historical context. We were made aware of the fact that a question that was posed by some students (what is the Church doing now?) was a determining factor in the struggle of Blessed Frederic. Thus a group, inspired by Vincent de Paul, was formed and the members of this group were able to reveal their belief through the practice of charity. Ozanam knew how to establish, in an intellectual environment, new ways of serving Christ in the poor. After a time for sharing in groups we listened to three presentations from the new members of the Vincentian Family.
In the afternoon Father Mizael Donizeti, CM (Brazil) gave a presentation on the Social Doctrine of the Church in light of the thinking of Frederic Ozanam. Frederic was presented as an apostle with a new spirit, one who knew how to engage with people who were poor in order to discover their needs. Frederic’s commitment was rooted in his life of faith. In the dialogue that followed this presentation we saw how charity goes beyond the boundaries of justice. The day came to a close with the presentation of the projects of the Congregation of the Mission with regard to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), the project of the International Association of Charity in Mexico, the Daughters of Charity and their project in the area of systemic change in Ecuador and MISEVI with the presentation of their on-line formation for missionaries.
After prayer on Sunday there was a presentation by Father Maloney, CM on the Zafen project and the works of the Commission for Systemic Change. It was reported that there are plans to have three formation workshops in Europe on systemic change, one of which will take place in Italy in October 2012. Then Father Joseph Agostino, CM (the new director of the Zafen project in Haiti) presented to us the work of the Commission for the Formation of Leaders. Four modules are being developed (the Vincentian heritage, the leader as servant, the leader as prophet, the leader as mentor). It is hoped that the first pilot project will take place in 2013 in the English language group. This was followed by presentations by the Sisters of the Federation of Strousburg in India, the Vincentian Marian Youth, and the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
During the closing Eucharist, Father Gregory Gay invited us to be like Samuel and to dedicate some of our time to listen to the voice of Jesus in prayer, in the Word, in the Eucharist, and in the daily events of our lives. We were also invited to follow the example of Saint John and to search for Christ each day among the poor so that our lives might be a true witness to the words of the psalmist: “Here I am Lord, I have come to do your will”.
Ghislain Atemezing / Anh Thu