Vincentian Formation

Wayne Bugg shares his story as a Vincentian -Video-

Wayne Bugg shares his story as a Vincentian -Video- 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Wayne Bugg shares his story as a Vincentian

Hear what Wayne Bugg has to say about his experience with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul from a young age, and how his encounters with Vincentians over the years guided his path in life to become the Vincentian that he is today and serve as the Associate Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul Twin Cities.

Wayne Bug, Associate Executive Director for St. Vincent de Paul Twin Cities: 

My name is Wayne Bugg, and I’m the associate executive director for St. Vincent de Paul in the Twin Cities. Around the age of 15, my next-door neighbor worked for St. Vincent de Paul. He invited me to come and hang out with him and move some furniture. At the time, I was a high school dropout and I needed to make some legal money. I needed to make some changes in life. So this was like a divine intervention that this young man reached out to me. So I originally started off as a neighbor in need.

As I came on working for the thrift store, it was culture shock. So I came here to make money and have come to find out that people that are volunteers are working for free. I couldn’t understand the concept and so I found out over a period of time that it was their love for God and their love for people that had called them to do this and this level of love. After many, many conversations, they began to pour into me. I think I had issues with my image as an image bearer of God. I really didn’t see that, but they saw that in me. And in one particular person, Darrell Bach, the Council president, began to talk to me and told me how unique and special I was and how I needed to go back to school because at that point I was a high school dropout, and so that right there I think endeared me to the Society.  They kind of do sometimes what we do with items at the thrift store. We give them a second chance. People donate them to us because they feel that they have no value and I felt like I didn’t have any value. But they were able to take me in, kind of shine me up a little bit and then represent me.

So I work during the day and went to school at night and eventually I got my GED and so I show back up with this piece of paper. I’m thrilled. Not many people that I grew up around, you know, have that or achieved that. I was ready to retire education wise, but Darrell said no it’s not enough. He was thrilled, but he said I had a greater capacity than me and so he talked me into going to college, and so I signed up for the Community College down the street.

Darrell was near retirement age and so they had just hired executive director Ed Curran and he came along. I felt as though there was like, there’s this agreement between the two that he will continue to mentor me, and so here I am hanging out with Ed and watching Ed from you know, from afar, watching him be a husband and a father and some of those things that I didn’t know that they were possible. I saw a lot of broken relationships and things of that nature, so I was encouraged by his lifestyle.

So I finished school, I got my associates degree. And I came back to Saint Vincent and showed Ed, and he says, great, let’s finish. You can do more!  And so he talked me into going to get my bachelors degree and so I signed up for classes and eventually I got my bachelors degree.

And even more so to me I got married, and I never thought as a kid that that would be something I wanted to do. But being able to see Daryl and see Ed and some of these other Vincentians, these couples, that came and volunteered changed my perception about marriage and that you can be happily married. So this is one of the things that kind of impacted me. And along that path, my wife eventually she got pregnant and we had twins. One of the Vincentians, Margaret Kuznia, she said Wayne, while your wife is in these early stages I will come to your house three to four times a week and just cook, whatever else that you need me to do. This is one of those things that communicated the Vincentian virtues that demonstrated the gospel, how Jesus and his level of intimacy that he had given to people. So these are some of the things that kept me there at the Society even after getting my diploma.

Now the roles have kind of changed where I was the mentee and I was receiving all this mentorship and to a degree I still do, but now I have an opportunity to engage with our employees. They have similar stories and situations where they feel that they’ve been abandoned, that they’ve been broken and so I am able to pour into them these same truths about God and his ability to redeem and recover. And then also our neighbors that come in and some of our neighbors are in distress and they come in and they are in the midst of a situation and they don’t have anywhere to turn. But we get to be the beacon of light, the lighthouse in the community. It’s a thrill and a privilege for me to be able to serve in that capacity. Everything has been poured into me. To establish relationships and to love people in a way that so many people yearn for is one of the reasons why I continue to stay with Saint Vincent de Paul and continue to be marveled by all the individuals in this wonderful organization.

The Home Visit: An Encounter with our Neighbor -Video-

The Home Visit: An Encounter with our Neighbor -Video- 1080 1080 SVDP USA

The Home Visit: An Encounter with our Neighbor

Hear what three Vincentians – Kat, Ray, and Tim – have to say about their experiences during a Home Visit with a neighbor, and how that has shaped their time with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Kat Brisette, SVDP Rhode Island:

Home visits are one of my favorite parts of the Society of Saint Vincent DePaul. Just being able to, you know, put yourself in an uncomfortable position, just like our neighbors are in an uncomfortable position and being able to just listen to them and talk with them. My favorite home visits are when there’s kids. Maybe it’s just because I like to fool around, and so it’s fun to interact with them. So a lot of times we’ll bring like a coloring book or things for them to play with while we’re meeting. So a lot of my favorite interactions have been, you know, when you bring the coloring book in and two siblings on the floor and they’re coloring it in while you’re talking with mom. And before they go, they put a big heart on it and give it to you. And so I have plenty of coloring pages that I have framed and I keep with me because it just reminds us of what we do and why we do it.


Raymond Sickingar, SVDP Rhode Island:

Years ago, my wife and I went on a Home Visit together. There’s a trailer park where we live – we deal with rural poverty where we live and sometimes that can be even more insidious than urban poverty because it’s less visible and there are less resources – but this one woman was in a trailer park, so we went and visited her and she was out of gas or propane. She also needed to rent the land that the trailer was on. So there were a few needs that she had so we were going over to talk to her. And it was a rainy night, I remember, it was raining pretty bad and we got to the door and she invited us in and we sat down. And I don’t know what made us do it that night, I’m not sure we had done it a great deal before, but we just said “What’s going on? What’s your story?” 45 minutes to an hour later, the woman stopped and took a breath.  And she said. “Oh, I feel so light,” she says. “I have not been able to tell that story to anybody.” And we helped her. We actually got her into a sustainable position, but really what she needed most was somebody to listen. And what my wife and I learned that night, was to first stop and take the time to listen. The stories are powerful, and people need to feel like they’re human.


Timothy Williams, SVDP USA:

One is one of the first visits my wife and I went on and it was a man who rode his bike to work every day and back 7 miles. Because he didn’t have a car but he had ten kids. There’s always more mouths than money, even with food stamps, and so he called us for help with food, it’s the end of the month. And so we come with the groceries and all these kids come tumbling out the house to help with carrying them. This one little girl grabs a gallon of milk. She turns around towards that house, and she danced back to the house – this gallon of milk. Gandhi once said there are some people so poor they can only see God in a piece of bread. But I was looking at her and the only thing I could think was “the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”


Kat Brisette, SVDP Rhode Island:

The Society is such an awesome way that we’re able to live out our faith and be that example of what it truly means to be a Catholic and a Christian in today’s world.


Timothy Williams, SVDP USA:

When we go to visit the neighbors in need in their homes, we see Christ, and you really receive this Grace from God.


Raymond Sickingar, SVDP Rhode Island:

I found it very easy to see the face of Christ and those we serve over the years that I’ve served. But we also have to reflect that loving face back to Christ. That’s the part of that Vincentian charism, that an incredible gift of the Holy Spirit, that speaks to me most.

Why Am I a Vincentian? -Video-

Why Am I a Vincentian? -Video- 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Why Am I a Vincentian?

Hear what three Vincentians – Mike, Pamela, and Marge – have to say about why they joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Marge McGinlly, Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Mt. Holly, New Jersey:

It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun, yes.


Mike Flynn, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Seattle:

What happened to me was I went to a ministry fair in our parish. I thought it was going to be doing Liturgy and this guy captured me and said you need to become a Vincentian. I said, what is that? He said, well, we help people, and I thought I’d like to help people. And so I went to a meeting and discovered how much more it meant to be a Vincentian than just helping people.


Pamela Matambanadzo, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Chicago:

Why do you keep coming back? What brought you here? And I think for me… we talk about service, we talk about spirituality and we talk about friendship. And it’s just the enrichment of all of those on the people you meet. You know the relationships you build. Just being able to serve, you know whether you’re at a soup kitchen or whether you’re at a home visit.


Marge McGinlly, Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Mt. Holly, New Jersey:

I’m a Vincentian because when I found the Vincentian family it spoke to my heart. It was a place where I fit. I have this love of people, especially the poor and the sick. And when I found the Vincentian charism it fit who God made me. So it was like finding a second family for me.


Contemplation: The Challenge of Modern Times

Contemplation: The Challenge of Modern Times 800 800 SVDP USA

By Timothy Williams, Senior Director of Formation & Leadership Development

Blessed Frédéric and his friends founded the Society in 1833 in answer to a challenge posed to them by another group of students in a discussion group called the Conference of History. The other students, adherents to San Simonianism, a form of utopian socialism, believed the church’s day had come and gone, and that poverty and other social problems could be best addressed with modern, scientific methods. Yet their challenge to Frédéric was not a challenge to show how much bread or firewood could be distributed, or how many poor families could be assisted. Their challenge was simpler, but more difficult. “Show us,” they demanded, “the good of the church in the modern world.”

To show the good of the church remains our core mission, our evangelical mission, and the good of the church is the same as ever: to bring all people to eternal life in union with a loving God. And so Frédéric and his friends could see no better way to answer the challenge, no better way to demonstrate the good of the church than to “do what Our Lord Jesus Christ did when preaching the Gospel. Let us go,” Frédéric declared, “to the poor.” [Baunard, 65]

Since the beginning of time, God has loved us, awaited us, and answered our calls, but for one moment in human history, He put on the cloak of humanity and came to us. He visited us, walked among us, shared our pains and our burdens, and called us friend; He came not to be served but to serve.

Our primary purpose is to grow in holiness. This is the good of the church. Our secondary purpose is to share Christ’s love with the neighbor. This, too, is the good of the church. The good of the church was shown to us by our Heavenly father, who so loved the world that He sent His only Son to establish His church. And because “love is inventive to infinity” He further found a way to remain in our presence in the Eucharist. [CCD XI:129]; to be present, to act for love alone, as our Rule calls us to do. [Rule Part I, 2.2]

The good of the church is first to lead us to Christ. We do not summon Him to us. Rather, we seek Him exactly where he tells us He will be found: in the hungry, in the thirsty, in the naked, the prisoner, the stranger, the poor. We seek out and find Him in the poor. [Rule, Part I, 1.5]

By coming to us, in person, God established His church and all its goodness in the world. He went to the poor, He went to the hungry, He even went to the sinners, sinners that many others of the day thought were undeserving. Vincentians seek both to encounter and to imitate Christ. We go to the poor, not because it is efficient, not because it is modern. It was neither of those things in 1833, nor even in 30 AD. We go to the poor to bring Christ’s love, and to share the hope of the living Word.

This was and remains the good of the church, and the mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


How can I better show the good of Christ’s church in the modern world?

Recommended Reading

500 Little Prayers for Vincentians

Contemplation: To Discern, Not to Decide

Contemplation: To Discern, Not to Decide 800 800 SVDP USA

By Tim Williams, Senior Director of Formation & Leadership Development

In the Society of St Vincent de Paul, “all decisions are made by consensus after the necessary prayer, reflection and consultation.” [Rule, Part I, 3.10] In other words, we don’t simply vote the minority “off the island,” but instead ensure that every voice is heard as we seek to arrive at a solution that everyone can support. The process of prayer, reflection, and consultation that we follow to arrive at consensus is discernment.

Discernment, in turn, is not simply a decision-making process, in which we tally up the plusses and minuses, or offer arguments for our positions. It is instead a search for truth, and that truth, for us, is always the will of God. To truly discern requires that each of us let go of our attachment to our own ideas, keeping our minds and hearts open not only to the ideas of others, but to the idea that our purpose is not to choose from among competing alternatives, but to find the one truth that is God’s will.

Our first Rule explained the importance of self-denial in this process, saying that “The man who is in love with his own ideas, will disdain the opinion of others… We should, therefore, willingly acquiesce in the judgment of others, and should not feel annoyed if our own propositions be not accepted by them. Our mutual good will should proceed from the heart and should be without bounds.” [Rule, Intro, 1835]

These words echo St. Vincent de Paul, who said that we should “deny ourselves totally for love of God, to bring our judgment into harmony with that of our neighbor… and conforming to God’s judgment of things!” [CCD XII:175] For Saint Vincent de Paul, the will of God was always the center of holiness, and always the guiding light for his works and his plans.

Discernment is not a contest to determine whose will is strongest, but instead is always a seeking of God’s will to guide us, whether discerning our individual pathway, discerning the best way to help a neighbor, or discerning a plan for new special works. If we truly believe that God called us to this Vincentian vocation, we must also believe that the God who called us here is here; that he is within and among us; that each of us individually and all of us as a group were called here by God; and that it is His voice and His will we are called to continue to serve. He makes His will known to us through Holy Scripture, through the Rule and traditions of the Society, and through the people and events in our lives. To deny ourselves in this process doesn’t mean refusing to say what we think. It means offering our reasons, but not our judgment. It means having the humility to recognize that we do not know all the answers, and being willing to accept God’s will as it is revealed to us, even – and especially – when it contradicts our own preconceived notions.

In other words, if we truly wish to hear His voice, we must first lower our own.


Am I sometimes too attached to my own opinions at Conference meetings?

Recommended Reading

Serving in Hope, Module VII – especially 7.4 “Discerning With a Vincentian Heart”

Contemplation: Another Advocate

Contemplation: Another Advocate 800 800 SVDP USA

By Timothy Williams, Senior Director of Formation & Leadership Development

In 1833, President (and Spiritual Advisor) Emmanuel Bailly opened the first meeting of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul praying “Veni, Sancte Spiritus…” We continue this special devotion to the Holy Spirit today, beginning our Opening Prayers at Conference Meetings with the very same invocation, but now in our own language: “Come Holy Spirit, live within our lives, and strengthen us by Your love.”

The Holy Spirit, Jesus told His disciples, would be sent to them after His ascension to heaven as “another Advocate” – in other words, to represent the continued presence of Christ, the first Advocate, on earth. In this way, He introduces us to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. The word used in the Greek is paraclete, which carries the same meaning as the Latin advocatus, a term that referred to legal counsel, but in our use refers to one who provides counsel, comfort, protection, and much more.

The Paraclete, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, then, is our protector, our comforter, and our mediator with God the Father. As Vincentians, we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our discernment, the fire of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in all of our works.

Interestingly, many Conferences and Councils refer to members of Home Visit teams as “advocates.” Whether or not your Conference uses this term, it is a helpful way to understand our role in serving the neighbor. We are called not only to “see the suffering Christ” in the poor, [Rule, Part I, 1.8] but to hope that it is Christ who loves through us, so that “the poor may catch a glimpse of God’s great love for them.” [Rule, Part I, 2.1] In other words, we seek to be “another advocate,” sharing and showing the face and the love of Christ, offering not only material assistance but prayer, comfort, and counsel. We are called to share the face of Christ, and to be a channel of the Holy Spirit.

We’re further called to be a “voice for the voiceless,” sharing “the perspective of those we visit who suffer” in order to address issues of justice in our wider community. [Rule, Part I, 7.4-7.5] This is a role the Society has played quite prominently throughout our history, beginning with Blessed Frédéric himself. In 1898, for example, Edmond Butler, who later served as National Council president, served on New York’s Committee on Dependent Children where he advocated the natural rights of parents, informed by the understanding gained through the relationships the Society had built with the poor.

Today, our advocacy continues not only through formal programs, such as Voice for the Poor, but also, and more importantly, in every conversation we have with friends and neighbors, giving voice to the struggles of the poor, and seeking solutions in collaboration with others in our communities.

Give me the gentleness to offer comfort, the hope to offer prayer, and the zeal to be a voice for the poor. All this and more is what we mean when we pray “Come Holy Spirit, live within our lives.”


How often do I pray specifically for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and inspiration?

Recommended Reading

Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam – especially Chapter 6

Contemplation: A Culture of Encounter

Contemplation: A Culture of Encounter 800 800 SVDP USA

By Tim Williams, Senior Director of Formation & Leadership Development

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Home Visit both were formed when Frédéric Ozanam declared in 1833 that “we must do what Our Lord Jesus Christ did” and “go to the poor.” [Baunard, 65] The very first Rule in 1835 enshrined “the object of this Conference” as first, to grow in faith and spirit, and second, “to visit the poor at their dwellings.” [Rule, Intro, 1835] One hundred and ninety-one years later, the Home Visit remains the core, the very heart and soul, of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

At first, Home Visits were not merely the central work, but the only work of the Society, whose young members guided by Bl. Rosalie and the Daughters of Charity “adopted” poor families and visited them regularly to bring food, firewood, clothing and other assistance. But more importantly, they formed true relationships, “relationships based on trust and friendship” as today’s Rule says. [Rule, Part I, 1.9]

It was personal relationships formed on Home Visits that led the first members towards what we now call systemic change. They didn’t start from an abstract vision of what society ought to be, but from a practical understanding of the real lives of their friends and neighbors, from “climbing the stairs to the poor man’s garret, sitting by his bed side, feeling the same cold that pierces him, sharing the secret of his lonely heart and troubled mind.” [Baunard, 279] That’s why, in its first year, the first Conference created an apprenticeship program for young men. It’s why, three years later, the new Conference in Lyon began a library and school for soldiers. It is also why, as Frédéric said, “home visits to the poor have still remained our principal work.”[1369, Rpt. to Gen.l Assembly, 1837]  The Home Visit inspires us to other works, and so the same Rule which declared Home Visits the “object” of the Conference, also insisted that “no work of charity should be regarded as foreign to the Society.” [1835 Rule, Art. 2]

Yet, even more important than this practical benefit of Home Visits is that they are our primary path to our growth in holiness. That is why our Rule still considers “home visitation reports” an essential part of the Conference Meeting. [Rule, Part III, St. 7] Sharing and meditating on our work leads us to “internal spiritual knowledge of [ourselves], others, and the goodness of God.” [Rule, Part I, 2.2]

We are called to see the face of Christ in the poor. When Christ calls us, we don’t ask Him to come to us, take a number, and fill out a form. We go to Him, we seek to encounter Him, wherever He lives – in a house, on the street, in prison, in assisted living, or in a hospital. The Home Visit is not our central work only for practical and historical reasons, but because it is an encounter that changes us.

Each visit is a holy encounter, and we make it with the deep understanding that “one does not live by bread alone,” that our assistance is only temporary, but that the love of God which sends us is eternal.


When was my last Home Visit?

Recommended Reading

Serving in Hope Module VII: Our Vincentian Home Visit

Contemplation: With All Our Strength

Contemplation: With All Our Strength 800 800 SVDP USA

By Timothy Williams, Senior Director of Formation & Leadership Development

As Vincentians, we understand this to be a calling, a vocation. Each of is called to serve God as a member of the Society, seeing Christ in the neighbor, and growing in holiness through our service. While the meetings and the works of the Society demand much from us, our Rule tells us that our vocation asks much more than that; that it is a “vocation for every moment of our lives.” [Rule, Part I, 2.6]

How could it be otherwise? Our Vincentian vocation is simply our specific way of living the universal vocation of all Christians, to seek holiness, to “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is not a call to be perfect only at Sunday Mass, or Monday Conference meetings, or on home visits. It is a call to be reborn, to be transformed, to be like Christ, fully united with God in eternal life.

So how do we seek holiness in “every moment?” How do we live our vocation, for example, at work? In Christifidelis Laici, Pope Saint John Paul II explained that “in discovering and living their proper vocation and mission, the lay faithful must be formed according to the union which exists from their being members of the Church and citizens of human society.” [CF, 59] In other words, we seek to be in the world, but not of it, as Jesus prayed.

We need look no farther than Blessed Frédéric to find a model to follow. For Frédéric there was no demarcation between Sunday and the rest of the week, no boundary between his prayer and his action, no separation between the secular and the spiritual life. In his teaching, he saw it as his duty to serve the university, but always to serve God in doing so. “I belong both to the church and the university,” he explained, “I believe that I have partly succeeded when, in a public lecture to an audience of every belief and party, I profess Christian teaching with simplicity.” [475, To M Soulacroix, 1843]

While he “proudly professed our faith and refuted contrary systems, striving to fulfill our vocation as professors in a Christian manner and to serve God in serving wholesome teaching,” he also believed it important “that our lectures not be looked upon by our colleagues as provocations demanding a reply and that, if some are strangers to the faith, they not be made its enemies.” [516, to Foisset,1843]

He prayed before every lecture for the Holy Spirit to guide him, and his dedication to his students was total. Hearing of criticism for missing too many classes during his illness, he was unoffended. Instead, he literally arose from his deathbed, and walking into the classroom with assistance, began his lecture saying “Gentlemen, our age is charged with selfishness, and professors are stated to be affected with the general complaint. Yet, it is here that we wear out our health, and use up our strength. I do not complain, our life is yours; we owe it to you to the last breath, and you shall have it. As for me, if I die, it will be in your service.” [Baunard, 358-359] He loved his students as he loved God, with all his strength. It was his last lecture, and perhaps his finest.


Do I seek to serve God in all that I do?

Recommended Reading

Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam

Contemplation: A Model To Follow

Contemplation: A Model To Follow 1080 1080 SVDP USA

By Tim Williams, Senior Director of Formation & Leadership Development

When we hear the word “leader” we naturally think of a great general, a head of state, one of those celebrity CEOs, or even a star athlete leading a team to victory. The great leader is an American archetype: charismatic, confident, inspiring; a leader, in short, is “large and in charge.”

For most of us, this is an image that would be difficult to live up to, so when the Council or Conference announces an upcoming election for a new president, we remain quiet, and even if invited directly to serve, we demur. “Large and in charge,” we think, “That just isn’t me.”

Perhaps instead we should first consider that it is not merely our fellow Vincentians suggesting that we consider serving as leaders. After all, we are taught to discern God’s will for us in the people and events in our lives. What people or events led us to join the Society in the first place? Surely, we didn’t come up with that idea on our own. Indeed, St. Vincent de Paul was quite clear that not a single one of his works was ultimately his own idea, all of it came from God. It was God who called us here, and God who calls us now. If He asks us, through others, to consider leading the Conference, we ought to take the time to seriously discern that call.

And in discerning, we consider also the nature of Vincentian leadership – servant leadership. Our model is not the commander, the ruler, or the boss. Our model is the master and teacher who nevertheless knelt down and washed the feet of His disciples. “I have given you,” He said, “A model to follow.” Our model of a leader, then, is not the greatest, but the least; not the master but the servant. In short, a Vincentian servant leader is not “large and in charge,” but small, and for all.

But you say that you simply haven’t the knowledge or the gifts to lead? “Don’t think,” St. Vincent de Paul once explained, “that responsible positions are always given to the most capable or virtuous.” [CCD IX: 526] Servant leadership is part of our calling, part of our vocation, and it is precisely the humility that makes us reluctant to take on a leadership role that makes us better suited to do so. Trust in providence, in this case, means trusting that “when God calls us to it … either He sees in us the proper dispositions or has determined to give them to us.” [CCD XI:128]

Our Cultural Beliefs remind us that “as Vincentians we are committed to… develop ourselves and others to become Servant Leaders.” [Rule, Part III, St. 2] When we were called to this vocation we were already called to servant leadership, and we can all have confidence, when it is our turn to serve, that “God gives sufficient graces to those He calls to it.” [CCD IX:526]


Have I truly listened to and answered God’s call to lead?

Recommended Reading

Praying with Vincent de Paul

Contemplation: Invitation to Grow

Contemplation: Invitation to Grow 1080 1080 SVDP USA

By Timothy Williams, Senior Director of Formation & Leadership Development

Why did you join the Society of St. Vincent de Paul? And why do you stay? These are two very important questions for every Vincentian to meditate upon from time to time. Membership is a vocation, a calling. Each of us heard a call, but it spoke to each of us differently, based on our own backgrounds, our own motives, our own unique and unrepeatable persons.

Were you drawn by the invitation of a friend, motivated, as we often are, to love what our friends love? We sit through concerts or ball games only because our friend is a fan, and sometimes we also become fans over time. St. Vincent once pointed out an even deeper friendship flows from this tendency, asking, “Can we have a better friend than God? Must we not love all that He loves and, for love of Him, consider our neighbor as our friend!” [CCD XI:39] If you joined because of friendship, is that still the reason that you stay? If you were drawn by something else, have you grown in friendship that keeps you in the Society?

Others, of course, perhaps most of us, heard a call to live our faith in acts of service; we weren’t drawn as strongly to prayer groups or “conference table ministries”. Instead, we wanted, as St. Vincent so famously put it, to “love God…with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brows” [CCD XI:32], serving Jesus exactly as he asked us to! After all, aren’t works of charity what the Society is best known for? Yet over time, the work can sometimes be wearying, the calls can be interruptions, the stress we share with our neighbors in need can begin to wear on us. The service may be the reason you joined, but is it the reason you stay? Is it the work itself, or is it something deeper that flows from the work?

Some of us were called by the inspirational example of our patron Saint’s holiness, and truly sought first to deepen our own faith and spirituality by following his example, even as he imitated the example of Christ. If we sought prayer and meditation, we certainly have found it in our Conferences. We are people of prayer. But as you’ve prayed and reflected with fellow Vincentians, have you discovered new levels of friendship? Has your prayer led you to action? Why do you stay?

It is difficult to separate these motives, because they all work so closely together. Our friendship informs our service and becomes part of what we offer to the neighbor. Our encounters with the neighbor, in whom we see Christ, strengthen our faith and spirituality. Our faith grows stronger as it is shared with each other in prayer, reflection, friendship, and service. One of the best ways to continue in this growth is to take the time to reflect on it, and to share our own growth with our fellow Vincentians.

You might say this is essential.


Take some quiet time this week and ponder these questions: why did I join, and why do I stay?

Recommended Writing

Write down your thoughts on these questions, then share them with your fellow Vincentians. Journey together.

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