The Genius of Vincent

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Vincent left a wonderful gift within the church. To a large extent he has placed it in your hands and in mind.

St. Vincent left a wonderful gift within the Church. He has placed it, to a large extent, in your hands and in mine. Pass it on to the young.
--Bob Maloney, C.M. to the Vincentian Family

Indeed, Vincent left a wonderful gift to the Church.

We all know and appreciate his passion for the poor. His foundations came out of his passion for the poor.

Vincent was also a genius in organizing and networking. His passion for the poor expressed itself through an empowering humility that invited others to share their gifts. As Bob reminds us,

St. Vincent was adamant about this. Few saints are as concrete as Vincent de Paul. He realized that effective evangelization and service of the poor would require organization. To accomplish this end, Vincent created numerous lay groups ("The Charities") and founded two communities.

He brought the same organizational skills to the formation of the clergy. He felt that the poor would be served well only if there were good priests to minister to them, and, to that end, he organized retreats for ordinands and priests, the Tuesday Conferences, and founded 20 seminaries.

Nor did he stop there. He marshalled all of the resources he could find in the service of the poor: young and old, men and women, clergy and lay, the rich and the poor themselves. The seeds of his organizational gifts have continued to spread even to this day through the countless lay members of AIC, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Miraculous Medal Association, the Vincentian Marian Youth groups, and the more than 260 institutes founded in St. Vincent's spirit.

Sometimes we are too familiar with his individual accomplishments to see his genius and relevance to today. This could be a kind of blindness to how our charism may be at a new zenith of importance to us in the new millennium.

Indeed, maybe his genius for fostering connections and collaboration--what we sometimes call networking--may be a kind of "forgotten truth" about Vincent.

Food for Thought

Catholic universities will be particularly attentive to the poorest and to those who suffer economic, social, cultural or religious injustice. This responsibility begins within the academic community but it also finds application beyond it.

Pope John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (40)