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Rome Reports

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Vincentian Family celebrates 400-year anniversary with Pope Francis

Some 10,000 people met in Rome to celebrate the 400-year anniversary of the Vincentian charism under the slogan “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

The most special moment for them was their audience with the pope. In St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis stopped in front of the relic of Saint Vincent’s heart and said a short prayer. 

Later, he encouraged them to keep working on the path of charity with these three verbs: “Adore, Welcome, Go.”

POPE FRANCIS
“Welcoming means cutting myself down to size, straightening out our way of thinking, understanding that life is not my private property and time does not belong to me.”

It was a four-day meeting reflecting on the basis of their charism and the way they can renew and strengthen their service to the poor.

ANDRÉ PEIXOTO
Volunteer, VMY International Secretariat

“How can the Vincentian charism be effective today? We can’t close ourselves in to existentialism. We have to go beyond with a systemic change. To try to allow people to survive on their own, not only by giving them food to eat, but also teaching them how to fish.”

The pilgrims participated in workshops involving the importance of loving people who suffer, “with transparency” and “with equality.” 

They listened to impactful testimonies like the one from this young Syrian girl. Aida told them how the Vincentian community has remained united in the country despite the difficulties and threats of the war.

AIDA BALADI
President, VMY Syria

“Yes, it's hard to take the decision to continue with the association, since it's a responsibility to let others be in one place and the danger is surrounding them. However, it's a decision, and it's a hard one as I told you, but we believe, we have faith. I don't know, I cannot describe in a word or a few words to say... It's a family. It's a family. I couldn't imagine my life without being a part of this association, the Vincentian Marian Youth.”

One of the most repeated ideas during the meeting was how to reach out to homeless people and those in need in the peripheries. One way of putting this 400-year charism into practice is like the pope asked of them: with “charity, availability and harmony.”