The meeting of the CIF of the Vincentian Family was held from July 2nd to 26th at the Mother House of the Congregation of the Mission in Paris, France. Thre was a large number of participants coming from many countries and branches of the Family. Thirty-five participants atended the formation: 13 were lay people, 14 were religious sisters from various women’s congregations of the Vincentian Family and 8 were priests from the Congregation of the Mission. It was truly an international group coming from: Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Haiti, Mexico, United States, Canada, Slovakia, Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon, South Korea, India, Philippines and Taiwan. Among our lay people, some were members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, others represented MiSeVi and the Association of the Miraculous Medal. There were four lay people working in Vincentian works, three in schools and one in a home for the elderly.
As you know, the Vincentian International Formation Centre (CIF) combines classes with Vincentian outings. Let’s start with the classes. The courses were held simultaneously in English, French and Spanish. I would like to highlight the impeccable work of our translators. As in all our courses we deepened the rich Vincentian theology, analysed the current problems of the poor and looked at how we can work more closely together. Each year we add a particular theme. This year (2023), we had three conferences dedicated to the work of the Vincentian Family in the media. Some talks were face-to-face and others by Zoom. I would like to thank the various speakers. Who were they? Two Daughters of Charity: Michelle Marvaud and María del Carmen Urrizburu; two lay people: Renato Lima de Oliveira and Javier Chento and, five Vincentian priests: Gregorio Banaga, Aarón Gutiérrez, Vero Urbina Verona, Hugo Vera and the writer of this article, Andrés Motto.
As for the Vincentian outings, periods were allocated getting to know Vincentian Paris. In addition, one morning we visited the Mother House and the archives of the Daughters of Charity, and another morning the archives and the museum of the Mother House of the Congregation of the Mission. Two pilgrimages were made to Marian and Vincentian sites. The first pilgrimage lasted 5 days. During that time, we were able to visit Chartres, Chateau l’Évêque, Périgueux, the Berceau de Saint Vincent de Paul, Buglose, Dax and finally Lourdes. The second pilgrimage lasted a whole day to discover the ecumenical Christian monastic community of Taizé. Participants also visited Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne where Vincent de Paul was parish priest in 1617. There is no doubt that these pilgrimages were moving for our sight, our taste, our touch, our smell… to the point of touching our soul.
All this took place in a good climate of fraternity, prayer, masses in places that moved us as well as collaboration in various work teams. We also had some festive gatherings to rejoice and to show our artistic abilities. On the other hand, there was free time for people to visit places on their own, to shop, to greet friends, etc. We have many people to thank, I think that naming them all would make this short article tedious, but I especially appreciate the welcome we received from the Superior of the Mother House, Roberto Gomez, as well as the constant help we received from the steward of the Mother House, Jean-Michel Rodriguez and the person in charge of the hotel Aelred Sofa. The farewell was in the form of a gala dinner where each participant was given a Certificate of Participation, a Pendrive with all the classes and photos as well as a CIF pin.
My greatest satisfaction was to hear the participants say that they had learned a lot and realized that it was a strong experience of God, that they had experienced a beautiful atmosphere of brotherhood, that the time had passed very quickly… and that they were sorry to go back to their homes. We can say with joy: mission accomplished. The next meeting of the CIF of the Vincentian Family will be held in Paris from May 5th to 26th, 2024.
To all of you I offer a big hug from my heart.
Andrés R. M. Motto, CM
Director of CIF.