St. John's University Helps Create A Foundation for Vincentian Family Collaboration

July 16, 2014

More than 50 Vincentian family members from 24 countries gathered at the Maison Mère in Paris to attend the Vincentian Family Collaborative Action Program (VFCAP) on June 8–13, 2014. Created by the Vincentian Family Collaboration Commission, the program responds to the need for more innovative ways to engage the branches of the Vincentian family and encourage them to work together on global, regional, and local levels to transform the lives of those living in poverty. The program seeks not only to nurture and develop participants’ Vincentian spirituality and leadership qualities and skills, but also to provide a tangible experience in collaboration, i.e., how the Vincentian charism is alive today and how it can be projected into the future.

The pilot for the VFCAP was held in May 2013 in Paris and hosted 36 participants from 18 English-speaking countries, with 14 Vincentian family branches represented. Participants came from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The branches represented included the Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity, Sisters of Charity, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Vincentian Marian Youth, Lay Vincentian Missionaries (MISEVI), St. John’s University, All Hallows College, and the International Association of Charities (AIC). 

Due to the overwhelming success of the pilot program, VFCAP conducted a “train-the-trainer” program in June 2014. The classes were conducted in English, with translations provided in Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Thirty-five participants hailed from Vincentian branches in North America, South America, Central America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. This year’s participants have been charged with adapting the program to their respective language and culture with the goal of delivering the program in their regions. 

The VFCAP design team was led by Rev. Joseph Agostino, C.M., international coordinator of special projects for the superior general and coordinator of the Vincentian Family Collaboration Commission. Joan Vivian, St. John’s director of training and development, was a member of the design and implementation team that also included participants from the five Vincentian universities, a Daughter of Charity and member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and a  Vincentian priest based in Paris. Since the team’s inception, three St. John’s University members have participated in the VFCAP: Lucy Pesce, Office of the Mission; Rev. Patrick Flanagan, C.M., Department of Theology and Religious Studies; and Rev. Astor Rodriguez, C.M., vocation director of the Eastern Province.

In collaboration with the design team, Rev. Patrick Griffin, C.M., opened the program by presenting the key founders of the Vincentian tradition, or charism, and sharing their successful collaborations. He then led the group on a heritage trip to Saint Laurent and Saint Lazare, the respective birthplaces of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity.  Ms. Vivian, along with members of the design team, co-facilitated the weeklong program, which culminated with a graduation ceremony at Clichy officiated by Rev. Gregory Gay, C.M., superior general.

The following are the VFCAP outcomes for program participants:

  • Become grounded in the Vincentian roots and tradition of collaboration.
  • Grow in appreciation of the richness of our tradition as it is lived out by all the branches of the Vincentian family.
  • Understand that Vincent’s five characteristic virtues are patterns of behavior that guide our relationships with each other and the poor.
  • Recognize the importance of the discipline of contemplation in their daily lives so that they may truly come to see Christ in the face of the poor.
  • Identify and call forth their personal gifts as well as the gifts of others.
  • Grasp that Vincentians choose to act collaboratively to build relationships within the Vincentian family (as well as beyond it) to help us fulfill our common vision.
  • Begin to develop and practice the skill sets necessary to be effective collaborators in their ministerial situations.
  • Realize the worldwide Vincentian family’s potential to help people and communities emerge from poverty.
  • Motivate and invite others to collaborate and create new opportunities for systemic change.
  • Acknowledge that collaboration and systemic change are ongoing processes of conversion.
  • Through the creation of action plans (MAPs), engage in a personal transformation to become better collaborators.
  • Apply the skills learned to actual experiences of collaboration with the Vincentian family and the larger society.  Participants are challenged, not to do more work, but to work more effectively with and for the poor.

VFCAP Design Team
Rev. Joseph Agostino, C.M., coordinator, Vincentian Family Collaboration Commission
Rev. Dan Borlik, C.M., CIF, Paris
Sr. Kieran Kneaves, D.C., Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, St. Louis
Pamela Mantuhac, Adamson University, Philippines
Marty Martin, Psy.D., DePaul University, Chicago
Mary McPhillips, All-Hallows College, Ireland
David Taylor, Ph.D., Niagara University, New York
Joan Vivian, St. John’s University, New York

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