The XLIII General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission of Saint Vincent de Paul re-elected Father Tomaž Mavrič, CM, as Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission and the Company of the Daughters of Charity. Father Tomaž accepted the results of the election and in a simple and humble manner expressed his gratitude to the Assembly and his total confidence in Providence and in the intercession of Saint Vincent de Paul: Many thanks to each one of you! This is our Family, our Congregation, our History … the path which we must journey along together. I accept the result of this election trusting in the help of the God so that we can all work together during the next six years.
A new Vicar-General was elected, Father Gregorio Bañaga, CM (Philippine Province) and Assistants General: Father Rafal Kopystynski, CM (New England Province), Father Nélio Pereira Pita, CM (Province of Portugal), Father Aaron Gutiérrez, CM (Province of Mexico), and Father Dominique Iyolo, CM (Province of the Congo).
At the present time, the missionaries of the Congregation are present in 507 local communities in 95 countries (on the five continents). The Congregation of the Mission is a “society of apostolic life” governed by a Superior General who resides in Rome and who is supported by a Vicar-General and four Assistants. The present Constitutions and Statutes received pontifical approval in 1984. The Congregation is composed of priests and brothers, all of whom (through vows) are dedicated to the evangelization of the poor. Saint Vincent encouraged his followers to practice five virtues: humility, simplicity, gentleness, mortification, and apostolic zeal (indispensable interior dispositions in order to proclaim the good news). The primary ministries continue to be those that were advocated by Saint Vincent: popular missions, formation of the clergy and the laity, spiritual retreats, seminary formation, mission ad gentes, and concrete service on behalf of the poor (https://cmglobal.org).
On Friday, July 8th, Father Tomaž Mavrič celebrated the Eucharist with the new members of his Council and thus, initiate his second term of office. Then, on Thursday, July 14th, Father Tomaž and the 120 delegates to the Assembly will be received by Pope Francis in a private audience.
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During the Assembly the Leadership Team of the Congregation will be elected. The celebration of the Eucharist on Monday, June 27th, 2022, which will be presided by Father Tomaž Mavrič, CM (Superior General) and animated by the musical group, Gen Verde, will mark the beginning of the XLIII General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission. This gathering will continue until July 15 and will be held at the Casa San Juan de Ávila on Via de Torre Rossa 2/a.
The General Assembly is held every six years and is the most important event of the Congregation. All the Visitors (regional leaders of the Congregation) gather together in order to elect a Superior General and the members of the General Council … the individuals elected to these positions serve for a period of six years, that is, until the time of the next General Assembly. The official name of the Congregation of the Mission is Congregatio Missionis (CM). Their members are also known as “Lazarists” (at one time, the Motherhouse of the Congregation was located at the Priory of Saint Lazare), as “Vincentians” in English speaking countries, as “Paules” in Spain and as “Vicnetinos” in Latin America. The motto of the Congregation is evangelizare pauperibus misit me, that is, “He sent me to proclaim good news to the poor”.
At the present time, the missionaries of the Congregation are present in 507 local communities in 95 countries (on the five continents). The Congregation of the Mission is a “society of apostolic life” governed by a Superior General who resides in Rome and who is supported by a Vicar-General and four Assistants. The present Constitutions and Statutes received pontifical approval in 1984. The Congregation is composed of priests and brothers, all of whom (through vows) are dedicated to the evangelization of the poor. Saint Vincent encouraged his followers to practice five virtues: humility, simplicity, gentleness, mortification, and apostolic zeal (indispensable interior dispositions in order to proclaim the good news). The primary ministries continue to be those that were advocated by Saint Vincent: popular missions, formation of the clergy and the laity, spiritual retreats, seminary formation, mission ad gentes, and concrete service on behalf of the poor.
During the past six years, the Superior General, Father Tomaž Mavrič, has highlighted a little-known aspect of Saint Vincent de Paul, the mystical aspect of charity and has also focused on the Vincentian spirituality that arises from the on-going process of beatification and canonization of various brothers and sisters. One hundred fifteen missionaries of the Congregation will gather together in Rome for this event. The majority will be Visitors and delegates from the distinct provinces, vice-provinces and regions of the Congregation. In order to organize the 2022 General Assembly, a preparatory commission was established to plan the various aspects of this event: prayer, community gatherings, etc. Each province reflected on the chosen theme: Revitalizing our identity at the beginning of the 5th century of the Congregation of the Mission. The members of the Assembly will deepen their reflection on this theme and will offer Lines of Action that will guide the activity of the Congregation during the next six years, Lines of Action that will allow it to better serve the poor by means of a revitalized Vincentian charism. The Assembly will also identify individual and community strategies that must be advanced (always mindful of the distinct social context and Vincentian spirituality).
The General Assembly, which will develop a Final Document, will also announce the election of the new Superior General (Monday, July 11th), the Vicar-General (Tuesday, July 12th) and the Assistants General (Wednesday, July 13th). The pandemic and reactivation of more or less latent armed conflicts in the world make the deepening of the Vincentian charism a priority so that missionaries are better instruments of God at the service of the poor. The Superior General, Tomaž Mavrič, CM, has stated: Let us pray to Jesus Christ that our General Assembly will be a new Pentecost for the Congregation of the Mission!
On the occasion of the celebration of the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul (September 27th) the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission published a message in which he shared reflections on the challenges for charitable activity especially during this time of the pandemic that has spread throughout the world.
The pandemic and the Christian response, inspired by the Vincentian charism, are the central themes of the message that Father Tomaẑ Mavriĉ, CM addressed to the members of the worldwide Vincentian Family, present on five continents. Together in prayer, thought and action, Father Mavriĉ highlights several recent events: prayer to Saint Jean Gabriel Perboyre, CM, China’s first canonized saint … prayer for a cure for COVID-19 and prayer to strengthen health care workers, social and religious workers, public authorities and all those who are involved in some way in alleviating the suffering that has been caused by this pandemic. The prayer is entitled, the prayer of the Vincentian Family for the needs of the world … a prayer for those who suffer the terrible consequences of COVID-19, racism and other pandemics that threaten the dignity of the human persons.
Father also spoke about the response of the Vincentian Family to the tragedy in Lebanon and explained: This tragic event and so many others around the world – wars, earthquakes, floods, and other calamities – speak clearly of the importance of a model for responding to such urgent needs quickly and in the most organized and effective way possible. We wish to become more and more affective and effective tools in the hands of Jesus to demonstrate His mercy, compassion, and love wherever He wants us to go. To strengthen current practices, the model for the Vincentian Family worldwide is to keep growing in the concrete practice of acting and responding to the call of the poor together as a Family, as a Movement. Every single branch, whether it is big or small, is an invaluable part of the wonderful mosaic that makes up the Vincentian Family. To this we add the members of the Vincentian Family in the larger sense of the word, and together we become a force on which the world’s poor can count.
Another important event that occurred at the beginning of 2020 took place when the international representatives of the 170 branches of the Vincentian Family (the superiors general and international presidents) gathered together in Rome for the first time in order to share, listen to one another, plan, and make decisions with regard to the future. One of the themes of this meeting was the Vincentian Family Homeless Alliance (FHA) and its 13 Houses Campaign. This campaign is a charitable initiative which involves the whole Vincentian Family and therefore, is also to be promoted by all the members of the Family so that the heart of each individual member is moved and becomes an active participant in this common initiative. At the present time there are 53 projects in some stage of development in 37 countries, that is, 761 houses have been built or repaired. It can, therefore, be said that the life of some 5,000 people has been bettered. It should be noted that the campaign was begun in November 2018 with the objective to transform the lives of 10,000 within a period of 3-5 years. In addition to the resultsmentioned above, the following initiatives took place in the last months:
The FHA for Covid-19:18 initiatives in 16 countries. Assistance has been provided to the following: Angola, Bolivia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Ghana, Lebanon, Guatemala, Madagascar (2), Peru (2), the Dominican Republic, Rwanda, and the Ukraine.
Lebanon: from our heart to the heat of Lebanon – emergency response to the August 4th explosion. An on-line call and a general call to raise $100,000.00 in order to assist the Vincentian Family in Beirut and the many families who were left homeless as a result of the explosion.
On September 27th, on the YouTube channel of the FHA, there will be a presentation that summarizes the work of the Vincentian Family on behalf of the homeless.
Father Tomaẑ explains: Because the needs of the poor are never-ending, different ones receive priority in each country as the individual branches respond so wonderfully to these needs. However, the Famvin Homeless Alliance is our unique common project. Therefore, it needs to be promoted, extended, and introduced in all 156 countries where the Vincentian Family is present so that no Congregation or Association will remain outside it, but all will take an active part in the initiative in every corner of the world where we live and serve. […] I would like to return to certain points from last year’s letter for the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul that I am convinced are the key for us to move forward so that the 160 branches pray, think, and act together. This year, we are especially invited as the Vincentian Family, as the Vincentian Movement, to further commit to the FHA because the message of Pope Francis for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which providentially will be celebrated 27 September 2020, speaks of one of the groups of persons whom we are helping through the FHA. Therefore, this year’s Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul becomes an extraordinary opportunity to reaffirm or make a commitment to active participation in the FHA as well as in the “13 Houses” project.
Father General invites the members of the 170 branches of the Vincentian Family to become active collaborators in the Famvin Homeless Alliance (website: www.vfhomelessalliance.org – email: email@example.com) and concludes: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us as individuals and as members of the worldwide Vincentian Family many opportunities as well as challenges. The same will be true in the post-COVID-19 period. Pope Francis repeatedly reminds us that the world, and we as individuals, cannot remain the same after COVID-19. We will become better, or we will take a step back and become worse. The same is true for our Vincentian Family, for our Vincentian Movement. So many wonderful steps, be they new forms of prayer gatherings, collaborative food distribution, or other initiatives, have already been taken in the pandemic period and will be taken in the so-called post-COVID-19 period, bringing the Family together more and more.
The Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity are members of the Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that at the UN advocate against trafficking in persons.
The CM representative at the UN is also part of the central
commission of Consecrated of the Americans Life against trafficking in persons (9
regional or national commissions). For this reason, we are also associated with Talitha
Kum, the international network of Consecrated Life against trafficking in persons.
Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous
purposes including forced labor, traffic of organs, and sex. The International Labor
Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labor globally. This
estimate also includes victims of human trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation. While
it is not known how many of these victims were trafficked, the estimate implies that
currently, there are millions of trafficking in persons victims in the world.
The work of many social organizations, religious communities, NGOs, etc. aims to
prioritize victims coming from a context of armed conflict and those identified among large
refugee and migration flows. Its focus is also the work with victims trafficked for the
purpose of sexual exploitation, organ removal, forced begging, forced criminality and
emerging exploitative purposes (e.g. skin removal, online pornography).
In September 2015, the world adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and
embraced goals and targets on trafficking in persons. These goals call for an end to
trafficking and violence against children; as well as the need for measures against human
trafficking, and they strive for the elimination of all forms of violence against and
exploitation of women and girls.
‘Responding to the trafficking of children and young people’
This year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has chosen
‘responding to the trafficking of children and young people’ as the focus of the World Day.
This year’s campaign highlights the fact that almost a third of trafficking victims are
children. The theme draws attention to the issues faced by trafficked children and to
possible action initiatives linked to safeguarding and ensuring justice for child victims.
We invite you to honor this international day against the victimization of human beings
with your prayer and reflection but also getting informed and joining any local or national
efforts so that this day marks another step in our commitment against trafficking in
persons. We can collaborate with the efforts others have organized in the prevention,
accompaniment, rescue, healing and the social and work relocation of the victims.
Why do we have an international day against human trafficking?
It is not a celebration … it is a day to resist, to sensitize, to raise awareness, to call
attention, to point out that there is an unresolved problem, an important and pending issue
in societies so that, through this awareness, governments and states can act and take
measures or for citizens to demand this from their representatives.
New York July 30, 2028 Congregation of the Mission United Nations Office
Because of the 400 years of the Vincentian charism – recently celebrated with the jubilee that gathered in Rome at the International Symposium to representatives of the numerous Vincentian Family Worldwide – the realization of the project “We cultivate integration: flowers and fruits in the land of asylum” was possible, thanks to the synergy between the Vincentian Family, the Social Cooperative Society “Tre Fontane”, the non-profit association Linaria and Mrs. Margherita Grasselli. The motto of the Jubilee: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” (Mt 25, 35) has in this initiative a concrete example of what it truly means to welcome.
The project consists in the improvement and development of approximately two hectares of uncultivated land, property of the Congregation of the Mission in Rome, in Via dei Capasso 30, in which special botanical varieties will be cultivated, which can respond to a market so far little known, but surely expanding. It will allow to qualify the professional skills of a group of asylum seekers and holders of international and humanitarian protection, who reside regularly in Rome, with the aim of their social and labor insertion in the city. An initiative that is, at the same time, an experiment due to its evident social, economic and environmental impact, with the potential to become a replicable pilot project in other national urban realities.