Have you noticed, as I have, so many new programs in our churches that promise to help parishioners grow in faith and share faith more easily as we try to “Unleash the Gospel?”
Guess what? Dedicated Vincentians and effective SVDP Conferences are perhaps “the best” evangelizers the church can have! If we, Vincentians, take seriously the three primary tenets of our Society: to grow in holiness, to do this with a community of Vincentian friends, and then to reach out in service to our most vulnerable neighbors, we are evangelizing.
We, who are praying and learning better the ways of Jesus and the gospel of compassion, strive to accompany the most disenfranchised, the needy, the folks frightened in their burdens of poverty. We meet them, not as clients or consumers, but as valued neighbors as we strive to accompany them in situations that need our mercy and attention.
Just to listen, to try to understand and articulate what we think we are understanding is truly a Christ-like gift. To give our undivided attention and to be with people in the places where they live is truly a gift. Think of Jesus, He paid attention and usually responded with questions or parables that helped those who came to Him to understand or “see the light,” the answer. He didn’t give material help, but people were changed by His presence.
Vincentians need to let our neighbors know that we are with them because we are followers of Jesus and many other believers help us with their time, goods and donations so that we can give help in difficult situations when that is possible. We pray with them and invite them to pray with us for their needs and possible solutions that provide encouragement and hope. Even when our neighbors’ needs are very complex and God-sized, we want them to feel valued for having been with us as Jesus’ disciples, taking them into our hearts and into our prayer.
For ways to meet our spiritual and friendship challenges more effectively, try to participate in the various offerings that our Central Office and their volunteer formation teams provide: a renewed Ozanam Orientation, a Spiritual Advisor Workshop, the Annual Meeting, the Evening of Reflection, and others.
May the Spirit of Jesus lead us into a happy, growthful New Year 2019. I pray for this and for you.
Sister Noreen Ellison, SC