KEYNOTE ADDRESS - VINCENTIAN CHARISM JAMBOREE
Date: September 16, 2017
Keynote Address by Fr. Gregorio L. Banaga Jr., CM
Vincentian Charism Jamboree
September 9, 2017
Concordia College Gym
- About 15 years ago—I remember-- reunion in Aringoren, Capas, Tarlac.
- Reunion of the Briones-Lapus family, the family—where my mother belonged.
- About 150 people attended. Most of them I did not know.
- Some old people were there. They were our oldest living relatives.
- My mother—one of the senior people who was present.
- As people started to come—they were introduced. It was like tracing the family tree. Ito ang kapatid ng lolo mo! Ito pinsan mo! Ito kamag-anak mo rin. I met so many that I saw for the first time. I did not realize the clan was that huge.
- After lunch, each family was called to the makeshift stage and was introduced. I was looking for what was common among members of our clan. Nothing really except that we were descendants from the Briones-Lapus clan.
- Later in the afternoon, there were games for the children and young people
- But the older ones just sat down talking to each other, reminiscing the past and bonding with each other.
- At the end of the day, everyone was happy and wanted to repeat it again. Unfortunately, no one has taken an initiative to organize another reunion.
- Today—we are gathered for the Vincentian Charism Jamboree. It is similar to a reunion of the sons and daughters of St. Vincent—a family reunion.
- Our family started in 1617 or 400 years ago: Folleville and Chatillon.
- Later, St. Louise would partner with St. Vincent in working for the poor.
- From their partnership, three organizations were born: AIC, CM, DC. These organizations are still alive today, more than 400 years have passed.
- However, not long after they founded these associations, other groups sprang because of their dynamic inspiration. Today we count more than 200 branches in different countries and numbering more than a million members.
- It is truly amazing—that after 4oo years—the memory of Vincent and Louise is very much alive in the so-called Vincentian Family.It is something to thank God for. It is a gift to the Church.
- We are all inheritors of a great legacy from Vincent de Paul. His passion was evangelization or mission and charity. And this is what distinguishes our Vincentian Family. Mission and Charity. Preaching the Good News and assisting the poor spiritually and bodily.
- What does it mean to be Vincentian? To be on fire with Christ’s mission on earth—to preach the Good News of salvation. And to spread his love and service for the poor. If you try to observe-- all branches of the Vincentian Family have a commonality: spreading the Good News of Christ and helping people in situations of poverty and need. The initials at the back of our names do not matter. With or without them, you know the spirit of Vincent flows in your blood. You belong to this one great Vincentian Family.
- As inheritors of this great legacy and as a way of thanking God for the gift of the Vincentian charism, we are called to live passion of Vincent. We must not preserve it only. Wemust promote it and live it out in the present.
- How do we live out Vincent’s charism in the present time? The theme of this year’s 400th anniversary is to search out and welcome strangers; those in the peripheries of society: the forgotten, the marginalized, out of love and compassion.Ask yourself: who are the strangers in the places where you live, work or frequent?
- Today, as Pope Francis observed, indifference has been globalized. People are not touched anymore by the sufferings and misery of others. If they see others suffering, they look the other way or just don’t care. We Vincentians are the opposite. We search them out and to look for them instead of being indifferent to them.
- Most of you here are young people. Your time has come. If you want a future for yourselves, shape it now. Create it now. Or else, you will end up with what the older generation has planned and made for you and it may not be according to your dreams. Build your dreams today.
- Ichallenge you to follow Christ, the evangelizer of the poor and the servant of the poor.I challenge and invite you to build a culture of service and love founded on the values of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise and the Vincentian saints. I know you young people are brave and want challenges.
- How do we build a culture of service and love? First, be a volunteer in any one of the Vincentian Family groups. This afternoon, they will show you what kind of ministry or service they do. Volunteer and immerse yourself in serving the poor. Even just part time. Only when you have time. Start with a small step and be open to learn gradually in the company of others.Serving others can be learned.
- Then, as you get more time and become better in serving others, start to give more time. Soon, your part time volunteer work becomes a full time commitment. More is expected of you since you have more time, talent and energies.
- Finally, you may want to discern and ask yourself: Do I want this service to be permanent, to be my lifelong vocation? Do I want to dedicate my whole life to God by following Christ, the evangelizer of the poor and the servant of the poor? Discernment should be done prayerfully. Pray and ask God to enlighten you. Consult others who can assist you in discerning God’s call.
- If you feel God is calling you to make this lifelong commitment to follow him, you can choose to enter any of the Vincentian Family groups that are here. You can go around the different booths and listen this afternoon, as the different branches of the Vincentian Family will introduce themselves.
- I pray that out of this huge gathering, we can get a number of young men and women who will want to make Vincentian service their calling by joining any of the religious or consecrated life groups here.
- Or you may respond to God’s call to serve Him in the poor by staying as a dedicated layperson and by joining the lay branches of our family like the Ladies of Charity, the SSVP, the COM-VMY, the Young Ladies of Charity.
- Whichever group you join, I hope you discover the joy of giving yourself in serving the strangers who are in our midst. Serving others takes a lot of time and energy and commitment. You will encounter difficulties and obstacles. Often you get tired and the service you do is not even appreciated. I want to encourage you to continue and not to lose heart. If you do it unselfishly, you will be tired but you will also discover joy, fulfillment and peace deep in your heart.
- Welcome again to this Vincentian Family reunion and thank you for being here. May this day be a fruitful and inspiring day forevery one of us as we encounter our relatives in the great Vincentian family.