PURPOSE AND MISSION OF VINCENTIAN CONGREGATION
Being faithful to its charism, the specific and pre-eminent purpose of the Vincentian Congregation is the evangelization of the poor especially the more abandoned. The congregation has taken the words of Jesus as its motto: “He has sent me to proclaim the Good News to the poor”(Lk.4:18). St. Vincent de Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit set out to follow Christ and to imitate him more closely, devoted himself to the well being of the poor and afflicted. Sensitive to the needs of the People of God, he shared the mission of Christ and of the Church in the evangelization and assistance of the poor and zealously worked for the formation of good pastors and lay apostles. Incorporated into the Vincentian Congregation, each one of its members, adhering to the spirit and example of St. Vincent de Paul, commits oneself (1) to strive for evangelical perfection by making every effort to practice those virtues which our Lord has deigned to teach us by word and example; (2) to preach the Gospel to the poor especially the more abandoned and to help them in their integral development; and (3) to help seminarians and priests to grow in knowledge and virtue so that they can be effective in their ministry.
The mission of the congregation is realized by the preaching of the Word of God through ‘Popular Mission’ retreats, Bible conventions and residential retreats in various retreat centers, missionary works among non-Christians as well as in the charitable, educational and social apostolate in order to help the poor in their integral development. The main and specific thrust of its programmes is to work among the poor. The rules and regulations of the congregation give special emphasis on the obligation of the members towards the poor. In places where the Gospel has not yet been preached or the Church is not yet well established, the Vincentians share the missionary responsibility to preach the message of Christ and to implant the seeds of faith. As St. Vincent dedicated himself to serve the poor materially and spiritually, we too shall regard the poor as our pre-eminent lot in the work of evangelization so that we may proclaim to them the mystery of salvation and help them in their needs.
Popular Mission is the specific form of preaching the Word of God undertaken by the Vincentians. It is a special type of retreat aimed at the thorough renewal of parishes. Such parish retreats are appreciated and welcomed by the bishops, parish priests and faithful. For this retreat, we have two teams of preachers for Kerala, one for Tamil Nadu, one for Andhra Pradesh and another team for the Hindi speaking area. In addition to Popular Missions and as a follow-up for this, the Vincentian priests organize other forms of preaching such as Bible conventions, residential retreats etc. We have 51 prayer and retreat centers, including the well-known Potta-Divine Retreat Center. We are expanding such programs to foreign countries also, including some African countries.
In places where the Gospel has not yet been preached or the Church is not yet well established, the Vincentians share the missionary responsibility to preach the message of Christ and to implant the seeds of faith. We engage in two-fold mission work: namely mission ‘ad gentes’ and re-evangelization. The Congregation began its ministries outside Kerala first in Tamil Nadu. Gradually it was extended to most of the other states in India. At present Vincentian Missionaries are active also in Africa and South America. All the three provinces of the Congregation undertake mission work in these places.
Upholding the charism of St. Vincent, the Congregation is organizing several programs and institutions for the benefit of the most abandoned. The fundamental principle of our social and charitable activities is the social message of Jesus revealed in the sacred scriptures and following the example of our heavenly patron St. Vincent de Paul. The words of our Lord in the description of the last judgment, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren you did it to me” (Mt.25:40), inspires each Vincentian in this regard. As part of our social and charitable activities, we run three De Paul care centers to accommodate the poor cancer patients, one center (SSSMILE Village) to rehabilitate the akasaparavakal, another one for the poor and chronically mentally ill, one for the aids patients and several houses for the aged as well as poor children.
The educational institutions run by the Congregation maintain a Vincentian touch, making them affordable for the poor and ordinary people. Through this, we are fulfilling the duty of forming worthy children for the church and responsible citizens for the country. Therefore, our educational institutions distinguish themselves by their spiritual, intellectual and cultural excellence. The Congregation is running many schools and educational institutions all over India both in rural as well as urban areas and one in Africa. These institutions give special attention to the character formation of the new generation, by inculcating in them the spirit of love, service and fraternity.
Another important ministry that comes from the Vincentian charism is helping the diocesan clergy. This is actualized by conducting renewal programs, ongoing formation for the diocesan clergy as well as by assisting in the parishes where there is shortage of priests. Some of our priests are rendering service in different parishes in India as well as in Europe, Africa, America and Australia.