Overheard in the parking lot as folks left the Monday Miraculous Medal Devotions….I heard something about Vincentians at the United Nations…do you know who they are…or what they do there?
Yes it’s true. And it’s good news indeed. The Vincentian Family, a huge umbrella of 165 different groups—congregations, institutes, associations—has two million members working in different ways across the glove, on behalf of people in poverty.
Though imperfect and in need of serious reform, the United Nations remains the unique global space for international dialogue and collaborative efforts. If the UN did not exist, something like it would have to be invented. It provides the only space where all 193 Member States can meet on mostly equal footing to discuss the great issues of the day: war and peace, poverty and hunger, social development and human rights.
And as a global community, the Vincentian Family should be present and active at the world’s unique global organization because the Family has a story to tell, a compelling one, about people trapped in poverty. This is an important story and one the Family is well positioned to tell, first because of our great legacy of charity dating back to the 17th century, the creative and effective work of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac for poor people, efforts that continue in so many ways today.
Vincentians know the stories of poverty first-hand, not from books or committees but from personal contact with people struggling in poverty. Their voices must be raised, they must be helped to find their voice, and that voice needs to be heard at the highest levels of governments.
Five branches of the Family have active participation at the UN:
The representatives also work to assist migrants and refugees, to end human trafficking, to foster economic and social development, and to promote the status of women. All of these efforts are addressed through the lens of “systemic change,” the pastoral method that seeks to change the root causes—not the symptoms-- of social ills to make real and lasting change possible for those trapped in poverty.
It is a mission St. Vincent himself would be proud of. And for those of us charged to carry it out, it is an honor indeed.
NGO Representative of the Congregation of the Mission