Photo: Br. Lawrence Obiko CMM, Br. Jan Koppens CMM, and Fr. Joe Agostino CM at the ‘Walk-in-lunch’ in the Elim community in Tilburg, the Netherlands.
Tilburg, 4 May 2018 – During the months of April and May 2018, Father Joseph Agostino CM, international coordinator of the Vincentian Family Office in Philadelphia, USA, is crisscrossing Europe to meet with members of the various branches of the Vincentian Family.
Journey through Europe
Father Joe Agostino’s journey started in Germany, where he made a presentation at a conference of MEGVIS (Central European Group of Vincentian Studies). He also visited Austria, Switzerland, France, and Belgium, meeting the superior generals of the Vincentian Family branches. On April 30, Father Agostino arrived in the Netherlands. Brother Lawrence Obiko CMM, Superior General of the Brothers CMM, welcomed him at the CMM Generalate. In the Netherlands there was also a meeting with superior generals, who entered into discussions about the future of the Vincentian charism, as well as about collaboration, challenges, and hope.
The aim of the journey throughout Europe for Father Agostino, as international coordinator of the Vincentian Family Office, is to learn about the challenges and opportunities in the European Vincentian Family branches. His visit also enables the superior generals to get more familiar with the Vincentian Family Office. Instead of only having email contact, personal encounters prove to be so much more valuable and fruitful.
Share a lunch
Father Agostino not only meets with the superior generals. Getting a clear idea of what the various branches in Europe are doing, he also visits some of their projects. On May 3, for example, he joined the ‘Walk-in lunch’ at the Elim community of the Brothers CMM. Over a million Dutch people feel very lonely. Often, it is the elderly, or people with a very low income, or immigrants who had to leave their friends and family behind. At the Elim community there is a walk-in lunch every Tuesday and Thursday. Anyone who wants to share a lunch together with other persons, known or unknown, just walks in at around noon. In this way, the initiators hope to draw attention to people who feel lonely and need some contact.
At the Generalate of the Brothers CMM, Father Agostino expressed his appreciation for the way the various branches of the Vincentian Family in Europe live their Vincentian heritage and charism, by stating: “You all have your own specific way of looking at this, and together you form the many beautiful facets of a brilliant diamond.”
Hunger for deepening the charism
So far, Father Agostino has experienced in Europe a hunger for a deeper understanding of the Vincentian charism. The challenge is: how to do this in a good way, and in such way that it is also valuable for future generations, for young people, lay people, and people who are less involved in Church and religious life. The Vincentian Family is looking for ways to develop a lay-friendly vocabulary about Vincent’s charism.
Reasons to feel blessed
“The call to see Jesus in the face of the poor,” Father Agostino says, “as Vincent de Paul did, is still needed today, and it is definitely still vibrant, and will give us the energy to go on towards the future. There are a lot of reasons to be grateful to God. One of these is His invitation to us to be partners in this mission. It is a reason to feel blessed, since it is as relevant now as it was 400 years ago.”