Brothers in the Congregation of the Mission
From its foundation as the Congregation by St. Vincent de Paul in 1625, the vocation of the Brother has been essential to the life of the Congregation of the Mission. St. Vincent depended on the Brothers for the smooth running of St. Lazare, the first house of the community. It held multiple charitable works for the poor, and Vincentian Brothers served there in many capacities.
According to St. Vincent, Brothers are dedicated men and authentic missionaries. As Brothers, they participate in the mission of Christ, Church ministries, and advance the Vincentian charism: “He has sent me to bring Good News to the Poor.” (Lk.4:18) Although not clerics with sacramental duties, Brothers are full members of the Congregation, involved in ministries of direct service to the poor, as well as contributing to advance the mission of the Congregation.
Vincentian Brothers serve as pastoral ministers, social workers, teachers, artists, web designers, retreat masters, administrators, and agriculture specialists, to name but a few of the ministries these dedicated and talented men undertake, following Jesus in the way of St. Vincent. In the words of St. Vincent: “Whether the Brothers are those who work for the Gospel…they are participants in all the good done in the missions, seminaries, and works of the Congregation.” (SV, XII, 98)
Formation for Vincentian Brotherhood
The goals of formation for a Brother candidate after completion of novitiate is three-fold:
- To help him undertake a life-long vowed commitment to the Vincentian way of life;
- To assist him in discerning a specific ministry to the poor he is called to offer;
- To provide him with an initial level of professional competence to serve in that ministry.
Formation for Vincentian Brotherhood has several key elements: human, spiritual, apostolic, professional, and communal. Human formation helps a man recognize and accept personal assets and limitations, and learn to live as an active community member. Spiritual formation helps a man interiorize a spiritual life rooted in vows, Vincentian virtues, and the charism. Apostolic formation provides varied ministerial experiences to help a man discern an aptitude for a Vincentian-based ministry. Professional formation provides a man obtain training for expertise in a specific ministry. Community formation helps a man learn to live and relate well to Vincentians of varied ages, backgrounds, and ministries.
Outcomes & Characteristics of a Vincentian Brother
Although formation as a Vincentian is a life-long process, these statements are what is hoped for as the “end product” for a Vincentian Brother after the completion of his initial formation.
- A man of prayer centered in Jesus Christ to live faithfully the charism of St. Vincent;
- A man who relates comfortably with people of all ages;
- A man who lives simply in community and assists his brothers generously;
- A man who works to further the mission of the Church and the Congregation;
- A man who can identify his abilities and find concrete ways to serve the poor well;
- A man imbued with a missionary spirit, with a readiness to go wherever he is needed;
- A man who participates in the life and decision-making of the community.
Profiles of Vincentian Brothers in Active Ministry
Watch for future profiles of Vincentian Brothers, men whose lives are filled with the richness that comes from embracing a spirituality of faith, service, and community to follow Jesus Christ in the way of St. Vincent de Paul.