Vincentian Conference 2021 “The wounded man…who will free us from fear?”

The Vincentian Conference 2021 was livestreamed for the first time on the Zoom platform on 24 January 2021 and was conducted in one day for the whole of Sardinia, instead of on two different days (one for the North and one for the South of our island) as it used to be done in the past. The live broadcast will go down in history for the way it was experienced because of the pandemic. The formation took place in a single day, for all members dedicated to the study and deepening of the spirituality and teaching of St Vincent de Paul.

The branches belonging to the Vincentian Family met virtually, connecting from Sassari, Olbia and Cagliari: laymen and women of the Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul founded by Blessed Frederic Ozanam, the Sisters of St. Joan Antida Thouret, the Sisters of the Congregation of Gethsemane established by Father Manzella, a Vincentian missionary, the largest group of Vincentian Volunteers, the Priests of the Mission who work in Sassari and Cagliari, and the Daughters of Charity who are well-known in every corner of our land.

After a brief moment of prayer led by Father Beppe Crobu, Superior of the Casa della Missione in Cagliari, the speaker, Father Nicola Albanesi CM, introduced the theme of the day’s study: The wounded man…who will free us from fear? The speaker clearly highlighted how St. Vincent, facing the wounded man (the pandemic is, for all of us, a wound that is also difficult to heal), lived the challenge of faith; he, our teacher continues to show us how to bend over the wounds of the suffering humanity of our time.

At the heart of Conference there are some questions that have always challenged us regarding the love that we, Vincentians, have for the poor: what is it and where does our love come from? We have often been told that we need to make an effort to love others, to overcome dislike, to deal with repugnant situations; somehow, we have been led to believe that love of neighbour depends on our good will. Of course, love for our brothers and sisters, starting with the smallest ones, requires our action and a certain commitment but this comes from a reality that lies deep within our being where Love is all-encompassing.

Father Nicola enlightened us on what the authentic source of love must be for us, what must animate our charitable action: “The source of our love is none other than the Love we have received. It springs from the knowledge that God loves us. Charity is always the fruit of Christ’s action in us! We can understand then how a heart penetrated by Christ’s love knows not only love of neighbour but also the gift of prayer!  Love for those who are poor needs a living faith, a ceaseless and continuous search for the face of God. God’s love, manifested in Christ and poured out through the Spirit, nourishes love for poor persons, sustains in times of trial, reawakens in moments of crisis and protects when in danger of falling. The community that prays, that contemplates the mystery of Christ, and that lives in communion, caring for each other is the place from where one draws from a source of unconditional love and gains strength to love those who are unloved, those who find it hardest to believe in love and be open to the beauty of life.”

At the conclusion of the Conference, we welcomed with joy the brief intervention of Monsignor Giuseppe Batturi, Bishop of Cagliari, who exhorted us to continue to be committed in building an image of the Church that responds to the needs of today. We hope that we may be able to physically participate in the Vincentian Conference 2022! Father Nicola quoted St. Vincent at the end of the meeting… let us make these words our own:

“The best way to ensure our eternal happiness is to live
and die in the service of the poor, in the arms of Divine Providence,
in the total renunciation of ourselves to follow Jesus Christ”.

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