Do we all speak the same language?

We may all speak a common language such as English. Yet, even though they speak the same language, “Boomers” and “Millennials”, Republicans and Democrats, speak different languages. At least as far as what they talk about and the kinds of issues that matter to them. Apart from differences in vocabulary and grammar, we don’t often think of how different groups might be recognized by the topics and concerns expressed.

In a recent post on FamVin,  Fr. Pat Griffin of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission reflected on his experience of preaching retreats and dialoguing with Daughters of Charity in other English-speaking countries. His thoughts set me thinking about “speaking Vincentian.”

From the beginning, I knew that with all these groups, we would be speaking the same language: English. My American accent did not notably hinder the Sisters from understanding me. And I heard the particular flavor which some of them offered to our common tongue with the brogues of Southern as well as Northern Ireland and with the sounds of Great Britain as captured in the Daughters from England, Scotland and Wales. It was a pleasure to hear the different flavor which people brought to our English. In Paris, many of my Sisters were from Africa, and thus they brought their soundings of a common tongue from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Eritrea. In other contexts, India and the Philippines were heard from.

From the beginning, I knew that with all these groups, we would be speaking the same language: English.

What also became clear quickly is that we shared another common language: that of the Vincentian Family. Many, many times I sat with a Sister and we spoke about her ministry with those who were poor. The blind, deaf, elderly, homeless, hungry, orphans, refugees, immigrants, and those with special needs—as well as many other of the marginalized—repeatedly held pride of place in our conversations. These good women spoke of their desire to live with the poor and to serve them in the most basic of matters. They wanted to do so in institutions and in their homes, and they wanted to do it together as a community of faith.

Yes, we spoke the same language, but it was not just English. The words and actions which characterize our ministries find easy translation across all languages and countries within the Vincentian Family. Our common language reaches beyond the ones which we learned from our parents, and it unites us in service and support. We understand each other.

Do you speak Vincentian?

  • What are the heartfelt concerns you feel the need to speak about?
  • How many people share these concerns?
  • Do you have enough opportunities to speak of these concerns?
  • Are there people you know who would like to practice their “Vincentian”?

Hopefully, this blog will give you the opportunity to practice speaking Vincentian. We certainly hope you will feel free to comment on this or any other post. Just make use of the “Comment” button associated with each post.

Read his full reflection on FamVin

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