MISEVI: Lay Vincentian Missionariess

What's MISEVI?
Eva Villar and Fr. Felipe Nieto, C.M.

Table of contents:

0. A little history

1. Identity

2. Goal

3. Structure

  • The members

  • The coordinating team

  • The general assembly

4. Projects

5. Conclusion


MISEVI is the youngest member of the Vincentian Family. It is the most recent, but also the smallest and is still taking its first steps. We all have our eyes fixed on it because we are hoping for great things for the poor of this world.

They know its origins, identity, goals, and its structure and that it strives to accomplish its tasks and address the challenges that the General Assembly confided to it. It is from this beginning that I speak to you now.

Paris, July 2002
By Eva Villar, president of Misevi International, and Fr. Felipe Nieto, C.M., member of the coordinating team.

0. A Little History

At the dawn of the Millennium there was the first International Assembly of MISEVI at Los Molinos (Madrid); an event for the JMV who saw their dream become reality: international level coordination of an Association born out of the missionary interest of some young people who were very concerned with missionary experience. Let us not go too fast. We are going to try to present MISEVI to you.

It all began in 1984. The JMV had such a strong missionary desire that a group of Spanish youth had some missionary experiences ad gentes during vacation months. Since then we have tried to send an average of 30 young people temporarily. Three years later, in 1987, some of these young people began to stay on the missions for several years as laity, with their commitments renewable every two years, and devote themselves to various pastoral works with the Vincentian Family. Beginning in 1992, some of the young people expressed their desire to seek an alternative that would help them continue to follow their option for the mission as laity with some stability and bonds with the Vincentian Family.

From that moment on the idea that the experience of missionary life could not be reduced to a phase of youth, but rather, could be a stable form of living the lay vocation was affirmed. This discovery had to find ways of being sustained and continuing into the future. There were many consultations, dialogues and meetings and, little by little, the idea came: create an association in the Vincentian Family that would sustain, help, support and provide coordination of the presence and work of the laity in the missions ad gentes.

MISEVI truly began to function during a missionary session in El Cisne on 18 October 1997. There, young people committed themselves to work for the Association so that it could take charge of coordinating the laity that were already on the missions for two years - to support them on the human, spiritual and economic levels. During this meeting, we named an Administration Committee that immediately began working on the first task: preparing the First General Assembly of MISEVI.

It is also necessary to speak about the first steps of MISEVI in new countries: the Dominican Republic, Italy, Honduras all of this, thanks to the Spanish-American JMV meetings every three years, and making the first points of contact and collaboration with MISEVI International.

The first General Assembly was an important moment in the life of the Association. We clarified identity, set up some lines of action for the future, appointed a Coordinating Team, developed a Final Document and contacted the various entities that were already functioning. All of this bore fruit in a truly international MISEVI.

For this entire process, we want to stress the valuable help and unconditional support of Fr. Robert Maloney, successor to Vincent de Paul. His presence, welcome, encouragement and advice have succeeded in setting up a juridical structure for the Association so as to extend the Vincentian Family in the world.

1. Identity

MISEVI is an international association, canonically erected as a public association of the faithful, as an entirely autonomous juridical person, seeking to develop an organized presence of laity in missionary works ad gentes, especially within the missions of the Vincentian Family.

We can find its principal identifying characteristics in its documents, but also in the formation process and the little "struggles" with the process of expansion in which we find ourselves. To that effect, the following identifying characteristics are clear and well defined:

2. Goal

Among all the documents, presentations, commentaries and suggestions along the way, the best way of expressing the true goal of MISEVI is to say: we want to encourage, facilitate, sustain and help coordinate the presence of the missionary work of Vincentian laity and their reinsertion into their place of origin after the missionary work. In accomplishing the actions indicated in the second paragraph of our Statutes, we propose these means to attain our objective, the presence and work of lay Vincentians in the missionary field:

2.1. To encourage:

  1. the participation of the members of MISEVI in the missionary activities carried out by the various Vincentian and Church associations, especially those at the local level, both at the place of origin of those sent to the missions and the places of their missionary service;
  2. the creation of activities that seek to awaken or develop a lay missionary vocation in the various Vincentian associations.

2.2. To facilitate development of the missionary dimension

  1. By being a channel for the meeting between lay Vincentians who have a missionary vocation and the missions ad gentes confided to or animated by the Vincentian Family;
  2. By collaborating with Vincentian Associations in the formation of lay Vincentians preparing to go to the mission ad gentes;
  3. By seeking to establish contacts between persons or small groups who are beginning to develop their missionary life with Vincentian Associations having more experience;
  4. By bringing together all programs and means of formation in order to diffuse them among all the associations of the Vincentian Family in the different countries, trying to foster a spirit of welcome, collaboration and mutual support at the concrete moment of planning this formation

2.3. To sustain

Our desire is to sustain each of the members, who, according to different life choices, are part of the association; to sustain the communities where they are inserted, the associations of origin that sent them, as well as other Vincentian associations. It is always necessary to look for new ways of support and to be creative in this, but in the least, we would like to offer:

2.4. To coordinate:

  1. By being a means of coordination of all the lay missionaries, contacting them, inviting them, and welcoming those who desire to participate in the Association and offering support to those who are part of the Vincentian Family but decide not to participate in the Association;
  2. By sending information to the members of the various ongoing missionary communities about the projects and activities of other communities where members of the Association work;
  3. By sustaining the active participation of its members within the coordinating structures of the Vincentian Family that is present in the mission places or by encouraging them to create them where they do not exist.

3. Structure

3.1. Members:

MISEVI is a Vincentian Association of secondary membership. This means that it is open to all lay Vincentians in order to deeply live out the specific nature of a missionary from within his or her own charism while wanting to grow in the missionary dimension without severing membership to the Vincentian Association of origin.

Taking into account this special characteristic, MISEVI has established four types of membership:

3.2. The Coordinating Team

The Coordinating Team has the management responsibility of the Association. They are the "Senior Officials" of the Association on the international level (cf. Canon 318). They act in accord with the Statutes, the internal law, the Spirituality Document and the directives from the General Assemblies. In a particular way, the team must take care of pastoral and community plan of the missionary communities. The team is composed of the President, three lay members, a Daughter of Charity, a Priest of the Congregation of the Mission and two representatives from lay associations of the Vincentian Family having members in MISEVI. At least three of them must reside in a place close to the permanent Secretariat.

The President is chosen by the General Assembly by secret vote of the members with full rights. There must be an absolute majority on the first two ballots; if no person wins, there is a third ballot for the two who have obtained the most votes. The one to be elected is the one obtaining the most votes (cf. Canon 119). The election of the President is confirmed by the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity. The role of the President includes:

The Coordinating Team takes on the functions of secretary, treasurer and councilors, according to the decision of the President.

The Coordinating Team generally meets at least three times a year. The President convokes the meetings and sets the agenda. There must be two-thirds of the members present at the first meeting and half at the second.

After having presented the chosen candidates, the General Assembly names, by three successive votes, three lay members for the Coordinating Team. All members with full rights in the Association or any member of the General Assembly can be elected.

The Priest of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughter of Charity are named by the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity. The two representatives of the Vincentian Associations are named by their own members according to the indications of the Coordinating Team.

All members of the Coordinating Team are elected or named for four years and their terms can be renewed for a maximum of two other terms. The time dedicated to this service will not be counted toward losing the condition of a member with full rights. The duration of terms of the Daughter of Charity and the Priest of the Congregation of the Mission will be flexible. They will be adapted to the times fixed for other coordination roles that they might hold in the Vincentian Family, with a maximum of 12 consecutive years.

3.3. The General Assembly

The organization of MISEVI is established around the General Assembly, as the supreme authority in participation and governance of the Association. This takes place every four years to revise the workings of the association, give direction on the plan of action for the future and study the balance sheets and budgets.

The Coordinating Team convokes the General Assembly and the following assist at it:

4. Projects

All MISEVI's projects for 2002 are small steps to achieve the general objective of this Association that was created to sustain, help, support and provide coordination of the lay presence and work in the missions ad gentes confided to or animated by the Vincentian Family.

The MISEVI Coordinating Team, elected at the First MISEVI General Assembly in January 2001, suggested that during the period 2001-2004, they work to convert the challenges of the Final Document from the First Assembly into reality. The plan of this year, 2002, is a stage of this journey.

4.1. To deepen, apply and make known the important documents of MISEVI

4.2. To be creative and spread the spirit of MISEVI

And to foster the necessary drive so that, in tune internationally, we will open doors to new realities and facilitate the incorporation of new members.

4.3. To seek to create a solid, stable structure

Who promotes sustaining the social funds that are required for the retirement and cases of illness of our missionaries.

4.4. To facilitate and channel means of formation

5. Conclusion

MISEVI was born small but it has been called to become great. On the table of each team meeting, but especially in our hearts, there are three words that are the hope and dream for all of us: formation, expansion and consolidation. There are two and a half years ahead of us to get there.

This is like the mustard seed. It requires a lot of care, time, devotion, work and effort for it to grow. May it become a little tree where all lay Vincentian missionaries, those past and future, those now and always, can find good branches where they can build their nests and feel that they have roots and protection. There is need of support at all levels along the way as well as the generous dedication of some to accompany all with much enthusiasm, as if it were a dream that we all believe will some day come true.