Spiritual Advisers: An essential role in the Society
Being a Spiritual Adviser is an important service to fellow Vincentians in helping achieve the primary purpose within the St Vincent de Paul Society of growing in holiness.
From the beginning of the Society, when Emmanuel Bailly arranged for the first members of the “Conference of Charity” to go to Sr Rosalie Rendu, the Spiritual Adviser assumed responsibility for the spiritual growth and development of each member as well as the group as a whole.
Emmanuel Bailly, who was the first Conference President, is also considered to have been the first Spiritual Adviser. Knowing the depth of Sr Rosalie’s devotion to the poor, Emmanuel guided the young Vincentians towards her example and mentorship. She formed them in the spirit of St Vincent, teaching them how to serve with respect and compassion, seeing in each person the face of Christ. By entrusting to Sr Rosalie the spiritual formation (through service) of the original members, Bailly shows us that the Spiritual Adviser serves best as a facilitator, not an instructor.
The Spiritual Adviser is an animator, acting as a guide along the Vincentian pathway, encouraging members towards an ever-deepening relationship with our Lord, promoting the mission of the Society and growth in the Vincentian charism. The Spiritual Adviser helps Vincentians strive to see the face of Jesus in those whom they serve.
Through their own example, they help members come to understand the role of spirituality in Vincentian life, and how to form themselves in that same fashion. The Spiritual Adviser considers the spiritual needs of each member, as well as the group as a whole.
The primary qualification is a dedication to the Vincentian charism, with a commitment to encourage others to grow in their Vincentian spirituality.
Finally, the Spiritual Adviser is an inspirational force within the group, participating in discussions, as well as in person-to-person service to those in need. Leading by example, they help to create and foster an environment of prayer, understanding, respectful listening and discernment. When appropriate, they might challenge members and the group to new works and approaches, embracing those opportunities God places before us to grow in holiness through trust and charity in new and courageous ways. The Spiritual Adviser helps Vincentians strive to see the face of Jesus in the poor and needy whom they serve. This is the essence of Vincentian spirituality.
Have you thought about becoming a Spiritual Adviser? Or know someone who would thrive as a Spiritual Adviser? Speak to your Conference President, Regional President or the Mission and Formation team if you would like to learn more.