Journey of a vincentian in Romania
Over this last month, I have often considered what it means to me to be a member of a lay Catholic charitable organisation, the SSVP. Especially as on 2 August 2017, I am celebrating my 25 years’ as a Vincentian.
The SSVP was established in Resita on 2 August 1992 during a visit from a group from Austria, from the former deanery of “Graz - right bank of the River Mur”, led by the Kaindlbauer family, on the feast of the Resita Roman Catholic Church of Saint Mary of the Snows. That afternoon, the first meeting of the conference was held in the parish office. Dr. Alois Fauland, then president of the Vincentians in Styria / Steiermark (later the coordinator of the Vincentian movement in Austria), spoke about the objectives of Vincentians, and their work. Seven or eight people there were fired up with the sense that our heavenly Father calls us and leads us to a Christian future, close to him. At the first Vincentian meeting, I was elected President of the SSVP-Resita.
The first steps were not easy. I had to learn what it meant to be a real Vincentian, the demands of the role, as well as understand the history of this international lay Catholic movement. I also explored our local history and discovered that even in Resita, between the world-wars, people were working in the name of Saint Vincent de Paul, though not following the Rule of the organisation co-founded in the 19th century by Frédéric Ozanam, now Blessed Frédéric, teacher at the Sorbonne.
In 1994, I was elected president of the SSVP in Resita. This gave me an extra motivation to contribute to other initiatives of this kind in Romania. As a result of this commitment, on 25 May 1996, I founded the Union of Charitable Associations of Saint Vincent de Paul in Romania, with nine member organisations at that time. I was then elected president of the Union.
The next stage was to create a National Council of Vincentians in Romania. On 27 and 28 November 1998, the Vincentians of Campulung Muscel organised the first National Conference, attended by Cesar Augusto Nunes Viana, then the International President General. I was elected the first National President for the SSVP in Romania. My second term of office as National President was between 15 March 2003 and 31 December 2006. From 1st January 2007, I was appointed as honorary President of the National Council of Romania.
I must mention my attempts to build the Vincentian Family in Romania, between 2001 and 2003, organising several national meetings of this kind.
During his period, I had many opportunities for contact with Council General in Paris. I first attended an international meeting in 1994, when I took part as National President at the gathering in Bolzano, South Tyrol (Italy), the first annual meeting of German-speaking countries in Europe. Since then, I have attended almost all the meetings of this kind in Central Europe. In 2001, we organised a meeting for the first time in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, for delegations from the former Communist states in Europe. At this meeting, I was elected the group’s spokesperson.
After a meeting at Council General in Paris on 08 May 2001, José Ramón Díaz-Torremocha, International President General, appointed me as the first coordinator of the Europe 4 group (former Communist states in Central and Eastern Europe), starting on 1st January 2002, a post in which I served until September 2012.
On 27 September 2012, I was appointed by the International President General, Dr Michael Thio as International Territorial Vice-President for the Europe 2 group (same countries formerly covered by the previous Europe 4 group), a post I held for six years. On 27 September 2016 I was confirmed for a further term of office by the current President General, Renato Lima de Oliveira.
Who would have thought, 25 years ago, that the meeting in Resita on 02 August 1992 would affect my whole life, give it a new meaning and a new spiritual development? Have I been worthy of these posts, and the trust placed in me? Only God can answer this question.
I hope I have never disappointed the people who trusted me during these 25 years of work in Resita, in Romania, in Europe and around the world. I now want to thank my family, the Vincentians of Resita, my friends in Romania, the European and international friends who have had trust and hope in me, and over the years have demonstrated this in different ways.
Saint Vincent de Paul, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, all the saints and beatified members of the Vincentian Family have supported me in my work over these 25 years (I have felt it at every turn!). And for that, I thank God above all, our gentle Shepherd. I hope to continue my Vincentian work wherever the Lord blesses me!
Erwin Josef Tigla