What is the big picture of Vincentians in the world?
Recently, the new international catalog of the Congregation of the Mission arrived. I began to page through this latest edition and lovingly and out of curiosity I began to analyze the data and the numbers. I pondered the reality that is behind much of this information, and as a result, I would like to share with you some of the highlights of my “investigation”.
Without a doubt, the Congregation continues to be an incredible reality and there is a very significant presence of the Vincentian charism in the Church and in the world. We, as members of the Congregation of the Mission, are in 91 countries: 28 countries in Europe, 24 countries in the Americas, 21 countries in Africa, 13 countries in Asia and 5 countries in Oceania.
There has been a decrease in numbers, not a great decrease, but a decrease nonetheless. In comparing the numbers with those there were recorded in the 2014-2016 catalog, we can state that previously there were 3,202 confreres and today there are 3,157 (45 less – not a very significant number, but one that represents the fact that we are declining in numbers).
Analyzing the previous data with regard to persons and works we discover that previously there were 2,931 priests and today there are 2,893 (38 less); there were 143 Brothers and presently there are 137 (6 less). Previously there were 39 incorporated members and today there are 38 (one less). Previously there were 50 provinces and today there are 43 (seven less — obviously in this matter the situation of reconfiguration has to be taken into consideration). Previously there were 512 local communities and that number has varied very little since today there are 507 local communities. This next number is very disconcerting: there are only 16 provinces out of the 43 total provinces that have incorporated students (in other words, in 27 provinces there is not one single young person in formation who is presently incorporated) Colombia has the greatest number of incorporated students (6).
With regard to the number of confreres, there are 10 provinces that have more than 100 confreres and Colombia is third in this list. The provinces with 100 or more members is as follows: Poland, 260; Spanish province of St. Vincent, 200; Colombia, 187; Western USA, 158; Southern India, 149; Italy, 146; Eastern USA, 117; the Philippines, 117; Indonesia, 105; Northern India, 103.
With regard to median age, the province with the highest median age is Ireland (77 years) while Cameroon has the lowest (42.3 years). Colombia with a median age of 54.6 is in 22nd place.
Our brothers continue to be a richness for our Congregation and their number continues to be stable. The Provinces with the largest number of Brothers is as follows: Spanish province of St. Vincent, 20; Western USA, 16; Colombia, 12; France, 11; Madagascar and Rio, 8; Eastern USA, 6.
Another interesting piece of information is with regard to the permanent diaconate: there are only two permanent deacons in the Congregation, one in the Western USA and one in Italy.
Yes, there is still more information that has to be gleaned and studied, but for the present time, I share with you this information.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM
Eastern Province of The Congregation of the Mission