History of the Vincentian Marian Youth (VMY)
(The word Portico means “porch” or entryway. This article, adapted from the International VMY website, hopefully will provide an entryway for you to understand the origin of VMY groups around the world.)
The Association of the Children of Mary Immaculate, known today as “Vincentian Marian Youth Movement” has a universal reach.
Born in the midst of the large Family of St. Vincent de Paul, its history is linked to the evolution of the Company of the Daughters of Charity and the Priests of the Congregation of the Mission (”Paules”, “Lazaristes” or Vincentian Fathers), in their task of Evangelization throughout the entire world.
The Association is also called by other names, depending on different countries:
JEUNESSE MARIALE (Mauritius), ASSOCIATION OF VINCENTIAN LOUISIAN FAMILY (Indonesia)…
(Spain is the European country that helped revitalize the Association at the approach of the Millenium. JMV means the same as VMY, the J standing for words in various languages meaning youth. The M stands for Mary and the V for Vincent in just about all languages. In English, Marian and Vincentian are adjectives, which signifies that the Youth are Mary and Vincent like.)
2. The Beginnings
From the very beginning, Saint Vincent de Paul as well as Saint Louise de Marillac instilled in their sons and daughters a deep love and a great devotion to Mary. God chose a young farm girl, Zoé Labouré, just as she entered the Daughters of Charity to be His messenger, and her confessor, a Vincentian Priest of the Congregation of the Mission to carry out the message.
She is a model for all young people of today. Catherine experienced the sorrows and joys of family life; she was acquainted with the difficulties of her area, the influences of the society of her day. In 1997, we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Church’s recognition of her sanctity
3. The Historical Event: 1830
Biblical experience tells us that each time God calls, He asks for a response from the person and He sends that person to fulfill a mission. Recall Samuel, Jeremiah, Mary…
Zoé hears the call in her native village, Fain-les-Moutiers, and her response to God will be to enter the Company of the Daughters of Charity in Paris as a Postulant in 1829, and afterwards the Seminary at the Motherhouse, in April of 1830.
We know the mission God confided to Catherine, by way of Mary, through the apparitions of the Immaculate Virgin. In this historic event we have the beginnings of the Marian Association.This is the how Catherine explained this mission to her Director, Father Aladel, in her communication with him: “The Blessed Virgin wishes to give you a mission…You will be the founder and director of a Confraternity of Children of Mary.”
Another message given by the Blessed Virgin was that a medal should be made: the Miraculous Medal, which would be the insignia of the Association.
The message of the various appearances of Mary to St. Catherine Laboure will have repercussions in her life and in the development and consolidation of the VMY group throughout its history.
The first Children of Mary Association was organized into groups in different regions of France. The first fifteen groups were formed between 1835 and 1847. The first members were girls in the schools and workshops run by Daughters of Charity to protect the rights and safety of poor young factory workers.
In 1850, membership was extended to boys and young men. The Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission could now establish “the pious Society under the title of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, in all the houses of the congregation throughout the world.”
From 1848 to 1870, expansion, outside of France, took place across Europe, in the Philippines, Lebanon Africa, Egypt, and several South American countries. There were 338 fully functioning Centers. On September 19, 1876, Pope Pius IX signed a Papal Brief permitting young people who were not students of the schools of the Daughters of Charity to belong to the Association.
5. Organization and Life
From the beginning there were Manuals giving the rule, the statutes, and a book of prayers and spiritual life provided to Daughters and Priests who moderated each group. The first manuals, written by Father Aladel, have been revised and updated over the years. National and international conferences called Marian Congresses provided intense times of formation and renewal needed to adapt to what life required in each time and new culture.
The Faith-life of the members of the Association produced fruits at the level of social and public life. The Children of Mary, marked by Christian commitment and, moreover, as members of the Catholic Action, showed that they were equal to their task in difficult moments, at the time of the organization of the workers’ movement, unions, etc. The era of industrialization had arrived bringing with it struggles and difficulties in striving out to live a Christian life.
When the Daughters of Charity in Mexico were expelled from their Houses and their works in 1875, the Children of Mary took charge of the service of the poor.
6. Internal Organization
The renewing winds of Vatican Council II along with the increase in the number of associates gave rise to a new structure which progressively constituted a new roster. If, from the very beginning, there were Children of Mary and Aspirants, they more or less took on other names. The youngest group bear the name of "Angels", and after that, “Messengers”, corresponding to the “Cadette” in France.
They were able to establish age brackets: Early Childhood, preadolescents, adolescents, young adults, adults: V.M.F. (Vincentian Marian Families) – the current classification, inasmuch as there were always Children of Mary – married and older Children of Mary.
Each age bracket or level would have its formation, requirements and a different commitment in accordance with their growth in the Faith.
Each time, a greater responsibility was given to the young people in the life and functioning of the Association. These responsibilities were accepted and established by the accomplishment of the work assigned to each one as MEMBER, beginning with the very youngest, the children. While giving vitality to the Center, they succeeded in not keeping it isolated: the members live in relationship with one another and with others and feel part of the Diocesan Church, so as to give meaning to their ecclesial character, in the course of all celebrations and campaigns. The same is true at the Provincial, Regional and National levels and this entails the assumption of responsibilities for relations, coordination, participation.
The identity of the Association is designated by its diverse aspects:
From the moment it enjoyed Pontifical Approbation in 1847, it has been considered as one of the apostolic groups that comprise the Church. It considers itself as a force in the Church, where it carries out its work of evangelization in the person of each of its members, who belongs to this Church by reason of his/her baptism (ECCLESIAL CHARACTER).
The Association has for Model, Mary, Mother of the Church, leader of the Community, who leads us to CHRIST (specific MARIAN CHARACTER).
This is why the members of this Movement strive to contemplate MARY, under the different aspects offered to us by the Church: A Woman who Believes, A Woman who Prays, Mother of the Church, Servant of the Poor, Universal Mediatrix.
Every Christian is a missionary. Every member of the Vincentian Marian Youth Movement must also be a missionary because Mary, Virgin of the Globe, manifested herself to us in this way to accomplish the command of her Son, Jesus: ” Go and preach”… Children of Mary are Apostles of Evangelization in their milieu and in the Mission Ad Gentes (MISSIONARY CHARACTER).
They fulfill this apostolate of Evangelization and of Service in a “Vincentian manner,” by imitating Saint Vincent de Paul in serving the poor and the marginalized of society in the regular or periodic services that the Association or the Vincentian Marian Youth Movement offers them in conformity with their age and level of maturation in the Faith (VINCENTIAN CHARACTER). Here is the charismatic aspect proper to all the members of the Vincentian Marian Youth Movement.
8. JMV (VMY) Imitates Mary
All members of the Vincentian Marian Youth Movement contemplate in Mary the young people’s resolve to imitate the virtues characteristic of the Association: transparency (purity), collaboration (humility) seeking the will of God (obedience), sensitivity to the poor (charity). These are virtues that all young members must acquire.
A lived Marian Consecration strengthens the baptismal consecration and will be, so to speak, the summit of one’s contemplation and imitation of Mary, as a culmination of the growth process in one’s Faith. “To Jesus through Mary”.
1. Transparency (purity) (simplicity is probably a better word in English).
2. Collaboration (humility).
3. Seeking the will of God (obedience).
4. Sensitivity to the poor (charity).
5. Marian Consecration.
9. Methodology of Formation
The social reality and historical context of each country and each geographical zone requires that their formation process embody different aspects. Normally, these four elements are combined in the process of formation.
-A catechumenal process, which helps young people to grow in their Faith and develop it according to the different stages. In this process, the Word of God is the nucleus that clarifies, arouses interest and motivates young people to undertake a constant life of conversion and attachment to Christ, which is the climax of this process. Observation will permit others, on the outside, to measure that growth.
-In their Christocentric and Marian life, the young people find the necessary grace to balance their action with prayer and sacramental life.
- They will find their program of action in the objectives, lines of action and activities, which have been assumed by the organization, whether in the national, diocesan, provincial or local level, just as in the various campaigns, feasts, celebrations and in the different ways of assisting the poor that have been organized.
-Children of Mary or Vincentian Marian Youths do not exist in isolation. With their Center, Parish, AND Diocese they endeavor to work together in a common effort with all the organizations in the Church and in a very special way, seek to collaborate with those who share the same charism, that is to say, the members of other Vincentian Family Associations.
All the young people taking part in the Vincentian Marian Youth Movement go on to form a simple group, which amicably comes together and forms a community of Faith. This Faith will enable them to give themselves to service and evangelization. CHRIST IS THEIR END. But they will attain this end through the hands of Mary, Mother, Friend, Teacher…
The Superiors General have always supported this work so dear to the Vincentian Family. Father Robert Maloney and Mother Juana Elizondo give their support to the Lay Movements of the Vincentian Family, and wish to see them commit themselves, with creativity, to the New Evangelization for the benefit of the poor. It is their way of envisaging the future facing the Third Millenium.
Pope John Paul II, on the occasion of different World Youth Days, took a prioritized task of his pontificate to encourage young people to be leading actors in living the Faith. Our Association intends to respond to these invitations.
Sr. Gloria Tamargo – Province of Gijón
Sr. María Peña – Province of Santa Luisa
Sr. Eugenia González – Province of San Vicente
Sr. Palmira Méndez – Province of Sevilla
Sr. Dolores Azcona – Province of Pamplona
Sr. Carmen Zabaleta – Province of Barcelona
Sr. Margarita Alvarez – Province of Gijón
Sr. María Landeras – Province of San Sebastián
Sr. Dominica Peña – Province of San Sebastián