The preaching ministry of the Vincentian Congregation is based on the spiritual traditions bequeathed by St. Vincent-de-Paul. Vincentian spirituality is bifocal. While concentrating on the personal spiritual renewal of the individuals by a deep realization of the saving love of God, it leads everyone to accept the challenge of caring for the poor and the marginalized in society. The overwhelming experience of God’s love takes flesh in the self-sacrificing love for “the least of the brethren” of Jesus (Mt.25:40).
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (Lk.4:18). This mission-statement of Jesus, declared at Nazareth, was taken by St. Vincent as a special motto of his own ministry and of the Congregation of Priests that he founded. In the preamble to the Common Rules that he wrote for his priests he states: “We are called to continue the mission of Jesus Christ by preaching the Gospel to the poor”. The Vincentian fathers fulfill this special call by preaching Popular Mission retreats in parishes and through the preaching of the Word of God in various prayer and retreat centers.
POPULAR MISSION RETREATS
Preaching Popular Mission is the specific and distinctive charism of the Vincentians. Through this specific form of preaching the Word of God, they are trying to enkindle faith in the hearts of the people and help them towards their renewal and building up of a true Christian community. St. Vincent De Paul, the Heavenly Patron of the Congregation, started it for the spiritual enhancement, and nourishment of the sacramental life of the poor village folk in France in the 17th Century.
Mar Augustine Kandathil, the late Archbishop of Ernakulum Archdiocese, a great supporter of Vincentian Congregation instructed the pioneer members that the purpose of the Vincentian Congregation is to preach Popular Mission in the parishes, and it should be done free of charge. Because of the ardent desire to preach a Popular Mission in the Vincentian style and method the pioneer members planned a retreat based on the directory of the Popular Mission of the Congregation of Mission. The first Popular Mission in Kerala in its full form was conducted in 1952 in St. George Forane parish, Angamaly. The team members were well trained for it by Fr. Fernando CM, the then Novice Master of the Congregation. In 1972 the appointment of Fr. Xavier Elambassery as the first formal Director of the Popular Mission gave a new impetus to Popular Mission.
Popular Mission continues to be the most effective form of Retreat for the renewal of the Parish and families. Even though so many retreat teams and centres have emerged in the recent years, and Bible Conventions are wide spread, the priests and faithful unanimously agree that none of these make a lasting effect in the parishes as the popular missions. The spiritual renewal of the parishes was greatly appreciated and admired by the Bishops and the parish priests. Always we can see a great enthusiasm from the part of the members to preach Popular Mission retreats. Now the Congregation has popular mission teams and a director for its coordination in Kerala, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, North India and in East Africa. The following are the Popular Mission Centres of the Congregation:
01. Adichira – Popular Mission Center, Adichira, Perumbaikadu P.O., 686 028, Kottayam, Kerala
02. Potta – Popular Mission Center, Potta, 680 722, Chalakkudy, Thrissur Dt., Kerala
04. Trichy – Popular Mission Center, Choriyampatti, Muthalwarpatti P.O., Madhurai Main Road, Opp. N.H. Office, Marungapuri (TK), Trichy Dist., 621305, Tamilnadu
05. Mangalagiri – Popular Mission Center, Divine (Babuji) Nagar, Nidamarru P.O., 522503, Mangalagiri (Mandal), Guntur Dt., Andhra Pradesh
06. Vikindu – Vincentian Fathers, Jesus Town, Vikindu, P.O. Box 14918, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, East Africa
RETREAT AND PRAYER CENTERS
Potta Ashram was established in 1977 as the centre to coordinate the Popular Mission retreats. Members of the Popular Mission team began to reside there for prayer and preparation for the retreats. It helps the Popular Mission to flourish rapidly. The Popular Mission preachers felt the need to have a follow up program for the people who participated in the retreats in order to keep up the spirit and fervour which the faithful obtained from the retreats. This led to the beginning of the daily prayers and retreats at Potta Ashram in 1983. Soon people began to crowd to the Ashram seeking spiritual solace and liberation from the evils of alcohol and drug addiction. The sick and the broken-hearted came in large numbers. God’s compassionate love poured in. The loving presence of Jesus was powerfully felt by everyone. The sick were healed, the sinners were forgiven, the fetters of vices were broken and the Good News of salvation was preached to all. There was a time when 20000 to 25000 people used to come on Saturdays for the One-Day retreat. The facilities at Potta Ashram became inadequate for the growing numbers of people converging for the week-long residential retreats held in Malayalam. A sprawling locale was acquired at Muringoor, on the banks of Chalakudy river, six kilometers away from Potta, and was named Divine Retreat Centre. By the grace of God, the retreats preached here attracted people and thousands of them came from all over the world to attend the retreats. This necessitated the opening up of new facilities and retreats started in six other languages also.
Because of the persistent request of the people and of the ecclesiastical authorities from various parts of the World, the Congregation was inspired to start a number of retreat and prayer centers in different parts of India and abroad. Now there are 51 prayer and retreat centers all over the World. The following are the Vincentian Prayer and Retreat Centers:
01. Adichira – Paritrana Retreat Centre, Adichira, Perumbaikadu P.O., 686 028, Kottayam, Kerala 02. Ahmednagar – Divine Retreat Centre, Link Road, Kedgaon, Ahmednagar, 414 005, Maharashtra 03. Ambattur (Chennai) – Arulalayam Retreat Centre, 347 M.T.H. Road, Ambattur, 600053, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 04. Ballarpur – Divine Vachan Ashram, Ballarpur P.O., 442701, Chandrapur Dt., Maharashtra 05. Bengaluru – Logos Retreat Centre, 29 Prakruthi Township, 1st Main, P.B. No 4326, Babusahib Palaya, Bengaluru, 560043, Karnataka 06. Chopra – Vincentian Retreat Centre, Chowdhuri Gach, Chopra P.O., U. Dinajpur, 733216, West Bengal 07. Coimbatore – Divine Dhiana Illam, Chinthamanipudur, Coimbatore, 641103, Tamilnadu 08. Denkanikotta – Anpalaya Retreat Centre, Denkanikotta, 635107, Krishnagiri Dt., Tamil Nadu 09. Dumka – Divine Retreat Centre, Hathiapathar P.O., Dumka, 814101, Jharkhand 10. Elavur – Divine Mercy Retreat Centre, Elavur P.O., Gummidipoondi, 601201, Thiruvallur Dt., Chennai, Tamil Nadu 11. Faridabad – Divine Retreat Ashram, Bathola, Baroli P.O., Tigaon Road, Sector 82, Faridabad, 121 002, Haryana 12. Gumto – Divine Prayer Centre, Gumto, P.B. No.1, Doimukh P.O., 791112, Papumpare Dt., Arunachal Pradesh 13. Hazaribag – Vincentian Retreat Centre, Dibugarh, Mariam Toli, Hazaribag, Jharkhand 14. Hubli – Jnanodaya Retreat Centre, Gopankoppa, Keshwapur P.O., 580 023, Hubli, Karnataka 15. Jalalkhali – Divine Love Retreat Centre, Jalalkhali P.O., 741102, Nadia Dt., West Bengal 16. Jamshedpur – Divya Jyoti Renewal Centre, Patel Bagan, Sundernagar P.O., Jamshedpur, 832107, Jharkhand 17. Joram – Vincentian Mission Centre, Joram, Ziro P.O., Lower Subansiri Dt., 791120, Arunachal Pradesh 18. Jowai – Divine Mercy Retreat Centre, Ladrymbai NH 44, East Jaintia Hills Dt., 793160, Meghalaya 19. Kalyan – Tabor Divine Retreat Ashram, Kamba Village, Varap P.O., Kalyan-Murbad Road, Kalyan, Thane Dt., Maharastra 20. Kattappana – Krapalaya Retreat Centre, P.B. No: 13, Kattappana, 685508, Idukki Dt., Kerala 21. Khetri – Divine Retreat Centre, Khetri P.O., 782 403, Nalgadera Village, Kamrup Dt., Guwahati, Assam 22. Kolkata – Emmaus Retreat Centre, 2/8b Sarat Bose Road P.O., L.R. Sarani, Kolkata, 700020, West Bengal 23. Mangalagiri – Divine Mercy Dhyanashram, Divine (Babuji) Nagar, Nidamarru P.O., 522503, Mangalagiri (Mandal), Guntur Dt., Andhra Pradesh 24. Mangalore – Divine Prayer Centre, Permannur P.O., 575 017, Kerabail, Thokkottu, Mangalore, Karnataka 25. Margherita – Divine Renewal Retreat Centre, Margherita P.O., Tinzukia Dt., 786181, Assam 26. Mariamnagar – C/o Shantir Rani Parish Church, Mariamnagar, Kashipur, 799008, Agartala, Tripura 27. Meerganj – Popular Mission Centre, Churai Road, Meerganj P.O., Bareilly Dt., 243504, Uttar Pradesh 28. Mumbai – Vincentian Prayer House, 504, 12th Road, Chembur, 400071, Mumbai, Maharashtra 29. Muringoor – Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor, 680309, Chalakkudy, Thrissur Dt., Kerala 30. Potta – Popular Mission Centre, Potta, 680 722, Chalakkudy, Thrissur Dt., Kerala 31. Premagiri – Sinai Divine Dhyanashram, Premagiri, Nandanapall P.O., 518452, Kurnool Dt., Andhra Pradesh 32. Puthuppady – Vincentian Retreat Centre, P.B. No. 1, Puthuppady, 673 586, Kozhikode Dt., Kerala 33. Tissa – Divine Light Retreat Center, Tissa, Khonsa , Tirap Dt., 786630, Arunachal Pradesh 34. Trichy – Divine Mercy Retreat Centre, Choriyampatti, Muthalwarpatti P.O., Madhurai Main Road, Opp. N.H. Office, Marungapuri (TK), Trichy Dist., 621305, Tamilnadu 35. Zhadima – Ave Maria Divine Retreat Centre, B.P.O., Zhadima Village, Kohima, 797105, Nagaland
36. Freudenstadt – Haus St.Vinzenz, Lindenstrasse 18, 72250 Freudenstadt 37. Berlin – Exerzitienzentrum Der Goettlichen Barmherzigkeit, St. Clemens Kirche, Stresemann Str. 66 a, 10963, Berlin 38. Trier – Vinzentiner Haus, Hauptstrasse 29, 55471 – Ravengiersburg
39. Kisumu – Vincentian Prayer House, Buoye, Kisumu, Kenya 40. Nairobi – Vincentian Prayer House, P.O. Box 25158, 00603, Lavington, Nairobi, Kenya 41. Thika – Vincentian Retreat Centre, P.O. Box No.2009-01000, Thika, Nairobi Thika Highway, Kenya
45. Perth – Vincentian Prayer Centre, Holy Family Church, Lot 375, Alcock Street, Maddington, 6109, Perth 46. Sydney – Divine Retreat Centre, 160 Hensons Road, Somersby 2250, Sydney
United States of America
47. New Jersey – Divine Prayer Centre, 426, Route 57 West, Washington, NJ 07882, USA 48. Tampa – Divine Mercy Prayer House, 2905 S Frontage Road, Plant City, FL 33566, USA
49. Vienna – Vinzentiner Haus, Zanaschkagasse 12/30/15-16, 1120, Wien, Austria
50. Toronto – Divine Retreat Centre, Vincentian Prayer Centre, 69 William Street, Toronto, ON, M9N 2G6, Canada
51. London – Divine Retreat Centre, St. Augustine Abbey, St. Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, CT119PA, Kent, UK 52. Wales – Vincentian Divine Retreat Centre, Pantasaph, Wales, Monastery Road, Holywell, Flintshire, CH8 8PE.
53. Divine Retreat Centre, Cyeru-Kanzenze, Bugesera, Rwanda.