Today I join with my friends of the Congregation of the Mission and the entire worldwide Vincentian family in celebration of the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, a saint who occupies a special place in my heart. While my spirituality is thoroughly Ignatian, the Vincent charism is one that has always spoken to me.
My shorthand description for people who know nothing about Vincent is that he really got what Jesus was saying in the judgment passage in Matthew 25. He took to heart Jesus’ message that “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Vincent looked at the faces of the poor and the marginalized and what he saw was the face of Christ. He once observed, “We cannot better assure our eternal happiness than by living and dying in the service of the poor, in the arms of providence, and with genuine renouncement of ourselves in order to follow Jesus Christ.”
Vincent continued in his work preaching missions and providing relief to the poor until his death at the age of 80 in 1660.
During his lifetime, Vincent founded the Congregation of the Mission in 1625, an order of priests who take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability. Today the Vincentian family includes not only priests of the Congregation of the Mission (about 300 Vincentian priests and brothers in the US and about 4000 throughout the world last I checked the numbers), but other religious and lay groups.
Happy Feast Day to all of the members of the Vincentian family.
St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us!