Have you heard of Saint Vincent de Paul?He lived many years ago and his name lives on because of his great love for God and for people who lived in poverty.
The spirit of Vincent de Paul is alive in many people today throughout the world. Vincent received a special gift from the Holy Spirit which is called a charism. His charism was his ability to see Jesus in every person especially in those who were suffering or in any kind of need. This Vincentian charism gifted to Vincent de Paul and also to Louise de Marillac has been passed on to many other people through the centuries. Today we pass on the charism when we pray, when we share the Good News of the Gospel and when we walk in the footsteps of Vincent and Louise by reaching out to people who are living in poverty. In our society, nationally and internationally there are many people who find it difficult to make ends meet because they haven’t the basic necessities on which to live. Members of the Vincentian family work to alleviate poverty in the 21st century.
Who is Vincent de Paul? He was born in France in 1633 and lived with his mother Bertrande de Moras ,his father, Jean de Paul, his three brothers Jean, Bernard and Dominic and his two sisters Megine and Claudine. They lived in the south of France in Dax. This is what the house looks like today.
Vincent de Paul loved his family very much and though they had little money Vincent’s parents knew that education was really important for their children. Vincent was a bright lad and his father sold the oxen to provide money for his education. Vincent himself valued education also and he couldn’t wait to grow up and get a job to give money to his mother and father. That shows how generous he was.
Vincent became a priest at a young age and through prayer and working in different places he thought about Jesus’ life and he remembered that Jesus had a special love for people who were sick, poor, homeless, lonely and those who lived on the edge of society. So Vincent did all he could to make life pleasant for people in need. Life wasn’t easy always for Vincent . One time he was captured by pirates and another time he was blamed for stealing money. While he was very sad and angry when these things happened he prayed and trusted that Jesus would help him .
Above all Vincent wanted what God wanted, which was for people to know and love Jesus as their special friend, God as their Father and Mary as their Mother. The Holy Spirit would make this happen. Vincent met many people who were poor in his day to day life as a priest. He also met wealthy people and he encouraged them to help those less well off by sharing their wealth, their time and talents. The people encountered lots of problems but Vincent knew he could not solve all the problems alone. He believed that God would work through other people to help situations that seemed impossible. He met a woman called Louise de Marillac who was also working with people who encountered poverty in daily life.
Vincent and Louise worked to gather a group of women together to organise the work and make life better for people who were sick and experienced disadvantage in their lives. Together with Louise de Marillac, Vincent founded the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul in 1633.
Vincent also gathered a group of men and called them the Priests of the Mission and they are more popularly called the Vincentian priests. You may ask what’s in a name, but Vincent de Paul is the patron saint of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. For further information on the Society log on to www.svp.ie
Saint Vincent de Paul is also the patron saint of many hospitals, parishes and schools. Do you know any hospital or school called after Saint Vincent?
Do you know any person named Vincent sharing Saint Vincent’s name ?
Saint Vincent said lots of things that are worth remembering. He wrote 20000 letters of which 3000 have survived. He wrote to the Daughters of Charity, the Vincentian priests and other members of the Vincentian family.
Today in the twenty first century Vincent’s spirit burns brightly. There are many groups who have Vincent de Paul as their patron saint. The Vincentian priests work internationally giving retreats; working in parishes; and teaching. Log on to www.vincentians.ie
The Daughters of Charity work in ninety five countries throughout the world with older people, people who are homeless, situations where there is human trafficking, prison work, with children, adults, people with intellectual disability, hospice, homecare, foster parents and many more areas of work. Log on to www.daughtersofcharity.ie . They strive to make the Gospel value of JUSTICE a priority. The Daughters of Charity have a special office in Dublin called the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice. They work in collaboration with the Congregation of the Holy Faith, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the Vincentian priests. For further information log on to www.justicematters.ie
• in God’s great love especially for people who were suffering,
• in God’s generous love
• Jesus is present in every person most especially in those who are poor
• that we need to be humble, simple and loving like Jesus
• in the work for justice
• leadership as service as modelled by Jesus in the washing of the feet at The last Supper
Here are some of Saint Vincent’s sayings and you will find many more of his writings on www.famvin.org
• Say little; do much
• Good works are often spoiled by moving too quickly
• Kindness is the key to hearts
• If God is the centre of your life, no words will be needed
• Some persons look and never see, others see and never look
• Always, the hand of God is outstretched for those who wish to clasp it
• You are dear to Him as the apple of His eye