On September 27, 2017, the feast of St. Vincent, Pope Francis launched a global campaign to support migrants and refugees around the world.
In collaboration with the annual celebration of Respect Life Month in October, the bishops in the U.S. are asking Catholics around the country to help kick off the campaign by taking part in a week of prayer and action for migrants and refugees from October 7-13.
Catholic leaders across parishes, schools, and universities can animate their communities to participate in the week of prayer and action:
The Holy Father’s worldwide two-year campaign supporting the displaced kicks off Sept. 27
WASHINGTON—Today, several dozen bishops across the United States are joining Pope Francis as he launched the two-year “Share the Journey” campaign, holding events and reaching out to support migrants and refugees in their own dioceses as the campaign aims to raise awareness about their plight worldwide.
Kicked off around the world by the global Caritas network, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) are sponsoring the campaign in the United States. Both CRS, working in more than 100 countries around the world, and CCUSA, the Catholic Church’s domestic agency, are members of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s worldwide charity organization that is the overall sponsor of the campaign.
“This campaign is both spiritual and practical,” says Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the USCCB. “The Pope is asking us to pray and reflect and to use the awareness we build to take action, both personally and publically. To our Church, this campaign is an embodiment of the Biblical command to love our neighbor.”
Pope Francis kicked off “Share the Journey” at the Vatican today with a symbolic gesture of reaching out to those displaced from their homes, who now number some 65 million around the world, the biggest such crisis since World War II. That will be followed by a week of prayer and action for migrants and refugees in Catholic churches and parishes around the world from Oct. 7 to Oct. 14.
“The Holy Father wants us to feel this personally,” says Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. “Each of us must work to encounter the migrants and refugees who are all around us. All too often, they seem invisible to us. We need to hear their stories, literally share their journeys, and see them as our brothers and sisters.”
From Seattle to Miami, bishops are holding masses, prayer vigils and events with local migrants and refugees. Two dioceses in Florida, for example, illustrate the support the Catholic Church is lending to the campaign. The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Jacksonville, part of the St. Augustine diocese, is working through its local Catholic Charities to invite refugees and migrants to a special 7 p.m. mass where they will be welcomed to share their stories.
In Venice, the diocese is launching a photo exhibition and slideshow focused on the issue, along with a video about a young woman, the adult child of migrant workers, who is now Program Director for Catholic Charities Guadalupe Social Services in Immokalee, FL. The campaign also calls for governments and international organizations to take responsibility for caring for forced migrants, most of whom are fleeing disasters – war, famine, violence – beyond their control.
“At CRS, we work with both the internally displaced and refugees around the world,” CRS President Sean Callahan says. “We know firsthand that these are innocent victims, that they should be treated with respect and dignity, that they are the people the Bible calls us to love. By heeding Pope Francis’ call to share their journey, we can all come to understand that.”
More information about “Share the Journey” is available on sharejourney.org. . . .
Fr. Robert Maloney preached the following homily focusing on Vincent’s Love of Scripture. The former Superior General spoke at the celebration of the Feast of the Solemnity of St. Vincent Sept. 27, 2017 in St. Vincent’s Seminary in Germantown.
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
Four years after St. Vincent died, his first biographer, Louis Abelly, wrote these words:
He seemed to suck meaning from passages of the scriptures as a baby sucks milk from its mother, and he extracted the core and substance from the scriptures so as to be strengthened and have his soul nourished by them – and he did this in such a way that in all his words and actions he appeared to be filled with Jesus Christ.
Vincent believed that Jesus speaks to us directly in the gospels, and he was convinced that there was nowhere else where Jesus spoke with us more directly than in the Sermon on the Mount, which we just read. He told his followers:
The means of establishing ourselves firmly in the teachings of the Gospel are for each of us to read with attention and devotion the New Testament, but mainly the chapters in Saint Matthew that contain them, namely the fifth, sixth, seventh, and tenth.
Vincent cited Matthew’s gospel more than any other, focusing especially on the Sermon on the Mount (in Matthew 5-7), the great Missionary Discourse (in Matthew 10), the call to learn from Jesus’ gentleness and humility in Matthew 11, and of course, the judgment scene in Matthew 25, where Jesus identified himself with “the least of my brothers and sisters.”
In speaking of the gospel passage we just heard, Vincent said this: “The first thing that comes out of someone’s mouth is what that person has deepest in his heart. So, Jesus began his sermon with these words, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven …”
The thing I want to say to you today most of all today is this: the scriptures, especially the gospels, were the foundation of Vincent’s spirituality. He sucked meaning from the scriptures as a baby sucks milk from his mother’s breast.
May I suggest two things to you on this feast, in this year when we celebrate the 400th anniversary of Vincent’s charism.
1. Make the scriptures your daily bread. In a beautifully written foreword to The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini described the Bible as:
… the water that gives life to the spiritual aridity of human existence (Is 55:10-11), the food that is sweeter than honey (Ps 19:11), the hammer that shatters hardened indifference (Jer 23:29), and the sword that pierces obstinate refusal (Heb 4:12).4
Read the scriptures daily. Meditate on them. Suck meaning from them. Chew over them. Digest them. Make them not only the word of God, but your own word, the source of your
own judgments, your own actions.
2. Let Jesus implant the Sermon on the Mount in your heart. Vincent was convinced that this
Sermon contained the thoughts that were deepest in Jesus’ heart and most on Jesus’ mind. Churn them over in your own mind and heart, so that Jesus’ instincts become your instincts,
Jesus’ feelings become your feelings, Jesus’ actions become your actions.
St. Vincent’s friend Francis de Sales once said that, if the gospel is like a printed sheet of music, then the life of a saint is that same music sung beautifully. Can you hear St. Vincent singing today? He sang the beauty of the beatitudes, where the poor are the first in the kingdom of God.
He sang the beauty of simplicity, where yes means yes and no means no. He sang the centrality of humility, where everything is God’s gift and our hearts are filled with gratitude. He sang the primacy of charity, where God’s love is a fire that burns in our hearts and that leaps from us to others as a forest fire leaps from tree to tree.
Can you and I join with Vincent in singing? In our Vincentian Family, can we sing together? Can the branches of our Family sing the same song? Even though we sing with varied tones, can we harmonize, so that our hymn to God, in union with the poor, is beautiful?
Just before Vincent died on this day 357 years ago, those surrounding him asked him to bless his family. He raised his hand and said, “God bless them.” Then, as his final word to his family, he cited the scriptures, Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the first chapter the sixth verse, “May God, who began this good work, bring it to completion.”
My prayer today is that God will complete Vincent’s good work in all of us, especially by filling us with Vincent’s love for the scriptures.
Such a simple statement! “This is where God wanted me to be.”
Helen Johnson was very direct as I interviewed her about her retirement. She spent 33 years in service to the confreres of the Eastern Province. It was clear that this sentence summed up everything we discussed. All else is commentary.
Helen is a Baltimorean who always wanted to be a nurse. But she has always wanted to do what God wanted her to do. The priests and brothers of the Eastern Province are fortunate in having her care for them. This year also marks her 50th anniversary of serving God as a nurse.
She completed her nursing training in Baltimore. After she met her husband in Wildwood she moved to Philadelphia. Here she first worked in an Episcopalian Facility.
Beyond nursing, she has great love for her husband, their 4 children, 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
In her 33 years with us, she has seen many changes – superiors, nursing directors and chaplains.. and confreres. So also doctors, nursing techniques and even many staff called to serve in Iraq.
She remembers the seven years that the Oblates of St. Francis sent their men to us until they could build their own facility. She even remembers Guy D. Lewis. He worked with her here many years ago and will return as her successor come February.
As we talked I realized what a great source of oral history she is. The history of St. Catherine’s Infirmary, yes. She also knows the history of so many of our works as recalled by those she cared for.
In her years she not only cared for our physical needs she sat vigil with many in their last hours.
I asked about the challenges. She was quick to point out that she learned not to take things personally. People were coping with the stresses of diminishment both physical and mental. It is hard to cope with the downsizing of desk, bureaus, closets and storage space. Not to mention the loss of freedom to travel and other issues of mobility.
With deep faith, she sees herself as serving God in the persons of those who can no longer take care of themselves. This is especially meaningful to her when these are persons who served God by serving others.
She praised the mutual staff support when faced with difficult behaviors.
Some of us she only knew for a short period of time. Other such as Fr. McCaffrey she cared for over a 15 year period.
Eccentricities! Another gold mine of memories. The confreres who collected various items such as aluminum foil, paper cups or who kept a cat, Tonto.
Of course, there are the treasured memories of the unexpected “thank you” from an otherwise difficult and frustrated confrere.
When I asked about her future plans she first mentioned things like closets to clean and rooms to paint. But she quickly added
Pope Francis offers us a few words on the main feast of the whole Vincentian Family!
On the occasion of the commemoration of Saint Vincent de Paul, Pope Francis has written a beautiful reflection to all of us who live the Vincentian charism, which we reproduce below:
Dear brothers and sisters,
On the occasion of the fourth centenary of the charism that gave birth to your Family, I would like to extend my words of gratitude and encouragement and to emphasize the value and relevance of Saint Vincent de Paul today.
He was always progressing, open to seeking God and himself. Grace worked to supplement this constant quest: as a shepherd, he encountered Jesus the Good Shepherd in a striking way in the person of the poor. This occurred in a very special way when he allowed himself to be touched by the eyes of a man thirsting for mercy and by the situation of family lacking everything. At that moment, he was deeply moved by Jesus looking at him, inviting him to no longer live for himself, but to serve Jesus wholeheartedly in persons who are poor, whom Vincent de Paul would later call “our lords and masters” (Correspondence, Conferences, Documents XI, 349). His life then became steadfast service, up to his last breath. A verse from Scripture showed him the meaning of his mission: “The Lord has sent me to bring the Good News to the poor” (cf. Lk 4:18).
Burning with the desire to make Jesus known to persons who are poor, Vincent passionately dedicated himself to His proclamation, particularly through popular missions and most especially by attending to the formation of priests. He quite naturally used a “little method”: speaking first of all through his life and then with great simplicity, in a familiar and direct way. The Spirit used him as an instrument to raise up a generous impulse in the Church. Inspired by the first Christians who were of “one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32), Saint Vincent founded the Confraternities of Charity in order to care for those most in need. They lived in communion and joyfully offered their possessions, convinced that Jesus and persons who are poor are the most valuable treasures and that, as he liked to repeat, “When you go to the poor, you encounter Jesus.”
This “little mustard seed” sown in 1617 developed into the Congregation of the Mission and the Company of the Daughters of Charity, branched out into other institutes and associations and became a great tree (cf. Mk 4:31-32), your Family. Everything, however, began with this little mustard seed. Saint Vincent never wanted to be a hero or a leader but a “little seed”. He was convinced that humility, gentleness and simplicity are the essential conditions for embodying the law of the seed that gives life by dying (cf. Jn 12:20-26). This law alone makes Christian life fruitful. According to this law, in giving we receive, in losing our lives we gain them and in remaining hidden we shine. He was also convinced that he could not do this alone but rather together, as Church and as the People of God. On this point, I enjoy recalling his prophetic insight of valuing the exceptional feminine qualities shown in Saint Louise de Marillac’s spiritual sensitivity and human understanding.
“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40), says the Lord. At the heart of the Vincentian Family is the search for “those who are the poorest and most abandoned” and a deep awareness of being “unworthy of rendering them our little services” (Correspondence, Conferences, Documents XI, 349). I hope that this year of thanksgiving to the Lord and of going more deeply into the charism might be an opportunity to quench your thirst at the source, to refresh yourselves at the fountain of the spirit of your origins. Do not forget that the sources of grace from which you drink sprang from steadfast hearts firm in love, from “lasting models of charity” (Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Deus caritas est, 40). You will contribute the same freshness only if you look toward the rock from which everything gushed forth. This rock is Jesus in His poverty, whom you should recognize in those who are poor and voiceless. For He is there. And you, when you meet fragile people broken by past difficulties, you in turn are called to be rocks: not to appear hard and unshakeable, nor insensitive to sufferings, but to become a secure support, firm in the face of the uncertainties of the times and resistant in adversity because you “look to the rock from which you were hewn, to the quarry from which you were taken” (Is 51:1). You are thus called to reach out to the peripheries of human existence to bring not your skills, but the Spirit of the Lord, the “Father of the Poor”. He scatters you throughout the world like seeds that sprout in arid land, like a balm of consolation for the wounded, like a fire of charity to warm so many hearts cooled by abandonment and hardened by rejection.
In truth, all of us are called to drink from the rock of the Lord and to quench the thirst of the world with the charity that comes from Him. Charity is at the heart of the Church; it is the reason for its action, the soul of its mission. “Charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine. Every responsibility and every commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law” (Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Caritas in veritate, 2). Following this path will make the Church ever more fully the mother and teacher of charity, with a love that increases and abounds for one another and for all (cf. 1 Thes 3:12): harmony and communion within the Church, openness and welcome toward those outside. The Church must have the courage to give up what might be an advantage in order to imitate in all things its Lord and to fully become itself, making the apparent weakness of charity its only reason to boast (cf. 2 Cor 12:9). The words of the Council, so relevant today, resonate in us: “Christ Jesus… ‘being rich, became poor’ for our sakes.
Thus, the Church, although it needs human resources to carry out its mission, is not set up to seek earthly glory, but to proclaim, even by its own example, humility and self-sacrifice. Christ was sent by the Father ‘to bring good news to the poor’… Similarly, the Church encompasses with love all who are afflicted with human suffering and in the poor and afflicted sees the image of its poor and suffering Founder. It does all it can to relieve their need and in them it strives to serve Christ” (Ecumenical Council Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8).
Saint Vincent did this all throughout his life and speaks still today to each one of us and to us as Church. His witness invites us to seek always, ready to let the Lord’s Word and His eyes upon us surprise us. He asks us for poverty of heart, total availability and obedient humility. He impels us to fraternal communion among ourselves and to courageous mission in the world. He calls us to free ourselves from complex language, self-centered rhetoric and attachment to material goods, which might appease us in the short term but do not give us God’s peace and are even often obstacles to mission. He encourages us to invest in the creativity of love with the authenticity of a “heart which sees” (cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Deus Caritas est, 31).
Charity, in fact, is not satisfied with good practices of the past but is able to transform the present. This is all the more necessary today with the ever-changing complexity of our globalized society where some forms of charity or assistance, although justified by generous intentions, risk supporting forms of exploitation and illegal activity and do not produce real and sustainable progress. For this reason, envisioning charity, organizing close relationships and investing in formation are timely lessons from Saint Vincent. His example, though, also encourages us to give time and space to persons who are poor, to those suffering from the new forms of poverty of our time, to the too many people living in poverty today and to make their thoughts and difficulties our own. A Christianity without contact with people who suffer becomes a disincarnated Christianity, unable to touch the flesh of Christ. Encounter persons who are poor and give poor persons a voice so that our culture focused on the ephemeral does not reduce their presence to silence. I ardently hope that the celebration of the World Day of the Poor this November 19 will help us in our “call to follow Jesus in his own poverty,” becoming “an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need” and reacting “against a culture of discard and waste” (Message for the First World Day of the Poor, “Let us love, not with words but with deeds”, June 13, 2017).
I pray that you and the Church may be granted the grace of finding the Lord Jesus in your brother or sister who is hungry, thirsty, a stranger, stripped of his clothing and his dignity, sick and imprisoned but also doubting, ignorant, persistent in sin, afflicted, crude, ill-tempered and annoying. In the glorious wounds of Jesus, may you find the strength of charity, the happiness of the grain that gives life by dying, the fecundity of the rock from which water gushes forth, the joy of coming out of yourself in order to go out into the world, free from nostalgia for the past, confident in God and creative regarding the challenges of today and tomorrow because, as Saint Vincent said, “love is inventive to infinity”.
From the Vatican, September 27, 2017
Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul.
In “A True Vincentian Vocation: Being a Family of Faith and Service” John Maher, C.M., Vocation Director, reflects on the SJU celebration of the feast of St. Vincent and the recent letter of the Superior General, Fr. Tomas Mavric calling for fostering a culture of vocations
In celebrating the 400th anniversary of St. Vincent de Paul’s inspiration to follow Christ more deeply as an evangelizer and servant of the poor, it is a good time to reflect on how our Vincentian Family lives his charism of faith and service today. Being a disciple of Jesus in the way of St. Vincent cannot be a passing interest or occasional occupation, but a vocation, a call requiring a full, free response in what he called “Creative love unto infinity.” (CCD: vol.11, 102)
Fr. Tomas Mavric, Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, has written and spoken throughout this year to remind Vincentian priests and brothers, Daughters of Charity, and laity of the branches of the Vincentian Family of the special vocation we all share as followers of Jesus in the way of St. Vincent. In his January 25 letter that began the observance of the 400th anniversary of the foundation of our Vincentian charism, Fr. Mavric wrote, “I invite every member of the Vincentian family to take one very concrete step…to bring one new candidate into the branches of the Vincentian Family.” To accomplish this goal, Fr. Mavric suggested a three-fold pathway: “prayer, personal contact, and accompaniment.” (Circular, January 25, 2017)
On Sunday September 24, 2017 at St. John’s University, members of the Vincentian Family gathered to pray, reflect, dine, and celebrate the foundation of our 400th anniversary. It began with a packed 5:30 pm Sunday Mass for the student community at SJU. There were confreres, Daughters of Charity, Ladies of Charity, members of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, and our college seminarians from the MM House. In addition, students serving in the campus-based
Society of St. Vincent DePaul, the Ozanam and Catholic scholars, faculty fellows from the Vincentian Center for Church and Society also attended the Mass and dinner afterward.
The theme for the event was based on Sunday’s Gospel: “You, too go into my vineyard.”(Mt. 20:1-16) Vincentian Family members were challenged to see our charism as not being 400 years old, but rather as 400 years young. The Mass and dinner brought together many different members of the St. John’s University community and Vincentian Family to worship, pray, and share a meal together. All were given Vincentian-based tee shirts, mugs, cups, prayer cards, and a copy of Fr. Robert Maloney’s book “Turn Everything to Love.” It was a fine example of what Fr. Mavric called for in his latest circular: “to keep building a culture of vocations…as a vivid sign of the inseparable love toward the charism we have inherited.” (Circular September 20, 2017)
This special event, which began with a full St. Thomas More Church and continued with dinner at Marillac Commons for 120 members of the Vincentian Family, was co-sponsored by the Office of Vocation Ministry and St. John’s Office of Campus Ministry. Special thanks are due to Victoria Santangelo, Jim Walters, Br. Mike Sheerin, Sr. Patricia Evanick, and Tom Donoghue of Campus Ministry for their generous assistance in helping make this event such a special day for members of the Vincentian family and the St. John’s University community.
José de Jesús Plascencia Casillas, CM, Visitor, Province of Mexico reports on the situation of the Congregation and the Vincentian Family after the quakes.
Come and Work in my Vineyard
In recent days Mexico has confronted the power of nature and we have witnessed this tragedy unfold and we have also experienced the solidarity of the people of Mexico. Father José de Jesús Plascencia Casillas, CM, Visitor of the Province of Mexico, has sent us the following report about the situation of the Missionaries and the Vincentian Family.
We clothe ourselves in the words of our teacher, Jesus: Come and work in my vineyard. At this time we view those words as a special invitation that is extended to all the members of the Vincentian Family to work together on behalf of the Mexican Church which today is suffering as a result of the nature’s unpredictable power and strength. Recently, various countries have experienced that power and strength, the Caribbean, the United States, and today, our beloved Mexico.
With regard to Mexico … in the period of one month, Mexico has experienced the power of hurricane Lidia which struck the peninsula of Lower California and hurricane Katia which affected and caused great damage in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Veracruz and Puebla.
On September 7th, an 8.2 degree earthquake struck the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Veracruz, Tlaxcala, Guerrero, the state of Mexico and Mexico City. This earthquake was felt in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador. The damage was more extensive in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Tabasco: ninety-one people were killed, thousands of homes damaged or collapsed and more than one hundred churches have seen large cracks in their walls. More than two thousand aftershocks followed … the most serious registering 6.1 degrees. Just as the Vincentian Family began to mobilize itself to support these various communities another tragedy struck.
On September 19th, as the people of Mexico commemorated the thirty-second anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that caused thousands of deaths and incalculable damage, a 7.1 degree earthquake (the epicenter was located in the state of Puebla) once again moved the earth under the feet of the Mexican people.
After the earthquake I was able to communicate with all the local communities of the Congregation of the Mission and with the Visitatrix of the Daughters of Charity (Sister Alicia Margarita) as well as with some members of the Vincentian Family. There is no doubt that people were started and anxious as these events unfolded. I am able to say at this time that the Missionaries in the areas most affected (Mexico City, the state of Mexico, Puebla, Morelos, Veracruz) are all safe. Sister Alicia has told me that all the Daughters are likewise safe and working with the victims of this catastrophe. I have also been informed that, thanks be to God, no member of the Vincentian Family is among those who lost their life.
We have cancelled the meeting of the Vincentian Family that was scheduled to take place in Valle de México (September 23rd) in order to be able to collaborate together in relief efforts. This has involved the following: members of the AIC are working with victims in shelters, members of the JMV are gathering together first aid material and other necessary supplies, the Daughters of Charity are collaborating with other institutions and serving as nurses, the members of the Congregation (including the seminarists) are helping in the removal of debris and preparing food for those persons involved in rescue operations, the members of the Vincent de Paul Society are supporting those persons who have lost their houses … many other members of the Family are involved in relief efforts and doing so in a very silent manner.
The gestures of solidarity are incredible … from the midst of the ruins people have come forth to reveal the greatness of their heart: people have become involved in numerous search and rescue efforts as well as in service projects that involve distributing food to the first responder, to doctors and nurses who are ministering to people on the streets.
With regard to the property/housing of the Missionaries I can report that some of the churches have been damaged and the walls are cracked. At the present time, it has been reported that throughout Mexico some 250 people have died, 2,224 schools have been damaged, 49 buildings have collapsed and countless homes, churches and businesses have been severely damaged.
We thank God that no member of the Vincentian Family has died during this tragedy and we also want to express our gratitude to the Superior General, the members of the Curia, the American Visitors, and all those members of the Vincentian Family who have expressed their concern for the people of Mexico and for the Vincentian Family in Mexico.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM Eastern Province, USA
Fr. Pat Griffin imagines the moment when Vincent died. What did it feel like at the moment to the many important people of the day… and to those on the margins?
How the important people reacted
I imagine that early in the morning of Sept. 27, 1660, the bells of Paris began to toll.
They probably began at St. Laurent, then perhaps St. Nicholas des Champs and St. Gervais; Notre Dame and Sainte Chappelle would pick up the sound and it would cross the Seine to St. Severin and St. Sulpice.
Even the bells on the height of Sacré Coeur could not remain silent. No one needed to ask why the bells were ringing.
The City knew: Vincent de Paul was dead. That is the way I imagine it.
One can envision the Queen Mother, Anne of Austria, pondering the passing of her friend and confidant of so many years. The King, Louis XIV, later to be known as the “Sun King,” might have remembered this cleric who ministered at the deathbed of his father.
Cardinal Mazarin, soon to follow Vincent to the throne of God, could have considered this man who was so often his adversary.
The priests of Paris might have recalled this worthy religious man who prepared them for ministry in seminaries and offered retreats for their spiritual growth.
The Sisters of the Visitation may have begun to pray for he who had become their guardian since the death of their own father, Francis de Sales.
The Ladies of Charity, the Daughters of Charity, the priests and brothers of the Congregation of the Mission would all mourn the passing of their founder and spiritual center.
How his beloved poor reacted
But the poor of Paris and throughout France—the hungry, sick and orphaned; those who suffered from and continued to endure the pains of war; the ignorant, dying, abused and forgotten; those who felt the anguish of spiritual abandonment and lack of faith—yes, the poor of Paris—they might mourn in a particular and fearful way at the passing of Vincent.
Who would care for them? Who would speak out for their needs? Who would serve them with love and generosity? Who would continue his mission?
How, we, his followers, carry on his mission.
But the poor needn’t have worried. Even as the bells rung, the Ladies of Charity would have been thinking about the sick whom they would visit that day.
The Daughters of Charity would have preparing the meals and lessons for the orphans who had come under their care.
The priests and brothers of the Congregation would have continued their plans for preaching and serving the needy both spiritually and physically.
These worthy women and men would have known that this would have been the most ardent hope and desire of Vincent: “Keep your eyes on the mission which is not about me/us but our ‘lords and masters,’ the poor.”
Read the rest of this reflection in The Torch, the Independent Student Newspaper at St. John University.
Rev. John Anthony Crowley died on Monday, September 18, 2017 at the age of 86 after a long illness.
From Papavero Funeral Home tobituary
Fr. was the son of Mary Harten and Edward Crowley. He was raised in a traditional Irish Family in Maspeth, NY. Fr. had six siblings; three brothers and three sisters. He graduated Power Memorial High School in New York City in 1949.
Two years after graduation, Fr. joined the Congregation of the Missions (Vincentians) He attended St. Joseph College in Princeton, NJ, St. Vincent Seminary in Germantown, PA and Mary Immaculate Seminary in North Hampton, PA. He was Ordained on May 27, 1961. Father was a missionary in Panama. Following his return to the states, Fr. taught in The Minor Seminary in Coral Gables, FL and later in The Major Seminary in Boynton Beach, FL.
In 1984 Fr. was incorporated in the newly established Diocese of Palm Beach. Here he ministered as associate pastor at St. Juliana in West Palm Beach, FL, then in Vero Beach, FL where he was founder and first Pastor of the newly established parish of St. John of the Cross.
Father Crowley retired to Delray Beach, FL, then to Lourdes Noreen McKeen in 2011. He was the beloved brother of Anne Houlihan, Sr. Mary Rose Crowley SSND, Margaret Coyle, and the late Joseph Crowley, Walter Crowley and Kathleen Hook, cherished uncle of many loving nieces and nephews, and dear brother-in-law of Eileen Crowley, Mary Crowley, James Hook and Jim Coyle.
Mass of Christian Burial offered at St. Mary’s Church on Monday, September 25, 2017 at 9:45 AM. Interment followed at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home.
Our Superior General, Fr. Tomaz Mavric, writes to each of us about renewing a culture of vocations to the consecrated life.
Rome, 20 September 2017
To all the members of the Vincentian Family
Circular for the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul
“TOWARD A RENEWED CULTURE OF VOCATIONS TO THE CONSECRATED LIFE”
My dear sisters and brothers,
May the grace and peace of Jesus be always with us!
In this Jubilee Year of the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism, we have so much for which to be thankful!
One thing for which we need to thank Jesus is the gift of thousands upon thousands of members of the different branches of the Vincentian Family, throughout the 400-year history, who kept the charism alive up to the present day. It is thanks to them that, by the grace of God, the charism was passed on from generation to generation. Thousands of them achieved the state of sanctity, among whom some are recognized officially by the Church as Blessed or Saints. They are now in heaven from which they intercede for us and accompany us on the journey of life, on our own pilgrimage toward a total and eternal union with God.
As we approach the ministry of fostering vocations to the consecrated life within the Vincentian Family and look to its future, as well as that of the Vincentian Charism as such, the depth of our personal engagement, fire, and conviction is of utmost importance. Let one of the concrete fruits of the 400th Jubilee Year be “a renewed culture of vocations to the consecrated life.” By culture of vocations to the consecrated life, I mean an environment where vocations to the consecrated life will grow naturally, where to respond to Jesus’s invitation, “follow me,” will be accepted and not be seen as a strange or objectionable life choice. We want an environment where it will be “normal” and not “abnormal” for any young man or woman to decide to follow Jesus, in our specific case, in the footsteps of Saint Vincent de Paul in one of the branches of consecrated life within the Vincentian Family.
When I speak of a renewed culture of vocations to the consecrated life in general, I am very much aware that, in many parts of the world, such a culture of vocations is present. However, in other areas, society is not at all favorable to nurturing a culture of vocations to the consecrated life; it often is opposed to it, using diverse means to undermine such an environment.
In my letter of 25 January 2017, at the beginning of the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism, I invited every member of the Vincentian Family to take one very concrete step; that is, every member is to bring one new candidate to one of the branches of the Vincentian Family. A little more than half a year has passed since then and, as we celebrate the Solemnity of our Founder, every one of us can reply individually to the following questions:
How have I responded to this invitation so far?
How active have I been in the first half of the jubilee year in this area?
Did I encourage someone to become active in one of the branches of the Vincentian Family, either in one of the women’s or men’s Congregations of consecrated life or in one of the lay branches?
As we enter the second half of the jubilee year, I fervently renew this invitation to each member of the Vincentian Family individually, this time concretely directed to the consecrated life, to put every effort possible into helping youth answer Jesus’s call. I would like to highlight this goal very specifically as we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Vincent de Paul on this 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism. I ask each member of the Family to be open and to do all he or she can to encourage by prayer, personal contact, and accompaniment, depending on one’s possibilities, a young person to discern if you sense that Jesus is calling him or her to the consecrated life.
Many within the Vincentian Family are working tirelessly in the ministry of fostering vocations, and I am convinced that, during this jubilee year, we already have seen or will see concrete fruits through new candidates joining the consecrated life, more specifically one of the Congregations within the Vincentian Family. For this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! Saint Vincent himself would concur:
I thank God for the special devotions you are planning in order to ask God, through the intercession of blessed Saint Joseph, for the spread of the Company. I ask His Divine Goodness to accept them. For more than twenty years I have not dared to ask this of God, thinking that, since the Congregation is His work, its preservation and growth should be left to His Providence alone. Reflecting, however, on the recommendation given us in the Gospel to ask Him to send laborers into His harvest,(1) I have become convinced of the importance and usefulness of this devotion.(2)
Moving toward a renewed culture to the consecrated life, I would like to suggest focusing on the following three groups:
• Members of the branches of consecrated life within the Vincentian Family
In writing this point, I also am very much aware that I am not saying anything new. The theme of consecrated life has been touched on and spoken about so much throughout the history of the Church. Therefore, I simply would like to add my voice, as well as to launch a new appeal to all the members of the Congregations of consecrated life within the Vincentian Family to work tirelessly to renew the culture of vocations to the consecrated life.
As members of a branch of consecrated life within the Vincentian Family, our priority must be to assume responsibility for vocation ministry and to keep building a culture of vocations to the consecrated life. Every single sister, lay brother, priest, deacon, seminarian, and novice should have this as a vivid and inseparable sign of love toward the charism we have inherited, toward the Congregation of which we are members, toward the Church, toward the Kingdom.
• Members of the lay branches of the Vincentian Family
A few months ago, I was approached by an international leader of a lay branch of the Vincentian Family, who brought up a proposal to encourage all the lay branches of the Vincentian Family to become involved actively or continue participating in promoting the culture of vocations to the consecrated life in the Congregations within the Vincentian Family. This lay member expressed this initiative with the following words, “You – sisters, lay brothers, and priests within the Vincentian Family – did and are doing so much for us laity. We would like to do something for you in return.” What wonderful encouragement, support, and initiative coming from a lay member of the Vincentian Family!
I would like to invite and encourage every individual member of a lay branch of the Vincentian Family to continue or to start being involved actively in building the culture of vocations to the consecrated life and also to be involved personally in vocation ministry, in a special way for the different Congregations of the Vincentian Family. This will be a clear sign that building a culture of vocations to the consecrated life is not something reserved exclusively for persons in consecrated life – sisters, lay brothers, priests, deacons, seminarians, and novices – but it is a ministry for all members of the Church, all members of the Vincentian Family, laity as well as those in consecrated life.
The approach, the ways of participating, may differ at times from one branch to another, but the goal remains the same: we, as Vincentian Family, all participate in building the culture of vocations to the consecrated life. How can a lay branch participate concretely in this undertaking?
Pray regularly, individually or as a group, for new vocations to the consecrated life.
Be attentive to the signs that Jesus may be calling a young man or woman to follow Him as a sister, lay brother, or priest and encourage him/her in that direction.
Put forth the option, when speaking with youth, of the consecrated life as a very concrete choice. When speaking of marriage, we also should speak of consecrated life, so it is seen as a very normal choice, a normal call and response to one’s lifelong commitment.
This jubilee year is a wonderful opportunity to continue or start encouraging renewed or new initiatives. The lay branches of the Vincentian Family together can build an environment, a culture, which will be receptive to the call to consecrated life as a normal response to one’s life mission. The lay branches carry on the same charism and spirituality. They are a natural environment where new vocations to the consecrated life are born.
• Persons outside the Vincentian Family
The culture of vocations to the consecrated life is not limited just to the Vincentian Family, but is to be continued, renewed, or undertaken in society as a whole, making it a regular, normal, and logical choice, among other choices, to respond to Jesus’s invitation to follow Him in one’s life mission. On the level of the Congregation, one of the ways we are trying to engage and participate in the renewal of the culture of vocations to the consecrated life is by developing digital and social media, taking new or renewed initiatives and approaches to get the message out to the largest possible audience.
As we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Vincent de Paul in this Jubilee Year of the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism, let us continue to be engaged, to re-engage, or begin engaging in building the culture of vocations to the consecrated life wherever we serve. We count on our own capabilities, but always with total commitment and inner fire, so that our love for pastoral ministry to foster new vocations always will be “affective and effective.”
Let us give thanks to God for all the vocations to the consecrated life we are receiving from Jesus’s merciful hands, because, in the end, it is His mercy toward the different Congregations of consecrated life within the Vincentian Family that makes this miracle a reality! As Saint Vincent reminded us,
Prize the honor He has given you in choosing you among thousands to bestow His kindnesses upon you and, through you, on His suffering members. Thank Him often for this in the spirit of humble gratitude, which I ask His Divine Goodness to give you; for, once you have it stamped firmly on your soul, it will increase in you the desire to please God alone and the concern to offer Him all your actions.(3)
May Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Saint Vincent de Paul and all the Blessed and Saints of the Vincentian Family intercede for us in this undertaking. Have a wonderful celebration! Let us keep praying for one another!
Your brother in Saint Vincent,
Tomaž Mavrič, CM Superior General
1 Cf. Luke 10:2.
2 Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, translated and edited by Jacqueline Kilar, DC; and Marie Poole, DC; et al; annotated by John W. Carven, CM; New City Press, Brooklyn and Hyde Park, 1985-2014; volume V, p. 468-469; Letter 1956 to Étienne Blatiron, Superior in Genoa, 12 November 1655. Future references to this work will be indicated using the initials CCD, followed by the volume number, then the page number, for example, CCD V, 468-469.
3 CCD V, 614-615; Letter 2068 to Sister Françoise Ménage in Nantes, 17 May 1656.
Evoking one of my favorite insights of the great theologian Karl Rahner, “forgotten truths”, Fr. Robert Maloney reminds the Vincentian Family of forgotten truths about our role in creation. Here are some thoughts from his sixth chapter of A New Century Dawns: Hopes for the Vincentian Family
The key forgotten truth, “the universal destination of material goods”, is extremely relevant today, especially in societies like the United States and Western Europe where we defend the right to private property unquestioningly in almost all circumstances.
In Bolivia on Thursday, July 9, 2015, a few months after the publication of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis returned to the theme: The universal destination of goods is not a figure of speech found in the Church’s social teaching. It is a reality prior to private property. Property, especially when it affects natural resources, must always serve the needs of peoples.”
Fr, Maloney writes,
While welcomed by many, this assertion has also aroused strong negative reactions. Calmer voices have pointed out that the universal destination of material goods has been part of Catholic Church teaching for centuries, though, in candor, one must admit that it has often been a “forgotten truth”.
Let me recall an example from the mid-20”’ century. On March 26, 1967, Populorum Progressio appeared,” an encyclical calling for “concrete action toward each persons complete development and the development of all humankind”. In a quick, strong reaction, the Wall Street Journal labeled the encyclical “warmed- over Marxism,” as if it were a radical departure from previous Catholic thinking.
Paragraph 22 was the focal point of the criticism: The recent Council reminded us of this: “God intended the earth and all that it contains for the use of every human being and people…” All other rights whatsoever, including those of property and of free commerce, are to be subordinated to this principle.
Returning to his roots as an excellent seminary teacher he offers a concise tour of the highlights of that tradition from the scriptures through 2000 years of theological reflection down to the forceful teaching of the Pope’s since the 19th century. There is so much we have forgotten but with his usual clarity of expression, he walks us through our kindergarten years.
Then, as the skilled mentor, he proposed ten considerations, some of which contain crucial questions.
“Theology does not pretend to offer detailed, concrete solutions for complex socio-economic questions like these. I would welcome further thoughts, not just from the theological community but also from specialists in economics, sociology, law and other disciplines.
If we are convinced of the universal destination of material goods, a largely forgotten truth, such a transformation will be possible. How can our worldwide Vincentian Family contribute to that transformation?”
Think about the first four things Robert Fulgham lists and think about simple yet radical they are.