Do you have an addiction to images? If so beware! Chances are you have seen graphics like these if you have visited FamVin.org, the website featuring news about the international Vincentian Family or VinFormation.org. You may even have wondered where to find more like these whether for your personal prayer or other use.
What you might not be aware of is that there is a searchable database containing over 700 such images. These picture-quotes draw on the wisdom of St. Vincent and other Vincentian Heritage figures.
Click the link to simply browse the collection.
There is also a more targeted approach. Click on this link to search the image database by topic. Type in a word such as “prayer” or “poverty”
Just be aware… images can be addicting!
Charity’s Saint, produced by the Vincentian Studies Institute of DePaul University, separates fact from fiction as it shows the contemporary relevance of the Vincentian tradition in the modern world. If you have not seen it, or have not seen it in a while, take some time this week to enjoy the full-length movie, available on YouTube (see below).
The documentary was produced with four very specific goals in mind:
- To separate the Vincent of “myth” from the Vincent of “history.”
- To contextualize Vincent de Paul within the history of 17th century France.
- To recover the role of Louise de Marillac and women in the foundation of the tradition.
- To suggest the contemporary relevance of the Vincentian tradition in the modern world.
Click here for the full hour-long version
Why bother about a man who lived 400 years ago? Why are so many people all over the world on fire with a passion to serve following in his footsteps?
As we approach another celebration of the feast of St. Vincent it seems fitting to look at these two questions raised in J. Patrick Murphy’s booklet Mr. Vincent.
Vincent was a man of action who changed his world
Fr. Murphy first suggests we look at the works he started. He was a man of action. Look at what he and the people he invited to minister with him did
– 1634: the sick poor in public hospitals (Ladies of Charity, Daughters of Charity).
– 1638: abandoned children (Ladies of Charity, Daughters of Charity).
– 1639: war refugees (Daughters of Charity, Congregation of the Mission).
– 1645: Christians held captive in North Africa (Congregation of the Mission).
– 1648: the people of Madagascar (Congregation of the Mission).
– 1649: victims of the wars in Paris and the surrounding areas (Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity, Ladies of Charity).
– 1650: assistance to people living in devastated areas (Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity, Ladies of Charity).
– 1654: homes for the elderly (Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity); wounded soldiers (Daughters of Charity).
And that is not to mention perhaps his greatest contribution.
His organization of the service of the poor was the first in the history of the world. At Chatillon he observed, “the people of their town who have sometimes suffered a great deal, more through a lack of organized assistance than from lack of charitable persons.”[xvii]
With that insight, he gave birth not only to a branch of the Vincentian Family but to an approach that we are newly rediscovering.
What he taught by his example
He taught us the importance of consistent strategies, starting on a small scale, delegating tasks and responsibilities and providing quality services, which respect people’s dignity.
Vincent thought about a plan, he called a meeting, formed an association and delegated tasks and responsibilities to parish people, whom he included in the process. It is from this small beginning that the whole movement started. Laity, then and in later centuries, through the Society of St. Vincent dePaul and the Ladies of Charity (today the AIC) responded to his example of service.
Vincent was an ordinary person who discovered himself in midlife
And yet, Fr. Murphy points out that he was in so many ways an ordinary human guy – not always the saint we have come to revere.
- He was depressed for three and a half years
- He spent 25 years searching for himself before he found God and the poor.
- He gave everything to the poor and became the richest man he knew
What’s in a name? He always remained Mister Vincent.
He always signed his name Vincent Depaul. He wanted to be sure no one mistook him for nobility—which one might if he had capitalized it—De Paul. He was called many things by those who revered him— saint, scholar, holy man, apostle of charity, and—at his death— “pere de la patrie”, father of the country. But he preferred to be called simply Monsieur Vincent—Mister Vincent—to reduce the barriers between him and others, especially the poor.
Hopefully, these hints help us answer the question posed… and think about what we, as ordinary people can do with the help of prayer and simplicity.
A thank you and an Invitation
We of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission thank all of you who have chosen to share your time, talent or treasure in walking in his footsteps. We invite any of you who might be interested to join us in the journey in any way you can.
The short answer to the question “Did St. Vincent ever envision Vincentian Universities?” is probably no. But that may not be the right question. Let’s take a quick look. Then, you be the judge!
Niagara University Schedules Events to Celebrate Vincentian Heritage Week
The first Vincentian university established in the United States has scheduled a full slate of events to celebrate its annual Heritage week. Niagara University will commemorate the legacy of the Congregation of the Mission’s mission to serve in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul during Vincentian Heritage Week, which takes place Sept. 23-29, 2018.
The Congregation of the Mission is a community of Roman Catholic priests and brothers that fulfills its call to alleviate poverty through ministries like education, social services, healthcare, missions and spiritual formation. The year 1617 is widely considered the year of the community’s origin, based on events that occurred in the life of St. Vincent de Paul in Folleville and Châtillon, France.
The Congregation is part of the worldwide Vincentian Family, now composed of 225 branches (various religious communities and lay associations), more than 2 million members and is present on five continents. Its members are engaged in in various ministries in which they “welcome the stranger,” including care for homeless people, refugees, abandoned children and single mothers.
Niagara University (established in 1856), St. John’s University (1870) and DePaul University (1898) are the three institutions of higher education that are located in the United States and sponsored by the Congregation of the Mission.
I doubt whether he or Louise ever dreamt what a modern university might look like. Much less did they envision that a university might spend a whole week celebrating their memory.
Founder’s Week, Vincentian Heritage Week is a way for the Niagara University community to pay homage to St. Vincent and St. Louise de Marillac, the Patroness of Christian Social Workers who co-founded the Daughters of Charity with St. Vincent.
Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and administrators participate in Founder’s Week events, highlighted by the Vincentian Heritage Convocation, which recognizes the extraordinary contributions of university employees, alumni and community leaders.
Here in outline is what the week looks like in fact.
- Family Weekend Mass: Commissioning of the Vincentian Scholars
- Poverty Simulation
- Vincentian Mission Reception featuring the 24th successor Vincent de Paul, the Very Rev. Tomaž Mavrič, C.M.
- Panel on Vincentian Mission: “From scholarly research to compassionate action: College of Education Poverty Initiatives.”
- Dialogue on International Homelessness: featuring Yasmine Cajuste, project director of the Vincentian Family Alliance to End Homelessness
- Vincentian Heritage Convocation recognizing members of the university community as well as others who inspire us through their outstanding work in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul.
- Vincentian Heritage Week Mass
- Saint Vincent de Paul Society “Friends of the Poor Walk”
[For more information about all events, contact the Office of Mission Integration (formerly Mission and Ministry) at 716.286.8400.].
St. John’s University features many events spread over three campuses in New York
It even has something that would have puzzled Vincent and Louise – a “hashtag #SJUFoundersWeek
St. John’s University proudly proclaims in its mission statement
St. John’s is a Vincentian university, inspired by St. Vincent de Paul’s compassion and zeal for service. We strive to provide excellent education for all people, especially those lacking economic, physical, or social advantages. Community service programs combine with reflective learning to enlarge the classroom experience. Wherever possible, we devote our intellectual and physical resources to search out the causes of poverty and social injustice and to encourage solutions that are adaptable, effective, and concrete. In the Vincentian tradition, we seek to foster a world view and to further efforts toward global harmony and development by creating an atmosphere in which all may imbibe and embody the spirit of compassionate concern for others so characteristic of Vincent.
It celebrates this heritage with the Vincentian Convocation to honor Margaret M. Fitzpatrick, S.C., Ed.D and recipients of the Vincentian Mission Award, St. Vincent DePaul Medal, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal, Caritas Medal, Frederic Ozanam Award and the International Medal.
Fr. Dennis Holtschneider of the Eastern Province of the Congregation described Vincentian Higher Education this way in a presentation at St. John’s University. He titled his talk “Vincentian Education: Illuminating Minds, Creating Opportunities, Serving the World”
Back to the original question!
Maybe the question should be “Would St. Vincent and St. Louise be proud of the way these 21st-century institutions in the Eastern Province have committed themselves to a ministry rooted in their vision of serving those who are poor and marginalized?
What do you think?
A Vincentian View: “Listen”
Fr. Pat Griffin of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission offers his reflection on the lack of civil discourse today. He suggests that the real problem is our inability to listen before we speak or engage in a conversation or act. This reflection first appeared on FamVin.org.
When we look at our current political climate, everyone knows that there is something amiss. Sometimes people describe it as a lack of civil discourse. I believe that. The reasoning given is that people have forgotten how to speak to one another in a respectful and brotherly/sisterly fashion, but we know that that is only half the problem—and perhaps the smaller half. The real problem for me is that we have forgotten how to listen to one another. We are unable to hear nuance and context; we presume too much on our understanding of the other’s story before we have allowed them to share it completely. The real problem is our inability to listen before we speak or engage in a conversation or act.
One could justifiably and correctly argue that the current scandal in our Church arises from too much talking and not enough listening, too much writing and not enough reading, too much explaining and not enough understanding.
Some weeks ago, in the Gospel, we heard the story of the deaf man who also had a speech defect. I am collared by the fact that the man has these two difficulties which need be resolved together. The story tells us that Jesus touches the man’s ears and tongue and cries out “Ephphatha!”
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
I love the fact that the healings happen at the same time. Once the man could hear, he could speak clearly. The two are connected. The secret is in the listening.
“Listening” is fundamentally important in order to speak correctly and accurately. This is true both literally and figuratively. When we really listen to another person, we hear not simply the story but the emphases, impact, and backstory. We know not only what a person thinks but also how he/she thinks it and the feelings involved.
There is a price to be paid for being a good listener. It engages us with other people’s pain and suffering. It should cause us to “speak.” It may summon us to respond in a way which is inconvenient or demanding on our time or resources. We can feel the burden attached to bringing ourselves to bear on a substantive issue and the response which it engenders.
We might ask how we listen to the news. How difficult it could be to allow ourselves to be fully engaged! Sometimes we must stop our ears and cover our hearts so as not to be overwhelmed. If we listen, we can be driven through a gamut of emotions. We can find ourselves encouraged to step back, and evaluate what we have heard, and ask what difference can it make in my life. And what difference can I make?
The summons to allow the Lord to open our ears so that our mouths can speak properly rests within our Gospel reading. It point us to something important about the Christian life. Are we prepared to ask the Lord to unblock our ears and accept the consequences? Are we ready to allow the Lord to speak through us and respond to what that demands in word and action? Each of us begins with the question (which is a kind of examination of conscience): Am I listening? It requires a dynamic commitment.