St. Vincent DePaul was a 16th century French country priest who may have been ordained partly in order to escape poverty and live a comfortable life, but God clearly had other plans for him. Vincent experienced a conversion of heart that led him to find Christ present in the poor and suffering. In 1625, he founded a religious community, the Congregation of the Mission, now known as the Vincentians, who, in addition to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, also took a vow of stability to serve the needs of people in a specific village. He helped his friend St. Louise de Marillac to found the Daughters of Charity in 1633. These orders, along with groups of lay people Vincent organized for service, moved religious life from the cloister into the real world to perform works of charity for the poor. Vincent’s missionary work had the effect of institutionalizing and stabilizing services to the poor, and today he is honored as the patron saint of charities. Central to his work with the poor was a belief that each person held the presence of Christ and deserved to be treated with respect and love.
Questions for Reflection:
- Are you living a life of comfortable faith?
- Is your heart open to seeing Christ present in the poor, in people at the margins of our society who might make you uncomfortable?
- How has discomfort ever led you to respond to God’s call with love?