Monday, September 27, 1999
First Reading: Zechariah 8: 1-8
Psalms: Psalm 102: 16-23, 29
Gospel Reading: Luke 9: 46-50
SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL, PRIEST AND RELIGIOUS FOUNDER
Though Saint Vincent de Paul was not a doctor like Saints Cosmas and Damian whose feasts are celebrated the day before, Vincent performed in the same loving, charitable and merciful manner as did the twin saints thirteen centuries before him. Vincent was born in Gascony, France in 1581 into a poor, but holy Catholic family who fostered in him a vocation to the priesthood. Thus at only 19 Vincent became a priest. While enroute to a mission across the sea he was captured by high Moslem sea pirates and spent two years in prison and then sold as a slave in Tunisia. There, through prayer and his example, he was able to convert his master to Christianity and allowed to return to France. While in Paris, his spiritual director Pere Peter de Berulle suggested that he accept the appointment of pastor of a small parish at Clichy just outside of Paris. There he recruited numerous young men to assist him, instilling in them a love for the priesthood. Shortly after he was appointed to serve as the chaplain to a rich family of the French aristocrat where he remained for twelve years. During this time satan tempted him severely, but Vincent persevered and volunteered to minister to sailors and ship-builders in the port cities, remembering his earlier travails on the seas. This association led him to become chaplain to the galley-slaves who were endeared to Vincent because he cared much in the same way as Saint Peter Claver, his Spanish counterpart half way around the world in Columbia at the same period of time. Yet, his apostolate of teaching the catechism and ministering to the poor and peasants of the French countryside became paramount, especially after meeting Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane Francis Chantal. It was shortly after this in 1622 that he was appointed superior of her convent of the Visitation in Paris where he remained until his death in 1660. Seeing the needs of the people, Vincent gathered a group of young men to assist him in ministering to the people. This was the beginning of the Vincentians (Congregation of the Mission or Lazarists as they were known in France) which were approved by Pope Urban VIII in 1633. That same year Vincent founded the Daughters of Charity along with Saint Louise Marillac. This order of extern nuns was dedicated to a social agenda of ministering to the poor. To keep the line of priests continuing for the Vincentians, Vincent established numerous seminaries and thus formulating the clergy was added to the mission of the order. Both Louise and Vincent died in 1660, the latter passing away in Paris on September 27 which ultimately became his feast day as proclaimed by Pope Clement XII in 1737 when he officially canonized Vincent. Towards the end of the 19th Century, Pope Leo XIII, a pontiff of great social order conscience, decreed Vincent patron of all charitable works universally. Today, in practically every parish, there is a St. Vincent de Paul Society which dedicate themselves to collecting goods to distribute to the poor or selling them so that the money can be donated to those less fortunate.