A Generous Saint - St. Vincent De Paul (1581-1660), Feast Day September 27
Vincent was born to a poor family on April 24, 1581, in Pouy in southwestern France. Vincent studied for the priesthood and at the age of nineteen was ordained. In 1618 while serving the Gondi family, an aristocratic French family, Vincent met St. Francis de Sales who had written a book, the Introduction to the Devout Life, and both their friendship and his writings made a strong impact.
With his spiritual awareness raised and deepened, Fr. Vincent de Paul shifted to Chatillon-les-Dombes where he encountered many who were poor or sick, and he decided to organize groups of parishioners who could provide assistance. The first of these generous groups were all women and called the Servants of the Poor. He wanted to include men and in 1625 founded the Congregation of the Mission, also known as the Vincentians or the Lazarists, a group of priests that went from place to place to preach missions and care for the needy. This also led Vincent to generously train new priests.
Women who wished to serve the poor formed groups in parishes in Paris and elsewhere. The older women were known as the "Ladies of Charity" and the younger women were called the "Daughters of Charity." In 1633, Vincent formed a partnership with St. Louise de Marillac, a devout widow, to organize the younger group into a new religious order. It expanded rapidly with a special charism for service to the sick, poor, suffering, mistreated, confined, and forgotten. They established hospitals and orphanages, and visited homes for the elderly, jails, and prisons.
St. Vincent's dedication to the poor and all he did to found other groups to assist the poor was generous indeed. Today, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul consists of men and women seeking holiness through charitable works. Through the generosity of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is able to serve those in need. As Pope Francis said about the miracle of the loaves and fishes, on July 26, 2015, "many ask what can we do? ...we can offer what little we have. We certainly have a few hours of time, some talent, some expertise."