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St. Vincent de Paul and the Sisters of Charity caring for foundlings. Painted by Francis Xavier Weninger. Oil on canvas. Painted in 1907.
Reflection on the Painting
Recently, we celebrated the feast day of Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), founder of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) and co-founder of the Sisters of Charity. Born in Gascony, France, he devoted himself completely at the service of the poor with great compassion, generosity and humility, until he was disabled by old age.
Pope Leo XIII declared him patron saint of all works of charity. But let’s in particular celebrate the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a charitable organization dedicated to the service of the poor, established in 1833 by French university students, led by the Blessed Frederic Ozanam. The SVdp Society is present in more than 150 countries on 5 continents. It has 800,000 active members and more than one million volunteer members.
The aim of the St. Vincent de Paul Society is to tackle poverty in all its forms through providing practical assistance to those in need. This help is broader than just providing financial support. SVdP members visit people who are sick, lonely, in prison, or suffering from addiction. Through this one-to-one, person-to-person contact, members spend time with those less well off, the greatest gift they can share.
How do we change the world and make it a better place? By one random act of kindness at a time! One visit to a sick person, one chat to a lonely man, one sandwich for a homeless person, etc. In a world where we can be anything, let’s be kind!
To end with a quote by St. Vincent de Paul himself: "That which we suffer in the accomplishment of a good work, merits for us the necessary graces to insure its success."
“Our Faith In Action: Today’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul”
Join Society of St. Vincent de Paul members on their spiritual growth journey through service to people and families in need. From the Society’s traditional home visits, food pantries and assistance with rent and utilities, to innovative healthcare, financial and mentoring programs, the Society’s Vincentians see the face of Christ in the people they encounter. In this 10-week series, Vincentians volunteer across the country to bring effective, personalized help to those in poverty and share with you their stories of Christ’s love along the way.