Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
What a riveting week we have had with Pope Francis’ visit with a breakfast at the White House, the Canonization of Saint Junipero Serra, his address to Congress, various groups including Priests and Religious and his address to the United Nations in New York City! As he presses forward, “siempre adelante“, let us continue to pray for him as he travels to Philadelphia for the long-awaited World Meeting of Families. How grateful we are for the gift of the Pope’s visit as he urges us to serve our brothers and sisters and to care for one another.
This weekend we honor a great Saint: Saint Vincent de Paul, the patron of charitable activities, whose Feast Day is on September 27th. This year it falls on Sunday, so it will not be celebrated liturgically, however, it will be celebrated in a grand way in Phoenix. The Daughters of Charity and the Parish of St. Vincente de Paul in Phoenix are having a “St. Vincent de Paul Annual Parish Fiesta” this weekend from Friday, September 25th from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, September 26th from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. There will be rides, refreshments and fun. On Sunday, Bishop Nevares will bless a garden with a statue of St. Vincent de Paul at 9 a.m., and then he will celebrate 9:30 a.m. Mass in the main Church.
St. Vincent was born into a humble family in the village of Pouy in Gascony, France, about 1580. He enjoyed his first schooling under the Franciscan Fathers at Acqs. In 1596, he studied theology at the University of Toulouse, and he was ordained a priest in 1600.
In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625, he lay the foundations of a congregation which afterward became the Congregation of the Mission or Lazarists, so named on account of the Priory of St. Lazarus, which the Fathers began to occupy in 1633.
St. Vincent de Paul served the poor to meet their corporal and spiritual needs. He extended his charitable works to all classes of persons, from forsaken childhood to old age. He founded the Daughters of Charity, a Religious Order of Sisters who would assist him in serving the poor in Paris. Known for great holiness, he remained deeply rooted in humility. The Apostle of Charity breathed his last in his Parish at the age of eighty.
On Thursday, September 10th, I visited The Society of St. Vincent de Paul on W. Watkins Street in Phoenix where time and talents are generously given to serve the corporal and spiritual needs of the poor and homeless. This organization dedicates itself to feed, clothe, house and heal those in our community who have no where else to turn.
Father Emile Pelletier, also known as Father Bud, gave me an extensive tour of this magnificent charitable society. He showed me the fruits of extensive organization, financing, collaboration and coordination of staff and volunteers.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been serving our community throughout central and northern Arizona since 1946. Programs include:
- • Services for the homeless.
- • Medical and dental care for the working poor.
- • Charity dining rooms that serve thousands each day.
- • Food boxes for hungry families.
- • Thrift stores throughout the region.
- • A bridge housing shelter.
- • General assistance for individuals in need.
It provides help for people’s physical, mental, and spiritual needs. By doing this with care and respect, the Society shows them that they matter and they are children of God.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul began in Paris, France, in 1833 founded by a young law student at the Sorbonne, Frédéric Ozanam. At the prompting of Monsieur Emmanuel Bailly and Sister Rosalie Rendu, superior of a convent of the Daughters of Charity, Ozanam soon placed the conference under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul who had spent his life in 16th century France serving the poor. Within a few years, the original group of seven grew to 600, spreading to 15 other cities and towns in France, numbering more than 2,000 members. In 1845, it was founded in St. Louis, Missouri, and today this is where the headquarters is located. The Phoenix Diocesan Council for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has 89 Conferences of Charity, over 2,500 active and associate members (Vincentians), and more than 6,000 volunteers.
Would you like to volunteer? Contact Volunteer Services at: 602.261.6886.
On Wednesday, September 23rd, I visited the Daughters of Charity in Phoenix at St. Vincent de Paul Parish where they live together, serve the poor and teach the children in St. Vincent de Paul Elementary School.
Sr. Cabrini Thomas, DC is the Director of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. Sr. Marie teaches mathematics for Grades 5-8. Sr. Loretta works in the cafeteria of the school as well as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul on W. Watkins Street. Cynthia, a pre-postulant, is serving as a TA for 2nd Grade as well as an administrative assistant for the School.
Founded by St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac in 1634 and adopting foundress St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Daughters of Charity are called to serve Jesus Christ in the person of the poor and the marginalized. They do this in a spirit of humility, simplicity and charity. Motivated by the love of Christ and strengthened by a deep prayer life, they live together in community, supporting each other in their common mission of service.
Besides vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, they also make a special vow of service of the poor. These vows are non-religious, annual and always renewable. The Catholic Church acknowledges us as a Society of Apostolic Life. Since 1852, up and down the Coast of California, the Daughters of Charity helped settle California through Health Care, Education, Religion and Social Work.
Here are some photos of their convent which is beautiful and very simple:
The branches of the Vincentian Family include – the Ladies of Charity (AIC), the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian Priests and Brothers), the Daughters of Charity, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Association of the Miraculous Medal, the Vincentian Marian Youth (Children of Mary), many members of the Sisters of Charity Federation, Misevi and other related groups – totaling over a million women and men today.
Since the 17th century, members of the Vincentian Family have been serving and evangelizing people living in poverty. From the beginning the Vincentian Family has included many women and men from all walks of life serving in a myriad of ways – but always encountering Christ in the faces of those in need. Many of those servants have been recognized by the Church for their sanctity and zeal.
Happy Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul!
God bless you.
Your Sister in Christ,
Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM