Thursday, September 27, 2012

A man of charity

    We often get calls at the parish asking if this is Saint Vincent de Paul Church.  They call us at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church because we are the location of the local food bank sponsored by the area Saint Vincent de Paul Society.  People readily recognize the name, and that if there is need, they can turn to this group within the Church for help.  Many towns have Saint Vincent de Paul second hand stores, and individuals and communities are assisted by the Ladies of Charity and the Saint Vincent de Paul fraternities.  They are a tangible source of the charity, concern and love of the Church for the poor and needy.

     Today the Church honors the man whose name and example are associated with charity.  Born in 1576 he served the French monarchy and the Church after ordination as a priest, and after varied experiences of capture and hardship as well as exultation and reknown, he devoted himself to the poor.

     His charity embraced the poor, young and old, places ravaged by war and people who were enslaved in a variety of ways.  The poor man was to him the image of Christ.  He went through the streets of Paris at night, seeking the children who were left there to die and established orphanges.  He was not only the saviour of the poor, but also of the rich, for he taught them to do works of mercy.  He established the Ladies of Charity to help with the work of these abandoned children, and called on all to reach out and touch lives in need.  He founded the Society of Saint Vincent, the Priests of the Mission, and the Sisters of Charity.  He died in 1660 as a source of inspiration throughout the centuries and a model of charity of love for us even in this moment in time.

     To our local Saint Vincent de Paul Society, to the many such groups found worldwide, along with the Ladies of Charity and those who follow the charism of this great man, we, and those who are helped, are very grateful.

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