Mass celebrated at the Saint Vincent de Paul Centre, Box Hill, for the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul
Tuesday, 27th September 2016
Dear Friends of Saint Vincent de Paul, dear Apostles of Charity,
Today we honour our great patron, Saint Vincent de Paul, who was born on 24th April 1581 and died at the age of seventy-nine on this day in 1660. In 1729 Pope Benedict XIII beatified him and eight years later he was canonised by Pope Clement XII.
After initial studies Vincent did theology at the University of Toulouse and was very scandalised by the factional fights of various groups. He was ordained at the young age of nineteen, but continued further studies to a Bachelor of Theology and a Licence of Canon Law in Toulouse and Paris respectively.
In 1605 he was abducted and placed in slavery, returning to Rome and Paris, where in 1612 he became a pastor. Vincent’s fervour and initiative brought the foundation of the Ladies of Charity, the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, the Vincentian Congregation and he was well known for retreats for clergy, for his spiritual leadership and as the spiritual director of the convent of Saint Mary of the Angels for twenty-eight years.
His legacy, of course, led to the establishment of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in 1833 by Blessed Frederic Ozanam. The legacy of Saint Vincent de Paul is above all one of love of Christ, spiritual formation and charity.
I take this opportunity of thanking each and every one of you for the way in which you have responded to that inspiration and in undertaking what I believe is the genius of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, where people visit other human beings and show interest in them in a personal way, which in addition to any material help is a respecting of their dignity, a restoration of their sense of self-worth and of a tremendous outreach towards the most needy in society, which is a practical reminder of our brothers and sisters in the world of the need and indeed the responsibility we have towards those who have had a more difficult life and who have suffered poverty, want, loneliness and need.
Indeed, what appears on your own website is indicative of the gifted formation which Saint Vincent de Paul provided for his religious and the way in which Blessed Frederic Ozanam picked up those ideals; the services for the homeless, youth programmes, women’s refuges, friendships for people living with mental illness, rural relief, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and above all as Saint Vincent himself is known, being apostles of charity, respect and love to our sisters and brothers.
Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.