Feast of St. Vincent de Paul
St. Vincent de Paul was an ultimate minister to the poor. He spent time with galley slaves on sailing ships. He started hospitals and homes for the elderly and orphans. He did all this while knowing it was not who he was by nature. He had to make a choice for the poor. He made a choice to respond with love amidst the signs of his times.
The signs of our times demand choices too. Here are a few examples of people responding like St. Vincent de Paul.
Here in Kentucky we recently buried Sister Paula Merrill, SCN. Sister Paula was murdered in a rural Mississippi county serving and living among the poor. At her funeral, Sister Adeline said “Sister Paula’s own heart ached for all she saw but could not mend.” Sister Paula quietly worked with her companion, Sister Margaret Held, among the poor because she chose to do so.
The same day Sister Paula was buried in Nazareth, Kentucky, two groups of mourners gathered to bury 14-year-old Troyvonte Hurt and Deionte Stokes, 21, here in Louisville. Both were victims of senseless gun and gang-related violence. In the background, working with youth to prevent future violence because of these deaths, was a man named Christopher 2x. Chris is a good man. He works in Louisville to make peace and is often in harm’s way. He wasn’t given this position, he chose to do so.
Mother Teresa was just proclaimed Saint Teresa. In 1982 and 1988 she visited the town of Jenkins, Kentucky where her order has a convent where the nuns work with the poor in the area. At an outdoor Mass in the area, she once said “Let us love one another as Christ loves us. The greatest gift of love we can give one another is to grow in God’s love.” Mother Teresa and these nuns weren’t made to work here, they chose to do so.
We all have choices to make. St. Vincent de Paul, Sister Paula, Christopher 2x and the Missionaries of Charity in Jenkins, Kentucky have made their choices. Maybe on St. Vincent de Paul’s special day it’s a good time to think about our own choices. Am I making my life choices for the right reason? Maybe this sentence from the diary of Dorothy Day sums up the common ground for our choices. “Truly love is the reason for it all.”
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of the Passionist Family in Louisville, Kentucky.