“The humanity of our day seems comparable
to the traveler of whom the Gospel speaks… In our turn, weak Samaritans,
worldly and people of little faith that we are, let us dare nonetheless to approach this great sick one. That is what is proposed to us, the sublime vocation God has given us. Would that we were a little bit worthy of it and bent easily to its burden.”
– Blessed Frédéric Ozanam
It’s not for everyone, nor for just anyone, but being a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — being a Vincentian — is for those who hear this special calling by God. Members are more than volunteers; this is not merely something that we do, but something that we are: Vincentians.
As Vincentians, we put our faith into action. We love God, as St. Vincent said, “with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brow.” The Vincentian vocation calls us to participate personally and directly in helping the needy by person-to-person contact and by the gift of our hearts and friendship, within the communal spirit of a Conference of lay persons each inspired by the same vocation.
In an audience with Vincentians, Pope Paul VI praised our ministry as “a great testimony of living Catholicism. You give witness to Christ in the Church of the Poor. The critic from outside is impressed. If he wants to understand you, he must look for that mysterious religious vitality which animates your silent work of love. And those others, too, see you living the Gospel, those to whom you direct your steps, and whom you do not call by the name of the poor, but by that of friend and brother.”
Spirituality and Formation Videos
Seeing Christ’s Face
St. Vincent taught: “Since Christ willed to be born poor … he made himself the servant of the poor and shared their poverty. He went so far as to say that he would consider every deed which either helps or harms the poor as done for or against himself.”
Frédéric also taught, by his word and example, that Christ is present in those we serve. It is because of this calling to see Christ’s face that we serve the poor cheerfully, listening to them and respecting their wishes, helping them to feel and recover their own dignity.
Would you like to meet Christ?
Trust in Providence
One of the primary tenets of Vincentian spirituality is belief in and reliance on Divine Providence. For Vincent, nothing — absolutely nothing — in life happened by chance. He found the providence of God in all events and in the people who touched his life. Frédéric also saw God’s plan operative everywhere. He trusted that God was providing for him, always acting in his life and in the lives of others.
Just as Christ taught us to “let the day’s own troubles be enough for the day,” so Frédéric and Vincent teach us to abandon ourselves to God’s providence.
“Let us go simply,” Frédéric once said, “content to see the stone on which we should step without wanting to discover all at once and completely the windings of the road.”
People of Prayer
Vincentians are people of prayer. We pray before and after our meetings, we pray with and for the neighbors we serve, and we promote a life of prayer and reflection, both as individuals and as a community of faith, sharing with our fellow members. Meditating on our Vincentian experiences offers us internal spiritual knowledge of themselves, others and the goodness of God.