Vincent de Paul was born in 1581 in a small village in France, the 4th of 5 children in a very religious peasant family. Vincent began this education to become a priest at the University of Toulouse. In order to pay his tuition, his father sold a pair of oxen, a big sacrifice for the family. Vincent was ordained in 1600. Vincent suffered a dark night of the soul as he sought to help his family financially and find his ministry. When he decided to dedicate his life to the service of the poor, his darkness left him.
His mission work and calling was becoming clear... In 1617 he founded the Confraternity of Charity. This group was made up of women who served the sick and the poor. He then developed a friendship with Francis de Sales, and was asked by Frances to become the spiritual father to the Visitation Nuns. He became spiritual director to the future Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, the co- founder of the Visitation Nuns. Louis X111 appointed him as general chaplain to the prison inmates and galley slaves where Vincent saw Christ in these suffering people.
Later, Vincent formed a community of priests and brothers, the Vincentians. The purpose of his community was to preach the Gospel to the poor country people and to educate and form good priests.
In 1625 Vincent became the spiritual advisor to Louise de Marillac, a widow with a 13 year old son. She had been reaching out to the poor and abandoned, and Vincent saw her giftedness and sent her to organize and direct the Confraternities of Charity and the Ladies of Charity, thus expanding the Vincentian ministry. Vincent insisted that the personal service given to the poor be compassionate, gentle and respectful.
As Vincent de Paul became more well known, he had opportunities to plead for the poor to people of power. His followers cared for refugees and orphans, took care of the sick and opened schools for poor children. He organized collections, and using wagons, he gathered donations from merchants. Each week his followers distributed clothing and food, using rectories as warehouses. Vincent died in 1660 and was canonized by Pope Clement X11 in 1737. The ministry of Saint Vincent de Paul has continued on to this day. His feast day is celebrated on September 27th.
Nativity of Mary has its own conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. If you have questions about our conference, getting more involved, or wanting to put your name on our sign up list for the food giveaway, please contact email@example.com. If you have an emergency need, contact a SVDP volunteer at 952-767-5521.