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Celebrating 200 Years of Service

Welcome to our celebration of 200 years of service in the United States. The priests and brothers of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province, along with our friends and supporters, in solidarity with the poor we serve every day, are giving thanks for the many graces we have received during our 200 years in the United States.

The history of the Vincentians in the United States is filled with stories of sacrifice and service. We built parishes, schools, seminaries, shrines and universities - all dedicated to the example of our founder, St. Vincent, who walked with the poor.

The Congregation of the Mission Western Province has been part of the spiritual backdrop of the Catholic faith in America, where men of humility and simplicity have made themselves available to those in need - materially and spiritually - for two centuries.

Historical Timeline

In 1816, the year the Vincentians arrived from Italy, Abraham Lincoln was 7 years old! The United States of America consisted of just 19 states. Gas lighting in homes was a new invention. The nation was new, as was this new mission of the Vincentians.

A lot has happened and much has changed since then. This small company of Vincentians led to the opening of seminaries, schools, parishes and universities with nearly 300 priests and brothers ordained in their first century in America. This was the beginning of a historic adventure and spiritual sunburst that would see the Vincentian ministry to the poor take root from coast to coast and border to border.

Dates and Events

1816
Four Italian Vincentians arrive in America, led by Felix de Andreis, C.M.

1817
Vincentians arrive in St. Louis, MO

1818
Foundation of the Vincentian priests and brothers at St. Mary’s of the Barrens, Perryville MO – the Vincentian Motherhouse in the United States.

Establishment of the first seminary in the Louisiana Territory

1824
Joseph Rosati, C.M., named apostolic successor to Bishop DuBourg for the Diocese of Louisiana - what was probably the most extensive diocese in the world.

1835
Vincentian province is established in the United States, the first outside of Europe. John Timon, C.M., a native of Pennsylvania, was named the first provincial.

1841
From 1841 through 1865, the Vincentians established, staffed or administered seven seminaries: St. Vincent, Cape Girardeau, MO (for St. Louis); Ascension in Louisiana; St. Charles in Philadelphia; the diocesan seminary in New York; St. Thomas, Bardstown, KY; and St. Francis Xavier, Cincinnati, OH; Our Lady of the Angels, Niagara, NY.

1845
The Society of St. Vincent dePaul founded in St. Louis

1846
The Congregation of the Mission is the second largest religious community in the United States behind the Society of Jesus.

1847
John Timon, C.M., named the fist bishop of Buffalo. In all, eight Vincentians would be named bishops prior to 1880

1888
The Congregation of the Mission is divided into Western and Eastern Provinces

1907
DePaul University receives full accreditation

1929
National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is constructed

1950
Vincentians teaching thousands of seminarians in scores of seminaries

A Mission of Service

Vincentian priests and brothers of the Western Province encounter God in the integration of prayer, common life and works, for the mission. We bring the light of the Gospel to the world through personal encounters with our sisters and brothers, particularly those on the margins.

Following the example of St. Vincent, we see the face of Christ in the poor, lonely and forgotten. Nurtured by prayer and communal life, we fulfill our mission by caring for the least of God’s people. We educate and form the clergy and laity, collaborate with the Vincentian Family and promote systemic change for justice. Our evangelization transforms us and those we serve.

Vision for the Future - Walk with the Poor

St. Vincent de Paul lived with a passion for the poor. His passion went well beyond concern for the poor. Vincent encouraged his followers to draw close to the poor. Live with them. Walk with them every step of the way. In this way, he proclaimed, we meet Christ in them and we are evangelized by them.

Although today, Vincentian priests and brothers may be fewer in number, we are expanding our mission and building sustainable ministries through a capital campaign – Walking With The Poor – to provide more direct service to the poor in the United States and to build Catholic schools in Kenya, East Africa.

We pray that we will continue to carry forth the simple idea of St. Vincent and his “Little Company,” as together we walk with the poor.

Vincentian Anniversary Prayer

Heavenly Father, as the Congregation of the Mission celebrates
200 years of service in America, we pray, along with Felix de Andreis,
that every day we may discover more of the precious joys accompanying
our mission in all that has happened, is happening and will happen.

You have graced the Vincentian mission in the United States
since its beginnings. We ask you now to bless and guide us
as we continue the work of Christ, the Evangelizer of the Poor,
in the United States, in Kenya and beyond. Amen.

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, watch over us.
St. Vincent de Paul, intercede for us.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us.

Download our anniversary prayer by clicking here.