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2022-23 Mission Stats

(Updated July 1, 2022)

Current Seminarians

Families served in U.S. Vincentian parishes

Subscribers to The God Minute

Families receiving Christ’s loving message in Parish Missions

Individuals served in Kenyan Parishes and Apostolates

OUR MISSION

The Vincentians of the Western Province serve in 17 parishes in the U.S. and 5 parishes in the Vice-Province of Kenya and sponsor the largest Catholic university in the United States. They lead dozens of parish missions each year, operate a range of assistance programs for the materially poor, console patients and their families as hospital chaplains, and assist with the formation of future priests in seminaries across the country.

By your prayers, good works, and generosity, you help the Vincentians reach out to the poor, lonely, and abandoned.

In our ministry, we honor the dignity of each person we meet. By our words and the example of our lives, the Vincentians of the Western Province share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone who seeks His saving grace. None of this is possible without your help.

Each of us is called to follow Christ – to give generously and serve selflessly. By your prayers, your participation in our work, and your generosity, you help the Vincentians evangelize the less fortunate.

Provincial Council

Fr. Patrick McDevitt, C.M., Provincial

Fr. Tom Esselman, C.M., Assistant Provincial

Fr. James Osendorf, C.M., Consultor

Fr. Richard Wehrmeyer, C.M., Consultor

Fr. Derek Swanson, C.M, Consultor

Fr. Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., Consultor

A Message From The Provincial

St. Vincent de Paul founded the Congregation of the Mission in 1625 in Paris, France. He brought to the mission a passion for serving the poor. That same passion endures today.

The Vincentians of the Congregation’s Western Province serve in more than 20 parishes in the western half of the United States and Kenya. We run programs that provide food, clothing, rent and utility assistance, and more for the less fortunate. Our confreres also conduct parish missions for thousands of parishioners each year, and the Congregation sponsors Chicago’s DePaul University, the largest Catholic university in the United States.

In the spirit and tradition of our founder, who called the poor “our masters who feed us,” we see the face of Christ in those we serve and we devote our lives to doing His work on Earth. We invite you to join us, whether it be through donations to help us do this important work or by exploring whether God may be calling you to join us as a Vincentian priest or brother.

 

Sincerely in Vincent DePaul,

Fr. Patrick McDevitt, C.M.
Provincial Superior

OUR FOUNDER

Ordained in 1600, Vincent de Paul began his priesthood working with some of the wealthiest, most prestigious families in France. For five years, he served as household tutor and spiritual director to the influential Gondi family. While he loved the experience, Vincent soon found his true calling – ministering to the poor. He devoted his life to prayer, selfless service, and sacramental ministry, and he worked to announce the Gospel to the poor.

Vincent ministered to those on the fringes of society – galley slaves, war victims, and the materially poor.

Following the unmistakable promptings of the Holy Spirit, Vincent understood the power and purity of God’s message: evangelize the poor. Together with his companions, Vincent shaped the Little Company. They ministered to those on the fringes of society – galley slaves, war victims, and the materially poor. In prayer, Vincent begged God for the humility, simplicity, and gentleness he needed to carry out this important work.

St. Vincent de Paul’s charism has lived on for four centuries. Vincentian priests and brothers follow his example of holiness and energetic labors, dedicating their lives to prayer, community
life, and evangelical service, seeking out those most in need of God’s love and mercy.

St. Vincent de Paul: A Person of the 17th Century; A Person for the 21st Century

This video, produced by Niagara University, tells the fascinating story of the life and work of our founder, St. Vincent de Paul and his commitment to serving the poor. 

Vincentian Identity Statement

“The purpose of the Congregation of the Mission is to follow Christ evangelizing the poor. This is achieved when, individually and collectively, the confreres:

  1. Make every effort to acquire a holiness appropriate to their vocation;
  2. Work at evangelizing the poor, especially the most abandoned;
  3. Help the clergy and laity in their formation and lead them to a fuller participation in the evangelization of the poor (Constitutions no.1, 1984)”

Five characteristics describe the identity of Congregation of the Mission as it looks to the future. First, we are a community called to an apostolic way of life, to sharing in that personal familiarity and encounter with Jesus Christ that allow us to be missionary disciples sent with joy into the world. Second, as members of the Church and the Congregation of the Mission, we Vincentians are people who share with all the baptized God’s call to be sent out on mission, and with the specific charism of St. Vincent de Paul, to proclaim the Reign of God to the poor, serving them and experiencing Christ in them. Third, while the whole Church is called to the work of evangelization, we Vincentians are called to evangelize by imitating in the closest possible way the missionary Christ and by preaching and building up faith communities among the poor. Fourth, we work to form the clergy and the laity to participate in the evangelization of the poor. Finally, Vincentians engage in direct service of the poor as well as the identification and eradication of the root causes of poverty. 

To foster this mission, Vincentians are called to continual, lifelong formation, to sharing their experiences of God in the lives of the poor and being open to the many gifts of the Spirit needed for this mission. In particular, Vincentians are committed to the development of leadership in the evangelization of the poor, creating ministry teams of men and women who together collaborate in Vincentian works, fostering the many gifts of the Spirit and together following Christ evangelizing the poor.

At this time, in light of our identity and mission, we are prioritizing healing, fraternity, and ongoing personal, communal, and apostolic renewal to assure mission effectiveness and mission advancement.

June 16, 2022

Congregation of the Mission Western Province Statement on Enslaved People

Statement on Enslaved People

The Vincentians of the Western Province, USA, acknowledge with sadness that from 1818 to 1865, members of our religious order owned enslaved people. We deeply regret this undeniable wrong, and we apologize.

In acknowledging this history, we are keenly aware that slavery still exists in many forms today. While we cannot change our past, we are focused on working to understand and effectuate change to abolish modern slavery.

The History of Slavery at St. Mary’s of the Barrens[1]

Upon their arrival at the Barrens, the Italian missioners encountered a world where slavery was a lived reality. The missioners had direct contact, because the local Catholics sent slaves to assist them in building the log cabin seminary and church of St. Mary’s. Bishop William DuBourg, a Sulpician and bishop of the Louisiana Territory, provided some of his slaves to the Barrens to assist the understaffed missioners. At its height, the Barrens was recorded as having approximately 27 slaves (the largest owner of slaves in Perry County). It may have been closer to 20, since those who were involved in the census count of 1820 and 1830 had conflated the slaves that were on loan to the Barrens from other Catholic slave owners in Perry County.

At the time, these slaves were under the ownership of Bishop DuBourg and assigned to work at the seminary, which was his property, for the purpose of its upkeep. At first, the seminary at the Barrens accepted the extra help. In time, the seminary had several female slaves, who did the cooking. The response from Fr. Baccari, C.M., the Vicar General, was swift. Fr. Baccari said that the women should be dismissed at once, because it was improper to have women within the cloister.[2] The greater issue for Fr. Baccari was that there were women in the house, not the fact that these women were held as slaves. It is difficult to understand that religious communities’ attitudes and priorities during the 18th and 19th centuries were rigid and the first alarm that went off in the Vicar General’s mind was a breach of protocol around women in the house, rather than the fact that these human beings were held as slaves. John Timon, C.M., the first American superior of the Vincentian community in the United States, brought slavery to an end at the Barrens and anywhere in the Province where it was practiced.

Commitments for the Future

As a Province, we are committed to treating each person that we meet as “encountering the face of God.” We commit ourselves to our ministries, especially amongst the most abandoned and marginalized, upholding each person’s dignity as a loved child of God. At our Province Assembly in 2016, we made training programs in racial justice a regular part of our formation programs. We continue to engage in racially diverse, equitable, and inclusive hiring practices. Our Vincentian vocation calls us to be advocates for racial social justice and to integrate these values in our community life and ministry. As we look to the future, we recommit ourselves to be faithful to our Vincentian mission and serve, love, and support the poor and marginalized and those unjustly treated by society.

This short retelling of human enslavement at the Barrens serves as a cautionary tale of the nature of social sin and how easy it is to fall into practices that are wrong but accepted in society. As a reminder to ourselves of our own history, among other initiatives to assist the community in Perryville, we will be placing a memorial on the grounds of St. Mary’s of the Barrens Seminary to honor the enslaved men and women who lived and worked there.

Acknowledging that human enslavement is still present in our world today, our Province is committed to helping raise awareness of and to actively work to erase this social sin so that, in the tradition of the Vincentians, those who are marginalized and abandoned will be treated with dignity as loved children of God.

[1] Stafford Poole, C.M., and Douglas J. Slawson, C.M., Church and Slave in Perry County, Missouri, 1818-1865.  Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1986.  (Materials from this section of the paper were drawn from Chapter 7 of the cited text.)

[2] Cloister is a term that describes the living spaces of a monastery or other religious house.  Its origin is with monastic communities, but in eighteenth and nineteenth century parlance it was used to describe the living quarters of any group of priests, religious, seminarians.

Congregation of the Mission Western Province Statement on Slavery

Statement on Enslaved People

The Vincentians of the Western Province, USA, acknowledge with sadness that from 1818 to 1865, members of our religious order owned enslaved people. We deeply regret this undeniable wrong, and we apologize.

In acknowledging this history, we are keenly aware that slavery still exists in many forms today. While we cannot change our past, we are focused on working to understand and effectuate change to abolish modern slavery.

The History of Slavery at St. Mary’s of the Barrens[1]

Upon their arrival at the Barrens, the Italian missioners encountered a world where slavery was a lived reality. The missioners had direct contact, because the local Catholics sent slaves to assist them in building the log cabin seminary and church of St. Mary’s. Bishop William DuBourg, a Sulpician and bishop of the Louisiana Territory, provided some of his slaves to the Barrens to assist the understaffed missioners. At its height, the Barrens was recorded as having approximately 27 slaves (the largest owner of slaves in Perry County). It may have been closer to 20, since those who were involved in the census count of 1820 and 1830 had conflated the slaves that were on loan to the Barrens from other Catholic slave owners in Perry County.

At the time, these slaves were under the ownership of Bishop DuBourg and assigned to work at the seminary, which was his property, for the purpose of its upkeep. At first, the seminary at the Barrens accepted the extra help. In time, the seminary had several female slaves, who did the cooking. The response from Fr. Baccari, C.M., the Vicar General, was swift. Fr. Baccari said that the women should be dismissed at once, because it was improper to have women within the cloister.[2] The greater issue for Fr. Baccari was that there were women in the house, not the fact that these women were held as slaves. It is difficult to understand that religious communities’ attitudes and priorities during the 18th and 19th centuries were rigid and the first alarm that went off in the Vicar General’s mind was a breach of protocol around women in the house, rather than the fact that these human beings were held as slaves. John Timon, C.M., the first American superior of the Vincentian community in the United States, brought slavery to an end at the Barrens and anywhere in the Province where it was practiced.

Commitments for the Future

As a Province, we are committed to treating each person that we meet as “encountering the face of God.” We commit ourselves to our ministries, especially amongst the most abandoned and marginalized, upholding each person’s dignity as a loved child of God. At our Province Assembly in 2016, we made training programs in racial justice a regular part of our formation programs. We continue to engage in racially diverse, equitable, and inclusive hiring practices. Our Vincentian vocation calls us to be advocates for racial social justice and to integrate these values in our community life and ministry. As we look to the future, we recommit ourselves to be faithful to our Vincentian mission and serve, love, and support the poor and marginalized and those unjustly treated by society.

This short retelling of human enslavement at the Barrens serves as a cautionary tale of the nature of social sin and how easy it is to fall into practices that are wrong but accepted in society. As a reminder to ourselves of our own history, among other initiatives to assist the community in Perryville, we will be placing a memorial on the grounds of St. Mary’s of the Barrens Seminary to honor the enslaved men and women who lived and worked there.

Acknowledging that human enslavement is still present in our world today, our Province is committed to helping raise awareness of and to actively work to erase this social sin so that, in the tradition of the Vincentians, those who are marginalized and abandoned will be treated with dignity as loved children of God.

[1] Stafford Poole, C.M., and Douglas J. Slawson, C.M., Church and Slave in Perry County, Missouri, 1818-1865.  Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1986.  (Materials from this section of the paper were drawn from Chapter 7 of the cited text.)

[2] Cloister is a term that describes the living spaces of a monastery or other religious house.  Its origin is with monastic communities, but in eighteenth and nineteenth century parlance it was used to describe the living quarters of any group of priests, religious, seminarians.

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