Couple has Deep Roots in the Vincentian Family

What do a former seminarian and a postulant to the life of a religious sister have in common? 48 years of marriage! Bill and Mary Tarnow of Lombard, Illinois, have deep roots in their Catholic faith. Bill was a student at St. Vincent Seminary in Lemont, Illinois, and Mary was discerning a vocation with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Together they followed the vocation of married life, and they remain enthusiastic supporters of the religious life. God has blessed their marriage with four children and eleven grandchildren.

“We have a special commitment to supporting the educational mission and seminary work of the Vincentians,” said Bill. “The Vincentians have had such a lasting impact on my life.”

Mary and Bill are regular contributors of their time and treasure. They find a special grace in participating with the Vincentians, who are quietly serving the poor, making a bond with the less fortunate among us around the world.

“We would like to tell others that by being part of the Vincentian mission, you can accomplish much more than on your own,” Mary added. “It is something we both learned
in our early lives, influenced by religious communities.”

“We admire the Vincentians’ quiet humility and gentleness.”

The couple are among the many contributors to our mission in Kenya, East Africa. The funding of the basic needs of life – food, clothing, water and medicine – is something we take for granted every day.

Mary and Bill contribute toward helping the five parishes and twenty outstations in Kenya run by Vincentians. It is like a miracle every day in the lives of hundreds of people. “Every gift helps someone, every day,” said Bill.

The Tarnows are not shy about their faith and their commitment to helping the poor. They raised their children to be grateful and generous. Not only is their faith a constant part of their family life, but it has also become a generational grace as they see their children and grandchildren living their Catholic faith . . . in the way of St. Vincent.

Global Sleep Out

Students and faculty at DePaul University spent a night sleeping on the streets of Chicago in solidarity with the poor, raising more than $30,000 to support the homeless. The Sleep Out was part of a global initiative to raise awareness of the increasing homelessness problem in the United States and around the world. The president of DePaul, Dr. A. Gabriel Esteban, and his wife joined the students in the cold Chicago winter.

“The spirit of the Vincentian Family worldwide has the breadth and reach to impact homelessness in every part of the globe, and is part of the unifying vision of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province.”

There are an estimated half-million homeless people in America, and nearly one-third of those are unsheltered.

In the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, the Global Sleep Out project is spearheaded by DePaul USA in seven cities. Homelessness is one of the fastest growing signs of poverty, addiction and mental illness in our country.

For decades, the problem has been overlooked, but the quickly expanding presence of “tent cities” in many American communities has made the homeless more visible to many.

The call to serve the poor is as urgent as it was in the time of St. Vincent. “Let us humble ourselves and give thanks to the Eternal Father who has called us to work in . . . preaching the Good News to the poor.” (Congregation of the Mission Conference, December 6, 1658).

Unifying vision of FAMVIN

The spirit of the Vincentian Family worldwide has the breadth and reach to impact homelessness in every part of the globe, and is part of the unifying vision of the Congregation of
the Mission Western Province.

The Vincentians have created an international alliance on homelessness to seek solutions and prayerful support for those least among us.

A Milestone Moment for the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers

On the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, more than 250 people from across the country came together to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers. For two and a half decades, the ministry has fostered a community of faith and action that responds to the Gospel call in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul.

Young men and women, ages 22 to 30, volunteer for the year-long program, living in community and serving the elderly, homeless, disabled, troubled youth and those who are poor. The program focuses on building relationships between the volunteers, leaders and those who are served.

“We are called to serve those living on the margins, but we also have to face our own spiritual poverties,” explains Mary Frances Jaster, CVV Director. “Each person who comes into our lives has something to teach us about ourselves, God and our relationship with others.”

“Each person who comes into our lives has something to teach us about ourselves, God and our relationship with others.”

– Mary Frances Jaster,
CVV Director

The weekend celebration included meals, games, fellowship, prayer and reflections from ministry leaders and volunteers. During their talk, co-directors Bill and Mary Frances Jaster described how the program’s mission was rooted in six key characteristics of the Vincentian charism, including sharing the condition of the poor, a community spirit, a readiness to go anywhere and living in a constant state of conversion.

“It was great to see so many people from our past – it makes you realize how many opportunities each of us has to make an impact on those we meet and the people we serve,” Mary Frances shares. “We have a responsibility to make choices to impact the lives of others for the better.”

One person who had an impact on many of the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers was the late Fr. Tom Nelson, C.M., who joined the ministry in its first year. Fr. Tom served in various roles over the years, including board member, spiritual advisor, chaplain and friend. Mary Frances says that Fr. Tom “played a key role in keeping this ministry vibrant for all these years.”

Bill and Mary Frances were also recognized for their service, as they stepped down from their leadership positions after 25 years. “We were honored to play a role in helping people encounter Christ in those they serve. We look forward to seeing the program evolve to better serve the needs of the community,” Mary Frances remarked. “We have always embraced creative ways of reaching out – that’s part of the Vincentian charism.”

Your Support Helps Future Vincentian Priests

Since beginning his Vincentian formation in 2015, Scott Jakubowski, C.M., has experienced the great joy and peace that come with a life of selfless service. Beyond his philosophy and theology classes, Scott has grown through ministry work here in the United States and abroad.

“I’ve had incredible opportunities to serve in a variety of settings: prisons in Panama, Catholic seminaries in Vietnam and among the migrant communities in Arkansas,” Scott recalls. “Each experience has opened me to new ways of stretching my understanding of the Gospel and serving those I encounter.”

Earlier this year, Scott took another key step toward embracing a life of ministry as a Vincentian priest – he professed his final vows at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Chicago. “We take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability,” Scott explains. “I have now committed before God to be a Vincentian for my entire life. It is a beautiful, humbling experience.”

While Scott has found happiness and peace in his Vincentian life, the formation experience is not without its challenges. For five years now, he has dedicated himself to his graduate studies, daily communal prayer with his brother Vincentians, regular workshops on aspects of religious life and assignments at various apostolic missions.

“When I was serving in Panama, I visited prisons where I was surrounded by criminals,” Scott recalls. “You truly learn to rely on God in those moments. It was very rewarding to pray with them and hear their stories.”

As Scott reflects on his future as a Vincentian priest, one aspect of the life and charism appeals to him most: helping to overcome poverty, both spiritual and material. “I love working with the poor,” Scott explains. “Poverty is everywhere around us – people are suffering in so many ways. To be able to lift up the poor, to recognize Jesus in them, to see them as our fellow human beings – this is what I am called to do.”

“To be able to lift up the poor, to recognize Jesus in them, to see them as our fellow human beings – this is what I am called to do.”

– Scott Jakubowski

Scott and the other men in formation are grateful for all of the support donors and benefactors provide. Your support helps empower men like Scott to prepare for Vincentian ministry. We invite you to continue to hold up in prayer Scott and all of the young men who are discerning a call to the religious life.

2019 Province Report

Our work of serving the poor often seems like a small offering in the face of overwhelming need. But what might seem insignificant has the power of a seed, sown and cultivated, that explodes into new life and grows into something unimaginable.

“The Father of the Poor scatters you throughout the world like seeds that sprout in arid land, like a balm of consolation for the wounded, like a fire of charity to warm so many hearts cooled by abandonment and hardened by rejection.”

— Pope Francis to all who live the Vincentian charism on the occasion of the commemoration of St. Vincent de Paul, September 27, 2017

One life changed, one child educated, one new priest ordained . . . each gift blossoms into lives that touch many other lives, changing hearts forever.
In 2019, our donors and friends have planted seeds of hope throughout
the Western Province. Your support has allowed us to expand our mission, as we reach out in new ways to those most in need.

As we celebrate all we have accomplished together this past year, we renew our dedication to the work of St. Vincent – walking with the poor, the abandoned and the vulnerable. Your generosity has made a difference!

Gifts made by our Associates of the Little Company between July 1, 2018, and
June 30, 2019, can be viewed by clicking below. Our Vincentian priests and brothers will remember you in their prayers throughout the year. Thank you to all of our Walking with the Poor campaign donors who continue to make payments on their generous pledges and are not listed in this Roster.

View 2019 Associates of the Little Company roster here.

Spiritual Growth in Prison and Beyond

Women in prison and in re-entry are among the most neglected members of our society – the very people Vincentians are called to serve. This past year, grants from the Walking with the Poor Ministry Fund have been awarded to help provide a mentoring program for women transitioning out of prison.

With your support, this new
collaboration with the Center for
Spirituality at Work helps to respond
to the pressing needs of this
population by fostering the
development of decision-making and
life skills. Originally established by Fr.
Gary Mueller, C.M., Fr. Bob
Schwane, C.M., and Fr. Mark Pranaitis, C.M., this work has flourished under the leadership of Dr. Vie Thorgen, executive director, and Fr. Tom Nelson, C.M., program spiritual director.

This work of the Vincentians, their lay collaborators and supporters like you is planting seeds of hope in the hearts of the women who are served.

Volunteer mentors receive training and ongoing support in their important coaching role with women who are incarcerated or have been recently released. The program encourages personal responsibility, stronger families, social engagement and leadership development.

Mentors and former offenders
work together on public education programs and advocacy efforts.
The impact of this program is demonstrated by the 92% of graduates who have re-entered
the community successfully, as gainfully employed and contributing members of society.

This work of the Vincentians, their lay collaborators and supporters like you is planting seeds of hope in the hearts of the women who are served. Your generosity reaches the margins of our society – the lonely, the forgotten and the vulnerable. Like St. Vincent, we meet people where they are and serve with compassion those in need of God’s love.

Touching Hearts. Rebuilding Lives.

Your generosity directly impacts
the poor who come to the Rebuild Center at St. Joseph Parish in New Orleans. For nearly two decades, the Center has been a source of hope for many in the community, including Juston, whose life was changed by the care he received.

Juston became
homeless at a
young age. He
never thought it
could happen to
him. He was
unemployed and
living on the
streets. Every day
was a struggle to
survive. On cold
nights, he would
drape a blanket
over his tent and
light candles for
warmth. He avoided homeless shelters, afraid that someone would steal his legal documentation or belongings. He was losing hope that he could turn his life around.

Then, Juston came to the Rebuild Center at St. Joseph Church.
He received services that helped restore his health and empowered him to find a career. More importantly, he found the love and compassion of Jesus in the volunteers and other clients at the Center.

Your support helps provide nourishment, personal hygiene and basic medical care for guests.

Juston is only one of the hundreds of people who visit the Rebuild Center each year, looking for a fresh start. And your support makes all of this possible. Rooted in the charism of St. Vincent, the Rebuild Center is dedicated to providing a safe environment, resources and support for the homeless, the unemployed, the sick, suffering and vulnerable. It is a place where people in need are treated with respect and dignity, where they can receive the care and services they require.

Your support helps provide nourishment, personal hygiene and basic medical care for guests. Your generosity also helps the Center provide legal services, financial assistance, career guidance and computer access.

Thanks in part to your support, a seed was planted and partnerships have been cultivated, resulting in a collaborative effort among agencies to expand ministry to the poor and homeless. As a supporter of the Vincentians, you partner with us in the work of touching hearts and rebuilding lives – at the Rebuild Center and throughout the Western Province.

Building a Life of Generosity

“A land developer creates something from damn near nothing,” says Joe Kelley, business leader and longtime supporter of the Vincentians. “You look at a cornfield and say, ‘I can build a neighborhood here’ – it takes a unique kind of vision and leadership.”

For many years, Joe has used his vision and leadership to advance Vincentian projects to serve the poor and address homelessness in St. Louis. Joe worked with Fr. Ed Murphy, C.M., to expand programs at the Guardian Angel Settlement, a social service organization serving more than 2,000 low-income children and families.
He also is an active supporter and volunteer at St. Vincent Parish in South St. Louis.

From his years in a Vincentian parish as a child in Arizona to his time discerning a priestly vocation in Perryville, to his life-long friendships with priests and brothers, Joe always has considered himself a Vincentian.

“I can’t get St. Vincent out of my bones,” he says.
“Like Vincent, I’m committed to serving the homeless, the starving and the very poor. It makes you feel good to do what you can for people in need.”

For more than 53 years, Joe has used his vision and leadership to develop places for people to live and work, and he built a legacy of service and generosity along the way. Joe credits his deep faith in Jesus and his Vincentian spirit for much of his success in life.

“St. Vincent taught us how to care for the poor,” Joe says. “He was so focused on serving the poor – God’s people. The best way we can serve Christ is to serve the least among us. It is good for the soul.”

Joe has a passion for sharing the Vincentian mission and encouraging others to step up. He has developed a unique and persuasive way
of garnering the support of his friends and colleagues.

“On occasion, I’ve called my subcontractors and said, ‘Do you want to get to heaven? Okay, one way you can do that is through works of mercy, so I’m going to put you down for donating the roof,’” he explains with a laugh.

In addition to his leadership support of the recent Walking with the Poor campaign and his ongoing generosity to our mission in Kenya, Joe has established a legacy gift that will help enliven the Vincentian mission to share the Gospel with the poor beyond his lifetime.

At 77, Joe runs a thriving business, cares for his wife of 50 years and actively supports many other charitable causes. And he is not planning to slow down anytime soon.

“I want to spend the rest of my life working with the Vincentians and other partners to end homelessness in
St. Louis. I approach this challenge with an entrepreneurial spirit. All of life is about problem-solving, and St. Vincent was one of the best in the business.”

Serving St. Louis for 175 Years

For the people of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis, service to the poor and vulnerable is not just a line in their mission statement – it is a way of life. For more than 175 years, the parish community has had a strong, dynamic presence in South St. Louis City, extending Christ’s mercy to people in need.

“Our door is always open,” explains Fr. Ed Murphy, C.M., pastor. “We feed people every single day. If you are hungry or homeless, we are here to care for you – regardless of your circumstances. Our job is not to judge people, our job is to feed them.”

The parish draws people – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – from throughout the region to join together in prayer and service. Volunteers are encouraged to learn about and practice Vincentian spirituality, connecting acts of charity and mercy to an ever-growing love for Jesus.

“Our volunteers play a critical role in our outreach efforts,” says Laura Garett, development director. “They get to know those we serve on a personal level – forming relationships and offering love and support. This is Christianity in action.”

As the parish celebrates its 175th anniversary, members are more dedicated than ever to sustaining and growing core ministries. At a recent fundraiser, the parish raised more than $100,000 to provide expanded tutoring services for at-risk youth.

“We go back again and again to the original message of Jesus – serve the least among you. As long as we focus on this simple message, our ministry will continue to grow.”

– Fr. Ed Murphy, C.M., St. Vincent De Paul Parish, St. Louis

“We see the needs of those we serve continue to grow every day,” Laura explains. “Without the increased support of donors and volunteers, we would not be able to meet the demand for our services.”

Looking ahead, Fr. Murphy has encouraged the parish to remain intensely focused on what is at the heart of the Christian life – seeing Jesus in the poor and vulnerable.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,”
Fr. Murphy says. “We go back again and again to the original message of Jesus – serve the least among you. As long as we focus on this simple message, our ministry will continue to grow.”

On Holy Ground

On Valentine’s Day, a group of 18 Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, four staff and a handful of community supporters gathered in prayer before embarking on our profound journey. We sang together, “We are on holy ground,” and began our pilgrimage to El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. We prepared to go where Vincent commissioned us to go – out to the margins.

After a 12-hour overnight bus ride, we reached our destination. Over the course of several days, we experienced immigration proceedings at a courthouse, heard a presentation from an advocacy agency providing legal aid, ate homemade tamales and listened to a crossing story in the home of a family who was separated for many years. We visited with Border Patrol agents and local educators, a mother who crossed to save her daughter’s life and a doctor providing medical care in Juarez free of cost. All the while as we drove through the cities, the tall border wall flanked us, running parallel to the Rio Grande River.

Of all the people we met with and places we went, the common occurrence was the pleading: from Rachel, working as a legal aid for immigration law at Las Americas, who told us to come back because they’re hiring; to Reuben Garcia, who wanted us to recognize the dignity of those traveling across the border and asked us to think about returning as Annunciation House volunteers.

We also heard from the Border Patrol agents, who were defending the need for their role and wanted to get across that they are good people too; and from Jorge, living alone in sanctuary, who simply wanted us to share his story in the hope that someone, somewhere, will hear it and know how to bring his wife and son back.

We do not travel to the border to complete service or to help those who live there. We travel to the border to encounter God’s beloved people and listen to their stories of struggle, perseverance and hope. We travel to share meals prepared by strong wisdom-keepers and to be reminded of the dignity of all persons – regardless of which side of which border we were born. And we are starkly reminded of the privilege we have to participate in this experience. In this pilgrimage, we are given the gift and opportunity to be vessels for stories of those who live on the border.

We travel to the border to encounter God’s beloved people and listen to their stories of struggle, perseverance and hope.

On Sunday evening, we boarded the bus. Having left behind our expectations and ignorance, we can now carry with us Christ, encountered in the most unlikely of places. We are tasked to build bridges of empathy and understanding within our communities. We remind ourselves and others that these, too, are our sisters and brothers, beloved children of God.