College Students Walk with the Poor

Your support of the Walking with the Poor campaign provides grants to help young people understand the history and charism of the Vincentians. The internship program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, TX, is one example of your generosity at work. The program provides college students opportunities to either serve at Vincentian parish or minister to immigrant families at a local bus station. Click below to watch a brief video about this important ministry. Thank you for your support!

Understanding Immigration

At a recent event in Denver, more than 150 members of the Vincentian Family gathered to discuss the Catholic social teachings regarding immigration issues in
the United States. Participants were committed to coming away with
 a shared vision and collective response to the challenges many immigrants face in their journeys.

The theme for the event was Challenging Voices. Healing Voices. How Can We Be Silent? Participants were encouraged to meet people from various branches of the Vincentian Family, to learn from one another and hear different perspectives.

Fr. Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., 
the delegate from the Congregation
of the Mission to the United Nations, offered an insightful overview of many of the challenges and opportunities associated with immigration. His remarks focused on increased globalization, cultural and ethnic diversity in the United States, Catholic social teaching which affirms the right for any human being to migrate, separation of immigrant children
and parents, and a nation’s right to regulate borders.

“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all, for being more.”

– Pope Francis

The focus on these challenges created the climate for offering a healing presence for each participant to consider. How can we as Vincentians respond to the need for healing – healing for those who have migrated here from other countries yet have no rights, as well as healing for our nation? Do we see the person without documentation in our neighborhood and offer hospitality? Do we pray for healing for individuals who come to the United States for protection and find themselves victims of human trafficking? Do we offer sanctuary in our churches, city, state? How can we be silent?

Atim Otii, Immigration Lawyer with Lutheran Family Services, shared with the participants the process for citizenship that is in place here in the United States. How do we use our voice to share with others in our own communities about the injustices? How do we vote, considering those who live here without documentation? How do we use our voice in Congress, writing to our representatives or otherwise publicly sharing our views and what we have learned?

As we ended the evening, each member chose an action step and
 a statement of something they learned to take to their branch of the Vincentian Family. Let us voice our own concerns; let us speak with our voting; let us write
 letters; let us learn more; let us enter into a relationship with those who are different from ourselves.

New Vincentian Pastor Assigned to Anchorage’s Co-Cathedral

Fr. Henry Grodecki, C.M., has joined the international missions as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in Anchorage, AK. He recently was recognized for his pastoral leadership and commitment to the local immigrant population. The Catholic Anchor, the local diocesan publication, featured an article about him. Read the article here.

Reaching Out to Younger Catholics

Catholic Home Study, an evangelization ministry of the Western Province, is always pursuing new ways of spreading the Gospel in the digital age. In addition to Catholic faith formation resources available free on their website, the ministry recently launched a new prayer app and podcast.

“We are looking for transformational ways to reach out to younger people and invite them to embrace and live their faith,” explains Fr. Ron Hoye, C.M., Director of Catholic Home Study. “I teach people that the more time you give to God, the more God expands in your life.”

The new app, God Moments, is centered around the idea of encouraging people to take time – even a few minutes – for daily prayer. “We try to overcome people’s concerns that they don’t have time for prayer or that they are unsure of how to pray,” Fr. Ron suggests. “The God Moments app invites you, through a notification on your phone, to take a moment to pray three times a day – to give God your time and attention.”

 “We are looking for transformational ways to reach out to younger people and invite them to embrace and live their faith.”

  – Fr. Ron Hoye, C.M.

The app has already attracted more than 5,000 active users. “We are tapping into people’s natural desire to connect with God and cut through the noise and busyness of life,” says Fr. Ron. “Once your spirit gets into a habit, you start taking those moments naturally.”

In addition to the app, Catholic Home Study has launched God Minute – a prayer podcast based on a simplified version of the Divine Office of the Church. “Many good people – myself included – struggle to give God time in prayer,” says Fr. Ron. We’re able to meet this need, this desire, to draw people into the holy while still being immersed in their lives.”

You may download the God Moments app at the Apple iTunes Store or wherever you get your apps.

Embracing the Vincentian Mission

Jerry Girsch and his wife Linda first learned about the Vincentians when Jerry was invited to join the board of trustees at DePaul University. As they drew closer to the Vincentians at DePaul – the largest Catholic university in the country – they knew quickly that they wanted to play a role in supporting the mission.

“We liked that the university offered opportunities for first-generation college students and families in need,” Jerry recalls. “Linda and I did not come from wealthy families and our parents did not have college degrees, so the idea of helping students in need struck a chord with us.”

“We are so grateful for all the blessings in our life. The ability to share those with others through the work of the Vincentians is a great privilege for us.”

– Linda Girsch

The more Jerry and Linda learned
 about the charism and works of the
 Vincentians, the more they wanted 
to help. After being involved at
 DePaul for several years, the couple 
joined others from the Vincentian
Family on a trip to Paris to learn
about the life of St. Vincent. They
visited historic sites, experienced
Vincentian spirituality and formed friendships with others working to promote the mission.

“When we see the work that Vincentians are doing all over the world, we have complete confidence that our gifts will help the poor in a meaningful way,” Linda explains. “The Vincentians take their mission seriously, and we know the funds are being put to good use.”

Jerry and Linda love that education is a top priority for the Vincentians. Early in their marriage, the couple was involved with a mentoring program for inner city youth. They saw that, through education, entire families can be lifted out of poverty. Their support of DePaul University has allowed them to continue offering opportunities to people in need through education.

“We were concerned that a lot of students do not graduate in four years,” Jerry explains. “Many of these students have family issues, health concerns, financial issues. We helped the university find ways to provide financing for these students in need beyond their first four years at DePaul.”

Jerry and Linda love the humility and zeal for the Gospel that they have seen in so many of the priests and brothers they have met over the years. “Every time I’m in their presence, I sense the love they have for our Lord,” Linda says. “They are a joy-filled group of men.”

“When Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., first started as president of DePaul University – his first day on the job – he attended Jerry’s dad’s funeral and concelebrated the memorial Mass,” Linda recalls. “It was so touching to us that he would take such an interest in our family.”

More recently, the couple has extended support for the retired priests and brothers at the Apostle of Charity Residence in Perryville, MO. After a trip to see the facility and meet with retired confreres, they decided to help in whatever ways they could.

“When you understand what the Vincentians are all about, it is an easy thing to embrace,” Jerry explains. “For anyone who has been blessed like we have with family, friends, health, financial stability, it is easy to get behind the Vincentian mission of helping the poor.”

Jerry and Linda live in Chicago, where they are active 
in their parish and support other charitable initiatives. They have five children and ten grandchildren. “We are so grateful for all the blessings in our life,” says Linda. “The ability to share those with others through the work of the Vincentians is a great privilege for us.”

A Deep Love for the Poor

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
 – Mt. 25: 35

“This Gospel quote describes how the Vincentians live every day,” says Bob Shadduck, long- time supporter of the Western Province. “The priests and brothers recognize people as individuals and share whatever they have with those they serve.”

Bob and Catherine Shadduck first encountered Vincentians at Padre Serra Parish in Camarillo, California. Fr. Kevin McCracken,
C.M., was working as a professor at the nearby seminary and served in the parish on weekends.

“We immediately clicked with
Fr. Kevin,” says Catherine.
“He was teaching liturgy at the seminary and his deep love for the Mass and sacraments stood out to Bob and me.”

“We fondly recall many conversations about the liturgy with Fr. Kevin,” adds Bob. “I was helping to train altar servers in our parish and serving as Master of Ceremonies for the archdiocese at the time, so the love of the Catholic liturgy brought us together.”

While a mutual love of the liturgy helped shape the Shadducks’ early connection with the Vincentians, it was their concern for the poor that cemented it. When they learned about the Vincentian work taking place in East Africa, they knew for certain that they wanted to get involved. For many years, the couple had sponsored a young man in Kenya.

“The Catholic Church is growing faster in Africa
than in many other places in the world,” explains Bob. “The Vincentians are on the leading edge of sharing the Gospel in Africa, where people are hungry for the message of Jesus Christ.”

“The priests and brothers have little to work with,” Catherine adds. “They walk with those they serve and do whatever they can to help. People’s lives are simple – they don’t demand a lot, but there is great need. That is always the challenge – to recognize the need and meet it.”

For the Shadducks, the missionary spirit of the Vincentians is apparent in the pastoral and service work they have undertaken today. “They are willing to travel to the edges of the earth to reach out to those on the peripheries,” says Bob. “They endure a lot of hardship and make many sacrifices to carry out their Vincentian ministry.”

“We also love how they interact with each other,” Catherine suggests. “When the priests and brothers come together, you witness the strong sense of community, a brotherhood that is a critical aspect of how they sustain each other in their work.”

Bob and Catherine Shadduck live in Camarillo, California, near their three children: Anthony, a jazz bassist and professional musician; Claire, an artist and educator;
and Sarah, a Math scholar working at Ventura Naval Base. The couple enjoys serving in their parish, gardening, traveling and cooking with their children, nieces and nephews.

Your Generosity Helps Our Beloved Senior Priests

Your support means so much to those we serve, including our Vincentian priests and brothers living in retirement. Your prayers and generosity help provide quality health services and 24-hour care in a community setting at the Apostle of Charity Residence in Perryville, Missouri. For more than five decades, these Vincentian priests have dedicated their lives to provide for the poor they served. Now, you help provide for them in their senior years through your generous support. Thank you!

Fr. Tom Hinni, C.M.

Fr. Tom Hinni, C.M., was ordained a Vincentian priest in 1963. During his years of active ministry, he taught high school, served as the first full-time campus minster at DePaul University, worked in parishes from 1973 to 2005 and was superior at Lazarist Residence in St. Louis until his retirement in 2011.

“Even in retirement, I serve as a confessor at St. Vincent Parish… I am still active in my ministry even here at the Apostle of Charity Residence.”

“Look at the variety of ministries Vincentians take on… we are all willing to serve – we are willing to say ‘yes’ to the needs of those we serve. I am so impressed by the younger Vincentians’ passion for the poor. They have a passionate love for those who are in need.”

 “Every night, about a half hour after supper, 10 or 12 guys meet in the T.V. room to pray the rosary – it’s really neat.”


 

Fr. George Weber, C.M.

Fr. George Weber, C.M., was ordained in 1954. He worked as an educator until 1980, when he devoted himself to full-time parish work. Fr. George served for 9 years as provincial of the Western Province before returning to parish work. He now resides at the Apostle of Charity Residence in Perryville.

“I love what is called the Vincentian Family… they are focused more on the concerns of the poor and all aspects of caring for the poor. They have influenced the priests, and what we do – they have pushed us to get back to our main charism of caring for those in need.”

 “The Vincentian Family has really brought us back to who we should be. As Vincentian priests decline, we need lay people to take on the mission more and more. This place used to be a booming seminary, now it’s a booming retirement center.”

 “I think our role is to support the laity who are involved in serving the poor… We should be of service to them and help them in any way we can. That could be a great thing we can do moving forward.”


 

Fr. Walter Housey, C.M.

Fr. Walter Housey, C.M., was ordained a priest in 1956. He taught in high school seminaries, served as a pastor in several parishes throughout the Western Province and traveled the country preaching and leading parish missions.

 “I enjoyed the parish work most. I met so many people in need – financial, emotional or spiritual – whatever it might be. You do the best you can within the context of your ministry to meet their needs.”

 “I enjoy living at the Apostle of Charity Residence – it’s a good place to be. I am with a lot of people I’ve known for many years, and that makes a big difference. They take good care of us here.”

 “The Vincentian charism is continued here at the Apostle of Charity Residence. You are together with people who are your dear friends, but who you haven’t seen for a while. We can reconnect with after years of active ministry.”


 

Fr. Charles Shelby, C.M.

Fr. Charles Shelby, C.M., was ordained in 1968. His most notable service to the Western Province was his leadership of the Association of the Miraculous Medal for more than 25 years. During his tenure, the Association grew in extraordinary ways, reaching more than 200,000 members each year.

“One of the great joys of my life is working with the people who are part of the Association of the Miraculous Medal whose lives have been touched by Our Lady.”

 “The Association of the Miraculous Medal is a spiritual center of devotion to Our Lady in the United States. The Association is an important way to reach out to so many people throughout the world. I loved being a part of that spiritual work.”


 

Fr. Jack Shine, C.M.

Fr. Jack Shine, C.M., was born in Kansas City, where he attended high school and a year of college before entering the novitiate in Perryville. Fr. Jack spent his years of active ministry promoting vocations, preaching and serving in parishes, most recently in a Vincentian parish in Los Angeles.

“Being at Apostle of Charity Residence is God’s gift to us – the icing on the cake.”

 “The people in parishes mean so much to me – the people save you, when you see their faith in action. You learn that every one of us is poor in some way. Who are the poor? People who need God.”

 “I don’t think I’m unique – I learned to care for the poor from masters in the Vincentian community, the priests working in the field. They taught me how to walk with those in need.”


 

Fr. Ron Ramson, C.M.

Fr. Ron Ramson was ordained in 1959. He earned an advanced degree in spirituality, served as the last Vincentian rector of Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, helped develop the formation program in Kenya, and most recently served as spiritual director at Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas. Today, he is living in retirement at the Apostle of Charity Residence. He still regularly hears confessions for diocesan seminarians and assists at St. Vincent Parish in Perryville.

“I’ve been blessed, I’ve really been blessed. I’ve done just about everything you can do as a priest. That has really helped me in my formation work with the young seminarians studying for the priesthood.”

 “We started a Young Vincentian group in the worst high schools and slums in Kenya – the young people loved learning about Vincentian spirituality and the five Vincentian virtues. They lived mortification every day – they had nothing… they were so poor – no electricity, no water.”

 “People will teach you what priesthood is. You think you know what it is, but if you’re open the people will teach you what priesthood should be.”

 

Vincentian Lay Missioners on Fire with the Love of Jesus

Nearly 15 years ago, a wave of immigrants, mostly from Mexico, moved north from Texas through Oklahoma to Arkansas, where many of them settled. Fr. Tom Stelik, C.M., and the other priests serving at St. Anne Parish in North Little Rock, recognized that the new immigrant community was underserved and in need of assistance. The Vincentians set about finding new, innovative ways to serve and minister to the Hispanic population in the region.

“The Church in North Little Rock is thriving with the tireless energy and deep faith of the Vincentian lay missioners. They are on fire with the love of Jesus.”

The Lay Missioner Program, first established in Coachella, CA, proved to be a perfect fit for the needs of the people of North Little Rock. The program begins with an intense retreat experience that encourages people to encounter the radical love of Jesus. Once a person becomes a Vincentian lay missioner, they make a commitment for the rest of their lives to continue to grow in their relationship
with Christ.

“The Vincentians saw the discrimination that was taking place and the pressing needs of the people,” says Guillermo Bruzatori, currently the Lay Missioner director. “They wanted to call these people back to the Church – to re-evangelize the immigrant community. The Lay Missioner Program helped them do just that.”

At the time, it was not easy to encourage Latino people to come to the Church and inspire them to embrace a life of faith. Poverty, addiction, illness and unemployment plagued many in the community. The lay mission retreat and the vibrant life of Vincentian parishes served as an alternative to the hardship and loneliness that many immigrants experienced as they struggled to
begin their lives
in the United States.

“Many of the men are dealing with alcohol and drugs,” Fr. Toshio Sato, C.M., commented. “Often, they are hard on their wives and families. During the retreat, these same men encounter God’s tenderness and love in their own lives and they are transformed!”

The program has grown significantly since 2003. Now, there are more than 1600 missioners in 12 parishes throughout Arkansas. After the initial retreat, the missioners take on active leadership roles in their parishes, encouraging even more people to get involved.

“Today, people come from all over the region to participate in the retreats and to share the mercy
of God,” Guillermo explains. “After the first retreat experience, they continue to participate actively in a small faith group every week and invite others to do the same.”

Fr. Arial Ramirez, C.M., who assists in running the program, sees the Lay Missioner Program in North Little Rock as deeply rooted in the Vincentian charism. “We accompany the people we serve in a distinctively Vincentian way,”
he says. “We share with them the unique spirituality of St. Vincent and practice Vincentian missionary zeal in our lives.”

“Our goal is to evangelize Hispanic communities through the encounter with Jesus’ love,” Fr. Toshio explains. “We invite them to participate in the life of the Church and to serve joyfully. The Church in North Little Rock is thriving with the tireless energy and deep faith of the Vincentian lay missioners. They are on fire with the love of Jesus.”

Depaul International: Igniting Charity Like a Great Fire

An Interview with Mark McGreevy, OBE, Chief Group Executive, Depaul International
By Fr. J. Patrick Murphy, C.M.

What is Depaul International?

Depaul started as a partnership within the Vincentian Family. We develop that partnership through governance and our practical work on the ground. Our services for homeless are cradle-to-grave, including mother-and-baby service in Ukraine, caring for street drinkers in Ireland, teens on the streets in the U.K., people striving to find their way back into society in the U.S., and hospice care for elderly homeless in Slovakia. We intend to follow Vincent sending us to the poorest of the poor.

We have a partnership with DePaul University through the Institute on Global Homelessness, developing leaders and providing advocacy on a global scale. We work with the United Nations around the definition and measurement of homelessness globally. We piloted the first training course for 12 aspiring leaders from developing countries to grow networks and services in their countries. Finally, we set ambitious goals in the Institute on Global Homelessness to end street homelessness in 150 cities around the world by 2030. That year coincides with the end of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Our aim is to bring homelessness to the agenda for whatever replaces the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030.

More than anything though, we are rooted in Vincentian values. In addition to serving the poorest of the poor, we are about action, not words – taking risks for poor people and finding new ways of doing things. We are about innovation to infinity.

How do you connect with the Vincentian family?

Depaul is obliged—by statute—at the international and national levels to invite members of the Vincentian Family to be trustees of our boards of governance. We work closely with the Family on the ground. For instance, in Ukraine and Slovakia, Daughters of Charity are nurses looking after homeless people. In Ireland, Daughters and Vincentian priests visit our projects as chaplains. We also manage assets. In St. Louis, we manage two buildings to house poor people in buildings that had housed seminarians.

In the FamVin Homeless Alliance, we work as the umbrella group that catches projects within the Vincentian Family—street homelessness, refugees and internally-displaced people. It includes working with slum dwellers around the world. We are mapping the work of the Family and creating a plan to grow capacity and lobby on behalf of poor people.

What are the distinctive features of DePaul?

The first thing I say to new staff is, “You’re not part of a 27-year-old charity, you are part of a 400-year tradition.” The heart of everything good at Depaul is the values inherited from our Vincentian tradition. We offer the Vincentian Values Course, now in it’s twelfth year. Every year, 13 to 15 staff members from around the world go to Paris, where we walk the Vincentian Heritage Trail. We follow-up by spending several days teaching leadership modeled on Vincentian values, including leader as servant , visionary, catalyst and mentor. We take the course to the U.S. and Ukraine. We choose to be strongly Vincentian.

What has Depaul accomplished so far?

If we could pick some key facts, we have grown from a very small charity in North London supported by Princess Diana in 1990, serving around 40 homeless young people. Today, we are a charity working in seven countries—the U.K., Ireland, the U.S., Slovakia, France, Ukraine and Croatia—working with more than 22,000 homeless people. In size and scale, Depaul International has grown to over 800 full-time staff and 1,500 volunteers.

What is next for Depaul?

We just opened a charity in Croatia. Currently, there are three or four other countries under consideration. Most interesting, perhaps, is the founding of the FamVin Homeless Alliance. How do we bring together all the projects across the Vincentian Family under one umbrella as a single movement?

How does the Congregation of the Mission fit with Depaul?

The Congregation has been tremendous, especially in the United States. They provided office headquarters to start up in Philadelphia, our existing headquarters at DePaul University. They serve on our boards of governance. They help deliver values training globally. For what the Congregation has already given, we are grateful.

What is your dream?

My dream for the Vincentian Family is that we can help it do two things. We can help it develop its charism of charity in parts of the world where it is not currently evident. We can do like we did in Ukraine—reach into a country where civil society is being destroyed under communism to build a sense of charity and working together for the good of poor people. Many parts of the world suffer from the absence of charity. I want to grow with the Vincentian Family in the poorest parts of the world.

The Vincentian Family is already a significant player as a global leader in delivering charity across the world. My ambition, if you will, is that we find a repository to pool our experience, to reflect on it, and then to act within the big institutions of power around the world like the U.N., the E.U., and the World Bank.

Why do you do this?

Because I am a fool… I was a seminarian in college and theology. I left and came to London to teach. Cardinal Basil Hume encouraged me to volunteer. I did—at a place called the Passage–where I first encountered the Vincentian charism, working with homeless with the Daughters of Charity. I thought their idea of action as a form of spirituality was something missing in my life. I found my vocation was working with the homeless and it continues to get me up every morning even today.

Who is Vincent for you personally?

Vincent is my hero, my inspiration, a man of deep vocation, a visionary, a man who was practical and somebody who had a spirituality based on action. In truth, I think that is the main attraction for me—is that idea of action, doing things for people, especially for poor people. There is a story told by an old monsignor. There are two ways people come to God. The first is that people are very spiritual and come to God reflecting on that spirituality and turn it into action. The other kind are people who feel heavily called to action and on refection become spiritual. I think I fall into that latter category as somebody who needs things to do, then thinks about them—that is how God becomes present to me.

One more thing…

All we ever do within the Vincentian Family is carry the bar, carry it for our lap around, then we have to hand it over. All of us have to reflect on that business of handing it over. It is all about legacy—the one crucial thing: how will our Vincentian charism be present and available to the next generation?

A Journey of Joy

In the back-seat of a small Toyota SUV, Fr. Paul Golden, C.M., rode white-knuckled to visit a Vincentian parish outside Nairobi. “Driving in Kenya is a nightmare,” Fr. Paul chuckled. “The roads are rough and, in the Nairobi area, there is so much traffic – cars, trucks, motorbikes, taxis and bicycles. It’s quite an experience!”

But Fr. Paul did not travel more than 6,000 miles from Denver, Colorado, to Kenya, East Africa, to survey road conditions. He was there to visit Vincentian parishes and outstations, and to lead strategic planning meetings for the growing Region of Kenya.

The program attracts college students and young adults, ready for a life of community, prayer and service. Participants serve for one year in a variety of agencies, ministries and outreach settings. For many, the CVV program challenges them to discover what God is asking of them.

“Our mission in Kenya is vibrant,” Fr. Paul explains. “We are ordaining many priests, educating and training many seminarians, and more men enter formation every year.”

After a 20-kilometer trek from Nairobi to Thigio, Fr. Paul visited parishioners, volunteers, the Daughters of Charity and others at Holy Cross Parish. Fr. Nicholas Kaloki, C.M., the pastor, drove him down the Rift Valley to visit one of the mission churches of the parish. It is a large, half-finished structure made with simple cement blocks. When more funds are available, the church will be completed.

“The Vincentians and Daughters are doing incredible work with the local poor and sick.” – Fr. Paul Golden, C.M.

“The Vincentians and Daughters are doing incredible work with the local poor and sick,” Fr. Paul says. “I was amazed by the joyful spirit of everyone I encountered – the teachers and cooks in the nursery school, patients in hospice care, the elderly, handicapped children and others who come for a hot meal.”

On another excursion, Fr. Paul visited a parish in Katali on the west side of Kenya. There he experienced a community on fire with faith in Jesus. “Mass takes hours and is filled with singing, dancing, preaching and prayer,” Fr. Paul recalls. “The liturgy is a beautiful expression of joy for Christians and non-Christians alike.”

After Mass, Fr. Paul was greeted by hundreds of people walking by as they returned to their homes. “Everyone was so welcoming and their faith is vibrant,” says Fr. Paul. “You cannot sing the way they do without really believing in Jesus deep in your heart.”

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