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.”

An Unforgettable Journey

This summer, 13 Vincentian volunteers traveled more than 7,000 miles to the Vincentian region in Kenya, East Africa, to serve the poor. For months leading up to the trip, the volunteers raised funds to cover the cost of their travel and to provide supplies to the people they would meet.

In June, the group made the long journey to Nairobi, and settled in at DePaul Centre, a Vincentian house of formation that served as the group’s headquarters. During the school year, the facility houses seminarians studying for the priesthood. The center offered the volunteers a comfortable place to meet, sleep and come together for meals and prayer during their visit.

From their headquarters in Nairobi, the Vincentian missioners traveled up to 27 miles each day to parishes, schools, outstations and a nearby slum to meet the pressing needs of the poor. Early in the trip, the group traveled to Nderu village in Thigio to serve a family in need. When they arrived, they learned that the grandmother was blind, the daughter was HIV positive and several generations lived together in a small shack. The volunteers spent the day building a base for a new cement floor and painting the exterior of the structure. They also provided funds for the family to purchase furniture for their home.

“In their work, the Vincentian missioners witnessed the great poverty, and remarkable joy, found on the streets of Nairobi and the other towns they visited.”

The volunteers also ventured into the Kibera Slum to work at St. Vincent’s Rescue Center. They painted the facility inside and out. Later in the week, the missioners helped paint DePaul Primary School in Kamulu and delivered much-needed supplies and furniture for the upcoming school year.

In their work, the Vincentian missioners witnessed the great poverty, and remarkable joy, found on the streets of Nairobi and the other towns they visited. Many people in Kenya struggle every day just to survive. For the volunteers, however, it is not the desperate living conditions that stand out most. Despite the suffering, people there are full of gratitude, hospitality and joy. The spirit of St. Vincent is alive in Kenya, and the Vincentian volunteers contributed to that spirit through their prayers, sacrifices and selfless service.

A Joyful and Generous Response

This year, we invited our friends, benefactors and lay collaborators to join in celebrating 200 years of Vincentian service and the start of a third century
of faith. The response was overwhelming! Dedicated people from throughout the United States have offered their prayers and financial gifts to enliven and expand our mission – the mission of St. Vincent – to evangelize the poor.

This year, your gifts touched the lives of those we serve by helping to:

  • Provide direct service to the poor in the United States
  • Establish the Welcome the Stranger program in Kenya
  • Enable care to our senior Vincentian priests and brothers
  • Educate and form priests, brothers and seminarians

Your generosity is a blessing multiplied many times over to those it reaches. As we look back on the many ways you strengthened our charism this year,
we offer our heartfelt gratitude for your ongoing support of Vincentian priests and brothers and those served.

Click here to view the 2018 Province Report.









Caring for the Land for 200 Years

For 200 years, Vincentian brothers have farmed the land and taken care of the buildings at St. Mary’s of the Barrens in Perryville, Missouri. In the early years, they provided fresh produce, dairy, beef and pork to Vincentian seminaries throughout the region. This year, the farm will be winding down its operations. The last of the cattle herd will be sold and just enough equipment will be kept to maintain the pastureland.

Fr. Ray Van Dorpe, C.M., recently acknowledged the farm brothers’ efforts and the work of so many dedicated Vincentians before them who were instrumental in sustaining the community’s life in Perryville.

“Our Vincentian brothers are known for a wide variety of skills,” Fr. Ray explains. “They give themselves entirely to their work for God’s glory and the spread of His Gospel. The farm in Perryville is a perfect example of their selfless service.”

Since the earliest days in the United States, Vincentian brothers have played a central role in supporting the life and ministry of the Vincentian community. They take on a diversity of tasks and responsibilities, in service to the mission of St. Vincent. Brother Martin Blanka, C.M., was the first brother to come to the Barrens from Italy in the early 19th century.
He served as a cook, tailor, carpenter and blacksmith, and established
the farm in Perryville.

Many early Vincentian brothers are known for their unique contributions to the Church in America. One famous example is Brother Angelo Oliva, C.M., a talented sculptor and stonemason. He helped build the Church of the Assumption in Perryville and the now-historic Old Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri.

Since the earliest days in the United States, Vincentian brothers have played a central role in supporting the life and ministry of the Vincentian community.

In a letter to another Vincentian priest, Bishop Rosati highlighted the great benefit of having Brother Angelo and the other brothers participate in the life of the Church in America. He wrote: “Brother Oliva is a treasure in every respect; he has won the esteem of all those whom he knew at New Orleans, and here at the Barrens, all of the community” (Spring 1989, Notable Vincentians (3): Brother Angelo Oliva, C.M.; John E. Rybolt, C.M., Ph.D.).

As the farm in Perryville winds down, we acknowledge with gratitude the legacy of the current farm brothers – John Magogna, C.M., Richard Hermann, C.M., and Harvey Goertz, C.M. – and all those throughout the years who have served humbly in the spirit of St. Vincent.

Deep Marks of Jesus’ Unconditional Love

My heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness and joy for this ‘gift from heaven,’ allowing the Vincentian Family to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian charism. This charism has left such deep marks of Jesus’ unconditional love on the world throughout the last 400 years and continues to do so today!”

These words of Fr. Tomaz Mavric, Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, at the opening of the worldwide celebration, reflect the sentiments of the Vincentians in the United States who celebrate 200 years of service in this country.

The Vincentians first sent missionaries to the United States in 1816 and established their motherhouse and seminary in Perryville, MO, the following year. The arrival of these first Vincentians in the U.S. was the beginning of a historic adventure that would see their ministry to the poor take root from coast to coast and border to border. Their impact on the founding of the Catholic Church in America cannot be overstated.

The arrival of these first Vincentians in the U.S. was the beginning of a historic adventure that would see their ministry to the poor take root from coast to coast and border to border.

The Vincentians of the Western Province marked the anniversary with the successful completion of the Walking with
the Poor capital campaign to better serve the poor. We not only commemorate the founding of our charism in America, rooted in Perryville, MO, but we also celebrate the distinctive spiritual way of life created by the priests and brothers, together with our lay collaborators, in parishes, shrines and schools, 
in communities and through devotions, in preaching 
and in teaching.

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.