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.”

Deep Vincentian Roots

“Growing up, we attended the novena every Monday night at the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal,” Rita Esselman recalls. “Our faith and the Vincentian ‘way’ were central to our family life – I wanted to pass it on to our children.”

Born and raised in Perryville, Mo., Rita and her future husband, Eugene Esselman, knew Vincentian priests and brothers since their early childhood days. Eugene worked at the local newspaper and, in his free time, helped to publish the seminary paper, The DeAndrein. Rita was active in the parish and school, and worked as a full-time mother – instilling a solid prayer life and good Christian values in her children.

“The Vincentian priests and 
brothers made a wonderful
impression on our family and our community,” Eugene Esselman
 says. “In addition to the seminary,
 shrine and local parish, the
Vincentians founded a library at the school and a museum that was very popular.”

“The Vincentian priests and brothers made a wonderful impression on our family and our community.”

– Eugene Esselman

While they love reminiscing about their time in Perryville, the Esselmans still have a close connection to the Vincentians of the Western Province. Their son Tom, after attending St. Vincent School and The Cape, was ordained in 1981. Fr. Tom has been blessed with more than 35 years of priestly ministry and service.

“I remember when Tom came to us and said he thought he had a vocation to the priesthood,” says Eugene. “We were just delighted,” Rita adds. “It took some effort to get him ready to enter the seminary, but we were very excited and proud of him.”

Rita and Eugene thank God for their son, who has taught in seminaries, pursued advanced degrees, developed a distance-learning program for theology students and even moved to Kenya to serve as formation director for more than ten years. “His ministry is a great gift for our entire family.”

Fr. Tom Esselman, C.M., has played a central role in growing the Vincentian mission in Kenya and developing new programs for the seminarians studying at DePaul Centre in Nairobi. He continues to use his scholarly training and spiritual experience to shape the future pastors who will serve
in the Region of Kenya.

Eugene and Rita were married in 1951 by Fr. William McKinley, C.M., at St. Vincent Church in Perryville. The couple now live in Quincy, Il., and enjoy spending time with their eight children, twelve grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. They are faithful supporters of the Vincentians of the Western Province.

A Voice for the Voiceless

In 1988, Martin and Madeline White began attending Holy Trinity, a Vincentian parish in Dallas, Texas. The couple was immediately drawn to the Vincentian outreach
ministry that 
was central to 
parish life.

As a physician, Martin saw firsthand the overwhelming and pressing needs of many people in his local community.
 He began searching for ways to meet these needs outside of his medical practice. Promoting social justice and advocating for underserved populations became his passion.

“Madeline and I had such a wonderful life,” recalls Martin. “We wanted to find ways to share our gifts with those in need.” After retiring from active medical practice, Martin befriended Fr. Tom Stehlik, C.M., and Fr. Paul Sauerbier, C.M., who encouraged him to play a more active role in creating positive change for those without a voice in the community.

Martin began working with a group of parishioners to reach out to the Hispanic families in the area – some of whom were immigrants being victimized by landlords. Many did not speak English or know the culture.

“We love the work the Vincentians do throughout the Western United States. Right here in Dallas, they have made our neighborhood and community a better place to live.”

– Martin White

“We helped them with language skills and empowered them to be more confident in speaking to people and groups that might take advantage of them – their landlords, elected officials or whoever
was keeping them down.”

Over the 
years, the Whites became increasingly invested in supporting the work of the Vincentian priests and brothers. Their close family friend, Fr. Jack Cawley, C.M., inspired them with stories from his ministry in the Kenya mission and throughout province.

“We love the work the Vincentians do throughout the Western United States. Right here in Dallas, they have made our neighborhood and community a better place to live,” says Martin.

Martin and Madeline White have been married for 54 years and live in Dallas, near their four children and eleven grandchildren.

Blessed Frederic Ozanam – A Vincentian Family Man

Antoine-Frederic Ozanam was an ordinary guy with extraordinary talent who lived an ordinary life but loved in extraordinary ways. St. Vincent de Paul was Frederic’s inspiration, exemplar, patron and star.

Frederic was born in Milan, Italy, on April 23, 1813, but he was thoroughly French. He grew up in Lyon, France, was homeschooled until nine, and then attended the Royal Academy of Lyon. There Frederic started to write prose and poetry on a wide range of subjects.

Frederic suffered a crisis of faith between 15 and 16 years old. The doubts disappeared when he dedicated his life to the service of truth – a promise he kept until death.

At the request of his father, Frederic enrolled in the School of Law at the Sorbonne in Paris. There he became an apologist as he defended his faith relentlessly in the university lecture hall and through his writing. He joined a study-discussion group on Saturdays, called the Conference of History. He found that this intellectual activity resulted in a lot of talking, but no real action.

On his twentieth birthday, in 1833, Frederic and five other college students and friends met in the Catholic newspaper offices of owner and editor Mr. Emmanuel Bailly. They were tired of all of the talk when they saw the poor begging and living on the streets of Paris.

Frederic said, “Let’s do what Jesus did… let’s go to the poor.” They agreed and organized a Conference of Charity, which later became the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Bailly was chosen as its first president.

The Society kept expanding in France and throughout the world, now with active communities in 152 countries.

Frederic received a Doctorate of Law, followed by a Doctorate of Letters, and worked as a professor of foreign literature at the Sorbonne in Paris where he had studied.

On June 23, 1841, Frederic married the love of his life, Amelie Soulacroix, in Lyon. On July 24, 1845, Amelie gave birth to their daughter, Marie, the joy of her father. Their marriage was incredible. He remembered his wife on the twenty-third of every month with a gift of flowers and often a poem expressing his love for her.

Frederic continued his academic work and ministering to the poor. As a confrere of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, he made home visits to the poorest of the poor. Although an intellectual genius, he was devoted to the poor and illiterate, with whom he spent countless hours. The Society kept expanding in France and throughout the world, now with active communities in 152 countries.

As his health deteriorated, he resigned from the university. After many attempts for a cure, Frederic died from Bright’s disease in Marseille, France, on September 8, 1853, the Feast of the Birthday of Mary. He was 40 years old.


Companions on a Journey

“We see ourselves as companions on a journey with those we serve,” says Mary Frances Jaster, co-director of Colorado Vincentian Volunteers. “Our volunteers learn to see the face of Jesus in everyone they meet, especially the poor and the marginalized.”

This Vincentian ministry, established 30 years ago, provides faith formation opportunities to young adults from across the country, while they serve in the Denver area. The Colorado Vincentian Volunteers has received generous support from the Western Province in the form of grants, donations and, above all, the selfless service of priests and brothers. Since the beginning, the Vincentian charism has been at the heart of the program.

“Fr. Tom Nelson, C.M., served as our first chaplain. He, along with Fr. Paul Golden, C.M., and many other priests and brothers have infused our mission with a distinctly Vincentian spirituality,” explains Bill Jaster, co-director of CVV. “They taught us to ask, ‘what must be done?’– to consider where the need is greatest and to invest our energy, time and resources.”

“We find that young people are hungry for a real transformation… Deep down, they are searching for the values that come from serving and from being in relationship with people who are economically poor.”

– Mary Frances Jaster

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.

“We find that young people are hungry for a real transformation,” Mary Frances explains. “Deep down, they are searching for the values that come from serving and from being in relationship with people who are economically poor.”

Bill and Mary Frances emphasize that participants learn humility, simplicity, gentleness, mortification and zeal – the five Vincentian virtues – through their interactions with those in need.

“By the end of the year, volunteers realize that they have something important to offer – that they are doing something to make a difference in the lives of others. Even more, they learn that they have gifts from God and a calling to share those gifts with others.”

200 Years of Service: Vincentians, Then and Now

When the Vincentians first arrived in the United States in 1816, the nation consisted of only 19 states and Abraham Lincoln was only seven years old. Within a year of their arrival, the Vincentian pioneers had made their way to Bardstown, Kentucky, and by 1818 they had established their home in Perryville, Missouri.

A small country town on the American frontier, Perryville proved to be a spiritual hub for the Vincentians in the United States. Before long, a vibrant ministry to the poor took root from coast to coast and from border to border. Vincentian priests and brothers established colleges and universities, led parishes, built shrines, taught in seminaries and served the poor in urban centers and rural towns.

We give our joyful thanksgiving to God for all the graces he has showered on us for two centuries of service in America!

Today, the Vincentians are celebrating our 200th anniversary in America. Over the years, the priests and brothers, together with our lay collaborators, have created a distinctive spiritual way of life that can still be witnessed in parishes, shrines and schools, in communities and through devotions, in their preaching and teaching.

We give our joyful thanksgiving to God for all the graces he has showered on us for two centuries of service in America! We thank our faithful friends and donors for their prayers and support of our ministries, as we look ahead to our third century in America. Please check back often for the latest news and upcoming events for the celebration of our 200th anniversary in the United States.

Association of the Miraculous Medal Celebrates 100th Anniversary

In 2018, the Association of the Miraculous Medal will celebrate its 100th anniversary. With more than 300,000 members currently and 36,000 prayer requests each year, the Association is a powerful witness of faithful dedication.

“Many of the people we serve are searching for Christ’s mercy – for themselves and for their loved ones. They begin by sending prayer requests for others, but soon realize that they’ve been transformed as well,” says Don Fulford, Director of the Association of the Miraculous Medal.

Since its founding in 1918, the ministry has encouraged countless people to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ through Mary. The Association seeks to “unite people in prayer and help them grow in holiness while supporting the apostolic mission and charitable work of Vincentian priests and brothers.”

Learn more about the 100-year history of the Association of the Miraculous Medal and participate in their prayer ministry.