Mangogna family reflects on how the Vincentian spirit and ministry have changed their lives over the decades.
St. Louis native Tom Mangogna began his collegiate path in the direction of becoming a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He was taught by the Vincentians at Kenrick Seminary. Ultimately, God had other plans.
“But I got a good formation with the Vincentians,” the 86-year-old nonprofit executive says. He pursued a career in social work and raised his family in St. Louis. Not long after Tom left the seminary, his youngest brother John made a surprise announcement that he planned to become a Vincentian brother.
“He was a very bright kid, and everybody loved him,” Tom recalls. “Over the years, John became very committed to God, his Church, and his community; he spent 55 years managing the Vincentians’ farm in Perryville.”
As the need for that farm lessened, Fr. Pat McDevitt, C.M., saw an opportunity to grow the Vincentians’ agricultural ministry in Kenya. But Brother John was too ill to travel there to assist.
After Brother John’s passing two years ago, Fr. Pat invited Tom to come see the planned Kenyan farmland firsthand and help raise funds for its cultivation. In September, Tom, his daughter Danielle, and grandson Joe Shafer toured the new Mangogna Perryville Poultry Farm, named in memory of Brother John.
Both were deeply impressed by the Kenyan spirit of faith and joy amidst their poverty — as well as the Vincentians’ relentless commitment to the material and spiritual well-being of the poor in Nairobi.
“I fell in love with this beautiful country and the people there,” Danielle says. “Watching the Vincentians work, seeing their impact, was life-changing. I made a commitment to carry home with me the joy, gratitude, and being connected to other people in a way that can only come by serving. I plan to support the Western Province going forward.”
Tom adds, “My time with the Vincentians made them an important part of my life. Now having gone to Kenya, we feel like part of their family. I hold them in much esteem and affection and want to assist their ministries. They are all about helping people, the poor in particular; that’s their mission, and they do it well.”
Tom Mangogna serves as CEO of Magdala House in St. Louis, which serves disadvantaged neighbors by providing them withhousing stability and other resources to help them achieve their potential. Danielle Mangogna is an attorney with Orrice Herrington & Sutcliffe in St. Louis. Both look forward to seeing the Kenya farm become self-sustaining and realize its capacity to house 5,000 chickens and grow vegetables year-round.
Click HERE to support the Vincentians’ work in Kenya.