St. Vincent de Paul was filled with a passion to meet the material and spiritual needs of persons who were poor. With a talent for organizing others who shared his passion, he began a group of priests and Brothers—the Congregation of the Mission—for the evangelization of the poor and the formation of the clergy.
That Vincentian charism, celebrated annually during the liturgical year on January 25—the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle—was highlighted in a Foundation Day liturgy that marked the 406th anniversary of the founding of the Vincentian charism.
The principal celebrant and homilist, Rev. Aidan R. Rooney, C.M., M.Div., M.Th. ’78NDC, Executive Vice President for Mission, spoke to the congregants assembled in St. Thomas More Church and contrasted the age-old Vincentian question: “What must be done?” with the scripture reading for the day describing the conversion of St. Paul.
In his early life, Paul, known then as Saul, was a zealous persecutor of Jesus’ first followers. His conversion, described in the Acts of the Apostles, took place on the way to Damascus, where Saul was headed to arrest several disciples of Jesus. Struck to the ground by a divine light, he heard the voice of Christ calling on him and saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” This vision temporarily blinded Saul, who regained his sight only when he was baptized by Ananias in Damascus.
“Regain your sight and what must be done? Life presents us with many questions,” observed Fr. Rooney. “On this, his day of conversion and foundation, how are you going to answer those questions?”
Immediately following the liturgy, a repast was held where Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., President; several Vincentian priests; students; and employees mingled over sandwiches and enjoyed fellowship. The attendees reflected on how St. John’s mission, history, and identity are deeply linked to Vincentian values. The gathering was a sampling of the ever-growing network of people who provide spirituality and service on campus and beyond, thus enabling the founding Vincentian mission to endure.