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On September 27 we celebrate the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, the patron saint of charitable societies and of the marginalized. Vincent’s compassion and dedicated service to the poor of 17th-century France were in many ways a call to service that has echoed through the centuries, inviting people of all ages to see Christ in the vulnerable and despised of society. The plight of the poor that drove Vincent’s heart to action continues to tug at the depths of our hearts today. The needs are endless, and can easily produce in us a sense of helplessness, as it did among Vincent’s own community members. How, then, can we faithfully serve Christ with peace and joy in the midst of challenges and uncertainties?
Over this past year I have been reflecting on how God has been with me, encouraging me to say “Yes” to the administrative role to revamp and recruit volunteers for the Vincentian Service Corps West Program. The unrelenting demands and responsibilities from this “Yes” led me to a pivotal moment, where I could choose to pursue my own ideas about persuading young adults to consider a year of service to the impoverished, or simply trust God to provide inspired young men and women to serve those in need and give me the graces to carry out this ministry. I chose to give my complete trust to Him, and have relied on His guidance from that moment on, reminding myself that since God led me to this ministry, he would do most of the work. God confirmed his call in the following months by sending us the support staff for the ministry, and in the fervor of the many young men and women who applied to serve during the 2019-2020 service year.
Today, as it was at the dawning of Christianity, the response to Christ’s invitation to discipleship demands from us total trust in God’s guidance and Divine Providence, just as it did for Vincent. In A Short Life of St. Vincent de Paul by Luigi Mezzadri, the author writes of an instance near the end of Vincent’s life where the treasurer of his community informed him that they had run out of money to buy bread to feed the thousands of emaciated refugees pouring into Paris from various war zones. “That’s good news,” Vincent replied. “Now we can show we trust in God.” Within a week, money came in to assist their cause. (Praying with Vincent de Paul, p. 46). This story gives me comfort, and deepens my trust in God. It also prepares me for the challenges I might encounter in the future. God is always with us, even when we do not sense his presence. And God continues to inspire people of all ages to collaborate in his healing ministry, tending to those in need.
There is so much that I am grateful for, and as I write this reflection to share with you, I thank God for your prayers and generous contributions of time and financial support that are helping to build the legacy and mission of Vincentian Service Corps West. I thank God for the privilege of serving in this sacred ministry of accompaniment and service.
May Vincent’s legacy lead us to a more intimate relationship with Christ, to listen to Him more deeply, and to share generously all that we are, and have been given. May we always be attentive to God’s voice and ready to take risks to collaborate with Him, becoming the compassionate presence to the suffering, and restoring wholeness to all who are deprived of freedom, respect and dignity.
Happy Feast of St. Vincent!
Your Sister in Christ,
Sr. Trang, D.C.