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Closing of the 350th Anniversary Year in Rome

The Jubilee Year of 350th Anniversary of death of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac is coming to the end this weekend.   Special three day celebrations prepared by Vincentian Family take place in Rome from Friday, September 24 to Sunday, September 26. The events opened on Friday morning with the Eucharist presided by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins in Augustinianum, followed by series of conferences on “Charity and Mission” and another Holy Mass in Augustinianum chaired by Superior General, Fr. Gregory Gay CM has closed the celebrations today, Sunday. There were at least 500 people from all over Italy and abroad who confirmed their participation in the Conference.  Fr. Rafal Kopystynski CM, Provincial and Fr. Marek Sadowski CM represented Province of  New England.

On Friday, September 24 at 9:00 a.m. local time Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints presided at the Eucharist in the Hall of Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome (Via Paolo VI 25).  After the Mass he opened the conference “Mission and Charity” which took place in the Augustinianum, too.  In his speech Cardinal Martins said:

»They were pages of the Gospel lived with intensity« and continued, »they were two great masters of charity because they were primarily two great masters of spiritual life.« Next, Cardinal pointed out that »charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit granted to the Christian community which has the courage to evangelize, teach and heal but above all also to witness and love… In the seventeenth century, to respond to hunger for God, the Holy Spirit gave birth to St. Vincent and St. Louise who engaged in building a new society based on solidarity and charity. They were able to involve everyone in high-class and poor, king and queen, from large to small,« added Cardinal Saraiva Martins and continued, »they did not experience poor as something bulky but as someone to love in Christ as we love ourselves. A love that comes from a paternal sense, prophetic insights having worked with courage, their commitment to living as a real need for faith…« Addressing hundreds of members of Vincentian Family present in Sala dell’Augustinianum Cardinal added, »the Church and the world needs your work« and concluded his speech saying, »Vincentian charity, is not to surrender, but to resist.«

The conference, “Charity and Mission” continued with series of lectures delivered by

  • Professor Barbara Negruzzi titled “France of the Great Century”;
  • Father Luigi Mezzadri CM, “A new way of being priests: St. Vincent and the priesthood”;
  • Father Nicholas Albanian CM, “Christ, the Rule of the Mission”.

Later on the day another lectures came from

  • Professor Yvonne zu Dohna, “The Poor in Arts”;
  • Professor Giuseppe De Rita, “Towards the New Culture of Charity: The Poor, »My Burden and My Pain«”;
  • Father Erminio Antonello CM, “The Church, the Body of Christ, the Home of the Poor”; Father Jean Landousies CM, “The New Way of God Speaking To Men: St. Vincent and Evangelization”.

Meanwhile between first and latter series of lectures participants of the gathering were given ability to watch the latest documentary on Vincentian charism, “VINCENT DE PAUL CHARITY’S SAINT”. The film was prepared by DePaul University earlier this year to commemorate 350th Anniversary. (It can be ordered online from DePaul University Bookstore HERE )

On Saturday morning, September 25, the conference resumed. Another lectures were delivered by

  • Professor Gabriella Bruna Zarri talkin on “Women in 1600s”;
  • Doctor Marina Costa, “St. Vincent, St. Louise, Vincentian Volunteers and the Challenges of Poverty”; and finally
  • Sister Evelyne Franc DC, Superioress General, “Saint Louise, spiritual guide”.

Then, at 17:00 local time, there was a highlight of the day, the Jubilee Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica attended by all Conference participants and numerous pilgrims from various countries and places as well as other people. It was presided by Cardinal Franc Rodé CM, the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In his homily the Cardinal said,

»the demand for love is as urgent today as it was in the seventeenth century, indeed perhaps more… To be a Vincentian today,« said Cardinal, »is once again to follow Christ, the Evangelizer of the poor and His mission; to be a missionary, to “inflame” human hearts with simple, humble, gentle, mortified lifestyle.« In this sense, he concluded, »a Vincentian must have a surplus of love and knowledge of the poor; the true Vincentian knows Christ, puts Him in the center, knows St. Vincent, St. Louise and Vincentian Saints and knows the poor. It is left to him to evangelize and change them, act and work for them. A Vincentian, first and foremost is all for God and for the benefit of all«.

Finally, earlier today, at 9:00 a.m. in Rome there was another Holy Mass in the Sala dell’Augustinianum presided by the Superior General, Father Gregory Gay CM.  Father Corpus Delgado CM delivered speech on “Saint Louise and the devotion to the Holy Spirit”. All participants of the “Charity and Mission” conference attended as well as most of the pilgrims who came to Rome for  closing of  the Jubilee Year of 350th Anniversary.

At noon, in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI in his Angelus message, as part of the reflection on service to others, recalled that Monday is the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, a priest whom he said 350 years ago in France knew how to organize stable forms of service to marginalized people.  The Pope said:

»In this Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 16:19-31), Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The first lives in luxury and selfishness, and when he dies, ends up in hell. The poor, who eats the leftovers from the rich man’s table, his death is carried by the angels in the eternal abode of God and the saints. “Blessed are you the poor – had proclaimed the Lord to his disciples – for yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk 6:20). But the message of the parable goes further, it points out that, while we are in this world, we must listen to the Lord who speaks through the Scriptures and live according to his will, otherwise, after death, it will be too late to repent. So this story tells us two things: the first is that God loves the poor and relieve their humiliation and the second is that our eternal destiny is conditioned by our attitude. It’s up to us to follow the path God has shown us coming to life, and this street is love, not meant as feeling, but as a service to others, in the love of Christ.

By a happy coincidence, tomorrow we will celebrate the liturgical memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, patron of Catholic Charities, which marks the 350th anniversary of his death.  In France of 1600, he touched with his hand the sharp contrast between the richest and the poorest. In fact, as a priest, he was able to attend both the aristocratic circles, campaigns, as well as the slums of Paris. Driven by the love of Christ, Vincent de Paul was able to organize stable forms of service to the marginalized people, giving rise to so-called “Charitées”, the “Charity”, ie groups of women who put their time and their property available to more marginalized. Among these volunteers, some chose to devote themself completely to God and the poor, and thus, together with St. Louise de Marillac, St. Vincent founded the “Daughters of Charity”,  the first women’s congregation to live their consecrated lives  “in the world”, among the people, the sick and needy.«

[compiled from RadioVaticana,
Italian edition of  ZENIT.ORG of
September 23 and September 26
and the website of the Holy See]

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