January 25 – Anniversary of the Foundation of the Congregation of the Mission by Vincent de Paul

Revitalizing our Identity at the beginning of the Fifth Century of the Congregation of the Mission” — Theme of the C.M. XLIII General Assembly 2022

 

Each year on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, we remember the beginning of the Congregation of the Mission (C.M.). According to St. Vincent de Paul, this happened in Folleville, France, on January 25, 1617, when he preached his “first sermon of the Mission.”(1) Many say that experience with a dying man transformed Vincent’s heart and imbued him with a desire to serve those in need.

This historical event is an important one for DePaul University, though it is not widely celebrated. The Congregation of the Mission (commonly called “Vincentians”) founded our university 123 years ago. DePaul’s history and identity are deeply linked to the values and convictions of the Congregation in the United States.

Originally, Vincent founded the Congregation of the Mission to provide direct service to all those living in poverty, especially “the most abandoned,”(2) and for the formation and education of Catholic clergy in need of reform. These original intentions have evolved with time, especially over the past 50 years.

Today the Congregation of the Mission works together with many other branches of the Vincentian Family. This wider family includes the Daughters of Charity and other orders of religious sisters, as well as lay members of the worldwide International Association of Charities, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. They comprise an ever-growing network of people and organizations who provide direct spiritual and material service, advocacy, and the promotion of systemic change.

In many ways, the primary Vincentian mission along with its communal approach have not changed. To better respond to all kinds of needs Vincent summoned as many as he could, rich, poor, humble, and powerful, and used all means to inspire them to serve people living in poverty.(3) As a Catholic priest, Vincent privileged the image of Christ. Based on the Gospel of Luke, ‘the evangelizer of the poor’ [Luke 4, 16-22], he prompted all his collaborators to help the poor directly and indirectly as Jesus did.

The Congregation of the Mission, from the time of Vincent de Paul, and through his inspiration, recognizes itself as called by God to carry out the work of integrally serving the poor. Officially called “Congregatio Missionis,” they are also called “Vincentians” in Anglophone countries, “Paules” in Spain, “Missioners” in Slavic lands, and in Latin America they are known as “Vicentinos.” The unofficial motto of the Congregation: Evangelizare pauperibus misit me [He has sent me to evangelize the poor] sums up the works of Jesus the Congregation endeavors to follow.

While we celebrate the founding of the Congregation of the Mission in 1617, the official date of its institution is noted to be April 17, 1625. On that day, encouraged by Madame de Gondi, the lords of the Gondi family, in whose territories Vincent de Paul served as Chaplain, signed a contract with him in which they provided funding to support a group of priests to serve impoverished people in the countryside. This act gave needed economic sustainability to the project of the Congregation.

Vincent ultimately created the community he had dreamed of. By the day of his death, September 27, 1660, twenty-six Vincentian communities had been formed: nineteen in France, four in Italy, two in Barbary (Northern Africa), and one in Poland. And, by the time of the French Revolution of 1789, when religious communities were suppressed in France, a great dissemination of the Congregation had taken place around the world, with missions in the Middle East, in Asia, and soon thereafter in the Americas. Especially significant were the Congregation’s missionary efforts in China. Today the Congregation has more than 3,000 members, priests, and brothers, serving in 81 countries. They continue to provide a wide array of services including education, spiritual and pastoral care, direct service to the poor, and socio-political advocacy, while remaining dedicated to systemic change and collaborations that will end poverty and homelessness.

As we know, one of their projects was DePaul University, founded in 1898 to serve the children of immigrants in Chicago who needed both access to education and a chance to escape poverty. Without Foundation Day, DePaul as we know it would not exist. That it does, and that we are now a part of more than two million Vincentian Family members worldwide, is certainly something worth celebrating on the 25th.


1) Conference 112, Repetition of Prayer, 25 January 1655, CCD, 11:162-164.

2) Conference 164, Love for the Poor, January 1657, CCD, 11:349.

3) See, for example, Constitutions and Statutes of the Congregation of the Mission (Rome, 1984), 10. Online at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/cm_construles/23/

 

Reflection by Rev. Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., Vice President of Mission and Ministry

 

The Streets as a Cloister: History of the Daughters of Charity

The Vincentian Studies Institute is extremely pleased to promote the publication of our colleague and fellow board member’s new work. Dr. Brejon de Lavergnée is a Professor of History and ​the Dennis H. Holtschneider Chair of Vincentian Studies at DePaul University.

“The Daughters of Charity are today the largest community of Catholic women, with 15,000 sisters in about 100 countries. They devote their lives to serving the poorest in hospitals, schools, and care centers for homeless or migrants, as well as working to promote social justice. Until now, however, the history of the Daughters of Charity has been almost wholly neglected. The opening of their central archives, combined with access to many public and private archives, has finally allowed this to be remedied.

This volume, the fruit of several years’ work, covers the history of the Company from its foundation by Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac as a confraternity of young women to the suppression of the order during the French Revolution. The study, at the juncture of women’s history and religious history, shows how much the Daughters of Charity contributed to the emergence of a new and ambiguous status in post-Tridentine society: neither cloistered nuns nor married women, but “seculars.” The Company has certainly offered a framework that enabled many resolute women to lead lives out of the ordinary, taking young peasant women to the royal court, intrepid hearts to Poland, and, more generally, generous souls to the “martyrdom of charity” among the poor and the ill.”

ISBN Number: 978-1-56548-027-8. 668 pages. Available at Amazon.com or directly from the publisher: The Streets as a Cloister

To read an interview with Dr. Brejon de Lavergnée about his new book and the Daughters of Charity, please see Crux: Taking the Catholic Pulse

Vincentian Heritage Journal Vol. 35, No. 2

The DePaul University Vincentian Studies Institute is pleased to announce the publication of our newest peer-reviewed e-book edition of Vincentian Heritage (Volume 35, Number 2).

Of note, this edition includes a significant new translation, never before published, of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet’s testimony on the virtuous life of Vincent de Paul. The document, at one time thought lost, follows after those prepared for the canonization process and offers insight from a man who knew the saint during his life. The book also advances our new design and features the following articles:

  • “Pa, Ma, and Fa: Private Lives of Nineteenth-Century American Vincentians,” by John E. Rybolt, C.M., Ph.D.
  • “Bishop John Timon, C.M., Sisters of Charity Hospital, and the Cholera Epidemic of 1849,” by Dennis Castillo, Ph.D.
  • “Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Vision of Ecological Community. Based on Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings, Volume Two,” by Sung-Hae Kim, S.C.
  • “BOSSUET: Testimony Concerning the Life and the Eminent Virtues of Monsieur Vincent de Paul (1702),” Translation and additional annotation by Edward R. Udovic, C.M., Ph.D.

To download the complete book for iPad or PC, please click here.

Individual .pdfs for each article are also available for download here.

“In Memoriam: Rev. Stafford Poole, C.M.

Rev. Stafford Poole, C.M., Ph.D.
6 March 1930 – 1 November 2020

Joseph Poole and his wife Beatrice Smith welcomed a son into the world, Richard Stafford, on March 6, 1930, who was baptized in his parish church of St. Charles Borromeo, in North Hollywood. He attended elementary school at Rio Vista Elementary School, then transferred to the Parish School of St. Charles Borromeo for his Junior High School years. He entered Los Angeles College, the precursor to Our Lady Queen of Angels Seminary in 1942. Stafford entered the Congregation of the Mission on October 7, 1947, and continued his philosophical and theological studies for ordination at St. Mary of the Barrens Seminary in Perryville, Mo. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 27, 1956. He earned the degree of Master of Arts from St. Louis University in 1958 with a major in Spanish Literature and in 1961 earned his Doctor of Philosophy in U.S. and Mexican History from St. Louis University.

As he was completing his doctoral studies, Fr. Poole was planning on researching Slaveholding in Catholic Missouri. However, God intervened. Fr. Bannon, the director of the history department was presented with some rare documents from Latin America that included documents from the Third Council of 1585 and presented Stafford with a project. In Stafford’s own words he describes what happened next:

The next time I walked into Bannon’s office, my life took a total reversal. I got working on it and became fascinated with the whole thing. But actually, I had had only one graduate course in Latin American history, and that was a survey. Other than that, I was self-taught.1

From these beginnings flowed an impressive contribution to the field of Catholicism in Colonial Latin America, as well as his works on the history of the Congregation of the Mission and the US Catholic Church. Included in his life’s work were 14 books, 23 publications in Anthologies and Encyclopedias, 62 journal articles, as well as some unpublished studies on Vincentian themes and numerous book reviews. Among Fr. Poole’s works are Seminary in Crisis (1964); Church and Slave in Perry County, Missouri 1818 – 1860 (co-authored with Douglas Slawson, 1986); and Our Lady of Guadalupe: Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531 – 1797 (1995). Fr. Poole was also a longtime member of the DePaul University Vincentian Studies Institute, and served as the editor of Vincentian Heritage and other of their publications over many years. In 2006 he received the Institute’s prestigious Pierre Coste Prize for his lifetime of distinguished achievement in Vincentian Studies.

While many would count this a complete life’s work, Fr. Poole was also a teacher, academic dean, and seminary rector. His students not only remember his lectures with fondness, but also appreciated his wit and wisdom. Stafford was a clock maker. He spent his leisure time making and repairing clocks of all sorts. After he had left St. Mary of the Barrens in 1971, students would comment that “Fr. Poole needs to come back to the Barrens to fix the clock on the A Building!”

During his retirement, Fr. Poole continued to be active as a scholar and mentor. He encouraged other confreres to take up the critical history of the Congregation of the Mission. He supported his colleagues in both the American Catholic Historical Association and other professional organizations to continue the study the Church’s earliest mission activity in Latin America and its impact upon the people.

Infirmity overcame Fr. Poole in his final years, as his health declined, he slowly put aside the unfinished research and prepared to meet his Creator. He returned to the Barrens to receive added care. On the Feast Day of All Saints, he returned to his Creator. A Vincentian who dedicated his life to telling the story of the life of Colonial Latin American Church and the Little Company.


1) Susan Schroeder, “Seminaries and Writing the History of New Spain: An Interview with Stafford Poole, C.M.,” The Americas 69:2 (2012), 237-254.

The Vincentian Studies Institute in the Division of Mission & Ministry Vincentian Heritage Journal: A Call for Proposals Proposal Submission Deadline: July 31, 2020

2020: DePaul University’s Community Responds to Crises

The DePaul University Vincentian Studies Institute would like to invite everyone from our community—faculty, staff, students, and alumni—to participate in a special call to submit publishable materials dedicated to the unprecedented crises we have been challenged to confront in 2020. Covid-19 has disrupted daily life and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. At DePaul it has forced us to change how we work, how we teach, and how we learn. How has it changed you? Our nation has also erupted in protests over the brutal killing of George Floyd. His senseless death has reignited the Black Lives Matter movement and challenges us as a people to dismantle inequality, oppression, and systemic racism in the pursuit of justice. How has this affected you, your colleagues, or your family? How has your perception of DePaul, of Chicago, of our country, been changed? Considering both crises and their effect on marginalized peoples how do we see that they interplay? How can we move forward? How can our Vincentian values help guide us through this time of great pain and suffering? Ultimately, we would like to know, how have we responded as a Vincentian higher learning community?

What We Are Asking of You

We are asking for your contributions in the hope that they help us to reflect on what has happened and is still happening. Every type of production is welcomed: academic papers, short essays, poems, fiction, paintings, photographs, videos, etc. Individual or collective proposals are welcomed. Shorter works will be featured online, promoted by the Division of Mission & Ministry, and shared with the university community. Longer written works may be featured in a special collection published in the VSI’s scholarly journal Vincentian Heritage.

Process to Contribute

  • We ask that you submit your Proposal or short summary of your intended contribution, to: nmichaud@depaul.edu Please do so before July 31, 2020.
  • Proposals will be reviewed by the VSI board and you will be notified of their decision by August 21, 2020.
  • Once accepted, final drafts of your contributed work must be received by January 15, 2021.

New free to download eBook A General History of the Congregation of the Mission by Claude-Joseph Lacour, C.M.

The DePaul University Vincentian Studies Institute in the Department of Mission & Ministry, Chicago, Illinois, is pleased to announce our English language translation of A General History of the Congregation of the Mission Beginning after the Death of Blessed Vincent de Paul, by Claude-Joseph Lacour, C.M. This new title is offered free-of-charge to the public and is available for download now.

This work is the earliest known history of the Congregation of the Mission and dates from about 1730. Vincentian historian John E. Rybolt, C.M., building on the initiative of Stafford Poole, C.M., completed this English translation from the original French. The author, Claude-Joseph Lacour, C.M. (1672-1731), drew from already published materials and his own recollections. While the story he tells may seem familiar, Lacour included materials that are unknown anywhere else and delivers a first-hand account of the Congregation’s rapid growth in those early days. The text is essential reading for anyone wishing to better understand Vincent de Paul’s society of apostolic life of priests and brothers following his death.

A General History of the Congregation of the Mission is the latest monograph in our continuing series of scholarly, important works published by the V.S.I. It is designed for tablets and computer as a high-res interactive .pdf. The eBook has been rigorously annotated by Fr. Rybolt and is fully illustrated and searchable. We recommend that you utilize Adobe Reader or a similar program to optimize your reading experience.

It is available to download online free-of-charge here:

Click here to download

Vincentian Studies Institute Announces New Additional Texts of Vincent de Paul

The DePaul University Vincentian Studies Institute in the Division of Mission & Ministry is pleased to announce the online publication of four volumes of additional Vincent de Paul texts. These supplement the fourteen volumes of Correspondence, Conferences, and Documents of Saint Vincent de Paul, published in French a century ago by Pierre Coste, C.M. The translator and editor of these new works is John E. Rybolt, C.M.

These fully searchable, free to download pdf e-Books offer more than 650 additional texts compiled by Fr. Rybolt since the final translated volume of Coste’s collection of Vincent’s writings was published in 2014. They represent over 4,000 pages of letters, conferences, and documents which are largely unknown, at least in translation. Gathered over several years thanks to the contributions of many scholars, they appear here in their original languages of French, Latin, and Italian, followed by an English translation.

The four new volumes comprise one each of correspondence and conferences, and two volumes of documents. The Vincentian Studies Institute presents them as an open-ended collection, allowing for additional texts to be added as they come to light, as well as corrections and updates. Finally, it is anticipated that translations of these new materials will become available in other languages and thus further facilitate their use throughout the worldwide Vincentian Family.

We are making these new texts available to download for free on Via Sapientiae, the institutional repository of DePaul University. This repository hosts a wide variety of the V.S.I.’s publications and collected works and is utilized by thousands of scholars and interested readers worldwide each year. Click through to access each new volume of the collection:

Correspondence: CCD Additional Texts

Conferences: CCD Additional Texts

Documents, part one: CCD Additional Texts

Documents, part two: CCD Additional Texts

It is hoped that these new texts will further our understanding and appreciation of the great saint of charity, Vincent de Paul.

 

DePaul Names Holtschneider Chair in Vincentian Studies at Anniversary Celebration

Left to right, Salma Ghanem, interim provost, Dr. Matthieu Brejon de Lavergnée, chair professor of the Dennis Holtschneider Chair and Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco, dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, are photographed after the presentation of the Inaugural Chair Lecture of the Holtschneider Endowed Chair. In addition, DePaul University celebrate the 40th year anniversary of the Vincentian Studies Institute, Tuesday, Sept. 23, at Cortelyou Commons in DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus. (DePaul University/Randall Spriggs)

 

Last month, the university celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Vincentian Studies Institute. Founded in 1979 and sponsored by DePaul as part of the Division of Mission and Ministry, the Vincentian Studies Institute promotes a living interest in the heritage of the Vincentian Family, established by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac.

 

Read the rest of the article here.

Unique Vincent Image

The Vincentiana collection at De Paul University’s Office of Mission and Ministry has acquired a unique and poignant water color image of Vincent de Paul entitled: “Monsieur” Vincent, Aumônier des Galères priez pour nous.” (“Monsieur Vincent, Chaplain of the Galleys, pray for us.”)

The image portrays Vincent freeing a galley convict who kneels before him.  The painting includes an image of a galley at sea.  In the lower right hand corner the image is signed: “En captivité. Pont St. Vincent.  19 – VII – 40.”

The artist’s signature is then below.  Research has led us to believe that the image was painted by a French POW who had been stationed at the fort overlooking the town of Pont-St. Vincent, located in the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle in the northeast of France.  The fort was part of the vast border fortifications built by France after its defeat by Germany in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war.  This particular fort guarded the area between Langres and Mirecourt and the valley of the Moselle. The fort was captured in June 1940 during the German Blitzkrieg of France.  The painting is dated July 19, 1940.  The artist’s signature is difficult to read.  For more information on this fort, and the French border fortification system visit the following website: http://fortiffsere.fr/troueedecharmes/index_fichiers/Page4584.htm