Ross Boyle and Erica Clare St. Vincent de Paul Interviewer: Hello everyone! We welcome all of you watching todays program. I am your host Grace, and I have a very special guest with me today, St. Vincent de Paul. St. Vincent: Pax! Interviewer: Let me just give a brief introduction about St. Vincent de Paul to our audience before we begin the interview. St. Vincent was born in 1581 in Puoy, the Kingdom of France, to a family of farm working peasants. He lived during the era when France was emerging from great civil and religious wars. France was a mess during the time of St.
Vincent de Paul, but he is credited for saving whole parts of France from starvation. He graduated from the University of Toulouse, where he studied Theology. He was then ordained at the age of 19 in 1600. Throughout his time as a priest, he cared for victims and refugees of the wars France faced, and enlisted the help of wealthy French nobility to care for the poor. So St. Vincent, what made you care for the poor so much? St. Vincent: Thank you for that kind introduction Grace. Anyways, when I was a child, I saw a baby being thrown away by its parents. I was only a few years older then this infant.
From then on, I knew it was my job to care for those who are poor and abandoned for I couldn’t imagine if that was me. Interviewer: Did your parents support your career path of becoming a priest? Or were they hesitant at all because of what was happening around France at the time? St. Vincent: My parents were very supportive of my decision. When I knew that I wanted to spread the word of God by preaching the Gospel, my parents sold many of their sheep in order to pay for my schooling. My parents were mainly interested in obtaining some of this wealth that they thought I might gain with my career path.
However, I was not like most other priests. I knew I had to pick this path in life because God spoke to me and wanted me to help others. I was not interesting in becoming wealthy myself, but I wanted to spread my wealth with the poor. Interviewer: Your story is very fascinating because you were held in captivity for a while as a slave. Can you please describe and tell us all about that experience? St. Vincent: One day while traveling by boat, men of the Islamic faith captured me and sold me as a slave. My work as a slave was so awful that I gave up hope on living. I did not care if I lived or died.
The only thing I had to comfort myself with were church hymns I sang throughout the working day. On one specific day, I was working for a man who was a reformed Catholic and this man’s wife took great interest in what I was singing. She would ask me to explain each of the hymns and the meaning behind them. She became very interested in the Catholic faith and convinced her husband to convert back to Catholicism in which he was born. Interviewer: Was this how you became free? St. Vincent: Yes; Through the grace of God I was allowed to be free again. I wanted to dedicate my entire life to God because he had saved me.
I also wanted to help those who were oppressed as I had been. Interviewer: The seminary that you started is still, to this day, called The Congregation of the Mission. They’re nicknamed the Vincentians and the Lazarites (after St. Lazarus who took over the Congregation of the Mission once you had passed away) and they stand out as very interesting because it offers bi-lingual and multicultural programs in training Catholic Priests unlike many other seminaries. St. Vincent: That’s right. Not only does Congregation of the Mission provide a spiritual program, but also a cultural and intellectual program.
The purpose of this is so that our priests come out as teachers of the catholic faith, not just in one area of the world, but globally. We want the Catholic faith to be widespread so everyone understands the word and teachings of Christ. We believe that people have the right to worship God in their own native language and culture. Therefore, we train our priests to speak different languages and be able to go out in any part of the world to teach the word of the lord. We believe that where there is a need for God’s word, then that need should be met with priests. Interviewer: For some cultures, the Catholic faith may be completely foreign.
How do you get different cultures to accept the word of God? St. Vincent: Here we teach in stages. In stage one, individuals do not know that they are in need of change and enlightenment. In the second stage comes a bit of rejection. They understand that they are in need of change and often do not like it because it is unfamiliar and unexpected. In the third stage, individuals recognize cultural differences and the need for acceptance. In the fourth stage and fifth stages, individuals start to explore the other cultures. In the sixth stage, curiosity begins to lead to adaptations of values of other cultures.
Seventh stage, individuals see that the Holy Spirit brought them to this unification and that we are all the same in God’s eyes. Interviewer: Interesting. So these stages just teach acceptance and show that God will accept anyone? Are these stages supposed to show that God is universal? St Vincent: God is Universal. He is universally loved as he universally loves and cares for each of us. We make it our job and duty to teach people that. To spread faith and belief among everyone by not just telling people we are all equal, but also by going out and living that way.
Proving that we aren’t just words, but that we also truly believe it. Interviewer: Can you give us an example of how you live it out and not just preach it? Is there anything in particular you would like to share? St. Vincent: Well of course. I would love to talk about one of my favorite things I started at my home parish. I created this group called “Ladies of Charity. ” It was a group of woman of wealth who were in charge of going around collecting funds for missionary projects, to fund hospitals, and gather relief funds for the victims of war which ended up being 1200 African galley slaves.
That is just one example, but it is something I loved doing. Later in my life, the name switched to “Daughters of Charity of Vincent de Paul. ” It is still known to this day as that. Interviewer: African galley slaves? You saved all 1200 of them? St. Vincent: I loved them all so much. I had the honor of being appointed chaplain to the galleys and it was one of the most awe-inspiring works I have ever done. Interviewer: And is that where you ended your career? With the captured galley slaves? St. Vincent: No, after that I was sent home which is where I started the “Congregation of the Mission. I did that for the rest of my life until I died in 1660. Interviewer: That wasn’t the last time we heard of you however. In 1712, your body was exhumed and they found that your heart is incorrupt. St. Vincent: Yes it is. I am proud of that. I have always loved and cared so deeply and so profoundly for every person on Earth. Even during the many wars my country had faced in my era, I would never of been able to spread the word of God and help all those slaves without full love for one another. The love I have is eternal and it proves that by my heart being incorrupt.
Interviewer: It’s a shame. The world would be much better off if we still had people like you around. St. Vincent: You do, my friend. You have so many beautiful people on this Earth who help those in need every minute of the day. So many great souls centered around Christ. Could the world use more of them? Absolutely. But we do have them. Interviewer: Well thank you St. Vincent for joining us today. It was truly an honor getting to talk to you. Go enjoy Heaven and tell Jesus I say thank you. St. Vincent: God bless.