Blessed Frederic was a special gift of God to the poor in the world and to us. He was an extraordinary man, a person of deep Faith and Spirituality who believed and trusted God, a man of vision and wisdom and with tremendous charism, a great and capable leader, who was able to inspire, motivate and influence people. Through the grace of God, Blessed Frederic, along with his six companions, cofounded the Society 180 years ago in 1833 here in Paris. As we remember and honor Blessed Frederick, let us also remember his dear wife, Amelie, who was so supportive of him in his works and life.
Let’s also remember the other co-founders: Emmanuel Bailly, the first President and a fatherly figure of the younger members; Francis Lallier, the Secretary, who was largely responsible for the initial Rule of the Society; Jules Devaux, the Treasurer, who initiated contact with Blessed Sr. Rosalie Rendu, DC, who provided tremendous advice and assistance to our early founders; then, Paul Lamache, Augustine le Taillandier and Felix Clave.
Blessed Frederic dared to dream Dreams and one of his dreams was to “encircle the whole world in a network of Charity”. From one conference in the beginning, the Society is today in 150 countries, with over 70,000 conferences, 780,000 members, 1.3 million volunteers and assisting over 30 million poor. His dream has been realized many times over through God’s grace. This is truly amazing.
Blessed Frederic did not try to imitate the exact same works of St. Vincent so much as his spirit of Charity. Both St. Vincent and Blessed Frederic found ways of serving Christ in the poor. If one part of their charisms was to care for the poor people, the care of souls was always an important part of their mission. Blessed Frederic reminded members that material aid was not the most important part of our service to the poor. He stressed, “Through the members’ Spirituality and their loving Christian action, in witnessing God, many Christians have been brought back to the Faith and many non-Christians were evangelized. This is one key aspect of our Vincentian Spirituality.”
The Society has come a long way since our humble beginnings and it is one of the most respected, well known, and inspiring Catholic apostolate of Charity in the world. We are part of this legacy that all Vincentians along with the Council General International (CGI) will continue to grow and perpetuate the Vincentian vocation, mission and values as servants of Christ and the poor. The United Nations has now accredited the Society as an international NGO with “Special Consultative status”. This recognition affirms our Society’s standing as an international organization of high repute. All Vincentians are instrumental in contributing to and maintaining the dynamism, vibrancy and growth of the Society and you have a part in it and you should be proud of it.
In responding to the call of St. Vincent and Blessed Frederic, we are witnessing Christ in the poor and needy we serve. We can encapsulate our activities into the virtues and practice of the Gospel values of Faith, Hope and Charity. This exemplifies our zeal, commitment and love in our mission and vocation in our Vincentian apostolate.