Written by Sunnie Lain, Director of Conferences and Community Outreach.
Gospel: (John 15: 9-17)
Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Live on in my love. You will live in my love if you keep my commandments, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and live in his love. All this I tell you that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
On April 23, 1833, Frederic Ozanam’s twentieth birthday, six students met in the office of their mentor Emmanuael Bailly, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was born. They resolved to respond to Christ’s call by dedicating themselves to the poor after the example of St. Vincent de Paul. They asked Sister Rosalie Rendu, a Daughter of Charity, for the names and addresses of several families in need. Sr. Rosalie was known as “The Mother of the Poor” in the Mouffetard Quarter of Paris. She taught Frederic much about the poor and how to minister to them with love and respect. The first members of the Society were determined not only to bring bread, but, above all, friendship to the poor. (US Manual of the SVDP, p.179)
Sr. Rosalie Rendu told Frederic and the first members of the Society: “Always remember, that if our childhood has been one of constant want, perhaps, we too, would have given away to envy and hatred, as I must admit have many of the poor we serve. Be kind and love, for love is your first gift to the poor. They will appreciate your kindness and your love more than all else you can bring to them. If you wish to be loved, you must love, and if you have nothing to give, give yourself.” (Sr. Rosalie Rendu)
Discussion: (Share your thoughts on the readings after a moment of silence)
How do Vincentians live the spirit of Frederic and Sr. Rosalie, by bringing love and friendship to the poor?
Holy God, we thank you for the gift to us of Sr. Rosalie Rendu,
-Grant us the grace to be kind and loving.
For the poor we serve,
-Grant us the grace to serve in friendship.
For the Society of St. Vincent de Paul,
-Grant us the grace to live the spirit of Sr. Rosalie.