January 6, 2024 // Bishop

Bishop to Vincentians: Serve the Poor like the Saints Did

On December 16, the Saturday of the Second Week of Advent, Queen of Angels Parish in Fort Wayne hosted a special Mass for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, where Bishop Rhoades made a powerful call for holiness and service to the poor in his homily.

The Mass began with a poignant collect prayer that sought the dawn of God’s glory in the hearts of the faithful, scattering the shadows of the night and revealing them as “children of light” through the advent of the Only Begotten Son. Bishop Rhoades highlighted the beauty of this prayer, emphasizing its essence in seeking holiness.

“When the splendor of God’s glory dawns in our hearts and we live as children of the light by Christ’s coming to us, by grace, we become holy,” Bishop Rhoades said in his homily. “We see this in the lives of the saints. At this Mass, I think particularly of the Vincentian saints who indeed lived as children of the light because the splendor of God’s glory dawned in their hearts. Their lives scattered the shadows of the night as they extended God’s light through their love and service of the poor.”

Photos by Katie Murray
Bishop Rhoades processes out of Mass for members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society at Queen of Angels Parish in Fort Wayne on Saturday, December 16.

Bishop Rhoades highlighted Vincentian saints, particularly St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. Their lives, rooted in prayer and illuminated by the splendor of God’s glory, served as beacons of light, dispelling the darkness of their time through love and service to the poor.

Of St. Vincent and St. Louise, Bishop Rhoades said: “Their charism and a foundation of all Vincentian spirituality was to find Jesus in the poor and the poor in Jesus. Sister Louise taught the Sisters to serve the poor ‘with respect, mildness, cordiality, and compassion.’ At the same time, St. Vincent de Paul’s ministry to the poor kept growing and expanding throughout Paris, including his building homes for abused and neglected street children and orphans. St. Vincent and St. Louise’s lives were deeply rooted in prayer. The splendor of God’s glory truly dawned in their hearts, giving them the grace to pour out their lives in love for the poor and needy, showing them to be ‘children of light’ in the midst of the darkness of their time.”

Bishop Rhoades went on to pay tribute to other Vincentian saints, including Blessed Frederic Ozanam, the primary founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and his mentor, Blessed Rosalie Rendu, who were commended for their dedication to ministering to the poor in 19th-century Paris. Their approach was not only to provide material assistance but also to extend genuine friendship to those in need, echoing the timeless message to “take good care of the poor.”

“Blessed Rosalie taught Frederic and the first members
of the St. Vincent de Paul Society to see Christ in the poor and to approach each poor person with humility as Christ’s servants,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The splendor of God’s glory dawned in the hearts of Blessed Frederic and Blessed Rosalie, like it had dawned in the hearts of St. Vincent and St. Louise, leading them to bring the light and love of Christ to the poor and the suffering of their day. That light has spread throughout the world through the work of the members of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society these past nearly 200 years.”

Bishop Rhoades also paid tribute to lesser-known Vincentian saints, such as Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, whose life exemplified the splendor of God’s glory from a young age. His commitment to daily holy Communion and his selfless service to the poor, motivated by love for Jesus, showcased a warm and pure faith that touched the lives of many.

“When [Blessed Pier Giorgio] joined the Society, he said, ‘Jesus visits me every morning in holy Communion. I repay him with my poor means, visiting the poor,’” Bishop Rhoades said. “When he was asked how he could stand the bad odors and unclean conditions of their homes, Pier Giorgio answered, ‘Don’t forget that even if the house you visit is very dirty, there you may find Jesus.’” 

The congregation was reminded of the enduring legacy of these saints, emphasizing the truth and efficacy of the opening prayer, which was reiterated at the conclusion of the homily: “May the splendor of your glory dawn in our hearts … that we may be shown to be children of light by the advent of your Only Begotten Son.”

As the Christmas season approached, the faithful were encouraged to embrace the spirit of holiness and charity embodied by the Vincentian saints, finding inspiration in their selfless dedication to serving the poor and living as children of light in a world often overshadowed by darkness.

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.