Saint Vincent de Paul
Vincent, the son of poor French preasants, was born in 1581. When he grew up and became famous, he loved to tell people how he had taken care of his father's pigs. Because he was intelligent, his father sent him to school; and after finishing his studies, Vincent became a priest.
At first, he was given an important position as the teacher of rich children, and he lived rather comfortably. Then one day, he was called to the side of a dying peasant. In front of many people, this man declared that all his past confessions had been bad ones. Suddenly Father Vincent realized how urgently the poor people of France needed spiritual help. When he began to preach to them, crowds went to confession. He finally decided to start a congregation of priests to work among the poor.
The charities of St. Vincent de Paul were so many that it seems impossible for one person to have begun so much. He ministered to the galley slaves who worked on the sailing ships. He started the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity with St. Louise de Marillac. He opened hospitals and homes for orphans and the elderly. He collected large sums of money for poor areas, sent missionaries to many countries, and bought back Christian slaves from northern Africa. Even though he was such a charitable man, however, he humbly admitted that he was not so by nature. "I would have been hard, rough and ill-tempered," he said, "were it not for God's grace". Vincent de Paul died in Paris on September 27, 1660. He was proclaimed a saint in 1737 by Pope Clement XII.
Jesus asks us to be good to others, especially to those who suffer. He says to us, "As long as you did it to one of the least of my brothers or sisters, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40). We can put these words of our Lord into practice and follow the example of St. Vincent de Paul by reaching out to those around us when we see them in need.