This College Kid Can Teach All of Us a Lesson*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Most Catholics know of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The Society has been helping people in need for over 180 years. What most Catholics do not know is that St. Vincent de Paul is not the founder of the society. It is simply named after him because of his lifelong example of Christian charity. So, if it was not founded by St. Vincent de Paul where did it come from? How did it begin? What does St. Vincent de Paul have to do with it?

This is the very first paragraph from the Mission Statement of the St. Vincent de Paul Society

Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering in the tradition of its founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul.”

As you finish that paragraph you will notice the name of Frederick Ozanam. Please, take a moment to meet him here. He happens to be the founder of the oldest Catholic charity in the United States of America, The St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Bl. Frederick Ozanam (as young man) courtesy slideshare.net

Frederick Ozanam was born in Milan, Italy in 1813. He was the fifth of fourteen children of Jean and Marie Ozanam and only one of three who lived into adulthood. The family moved to Lyons, France and this was where Frederick grew up. As a teenager the young man was strongly influenced by the elitists of the day and his Catholic faith began to waiver. Frederick fought his doubts and overcame them. Vowing to consecrate himself to the defense of his faith he moved to Paris. He was 18 years old.


Frederick entered the University of Paris and took up journalism. He made friends with some other young Catholic men and soon he and a few of his new friends were involved in vigorous debates among secular students who challenged their preaching for lack of action.

The secularists told them that maybe ‘long ago’ the Catholic Church was a benefactor of humanity but those days were over. They were then asked what they were doing for people now? Frederick and his pals had no answer. They were laughed at and told they were hypocrites and basically did nothing but talk.

Frederick’s friend, Augustus Le Tailandier, asked Frederick if they might be able to put together a small group of Catholics to bring to action the Gospel message of “doing” instead of just ”talking”. Thus was born the “Conference of Charity”. This small group of Catholic/Christian young men who would not only devote themselves to helping the needy but would also advance Christian friendship.

Frederick had been submitting copy to Joseph Emmanuel Bailly who published the Tribune Catholique. He asked Mr. Bailly what he thought of their idea. He liked it so much that he joined Frederick and together they and four other young men held their very first meeting on April 23, 1833. Frederick Ozanam was 20 years old.

At that first meeting Emmanuel Bailly sent Frederick to see Sister Rosalie Rendu, a “Daughter of Charity”. Sister Rosalie became Frederick’s mentor and set him and his fledgling organization on its course by focusing them on doing “home visits” to those in need. This method of interaction was to become the primary way members would interact with those seeking their help. It remains that way to this day.

 In the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, the founder of her order, she also taught Frederick and his followers the techniques of helping the poor and the sick by being compassionate and always treating people with their God given dignity. They invoked St. Vincent de Paul as their patron and named the group, in his honor, The St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Frederick Ozanam and his friends could never have dreamed of the way the Society would grow. Within 12 years from its inception it
had spread to Italy, England, Belgium, Scotland and the United States. The society chose St. Louis, Missouri as its headquarters in America and to this day the National Council of The St. Vincent de Paul Society USA is located there.

Today in the United States there are more than 160,000 trained volunteers who provide almost 12 million hours of volunteer service helping those in need. There are close to 750,000 members doing volunteer work all around the world. And all of it was started by a 20 year old kid responding to the graces showered down upon him and inspiring those around him to join in his quest to stop “talking and start doing”.
Frederick Ozanam was beatified on August 22, 1997 by Pope John Paul II. His mentor, Sister Rosalie, was beatified on November 9, 2003. We ask them both for their continued prayers for all of us, especially those in need.

*An edited version of this article appeared in Aleteia on August 15, 2016

                                 ©Larry Peterson 2016  All Rights Reserved

3 Saints Who Never Knew the Impact They Would Have on Others –

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This article appeared in Aleteia on May 18, 2016
St. Vincent de Paul, Blessed Frederick Ozanam, St. Jeanne Jugan

Saint-Servan, France,1839:  On a bitterly cold winter night,  Jeanne Jugan , 47, looked out from her bedroom window and saw a person huddled outside. She went out and somehow managed to carry the shivering woman into her own home and place her in her own bed.

The woman’s name was Anne Chauvin and she was blind, paralyzed and quite old. She was also close to freezing to death. And so it began, for on that very night Jeanne Jugan turned her life to serving God by caring for the elderly poor. 
Word spread quickly throughout the small town and before long more elderly sick and poor were being brought to Jeanne. Other women, younger and healthier, were coming to her also. But they were coming to join her in her work. The small group of women grew and became known as  The Little Sisters of the Poor
By 1879, there were over 2400 Little Sisters of the Poor in nine countries. That year was also the year that Pope Leo XIII approved the by-laws of the order. Ironically, it was also the same year Jeanne Jugan died at the age of 86. She was canonized a saint on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Saint Jeanne Jugan never knew that when she was founding the Little Sisters of the Poor a young countryman of hers in Paris was responding to God’s flowing graces. Frederick Ozanam was a 20 year old student at the University of Paris. Challenged by his “enlightened” college peers, he embraced their taunts “to practice what you preach”.  
Accepting the challenge, Frederick went out and gave his coat to a beggar.  Shortly thereafter,  he and his four pals founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society . That was in May of 1833.  They named the society after St.Vincent because he was known for his work with the poor.
Vincent de Paul never knew that 170 years after his death an organization named after him would take up the mantle of helping the poor all over the world. Frederick Ozanam died at the age of 40 and was beatified and declared ‘Blessed’ by Pope John Paul II in 1997. Frederick  would never know that the organization he had founded would one day work side by side with the Little Sisters of the Poor in their mission of charity toward the elderly poor.
 St. Jeanne Jugan could never have known that from the moment she carried Anne Chauvin into her home she would change the world for thousands upon thousands of the sick and disabled elderly. She could never have imagined that in the 21st century her order would be serving the poorest of the elderly in cities all over the United States and in 31 countries around the world.
 Blessed Frederick would never have imagined that his Society of St. Vincent de Paul would become a worldwide organization with close to a million members helping the needy all over the world. The grand irony is that over the course of several centuries the paths of these three saints have been interwoven dramatically as their followers help the poor, homeless and downtrodden no matter where they may be.
The three saints mentioned here never knew what their simple acts of kindness would lead to. The difference with them was that, unlike most folks, they responded to God’s grace. Jeanne took care of that sickly woman and Fred gave away his coat. Vincent worked with poor tenant farmers and founded the Daughters of Charity.
These three unpretentious, God loving people had two things in common.  First, they embraced God’s grace and followed His call. Secondly, they asked for NOTHING for themselves and welcomed whatever came their way, including poverty. Their legacies live on in the thousands upon thousands of their followers and in all those millions who have been helped by their simple acts of faith. This is a beautiful thing.
 As a Catholic I love these people and I am proud to consider myself part of their extended family. They set examples for us that we are supposed to emulate. They are our Catholic heroes and therefore members of our Catholic Hall of Fame. They asked for nothing and gave everything. I love being able to talk to them. What I love best is when they talk back. And they do, sooner or later and one way or another.
 St. Vincent de Paul, St. Jeanne Jugan and Blessed Frederick Ozanam, please keep praying for all of us. And —THANK YOU.

                            ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved


Saints Jeanie, Fred, Vinnie — Our Catholic Christian Families Must All Stand Together

by Larry Peterson

When Jeanie Jugon began working in the hospital in Saint-Servan she was 25 years old. She hated poverty and all it wrought and she wanted desperately to fight back against it. One bitterly cold winter night in 1839, Jeanie looked out from her bedroom window and saw a person huddled outside. She went out and  somehow managed to carry the freezing woman into her own home and place her in her own bed. The woman was blind, paralyzed and quite old. And so it began, for on that very night Jeanne Jugan turned her life to serving God by caring for the elderly poor.

Word spread quickly throughout the small town and before long more elderly sick and poor were being brought to Jeanie. Other women, younger and healthier, were coming to her also. But they were coming to join her in her work. The small group of women grew and became known as the Little Sisters of the Poor.  Forty years later there were over 2400 Little Sisters of the Poor in nine countries. 1879 was also the year that Pope Leo XIII approved the by-laws of the order. That  was the same year Jeanie Jugon died at the age of 86. She was canonized a saint on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Saint Jeanne Jugon never knew that when she was founding the Little Sisters of the Poor a young man hundreds of miles away in Paris was unknowingly doing something quite similar. Fred Ozanam was a 20 year old student at the University of Paris and, challenged by his “enlightened” college peers, embraced their taunts “to practice what you preach”.  So he went out and gave his coat to a beggar.  Then he and his four pals founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society. That was in May of 1833.  The society was  named after St.Vinnie because he was known for his work with the poor.

 Vincent de Paul never knew that 170 years after his death an organization named after him would take up the mantel of helping the poor all over the world. Fred Ozanam died at the age of 40 and was beatified and declared ‘Blessed’ by Pope John Paul II in 1997. Fred would never know that the organization he  had founded  would one day work side by side with the Little Sisters of the Poor in their mission of charity toward the elderly poor. Saint Jeanie could never have known that from the moment she carried her first old, sick woman into her home she would change the world for thousands upon thousands of the sick and disabled elderly. She could never have imagined that in the 21st century her order would be serving the poorest of the  elderly in cities all over the United States and in 31 countries around the world. Blessed Fred would never have imagined that his St.Vincent de Paul Society would become a worldwide organization with 3/4 of a million members helping the needy all over the world. The grand irony is that over the course of several centuries the paths of these three saints have been interwoven dramatically as their followers help the poor, homeless and downtrodden no matter where they may be.

The three saints mentioned here never knew what their simple acts of kindness would lead to. The difference with them was that, unlike most folks, they responded to God’s grace. Jeanie took care of that sickly woman and Fred gave away his coat. Vinnie worked with poor tenant farmers and founded the Daughter’s of Charity. The two things they all had in common was a) they welcomed God’s grace and followed His call and b) they asked for NOTHING for themselves and embraced poverty. Remarkably, their thousands and thousands of followers, separated by centuries, work together to this day. This is a beautiful thing.

 Using the names of saints as I have done here bothers some folks. I really do not care about that.  My brother’s name is Daniel but I call him Danny. As far as Jeanie, Fred and Vinnie go, they are my family too.  You see, I love all of these people and using their names like that makes me feel closer to them. They set examples for us that we supposed to emulate. They are our Catholic heroes and therefore  members of our Catholic Hall of Fame. They asked for nothing and gave everything. I love being able to talk to them. What I love best is when they talk back. And they do, sooner or later and one way or another.

We must remember to pray hard for The Little Sisters of the Poor as they stand their ground against the HHS mandate that threatens their very existence. The forces of secularism are hard at work to remove religion from our lives. All our family members, including Vinnie, Jeanie and Fred, need  to stand together defending each other against this enemy.

St. Vincent de Paul, St. Jeanne Jugon and Blessed Frederick Ozanam, please pray for us.


Meet Fr. Richard Ho-Lung; Is He the 21st Century Version of Mother Theresa?

CANDLES IN THE DARK: the Authorized Biography of Father Richard Ho-Lung and The Missionaries of the Poor

Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Ho Lung and the Missionaries of the Poor
Written by: Joseph Pearce
Published by St. Benedict Press, 2013,   Charlotte, NC 28241   259 pages
“Thank You, Joseph Pearce”. In an age where the priesthood is constantly under attack, you have given us the story of a present-day priest who is so filled with an unconditional love for the poorest of the poor, the handicapped, the mentally challenged and the unborn that this love has already changed the world in the darkest of places. When I finished reading this book I closed it and simply stared at the picture of the man on the book jacket. I had never heard of him and here I was, suddenly transfixed by the gentle, Christ filled face looking back at me.
Father Ho-Lung and his missionaries work in the most disgusting, filthy, squalid and unclean places imaginable, caring for weakest and most vulnerable of God’s creations. Father Ho-Lung and his followers have given away all their personal belongings, taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience,  put smiles on their faces and followed  their motto, “Joyful Service with Christ on the Cross”.
Richard Ho-Lung’s parents came to Jamaica from China in the mid 1930s. Richard was born in 1939. His parents were Buddhists, and, in his formative years, Richard was raised Buddhist. His mother taught him to respect the earth and all of the wonders of nature. His father had an affinity  for the poor and taught Richard to “never forget the poor people of Jamaica, no matter what”. That sense of caring by his father has stayed with Father Richard his entire life.
If “less is more” I must pull in the reins on this review. There is so much in this book that will inspire you. For example, Father Ho-Lung is called the “reggae priest” because he wrote hit songs that topped the music charts and even rivaled the greatest “reggae” musician of all time, Bob Marley. Father Ho-Lung developed the “Caribbean Mass” with his cultural music and to this day writes music that is used to raise money for his order, the Missionaries of the Poor.
I would love to see this book read, or at least referenced, in all Catholic High-schools. I would love all young people to know of this man, whom some have dubbed “The 21st Century Mother Theresa”.  Father Richard Ho-Lung has been called the ‘reggae priest”, the “renegade priest”, the “dancing priest” and the “fiery priest”. However, Father’s favorite title is that of “ghetto priest”. That is where he works, where he lives and where he will die.
Please consider getting this book. It chronicles the life of a simple man, his conversion from Buddhism to Catholicism, his improbable ordination as a Jesuit priest, his hand-in-hand walk with Pope John Paul II to the sanctuary when the Holy Father visited Jamaica in 1993, his founding of the Missionaries of the Poor who today number over 500 members from 13 countries. (In 2011 the Missionaries of the Poor Sisters were formed.)
Father Richard Ho-Lung: lover of the downtrodden, the ill and the handicapped; lover of the beggars and  peasants and a bellowing voice for the unborn; Father Richard Ho-Lung, who has fought the crime, poverty and injustice that permeates the filthy ghettos of Jamaica; Father Richard Ho-Lung who sat on the floor with Mother Theresa, just talking, when she visited Jamaica. Both she and Pope John Paul II have been declared “BLESSED” by the church. One day I believe that Father Ho-Lung will join their ranks.  Seeing how Christ’s love is amongst us through his priesthood bolsters our faith and reinforces our resolve to fight and defend this faith we have been gifted with.
To the author, Joseph Pearce, once again—Thank you, nicely done.