25 January: Traditional Founding Day of the Congregation of the Mission

In 1613 Vincent de Paul became the tutor to the children of Philippe de Gondi, who was one of the noblemen of the time.  Philippe’s wife, Madame de Gondi, who had chosen Vincent as her spiritual director, was concerned about the spiritual welfare of the tenants on her property.  In 1617 she asked Vincent to preach in the parish church of Folleville (a small town north of Paris) and to instruct the people of the neighboring villages on her estates.  Vincent heard the confession of a dying peasant at Gannes near Folleville; the peasant related to Madame de Gondi his joy in being freed from sins that he had kept hidden so many years. 

On 25 January 1617, at the parish in Folleville, Vincent preached on the need for general confession. The response of parishioners seeking to go to confession was so overwhelming that Vincent had to get help from other priests to hear all the confessions. From this experience Vincent realized the great need for pastoral care and healing that the people were experiencing; he felt called to bring the Good News to those who had little opportunity to learn about Christ or the faith.  Later Vincent considered this sermon to be the first sermon of the Mission, the beginning of the Congregation of the Mission or Vincentian Fathers and Brothers. This experience was part of Vincent’s transformation to care for the poor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *