The life of Saint Vincent de Paul is a great example of the transforming power of God’s grace. Today, he is known as a great saint who worked to aid the poor and suffering. He preached the Gospel, cared for orphans, and protected the weak.
But as a young man, Vincent was not at all saintly. Vincent’s father worked very hard so that he could send Vincent to school. Vincent, however, was disrespectful to his father because he was ashamed of his father’s poverty. He became a priest when he was 20, but he wasn’t really that interested in serving God. Instead, he wanted to find a comfortable position where he wouldn’t have to do much work and would have a large salary. He spent the next ten years of his life in pursuit of this goal, without success.
Over time, however, Vincent began to have a conversion of heart. He was deeply moved by his experiences of working with the poor, and he found guidance from devout priests who were trying to reform the Church in France. Eventually, he went on to found The Congregation of the Mission, a group of priests who organized rural retreats and trained seminarians, and the Daughters of Charity, a group of religious sisters who served the poor. He also inspired Frédéric Ozanam, who founded the Society of Vincent de Paul.
Vincent was canonized in 1737, and the work he began still continues. The orders that he founded work in many countries around the world, and serve thousands of people every day.