The Life of St Vincent de Paul. c. 1581-1660 His Legacy continues today. Written for teens and young adults. Excerpt: Chapter 5 MISSION WORK THE incident which had given rise to Vincent’s first mission at Folleville had never been forgotten by Madame de Gondi. It seemed to her that there was need to multiply such missions among the country poor, and no sooner had Vincent returned to her house than she offered him a large sum of money to endow a band of priests who would devote their lives to evangelizing the peasantry on her estates. Vincent was delighted, but considering himself unfit to undertake the management of such an enterprise, he proposed that it should be put into the hands of the Jesuits or the Oratorians. Madame de Gondi, although convinced in her own mind that Vincent, and Vincent alone, was the man to carry out the enterprise, obediently suggested it to one religious Order after another. In every case some obstacle intervened, until the Countess was more than ever persuaded that her first instinct had been right. Knowing Vincent’s loyalty to Holy Church and his obedience to authority, she determined to have recourse to her brother-in-law, the Archbishop of Paris. An old house called the Collège des Bons Enfants was at that moment vacant. She asked it of the Archbishop, whom she had interested in her scheme, and who proposed to Vincent to undertake the foundation. There was no longer room for hesitation; the will of God seemed plain; indeed, Vincent’s love of the poor had been for some time struggling with his humility. The new Congregation was to consist of a few good priests who, renouncing all thought of honor and worldly advancement, were to devote their lives to preaching in the villages and small towns of France. Their traveling expenses were to be paid from a common fund. They were to spend themselves in the service of their neighbor, instructing, catechizing and exhorting; and they were to take nothing in return for their labors. Nine months of the year were to be given to this kind of work; the other three to prayer and preparation. In March, 1625, the foundation was made, and Vincent de Paul was named the first superior. It was stipulated, however, that he should remain, as he had already promised, in the house of the founders, a condition which seemed likely to doom the enterprise to failure. Vincent could hardly fail to realize how necessary it was that the superior of a new Congregation should be in residence in his own house, but he confided the little company to God and awaited the development of events.
F. A. Forbes, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1497588731, ISBN 13: 9781497588738