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A Brave Vincentian Brother Smuggled Millions Across Battle Lines

Brothers in the time of Vincent

During Vincent’s later years especially, four brothers in the Congregation of the Mission – Bertrand Ducournau, Louis Robineau, Mathieu Régnard, and John Parre – were among his closest collaborators.

When the Thirty Years’ War began to wind down, Vincent organized massive relief efforts. He sent Brother Matthew Regnard (nicknamed Reynard, or fox) across battle lines in Lorraine 53 times. Using clever disguises he carried a fortune for the relief of the people. Actually, when translated into today’s dollars many of these trips involved more than a million dollars. He was stopped by the warring military and narrowly escaped using his quick wit.

We only have a small fraction of the letters St. Vincent wrote. Most were destroyed in the French Revolution. Thankfully, his secretary, Brother Bertrand Ducournau, provided us with many anecdotes about Vincent. He is also responsible for saving many of the letters of St. Vincent still in various archives. Here in the Eastern Province are Archives are named in his honor.

Vincentian Brothers today

The tradition of serving the poor and the marginalized as a brother is very much alive today. Just look at these four Brothers.

Bro Alfred Smith has been serving the Germantown community for 58 years and has been honored countless times for his work. He founded Inn Dwelling in 1981. Highlights of his amazing 6 decades of service.

Brother Martin Schneider reflects on his life and ministry as a Professor of Public Speaking at Niagara University.

Br. Mark Elder is a professional muralist whose building size murals are spread all over the United States. As a professor at De Paul Univesity, he is especially pleased to bring out the spiritual dimension of his work. See samples of his work and his approach to art.

Brother Jim Donlevy has spent much of his life teaching carpentry at DePaul Center  Nairobi, Kenya and serving as an integral part of the pastoral team there.

Do you know anyone who might fit this profile of Vincentian Brother today?

  • A man of prayer centered in Jesus Christ to live faithfully the charism of St. Vincent;
  • A man who relates comfortably with people of all ages;
  • A man who lives simply in community and assists his brothers generously;
  • A man who works to further the mission of the Church and the Congregation;
  • A man who can identify his abilities and find concrete ways to serve the poor well;
  • A man imbued with a missionary spirit, with a readiness to go wherever he is needed;
  • A man who participates in the life and decision-making of the community.

The above profile is taken from the website Men on a  Mission.

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