Do you Know What Else Is Celebrated With the Immaculate Conception?
Yes, visitors to this site know that all around the world our church annually celebrates Dec. 8th as the feast of the Immaculate Conception. But how many know what it means for the Vincentian Family around the world? Or its special significance for the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission?
December 8 in the Vincentian Family
In the Vincentian Family Dec. 8th marks
- the canonical establishment of Confraternity of Charity- 1617 which became a key part of St. Vincent’s pastoral strategy.
- the day on which the first group of the Ladies of Charity in the United States was formally established (See Former Superior General Fr. Gregory Gay reflections on the significance of the Ladies of Charity USA.
- the day on which many groups of the Sisters of Charity Federation renew their vows.
- one of the feast days chosen by the Society of St. Vincent DePaul in 1834
It is also the day after Pearl Harbour!
December 8th in the life of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission
For the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission December 8th marks the 140th anniversary of the present Shrine of the Miraculous Medal. From its earliest days, the shrine served as a home for many who had left their homes in Europe with the hope of finding a better life.
This year, the eve of December 8th 2019, the courtyard of the property served as a kind of homeless encampment. The Philadelphia area’s only participation in the world wide great sleep out which expected to draw 50,000 people in locations as varied as Times Square and people’s backyards. In our courtyard, about 20 people acted in solidarity with millions throughout the world who have no homes today… and no hope.
Danielle Ferrari, one of the writers for the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal put it this way…
“I committed to sleeping out in solidarity with the homeless last night to get a glimpse of what it is like even for a few hours to be left outside when everyone else has somewhere to go. It puts things in perspective and allows me to be grateful for that extra pair of socks I purchased before that night or the warm house and bed I was able to retreat to later that morning.
Now when I walk by those left on the streets I hope that I will not look the other way but instead, I hope to have just a little bit more compassion and empathy for how they must be feeling”
Even some who normally live in the Province’s motherhouse did what they could. One priest who could not commit to the full night rose quite early to provide hot coffee well before dawn for those who were able to brave the cold. Even the elderly priests in St. Catherine’s Infirmary who serve in an “apostolate of prayer” made theirs the intentions of those participating in solidarity with so many throughout the world.
All this took place as the Eastern Province and other branches of the Vincentian Family in Philadelphia are committing to an ambitious plan to provide “room in the inn”. They are getting close to finalizing a response in Philadelphia to the challenge of leaders of the Vincentian Family to establish 13 houses for those who have no homes… and often no hope.
Today the 13 houses project picks up the mantle of Vincent in addressing those who have no homes. See the Vincentian Family Homeless Alliance as well as its international 13 Houses Campaign which takes its inspiration from St. Vincent de Paul who built 13 small houses close to St. Lazare, the motherhouse of the Congregation of the Mission, to care for abandoned children.
Whether or not St. Vincent would have organized a sleep-out, he certainly gives us an example of doing new things and speaking to powerful people in order to carry out his work. We need to have the courage to do the same, and the confidence to use the possibilities of our own time to take our Vincentian mission into new places.
Food for thought
- How many of the coincidences were you aware of?
- Which aspect of December 8th is uppermost in your mind?
- Are you inspired to learn more about any one of these aspects of December 8th?