The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul on September 27th. St. Vincent is well known for his charitable works and service to the poor, but he was also a reformer of the priesthood and seminaries throughout France. Many of his reforms helped pave the way for the seminary system of our own day.
The priesthood was largely in ruins during the 17th century in France. Many priests did not receive proper formation or abandoned the requirements of the priesthood altogether. Many of the scandals the Church faces today were occurring during St. Vincent’s time, including corruption, violations of the requirement of celibacy, and greed. The Fallen nature of human beings has always been on display in all vocations within the Church. It is in times of great corruption and abandonment of the Faith that Christ raises up saints to help bring about renewal. St. Vincent de Paul was one of those saints to help restore the priesthood in his own day.
St. Vincent sought to educate both priests and members of the laity on the role of the priesthood. A clear understanding of the priesthood is also essential for priests, religious, and the laity today. With continued scandals coming to light around the world, it is apparent that too many priests have lost their way. There is also a great misunderstanding among many members of the laity as to the actual nature and mission of the priesthood. St. Vincent de Paul’s teachings on the priesthood can help us come to a deeper understanding of God’s calling for priests and the need for renewal in the priesthood today.
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