Festival Encourages Vincentians to ‘Grow in Holiness’
By Lynne Conner, Observer Correspondent
October 7, 2021
DEKALB—“Our primary purpose as Vincentians is to grow in holiness together. We grow in holiness by being open enough to share with others the insights and thoughts that we have on our faith journeys,” said Timothy P. Williams, the national formation director for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. 
He was the keynote speaker at the annual diocesan Vincentian Festival held Oct. 2 at Christ the Teacher University Parish.
Being able to see the face of Christ in the less fortunate, Williams contended, is essential to the mission of St. Vincent de Paul. 
Founded in 1833, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a worldwide organization of lay Catholics who follow Christ’s call to serve the poor, the suffering, and the deprived. 
“In contemplating, serving and loving the poor, the poor one is Jesus Christ,” said Williams. “As Vincentians, this is the center of our vocation … The journey is a shared and forward one, we grow in holiness together.
“If there are times that we fail to see the face of Christ in the people we serve and in each other, some of the Disciples failed to see the face of Christ in Christ.
“Inside church, we see Christ on the cross, we see Him in the Eucharist and in the stations of the cross, but outside of church we encounter Christ on the streets. Where we are can affect what we see,” Williams said. 
In break-out sessions, Williams had those gathered reflect on the human ‘faces’ of Christ. He encouraged them to share times when they have seen the faces of helplessness, discouragement, anger, difficulty, exasperation and impatience in those they serve. 
“Whichever faces we encounter in our outreach, it is important to always see Christ, so we can respond in love,” Williams said.
The Vincentian Festival Mass was celebrated by Bishop David Malloy who reflected on the good works of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. 
“Christ Himself chose to live in material poverty; there are others kinds of poverty: spiritual, psychological, loneliness,” Bishop Malloy said. “The Vincentians know this very well. The efforts of the Vincentians are designed to be a Gospel response to that brokenness in the world,” he said.
“If we put together that service to the poor and that love of the spiritual component of the Church, it means that … our work as Vincentians is in complete fidelity to the teachings of the Church. 
“In these times when the world is confused and needs witnesses, it is good to call upon our Vincentian roots, to be faithful to Christ and to witness to the world,” Bishop Malloy said
Susan Wiland of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Hampshire is the president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Rockford and an organizer of the festival. 
“Today’s event is a time of faith formation for our members, a chance to reflect on the values of St. Vincent de Paul and challenge ourselves to grow in our ministry,” Wiland said. 
“One of the most important things we do is home visits to our friends in need. We try to meet them where they are and help guide them through the financial troubles they may be having. We are providing systemic change, where people are empowered to become financially independent.”
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