A Facebook post by Karl Michael Hila, Youth Representative for the International Society of St Vincent dePaul, got me thinking about Frederic Ozanam and Pay it Forward. Pay it forward is an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.
Frederic wrote to the early members of the Society of St. Vincent dePaul…
Dear Members of the Society,
I invite you to plant seeds in your young people that one day will grow to nourish the future development of the Society. I remember when I was young how Emmanuel and Sr. Rosalie BELIEVED, GUIDED and ENCOURAGED me to serve the poor. I encourage you to do the same with youth and young adults in your parish. Do not be afraid to sow many seeds and be open to the many new possibilities of engaging young people in the Society. Take these new ideas, use them and support the hopes and dreams of others. Challenge yourself — be inventive and persistent in putting creative ideas into practice as you continue to develop our network of charity around the World.
As I connected some dots it occurred to me how Frederic lived the concept of Pay it Forward.
First, he was deeply aware of the love he had experienced and spent his life in paying it forward to those who were struggling to survive and make sense of their lives. He ministered to their spiritual and physical needs. And isn’t that what Jesus did when he asked us to speak the Good News of Father’s love.
But what this letter of his brought to my mind was his awareness of his debt to Emmaunel Bailly and Sr. Rosalie Rendu, DC. They encouraged him to believe, guided him and encouraged him to serve the poor. In this letter he pays it forward by guiding others as he was guided. ” I encourage you to do the same with youth and young adults in your parish.”
And oh yes, he also foreshadows Pope Francis when he says “Challenge yourself — be inventive and persistent in putting creative ideas into practice as you continue to develop our network of charity around the World.” Frederick was open enough to hear the challenge of an atheist fellow student who asked what has your God done for the poor and the suffering.
The more I learn of Frederick the more I realize he also challenges me to “pay it forward”!
And that’s why in this week’s edition of Formation Friday I point to the VinFormation collection of resources that provide a window into understanding Frederic Ozanam – the love he experience and the love he paid forward.