The St. Louis Review describes the reaction of the young adults who attended “The Vincentian Family Responds to Ferguson,” a gathering of members of the associations or congregations whose apostolates in St. Louis are inspired by the Vincentian charism of service to people living in poverty.
The stated goals of the event:
- To develop a deeper understanding of the roots of racism and social injustice in the St. Louis area
- To foster an awareness of the need to collaborate for a social and economic impact in St. Louis, Ferguson, and beyond
- To construct an action plan responding to the Vincentian call to “Mind the Gap” between services
Rebecca Harpring and three other young adults who are members of the Vincentian Mission Corps listened closely to the speakers and panelists during the morning-long event. No wandering off to the back of the room. No checking their cell phones for messages.
When broken into small groups to respond to the topic– racism and social injustice in the St. Louis area as well as a gap in services for people in need– they thoughtfully put their ideas on paper, then shared them with the larger group. The response, they noted, must work toward unity and trust.
The full article in the St. Louis Review describes the reactions of others attending.
Lance McCarthy, director of poverty programs with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s national council, cites a strategy for job creation and training in Ferguson and north St. Louis as a crucial factor in battling the state of poverty that exists there.
McCarthy and the national council have been a part of some efforts in those areas, such as a job partnership. Other efforts he suggested for consideration include:
- Raising the minimum wage
- Increasing the earned income-tax credit
- Guaranteeing paid leave and paid sick days
- Eliminating erratic work hours for those who care for children
- Providing high-quality child care
- Expanding Medicaid
- Reforming the criminal justice system for successful re-entry
- Ensuring funding for programs that provide help to families
- Eliminating the requirement for felons to list a conviction on employment applications
The article continues… Service to the poor is the hallmark of the associations or congregations that are members of the Vincentian family, linked to St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. They are:
- Ladies of Charity, an organization of laywomen in parishes founded at St. Vincent Parish in St. Louis in 1857. Their motto is “To serve rather than be served.”
- Congregation of the Mission, a community of priests and brothers founded by St. Vincent in 1625 and arriving in Perryville in 1818.
- Daughters of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poor, founded by St. Vincent and St. Louise in 1633 and arriving in St. Louis in 1828.
- Sisters of Charity, founded in 1809 by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul, founded in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam to seek Christ in the poor and begun in the United States in St. Louis in 1845.
- Vincentian Marian Youth, a lay youth group reaching out to those who are the poorest and to youth. It was founded in 1835 and established in Perryville in 2004.
- The Association of the Miraculous Medal, founded in 1847 and established in Perryville in 1918, spreads devotion to Mary.
- Daughters of Charity and Congregation of the Mission affiliate groups
- Association of Former Daughters of Charity
- Ascension Health
- Lay Vincentian Missionaries, young laymen and women who spend several years in a foreign mission.
- Vincentian Lay Missionaries USA, providing short-term international opportunities for young adults.
- Vincentian Mission Corps, volunteers who work, live and pray in the Vincentian spirit by improving the lives of people who are marginalized or living in poverty.