Vincentian Herstory is the history of the women who responded to the promptings of the Spirit that we now call the Vincentian charism.
Recounting the history of the foundation of the Congregation of the Mission, Australian Tim Williams, C.M., wrote
It was not long after this, that Vincent persuaded Pierre de Berulle to allow him to leave the Gondi household and take up a position in the parish of Châtillon-les Dombes in the Lyons region of France. He remained in this parish for less than six months, then, at the insistence of Madame de Gondi [Françoise Marguérite De Silly], who was distraught at his absence, and after consulting several others, including Pierre de Bérulle, he returned to Paris. He did not return as Tutor, but as Chaplain to the Gondi house and estates.
Madame de Gondi did not forget her concern for the country people on her estates in the north of France. After Vincent’s Mission Sermon at Folleville in 1617, she developed a plan for periodical missions to be preached on her estates, and set aside 16,000 livres for this purpose. When Vincent de Paul could not find any religious clergy in Paris to carry out these missions, Madame de Gondi was not discouraged. After praying for enlightenment, she determined that Vincent de Paul himself should establish a community of missionaries. Madame de Gondi’s husband, Philippe Emmanuel de Gondi, supported the plan, and approval was easily obtained from Philippe Emmanuel’s brother, Jean François de Gondi, who was the Archbishop of Paris. The new community, the Congregation of the Mission, would live at the Collège des Bons Enfants, a former hostel for students in the Rue Saint Victor, Paris. Pressed by the Archbishop of Paris, as well as by Philippe Emmanuel and Madame de Gondi, Vincent de Paul agreed to everything.
“She developed a plan.” “After praying for enlightenment, she determined…”
Without her suppleness to the Spirit, and the gentle force of her character, would there be a Congregation of the Mission? Read the rest of this Vincentian herstory at vincentians.com.