The work of Scotland’s Vincentian family received great recognition last weekend, at a spectacular day of spiritual celebrations in Carfin.
Hundreds of Vincentians from across the UK gathered at Carfin on Saturday September 29 as they celebrated Mass to mark the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism.
The sun shone on the afternoon as clergy, religious and lay people came together for the pilgrimage, processing around the grounds of the Grotto as they prayed the Rosary together while proudly displaying school, parish and group banners. The pilgrims then gathered for Mass in St Francis Xavier’s led by Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell along with a number of other clergy.
“It was a lovely occasion and a special event for this special 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism,” Bishop Toal said. “It’s lovely to see how much work has been done through the inspiration of St Vincent de Paul, St Louise and Blessed Frederic Ozanam as well.”
Bishop Toal praised those who have involved themselves in the various Vincentian apostolates, and hoped others, especially young people, would ‘follow in their footsteps.’
“We hope that many others will feel inspired by this special anniversary to follow in the footsteps of these great saints and all the good people that have been inspired by them through these last four centuries,” he added.
There was a particularly Scottish flavour to the celebrations, as a piper in full Highland dress led a procession carrying a 400th anniversary candle, followed behind by a long line of pupils from Catholic schools across the country, while the Deaf Choir signed the words of both the homily and the hymns wearing colourful tartan.
The homily was delivered by Vincentian Fr Eugene Curran from Dublin who, drawing on the idea of the ‘Transfiguration of the Commonplace’ from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Scottish Catholic author Muriel Spark, spoke of how this transfiguration can be achieved through the work of the Vincentians.
“The celebration of 400 years is not a celebration of Vincent and Louise,” he said. “It is a celebration of all of us, and all of our stories in service to the Lord.
“Most of all we need to recognise that God is transfiguring the commonplace of our own lives.
”Perhaps as we go forth from this place today, we can allow ourselves to recall our own story and the stories of others in ministry and service.
“Maybe too it is a time to tell these stories out loud to ourselves and others—not out of pride, but witnessing that each day, in every place, in millions and millions of lives, God is transfiguring the commonplace and letting God’s glory and God’s grace be shown.”
Many bore testament to the fantastic work of the Society of St Vincent De Paul (SSVP) and Vincentian orders in Scotland, including Margo Uprichard from The Space in Glasgow, which helps some of Govanhill’s poorest and most vulnerable families.
Explaining the history of the charity, she said the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul sent Sr Agnes to Govanhill to ‘get to know the people, the issues and the needs,’ before the mission call was confirmed and The Space was set up.
“The Space was set up as a ministry of presence and a listening ministry, and it was a place of hospitality,” Ms Uprichard said. “For 18 months we were there listening to the needs of the people. Where we could help we did, and after those 18 months we then became a formal project.
“Everything we do is based on Vincentian values, and those values are the foundation of the project and what sets us apart. They really are the lifeblood of the project.”
James McKendrick, the national president of SSVP Scotland, said he was very pleased with the turnout at the Mass.
“It was such a wonderful, spiritual, uplifting occasion, that allows the Vincentian family to celebrate aptly the 400th anniversary of our charism and our Vincentian spirituality,” he added.