The following is taken from the prayer service led by Sr. Kieran Kneaves, DC, today at the National Meeting of the SSVDP in Philadelphia, Pa. It is presented here with her permission.Leader

Jesus said, “When the Christ comes in glory, with all the angels around and sits on a glorious throne, all nations will be gathered. The Christ will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from the goats, moving the sheep to the right and the goats to the left…. Then the Christ will say to those on the right: “Come, Blessed ones, inherit God’s reign prepared for you from the foundation of the world , for…”

(Please alternate sides)

I WAS HUNGRY and you prepared the food and shared it with me in your dining rooms always treating me with dignity, and you also fed me from your food pantries, especially helping me to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I WAS THRISTY and you shared your drink with me when I was sick; and you helped me find ways to break my addictions and find what would truly satisfy my thirst.

I WAS A STRANGER and you welcomed me, and you fought in evey way you could against the barriers of race and class and gender that separate us from each other.

I WAS NAKED and you helped clothe me by running St. VIncent de Paul Stories, giving me respect as I purchased clothing and furniture for my family that I could not afford.

I WAS ILL and you visited me in my home, brought me medical assistance and helped with my medicines, and when I was sick with worry, you helped pay my bills giving me hope and courage.

I WAS IN PRISON and you came to see me, provided legal aid, often you contacted my family for me, and you always prayed with me.


Then Vincentians will answer, “But Lord, we don’t desrve any reward from these things! We were blessed when we did them, and we found that we always stood on holy ground, for:

WHEN YOU WERE HUNGRY, we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit among the people at the dining room, we were blessed by the friendships that grew among so many barriers, and we became part of a wonderful community of people.

WHEN YOU WERE THIRSTY, we were touched by your agonies and your honesty at 12 Step meetings, we rediscovered ourselves and our deeper thrists as we listened to yours, and we became able to believe that God really loves us in the midst of our weaknesses.

WHEN YOU WERE A STRANGER, we were enriched when you broke down our racial fears and cultural stereotypes to share your life with us, and we were blessed when you helped us to move beyond “Us and Them” simply to WE.

WHEN YOU WERE NAKED, we were the ones moved by your pains and in your humility in asking for help; we felt the peaceful conviction grow within us that we are privileged to be in the struggle together.

WHEN YOU WERE ILL AND DYING, we felt awe at being able to touch and anoint your suffering body.

WHEN YOU WERE IN PRISON, we were touched by sharing in your brokenness, we were blessed with greater sensitivity and prayerfulness and hope.


Then, Christ will answer: “Now you have a true glimplse, a real taste of what the Reign of God wil be like in its fulness! But there is so much yet to do. Throw yourselves into the work. Bring eveyone onto this holy ground to join you, and always give thanks for the vocation of being a VIncentian.

The remainder of ths service and the text of the presentation it followed will appear within the next month on the web site of the US SSVDP