Sr. Kieran Kneaves DC writes of the Special performance “Apostle of Truth” from St. Philip Neri Newman Center Eastern Illinois University “I sat in awe as I saw the heart and soul of Frederic Ozanam come alive before my eyes.”
I watched as Frederic was:
- Challenged by his doubts against his faith in God and surrendering to Truth.
- Confronted by Jean Broet to put his faith into action.
- Guided by Emmanuel Bailly to defend his faith.
- Supported by his friends Le Taillandier, Lamache, Lallier, Deveaux and Clave.
- Inspired to found the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
- Mentored by Sr. Rosalie Rendu, DC to love and serve the poor.
- Motivated by the poor of the Mouffetard area
- Educated by Fr. Henri Lacordaire to understand justice and charity.
- Loved by Amelie and their child Marie.
- Devastated by the death of Bishop Affre.
- Resigned to God’s will in accepting death.
It is strange that I actually cannot remember just how I came to hear about the life of Blessed Frederic Ozanam in the first place. It was not through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. (I came to learn about that extraordinary organization through my readings about his life and the world in which he grew up.) I am not trying to simply be pious when I write this but I came to know Frederic through the work of God’s grace. I know that the story of Frederic’s life and the many letters and poems that he has left behind have been a strong inspiration in my own life. If I had to describe to someone in one sentence why I wrote this play and why I wish to share Frederic’s story with others, I would have to explain that it was because I find Frederic to be so incredibly relatable and relevant to people of our own day and age.
His life was no airbrusheded version of pure joy. He, like all the saints, suffered greatly in many ways throughout his life. His inner anxieties and moments of depression, the economic, political and social instability which surrounded him, his experiences with the skepticism and outright atheism of many of the elite in 19th century French Society, and the personal tragedies of his older sister’s untimely death and his wife’s several miscarriages all affected him in profound ways. And yet, it is precisely within these moments of trial and fatigue that we are able to see the true greatness of the man. He, although brilliant intellectually, was humble and brave enough to place his trust and faith in God in the way that a child does: with a simple kind of confidence and obedience. It was this confidence, this hope in that which is true and eternal, that allowed Frederic to carry out the important vocation of charity and eduction for others that God had given him. Through this decisive dedication to his vocation he would find the joy and the peace that he always sought. For his work, and the legacy of his work which still lives on today in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, I believe that we have much to be grateful for. I hope that you come to find this man’s remarkable life story to be just as big an inspiration and motivation as I have found it to be.
— Geoffrey Zokal
Material courtesy of Vincentian Young Adults and Youth Newsletter.
Editor: Hopefully this program will become available to the wider Vincentian Family in some form soon.
Tags: Featured, Frederic Ozanam, SVDP, Young Adults, Youth