Mercy and Love, Front and Center
Mercy has been on our minds in recent months. When Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of Mercy in Rome last December, the faithful were excited – and for good reason. All of us long to experience God’s merciful love.
St. Vincent de Paul Parish, in the Germantown neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia, has always placed God’s mercy and love front and center. One might say that the doors of St. Vincent’s have been doors of mercy for many, many years.
“There is just so much, love, strength and openness here,” said Heather Wright, who converted to Catholicism thirty-five years ago. In a recent interview with The Philadelphia Tribune, she shares how St. Vincent’s prison ministry helped her spiritually and emotionally to cope with the difficulties of having an incarcerated son.
“This is a place where the people rally around you when you are hurting,” Wright said. “The people in the ministry come and pray with me. They pray for my son, who was no angel. He even got out and got incarcerated again. Yet even the second time around they prayed with me and for him. They even go with me on visits.”
The Vincentian Community founded St. Vincent de Paul Parish in January, 1851 in order to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the many immigrants then arriving from Europe.
In the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, our inclusive community welcomes, affirms and serves both the poorest of the poor and those who are alienated and most vulnerable among us. – Parish Mission Statement
Since its founding, St. Vincent’s has sought to create a spiritual home with and for people who are vulnerable, unwelcome, and abandoned. In short, God’s merciful love has always been in the parish’s DNA. It remains so today.
In recent decades, Germantown has struggled with disinvestment, poverty, violence, and population decline, especially of Catholic families. There have been many losses and many tears shed. God’s merciful love has often seemed in short supply. Amid the challenges, St. Vincent’s with its focus on God’s mercy has endured.
Today, St. Vincent’s Parish draws strength from a diverse community of believers, many of whom have experienced the sting of poverty and exclusion. Their unity is centered on the celebration of the Eucharist. And, their faith bears fruit in a variety of often-innovative and creative ministries that strive to share God’s merciful love with people, both within the parish and beyond.
St. Vincent’s also collaborates and partners with other faith-based groups to help build positive change. To this end, it commits itself to supporting those in need and to raising awareness about their struggles. It even has a sister parish in El Salvador.
We now celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy. It is worth remembering that St. Vincent’s doors of mercy have been opened wide for well over a hundred years.
Check out the parish webpage to learn more.