My colleague, Gerelyn Hollingsworth, who writes the daily "saint of the day" blog, offered this today: "On this day we celebrate the feast of Blessed Frederic Ozanam, husband, father, lawyer, author, Dante scholar, professor in the Sorbonne, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul."
As we say in Christian circles, God's providence contributed to the timing of a story NCR published on September 2, 2011, about the leadership of Joseph Flannigan, the outgoing president of the National Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, with a sidebar story on the incoming president -- the first woman to hold this post, Sheila Gilbert.
Just by the numbers, the legacy of Blessed Frederic Ozanam is staggering:
"The St. Vincent de Paul Society, founded in 1833, is a Catholic lay organization, and has as its mission to lead women and men to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the poor and suffering, in the tradition of its founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul.
The society has approximately 700,000 men and women throughout the world known as "Vincentians," located in 142 countries on five continents. In the United States, there are more than 172,000 members in 4,600 communities.
In 2010, the U.S. Vincentians provided more than $595 million in tangible and in-kind services, served more than 14 million people in need, performed more than 648,000 home visits, and delivered more than 7 million service hours to those in need or living in poverty."
Thank God for Blessed Frederic Ozanam, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and for all of the Vincentians in the U.S. and around the world.