Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Friday, March 18, 2016

March 27, 2016

Gospel: (John 20:1-9)
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him." So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb...When Simon Peter went into the tomb and he saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.  Then the other disciple also went in, and he saw and believed.  For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
Even on this day when the gospel announces the risen Lord, we feel the contradictions that the resurrection mystery arouses-seeing and believing on the one hand, misunderstanding and confusion on the other.  This mystery defies all human understanding.  The Easter stories tells us that the resurrection isn't something we understand, but believe and live. The challenge really lies in seeing and believing the resurrection comes through our own lives of self-sacrifice that bring new life to others.
 (Living Liturgy, p.108)
Vincentian Meditation:
On Easter Sunday Jesus rose gloriously from the tomb and in doing so He has given us, who believe in Him, an assurance that we, too, will, by His power, rise from the dead. There are people who say that there will be no resurrection, that there is nothing after death. When next you hear this, think of springtime.  During the long hard winter, you wonder "Will spring ever come this year?" The ground was frozen hard and there was not a sign of life in the fields or on the trees.  But now everything is changing. Flowers are appearing, the wheat is growing in the fields and leaves are beginning to appear on the trees.  No human power can keep back springtime. Since the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead, the first signs of an eternal springtime have begun to appear.  Each of us has met Christians who, despite great suffering that cannot be explained, have continued to believe that death is not the end.  These people are signs for us that Jesus Christ has really risen.(McCullen, Deep Down Things, p. 220)
Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)
Who are the "Easter" people you have known?
Closing Prayer:  
Lord, in your resurrection, you turned unbelief to belief, 
-increase our faith.                            
Lord, in your resurrection, you brought joy to the disciples,
- fill us with joy.
Lord, in your resurrection, there is hope for a suffering world,
-enliven our hope. Amen

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The Society of St. Vincent de Paul would like to graciously thank Elizabeth Jacobs Ward  who kindly and generously left her estate to our organization.We have been remarkably blessed by such a gift and are eternally grateful.

Friday, March 18- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

The crises that the Church faces today may seem minor when compared with the threat posed by the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ and almost overcame Christinity in the fourth century. Cyril was to be caught up in the controversy, accused (later) of Arianism by St. Jerome (September 30), and ultimately vindicated both by the men of his own time and by being declared a Doctor of the Church in 1822.

Raised in Jerusalem, well-educated, especially in the Scriptures, he was ordained a priest by the bishop of Jerusalem and given the task of catechizing during Lent those preparing for Baptism and during the Easter season the newly baptized. HisCatecheses remain valuable as examples of the ritual and theology of the Church in the mid-fourth century.

There are conflicting reports about the circumstances of his becoming bishop of Jerusalem. It is certain that he was validly consecrated by bishops of the province. Since one of them was an Arian, Acacius, it may have been expected that his "cooperation" would follow. Conflict soon rose between Cyril and Acacius, bishop of the rival nearby see of Caesarea. Cyril was summoned to a council, accused of insubordination and of selling Church property to relieve the poor. Probably, however, a theological difference was also involved. He was condemned, driven from Jerusalem, and later vindicated, not without some association and help of Semi-Arians. Half his episcopate was spent in exile (his first experience was repeated twice). He finally returned to find Jerusalem torn with heresy, schism and strife, and wracked with crime. Even St. Gregory of Nyssa, sent to help, left in despair.

They both went to the (second ecumenical) Council of Constantinople, where the amended form of the Nicene Creed was promulgated in 381. Cyril accepted the word consubstantial (that is, of Christ and the Father). Some said it was an act of repentance, but the bishops of the Council praised him as a champion of orthodoxy against the Arians. Though not friendly with the greatest defender of orthodoxy against the Arians, Cyril may be counted among those whom Athanasius called "brothers, who mean what we mean, and differ only about the word [consubstantial]."

Saturday, March 19 - St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

The Bible pays Joseph the highest compliment: he was a "just" man. The quality meant a lot more than faithfulness in paying debts.

When the Bible speaks of God "justifying" someone, it means that God, the all-holy or "righteous" One, so transforms a person that the individual shares somehow in God's own holiness, and hence it is really "right" for God to love him or her. In other words, God is not playing games, acting as if we were lovable when we are not.

By saying Joseph was "just," the Bible means that he was one who was completely open to all that God wanted to do for him. He became holy by opening himself totally to God.

The rest we can easily surmise. Think of the kind of love with which he wooed and won Mary, and the depth of the love they shared during their marriage.

It is no contradiction of Joseph's manly holiness that he decided to divorce Mary when she was found to be with child. The important words of the Bible are that he planned to do this "quietly" because he was "a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame" (Matthew 1:19).

The just man was simply, joyfully, wholeheartedly obedient to God-in marrying Mary, in naming Jesus, in shepherding the precious pair to Egypt, in bringing them to Nazareth, in the undetermined number of years of quiet faith and courage.

Sunday, March 20- St. Salvator of Horta

A reputation for holiness does have some drawbacks. Public recognition can be a nuisance at times-as the confreres of Salvator found out.

Salvator was born during Spain's Golden Age. Art, politics and wealth were flourishing. So was religion. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus in 1540.

Salvator's parents were poor. At the age of 21 he entered the Franciscans as a brother and was soon known for his asceticism, humility and simplicity.

As cook, porter and later the official beggar for the friars in Tortosa, he became well known for his charity. He healed the sick with the Sign of the Cross. When crowds of sick people began coming to the friary to see Salvator, the friars transferred him to Horta. Again the sick flocked to ask his intercession; one person estimated that two thousand people a week came to see Salvator. He told them to examine their consciences, to go to confession and to receive Holy Communion worthily. He refused to pray for those who would not receive those sacraments.

The public attention given to Salvator was relentless. The crowds would sometimes tear off pieces of his habit as relics. Two years before his death, Salvator was moved again, this time to Cagliari on the island of Sardinia. He died at Cagliari saying, "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit." He was canonized in 1938.

Monday, March 21- Blessed John of Parma

The seventh general minister of the Franciscan Order, John was known for his attempts to bring back the earlier spirit of the Order after the death of St. Francis of Assisi.

He was born in Parma, Italy, in 1209. It was when he was a young philosophy professor known for his piety and learning that God called him to bid good-bye to the world he was used to and enter the new world of the Franciscan Order. After his profession John was sent to Paris to complete his theological studies. Ordained to the priesthood, he was appointed to teach theology at Bologna, then Naples and finally Rome.

In 1245, Pope Innocent IV called a general council in the city of Lyons, France. Crescentius, the Franciscan minister general at the time, was ailing and unable to attend. In his place he sent Father John, who made a deep impression on the Church leaders gathered there. Two years later, when the same pope presided at the election of a minister general of the Franciscans, he remembered Father John well and held him up as the man best qualified for the office.

And so, in 1247, John of Parma was elected to be minister general. The surviving disciples of St. Francis rejoiced in his election, expecting a return to the spirit of poverty and humility of the early days of the Order. And they were not disappointed. As general of the Order John traveled on foot, accompanied by one or two companions, to practically all of the Franciscan convents in existence. Sometimes he would arrive and not be recognized, remaining there for a number of days to test the true spirit of the brothers.

The pope called on John to serve as legate to Constantinople, where he was most successful in winning back the schismatic Greeks. Upon his return he asked that someone else take his place to govern the Order. St. Bonaventure, at John's urging, was chosen to succeed him. John took up a life of prayer in the hermitage at Greccio.

Many years later, John learned that the Greeks, who had been reconciled with the Church for a time, had relapsed into schism. Though 80 years old by then, John received permission from Pope Nicholas IV to return to the East in an effort to restore unity once again. On his way, John fell sick and died.

He was beatified in 1781.

Tuesday, March 22 - St. Nicholas Owen

Nicholas, familiarly known as "Little John," was small in stature but big in the esteem of his fellow Jesuits.
Born at Oxford, this humble artisan saved the lives of many priests and laypersons in England during the penal times (1559-1829), when a series of statutes punished Catholics for the practice of their faith. Over a period of about 20 years he used his skills to build secret hiding places for priests throughout the country.

His work, which he did completely by himself as both architect and builder, was so good that time and time again priests in hiding were undetected by raiding parties. He was a genius at finding, and creating, places of safety: subterranean passages, small spaces between walls, impenetrable recesses. At one point he was even able to mastermind the escape of two Jesuits from the Tower of London. Whenever Nicholas set out to design such hiding places, he began by receiving the Holy Eucharist, and he would turn to God in prayer throughout the long, dangerous construction process.

After many years at his unusual task, he entered the Society of Jesus and served as a lay brother, although-for very good reasons-his connection with the Jesuits was kept secret.

After a number of narrow escapes, he himself was finally caught in 1594. Despite protracted torture, he refused to disclose the names of other Catholics. After being released following the payment of a ransom, "Little John" went back to his work. He was arrested again in 1606. This time he was subjected to horrible tortures, suffering an agonizing death. The jailers tried suggesting that he had confessed and committed suicide, but his heroism and sufferings soon were widely known.

He was canonized in 1970 as one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.

Wednesday, March 23 - St. Turibius of Mogrovejo

Together with Rose of Lima, Turibius is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years.

Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.
When the archdiocese of Lima in Peru required a new leader, Turibius was chosen to fill the post: He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal the scandals that had infected that area.

He cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled. He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither bed nor food. He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor. Among those to whom he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation was St. Rose of Lima, and possibly St. Martin de Porres (November 3). After 1590 he had the help of another great missionary, St. Francis Solanus.

His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously.

Thursday, March 24 - St. Catherine of Genoa

Going to confession one day was the turning point of Catherine's life.

When Catherine was born, many Italian nobles were supporting Renaissance artists and writers. The needs of the poor and the sick were often overshadowed by a hunger for luxury and self-indulgence.

Catherine's parents were members of the nobility in Genoa. At 13 she attempted to become a nun but failed because of her age. At 16 she married Julian, a nobleman who turned out to be selfish and unfaithful. For a while she tried to numb her disappointment by a life of selfish pleasure.

One day in confession she had a new sense of her own sins and how much God loved her. She reformed her life and gave good example to Julian, who soon turned from his self-centered life of distraction.

Julian's spending, however, had ruined them financially. He and Catherine decided to live in the Pammatone, a large hospital in Genoa, and to dedicate themselves to works of charity there. After Julian's death in 1497, Catherine took over management of the hospital.

She wrote about purgatory which, she said, begins on earth for souls open to God. Life with God in heaven is a continuation and perfection of the life with God begun on earth.

Exhausted by her life of self-sacrifice, she died September 15, 1510, and was canonized in 1737.

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Please pray for Sister from St. Brigid Conference, Nell Sharrock.  She has been a Vincentian for many years.  She has provided service in many of the offices in the Conference and Council Office.She is currently in Hospice at home.  We thank you for all of your prayers. 

Thanks to all who prayed for one of our Vincentian's spouse, Adan Polanco, from St. Stanislaus Parish.  Praise God the family received wonderful news last week and he is now cancer free.  Praise the Lord and thanks to all for your prayers.
Please continue praying for Yolanda and Ramiro Ramirez, Angela Angel and Gloria de Luna,  all from St. Ann's Conference  who are experiencing health issues.