Born in Rome in 1795, St. Vincent became a priest and dedicated himself completely to God and cared for souls. He dreamed of gaining for Christ all non-Catholics, especially Muslims. To this end he inaugurated a revolutionary program which involved both the laity and the clergy. But St. Vincent was also well aware of the many deprivations in the natural sphere that hindered the spread of the Faith. He thus obtained and spent huge sums for the poor and underprivileged. He founded guilds for workers, agriculture schools, loan associations, orphanages and homes for girls – all of which made him the pioneer and precursor of Catholic Action. His great legacy was the congregation which he founded for urban mission work, known as the “Society for Catholic Action”. This indefatigable laborer for Christ in 1850 from a severe cold which he most likely caught on a cold rainy night after giving his cloak to a beggar who had none.
I came across Vincent at my first trip to Pallotti in Millgrove (ordination retreat): a retreat centre in the hills near Healesville. A truly beautiful place, not merely because of the setting (which is truly stunning) but because of the community that serve there. It was there I discovered the work that has taken place among Australian indigenous people in the tradition of Vincent Pallotti. Turns out the Pallottines have done more work than any other group, and much earlier, to preserve and honour our indigenous heritage.
Then early last year, after meeting Brendan McKeague (I can’t believe that was only last year!), I discovered the Pallottine community in Kew, near Studley Park. Amazing people, doing wonderful, humble work. Their love and hospitality are so good, they’ve agreed to host Father John Dear on his visit here, at my request. So Vincent Pallotti has had an effect on me, and he goes on having an effect on others too, whether they recognise it as him or not. On this day where we celebrate him and his faithfulness to God, I can truly give thanks in a very personal way.