From the Pastor

Dear Family of St. Vincent de Paul,

I am grateful for your assurance of prayer for my continuing recovery. And it is continuing: I am getting a little stronger every day and I fully expect to be well enough to go home within a month or so. But I do not realistically expect to get to be strong enough Rev. Richard T. Lawrenceto perform all the ministry that you have a right to expect of your pastor.

I have therefore decided that it is time for me to retire. I have submitted my letter of resignation of the office of pastor to be effective Monday, February 27th at noon, and the Archbishop has accepted it. We will have a Mass at St. Vincent’s on Sunday, February 26th at 10:30 AM to give me an opportunity to sum up my ministry and say farewell to each of you. A reception will follow and I hope as many as possible of you will help celebrate the Mass and the ensuing party.

I will try at that liturgy to express my gratitude for all that you have done for me and with me over the past 43 years. Continue reading

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Shine On

Fitting these words on our banner (above) on the back of St. Vincent took some clever design work. For a sign meant to be read while waiting at stoplight 20 yards away, 13 words might as well be a James Joyce tome.

We did it however (Thanks, Tom Hyatt!), because at this moment in time we really want to proclaim these words from the Gospel of John to ourselves and to all. The idea for this banner grew out of conversations among parishioners about the direction of the country, the needs in our city and more. The emotions expressed in this dialogue have been, at times, dark—parishioners speak and write of feeling uncertainty, despair and anger and frustration.  Many are stepping out in their faith, letting these powerfully emotions serve as energy for change. To be sure, our faith tells us even amidst the brokenness of our world: Continue reading

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St. V’s Year in Review

As 2016 winds down, radio and TV programs remind us it’s been eventful year in our country and our world. Here at St. Vincent this, our 175th year, has been a big one as well.

What’s Happened?

Before

After

We began 2016 by welcoming Colleen McCahill as our new pastoral associate. We were fortunate that, as a long-time parishioner, she was able to transition quickly into the position.

As the year began, the parish was already involved the Archdiocesan planning process that addresses how Catholic parishes will continue to, and in fact grow in, our efforts to evangelize given the increasing shortage or clergy. This process will eventually yield new configurations for all parishes, called pastorates, which typically will be two or more parishes operating together.

Meanwhile, this 175-year-old church got a spiffy new look as our multi-year restoration of the exterior continued. The Front Street side’s brick was repointed and painted; woodwork scraped and painted; steps reset and realigned; windows repaired and protective glass installed. Continue reading

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Another Anniversary at St. Vincent!

Our ministry The Resource Exchange (TRE) celebrates its fifth year of furnishing the homes of people who have experienced homelessness. More than 400 people have been helped through this joint program with Healthcare for the Homeless!

Many thanks to all who have made this possible by donating furniture, gently used necessities, or funding; shopping for household goods; packing household starter kits; picking up furniture or helping to deliver items and decorate apartments.

tre-before-afterLearn more about how you can be a part of this wonderful ministry.

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Find Your Inner St. Vincent!

findyourThe theme for the parish’s Feast of St. Vincent celebration this year is “Find Your Inner St. Vincent!”  This slightly hippy-dippy theme statement might seem simplistic, even flighty, at first glance.  That is until you ask yourself what “finding your inner St. Vincent” might look like, which was directly inspired by the life of St. Vincent de Paul’s life.

Born into rural poverty in 16th-century France, St. Vincent thought his path out of poverty and into a comfortable “middle class” life might be the priesthood.  This was fairly common in those days.  There were a few bumps along the way (such as being kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery!), but all in all, he landed a pretty sweet gig ministering to rich folks. (See more of St. Vincent’s story on the reverse page.)

End of story, right?  Mission accomplished?  Pension and a high yield investment portfolio?  He probably just packed it in and put his life on cruise control.  Not St. Vincent!  After an encounter with the servant of one of his wealthy patrons, his eyes were opened to the spiritual and physical needs of the poor. The rest is history.

Finding your inner St. Vincent means getting uncomfortable, unsettled, and unsatisfied with status quo in our lives.  This will look different for different folks, and each of us will find this inspiration in a different place.

In this community there is any number of opportunities to take that step—meeting the people who visit and stay in St. Vincent’s Park, serving dinner at Breaking Bread With the Hungry in our undercroft on Friday evenings. We also might stop to look up from the frantic pace of our busy lives to see those in need around us—an elderly neighbor in need of company or assistance, a child struggling in school who could use a tutor.  We ask God to help us follow St. Vincent’s trajectory from comfort to discomfort in the service of all people. Lee Krempel

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God Is Living in Our Cities

Flickr/Let Ideas Compete

Photo credit: Flickr/Let Ideas Compete

The Pope said so. The quote is hanging on our wall.

God is living in our cities. Really? Don’t the theologians say that God is everywhere? And if we were looking for someplace in particular to find God, most of us would think places of quiet natural beauty, like a stream in the forest or the sun reflecting off the surface of the Chesapeake in the early morning.

What makes Francis think that God is living in our cities in any special way?

Well, our cities are where our culture is. Whether you want pop culture such as a rock concert or high culture such as an art museum, you find it in the city. The ballpark, the stadium, the orchestra hall, the sculpture garden, all are in the city.God is Living summer 2016a

And our cities are where humanity makes progress. Granted, the internet has made location a little less important in this regard, but proximity and personal interaction still matter in the interplay of ideas that creates progress, whether in philosophy or in medicine, in technology or in business. It is no surprise, therefore, that most of the great universities, the great research institutes, the great teaching hospitals, are in our cities.

And, quite simply, our cities are where our people are. Over the past few centuries, as the population of our planet has grown, it is our cities that have grown even as our rural populations have declined. If God loves people, God has to love our cities, because that’s where the people are.

But I think that above all these reasons, Francis would say, God is living in our cities because that’s where the poor are. Of course poverty exists in our rural areas (Somerset County, on the Eastern Shore, not Baltimore City as many might think, has the lowest per capita income in the state). But far and away the largest numbers of the poor live in our cities.

Our cities are where our poor come seeking a way out of poverty, if not for themselves, then for their children. Whether it was an Irish farmer fleeing the oppression of British rule and the ensuing potato famine, or an African-American sharecropper thrown off his land during the Depression, or a Latino indocumentado who could no longer make it at home because of the violence created by the US-fed cartels, they have come to our cities in a last, almost desperate journey of hope. And despite the oppression and the violence they find in ghettos and barrios our society tries to confine them to, they still cling to that hope.

And God is with them, living in our cities.

Richard Lawrence, Pastor

Thank you to Let Ideas Compete, who made this photo available for use through Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

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