Collaboration of Louise and Vincent: Brought Together According to God’s Plan
Collaboration of Sts. Louise de Marillac and from the writings of Vincent de Paul: Differing Personalities Sr. Louise Sullivan, DC Brought Together According to God’s Plan
Contents1. St. Louise de Marillac: the ﬁrst 7. Louise’s initial reluctance Vincentian leader to be formed in the way of St. Vincent de Paul 8. Brought together by God2. Go, Mademoiselle, in the name of 9. Collaborators, not carbon copies Our Lord 10. Some of what we know of St.3. Vincent gives Louise some advice Louise of his own 11. Urged by the Charity of the4. Louise’s journey of service suffering Christ leadership 12. Legacy of St. Vincent5. A reluctant friendship, at ﬁrst 13. Legacy of St. Louise6. Vincent’s initial reluctance
St. Louise de Marillac: the ﬁrstVincentian leader to be formedin the way of St. Vincent de PaulOn 6 May 1629, Vincent de Paulsent Louise de Marillac out on amission. He sent her to Montmirailto visit one of the earlyConfraternities of Charity. Theseconfraternities, which hadﬂourished and expanded since theirfoundation in 1617, had fallen onhard times in many areas. The spiritof their origins was threatened.Someone had to visit them, studytheir activities, and revive in themembers the zeal that hadcharacterized the beginnings. Noone, in the eyes of Vincent, seemedbetter suited to undertake thisdelicate and demanding task thanLouise de Marillac.
Go, Mademoiselle, inthe name of Our LordThus with joy in his heart anduncharacteristic lyricism on hislips, borrowed from the prayer ofitinerant monks, the OrationesItinerantium, Vincent wrote,"Go,therefore, Mademoiselle, go in thename of Our Lord. I pray that HisDivine Goodness may accompanyyou, be your consolation alongthe way, your shade against theheat of the sun, your shelter inrain and cold, your soft bed inweariness, your strength in yourtoil, and, ﬁnally, that He may bringyou back in perfect health andﬁlled with good works."
Vincent gives Louisesome advice of his ownAs a warning that the role of servantleader, that she was undertaking,brings with it joy and suffering,success and failure, as it had in thelife of Christ, their model, Vincentcontinued, "Go to Communion theday of your departure to honor theCharity of Our Lord, the journeys Heundertook for and by this sameCharity, and the difﬁculties,contradictions, weariness, andlabors that He endured in them.May He be pleased to bless yourjourney, giving you His spirit andthe grace to act in this same spirit,and to bear your troubles in the wayHe bore His."
Louise’s journey ofservice leadershipOn that May day, neither Vincentnor Louise was aware of just howfar that journey of serviceleadership would take her, nor ofits ramiﬁcations for the Churchand for the service of generationsof persons in need. What theysurely realized, however, was thatLouise de Marillac had reached aturning point in her life and thather heart was now ready to beginthe work to which God had calledher and for which he had formedher through the dramatic-- oftentraumatic-- events of her life. Shewas thirty-eight.
A reluctant friendship,at ﬁrstWhen they ﬁrst met, Vincent musthave reﬂected, as he so often didconcerning the successes of hislifetime, "I never thought of it... itwas God." Indeed, who would havebelieved that the frail, scrupulouswoman whom he had ﬁrst met wasdestined to become his friend andclosest collaborator for thirty-sixyears and that Vincentian workswould, as Louises biographer, JeanCalvet, put it, "become what theywere because Louise de Marillacput her hand to them?" Their initialcontacts were difﬁcult. There seemsto have been reluctance on bothsides to enter into a spiritualdirection relationship.
Vincent’s initialreluctanceDealing with Louise’s scruplestook the time and energy Vincentnow wanted to devote toevangelization and to the serviceof the poor. One can legitimatelysuppose that Vincent did notwelcome the prospect of theresponsibility for the spiritualdirection of another woman ofsuch similar character as Madamede Gondi, who had placedconsiderable demands on him asher spiritual director.
Louise’s initialreluctanceLouise tells us, in June 1623, of her"repugnance" to accept any changein spiritual director. It must beadmitted that, for this aristocratic,intellectual woman, who had beendirected by Michel de Marillac, Jean-Pierre Le Camus, and possiblyFrancis de Sales, Vincent de Paul, thepeasant priest from Gascony, wouldindeed be a big change. Moreover, atthe time, she was coping with theterminal illness of her husband andthe burden of being a parent for adifﬁcult child. Fortunately, theydecided to try. We are not exactlysure why but, moved by the HolySpirit, they would set aside their owndesires and hesitations to enter fullyinto the divine plan.
Louise’s initialreluctanceOver the next four years, Vincent andLouise communicated often throughletters and personal meetings, withVincent guiding Louise to greaterbalance in a life of moderation, peaceand calm. In 1629, Vincent invitedLouise to get involved in his work withthe Confraternities of Charity. Shefound great success in theseendeavors.
Brought together byGodThe friendship between these twowidely differing personalities,which began so inauspiciously,was to prove to be of incalculablesigniﬁcance for the Church andfor the poor. Many difﬁculties hadto be overcome but both Vincentand Louise soon becameconscious of the need each hadfor the other as they combinedtheir considerable gifts of natureand grace for a work as yetundeﬁned except in the mind ofGod.
Collaborators, notcarbon copiesLouise de Marillac would alwaysplace a high value on Vincent dePauls advice and support. Theywere friends and collaborators inthe strictest since of those words.Yet neither her spirituality nor herleadership style was identical tohis.
Some of what weknow of St. Louise• She had borne more than her share of pain in life, teaching her to unite herself to Christ cruciﬁed• She stressed the necessity for gentle compassion, no matter how trying a situation might be• By suffering with as well as serving those in need, she united herself to Christ on the Cross• Her devotion to, and encouragement of the sick had its roots in her own battle with illness• Her family background and life experiences were the antithesis of Vincent’s; her leadership style would evolve differently from his
Urged by the Charityof the suffering ChristThus a life from which pain wasnever totally absent and which wassustained by union with thesuffering Savior, became a motorfor a vast network of services forthose in distress. Accompanied onher spiritual and human journey byVincent de Paul, Louise de Marillactransformed a spirituality of the "I",of her own deep relationship withGod, into a spirituality of the "we"or as Calvet would call it, a"mysticism of the group." Shebecame a spiritual leader, creatingin the works she organized andadministered what the late CardinalBernadin of Chicago spoke of as“families of faith.”
Legacy of St. VincentSt. Vincent founded the Ladies ofCharity from a group of women withinhis parish. He organized thesewealthy women of Paris to collectfunds for missionary projects, foundhospitals, and gather relief funds forthe victims of war and to ransom1,200 galley slaves from North Africa.From these Ladies, with the help ofSt. Louise, came the Daughters ofCharity of St. Vincent de Paul. Vincentalso founded the Congregation of theMission, or the "Vincentians". Vincentwas zealous in conducting retreats forclergy at a time when there was greatlaxity, abuse and ignorance amongthem. He was a pioneer in clericaltraining and was instrumental inestablishing seminaries.
Legacy of St. LouiseLouise co-founded and led theDaughters of Charity of SaintVincent de Paul, mentoring them toa life of service to the poor thatintegrated contemplation andaction. The Daughters were unlikethe rest of the established religiouscommunities at that time. Up to thispoint, all religious women werebehind cloister walls and performeda ministry of contemplative prayer.Louise organized and administereda broad spectrum of works inhealth, education, and socialwelfare which continue to our dayon ﬁve continents.
Sources• God Wants First The Heart And Then The Work: Louise De Marillac And Leadership In The Vincentian Tradition by Louise Sullivan D.C. http://via.library.depaul.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1203&context=vhj• Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_de_Marillac http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_De_Paul• St. Vincent de Paul Image Archive at http://stvincentimages.cdm.depaul.edu