Water, medicine, food, a roof over one’s head. These are essential resources that many people around the world still do not have access to, and these shortages tell stories of suffering that unfortunately repeat themselves. Recent events, such as the devastating floods in Libya that left at least 11,300 victims[1] and the earthquake in Morocco that left thousands homeless, remind us of how crucial the work of Saint Vincent de Paul is.

Imagine if Saint Vincent de Paul were among us today. With his history of dedication to the most in need, he would undoubtedly urge us to tirelessly continue his mission. On September 27th, on the occasion of the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul, let’s take a moment to reflect on the power and relevance of serving those who are experiencing homelessness. His unwavering commitment to helping the poor transcends time and continues to inspire people worldwide to stand in solidarity with those in need.

As Yasmine Cajuste, FHA Project development Manager, reminds us in this brief interview the boldness of the Vincentian Family in response to the pandemic in 2020 was remarkable. They addressed the growing needs of homeless families and later in the same year, they responded to the explosion in Lebanon, which suddenly left 300,000 people homeless. Today, thanks to the combined efforts of the Vincentian Family, the “13 Houses” Campaign is ever closer to its goal of transforming the lives of 10,000 homeless people worldwide. In this Vatican News’ interview, FHA Coordinator, Mark McGreevy, points to St Vincent’s legacy in the service of homeless people through the 13 Houses Campaign.

We are reminded about one specific form of homelessness, in Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees falling on 24th September, Pope Francis highlights the complexities and challenges faced by migrants today. He emphasizes that migration is often a response to conflicts, natural disasters, or the inability to lead a dignified life in one’s native land. This message echoes St. Vincent de Paul’s work during times of war, plague, and famine, where he provided relief to those forced to leave their homes due to dire circumstances. The Pope also stresses the importance of the right not to emigrate, which means that individuals should have the opportunity to live in peace and dignity in their own countries.

St. Vincent de Paul and the Pope’s message intersect in their commitment to serving the less fortunate, addressing the root causes of suffering, and fostering a sense of global responsibility. These commemorations serve as a powerful reminder of our collective duty to pay attention and engage to accompany those experiencing poverty and the plight of migration, keeping alive the values of empathy, solidarity, and service embodied by St. Vincent de Paul for generations to come.

As we reflect on these significant occasions, let us listen to the Pope’s reminder of Jesus’s words (Matthew 25), “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,…” and let us strive to live out these words through our actions in a world where compassion and solidarity are needed more than ever.

[1] BBC (2023), retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-66838559