Today, January 25th, we ask God to bless the members of the Congregation of the Mission as they celebrate the anniversary of their Foundation , a celebration that coincides with the commemoration of the conversion of Saint Paul.
The seed for this foundation was planted in the village of Gannes (northern France). At that time Vincent was ministering on the de Gondi estate and he was called to bedside of a dying man (an individual who was seen as very holy). When this individual made his confession, it was obvious that he was not as holy as people thought and that he had not received the sacrament of reconciliation because he was embarrassed. That event made Vincent aware of the pastoral abandonment of the poor country people.
“That took place in the month of January 1617, and, on the twenty-fifth, the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, that lady asked me to preach a sermon in the church of Folleville to urge the people to make a general confession, which I did, pointing out to them its importance and usefulness. Then I taught them how to make it properly; and God had such regard for the confidence and good faith of that lady — for the large number and enormity of my sins would have hindered the success of this act — that he blessed what I said; and those good people were so moved by God that they all came to make their general confession .. That was the first sermon of the Mission and the success God gave it on the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, and He certainly had a plan in mind on that day.” (S.V.P. XI, 700).