On May 4th and 5th, several commemorative events will be held in Buenos Aires to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Argentina. The President General and fellow member, Renato Lima de Oliveira, will attend these events, accompanied by the International Territorial Vice-President for South America, the fellow member Júlio César Marques de Lima. All preparations are being organized by the National President and fellow member, Celeste Godoy, and her highly experienced team.
A diverse range of activities will be scheduled; namely, a meeting of the Vincentian Family with presentations on the integration of the Vincentian charism in Argentina, presented by Ana Maria Silvestrini; a presentation on the works and challenges of the Vincentian Family, presented by Father Fernando Sánchez; and a talk given by the President General about the SSVP in the world. A Holy Mass will also be held on the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the SSVP in Argentina. The President General will also visit the Hogar Santa Clara nursing home, and display a memorial plaque commemorating the date.
The SSVP was founded in Buenos Aires on April 24th, 1859 by Julio Amadeo André Fouet, captain of the French Navy. The first Conference took place in the old church of Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia (Our Lady of Mercy). The first president was the fellow member Felipe Llavallol, who was at that time the governor of the province of Buenos Aires. Among the members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul who should be recalled in the course of these 160 years, it is worth mentioning the work carried out by the Servant of God, the fellow member Antonio Solari, who is in the process of canonization (popularly called “the Saint in suit and tie”.
And some more of history…
A few months afterwards, in September 1859, other branches of the Vincentian Family arrived in Argentina. After a 52-day trip across the Atlantic Ocean, a group of missionaries, made up of two Vincentian priests and 12 Daughters of Charity from the Mother House in Paris (France), arrived at the port of Buenos Aires to carry out a mission in Argentina. Therefore, it could be said that 2019 is the year when we commemorate both the arrival of the SSVP in Argentina and that of the Vincentian Family.
Since 1859, priests and sisters have been working hard, with full dedication to the sick, to orphans, to education, to the training of the clergy, to missionary activities and to initiatives to fight poverty. In the light of this fascinating history, mention should be made of the Basilica of Luján which has been entrusted to the pastoral care of the Vincentian Fathers for 130 years, and accomplishes its mission of evangelization and Marian devotion through pilgrimage.
We are grateful to God for all the blessings received over these 160 years. May the SSVP and the Vincentian Family continue to offer services to our brothers and sisters in need in Argentina, with hope and charity, as our Lord Jesus Christ asked us to do.