Jon Allison, Contributing Writer
On a crisp autumn morning in 1831, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam left his home in Lyon, France, for Paris to pursue his studies of law. He registered as a student at the school of law at the Sorbonne. During this time at the Sorbonne, he found his Catholic identity belittled and mocked by an increasingly secular society. Under the tutelage of Mr. Emmanuel Bailly, editor of La Tribune Catholique, Ozanam formed “The Conference of History” in July of that same year. The group met on Saturdays to discuss various topics, all but politics.
At one of their meetings, a student challenged Bl. Ozanam and the other practicing Catholics. He admitted that the Catholic Church had done much good work in the past, but wondered, “What do you do now?” Bl. Ozanam took this challenge not as an insult, but as an insight into the collective view of the people. From these mere five words (four en français), a fire was lit inside Bl. Ozanam’s heart, and on his 20th birthday, April 23, 1833, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was formed. Inspired by Christ’s message in the Gospels that “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40), the SVDP puts faith into action.
Here at the University of Dallas, we are blessed to have the epicenter for the Dallas SVDP just five minutes away, located at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store on Northwest Highway. This will become our gateway to the outside community. We have an excellent opportunity in this upcoming year to share our faith in an intimate way with those in need. At the core of the society lies the service known as a “home visit.” When a family is in need, such as when facing eviction, starvation or loss of electricity, they will be able to contact us and request our assistance. We will then step into their home and, imitating Christ, offer the means to the end of their torment. As Bl. Ozanam stated, “It is by our taking care of their body that the poor will permit us one day to read into their soul.” Everyone on the UD campus can offer some insight on how to help those in need and fulfill the motto: “No work of charity is foreign to the Society.”
With your illuminating UD education you will also be able to tutor less-fortunate students from around Dallas through our program called “Study Time.” If more studying isn’t your cup of tea, then you will have the opportunity to sacrifice your time by providing varied help with a grateful heart every other Saturday at the thrift store. In order quickly to meet the needs of those less fortunate, UD SVDP meetings will be scheduled for each Monday at 7 p.m. on the patio of Gorman Faculty Lounge. This organization provides a means for the UD student to put his faith into action and answer that skeptic’s question: “What do you do now?”