One of the most influential figures in the long history of the Vincentian order and two community service organizations will be saluted when the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal holds its Hearts on Fire 170th Anniversary Gala in Philadelphia this fall.
The event is scheduled for Thursday, October 10 at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia (6 p.m. start) and will cap off the year-long observance of the 170th anniversary of the Vincentians’ arrival in America.
Brother Al Smith CM will be honored with the Heart of Vincentian Faith and Practice Award, in recognition of his demonstration of given to the person or group who has demonstrated Vincentian values in both his professional and personal lives. Brother Al has served the Vincentians and the Germantown community in various capacities since 1957. In 1981 he founded Inn Dwelling with the goal of helping run-down neighborhoods escape the cycle of poverty. In 1993, with the support of the community, Inn Dwelling expanded its mission to include education, a mission that continues to this day.
The Raskob Foundation will be recognized with the United in Purpose Award which was designated for an organization that is dedicated to promoting the Catholic faith and the initiatives of the Catholic Church both domestically. and abroad. Since 1945, the foundation has donated over $200 million to various Catholic charities, in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The Daughters of Charity will receive the Witness of Hope Award, in recognition the organization’s efforts to reach out to the poor, to young people, and the elderly.
The Daughters of Charity were founded in France in 1633 by St. Vincent de Paul, the founder of the Vincentians, and St. Louise de Marillac. The organization has been ministering to the needy in Philadelphia since 1814; 35 years before the Vincentians arrived in the city. It was the first alliance of religious women to minister in the city. Today, its members serve in a variety of schools and other facilities throughout the world.
The award recipients share a commitment to community service, a commitment that is at the core of the Vincentian mission.
Sheila McGirl is the director of institutional advancement for the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal. She explains that the sections were based on the recipients’ adherence to the Vincentian virtues of humility, meekness, mortification, simplicity, and zeal.
“We wanted to look for people who mirrored that, or did the best they could in life with those virtues,” she said.
The October gala will draw attention to a religious order that prides itself on remaining in the background a focusing attention on others.
But McGirl says one reason for staging the event is to make laypeople more aware of the Vincentian mission and encourage them to become involved in the order’s community outreach efforts.
“We need to get the word out and get people on board to join these missionary men,” she said.” because the numbers of priests and brothers is dwindling.
We need to inspire lay people, those that don’t belong to a religious order, to really keep this work going and I think they see the importance of service to the poor and marginalized being carried forward and telling the stories and being a part of that.”