Wednesday, February 1, 2006
After 174 years, the Congregation of the Mission, a Roman Catholic order better known as the Vincentians in honor of founder St. Vincent de Paul, is leaving Cape Girardeau.
By summer, the Rev. Charlie Prost and associate pastor the Rev. Derek Swanson at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church on Ritter Drive in Cape Girardeau will depart for new assignments. The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau will begin administering the parish and will assign replacement priests.
From the middle of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th century, another well-known Vincentian institution in Cape Girardeau, St. Vincent's College, educated priests in the Midwest. The college buildings, long vacant, are being transformed into Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus, a school for the performing and visual arts.
The poor have always been the first priority with the Vincentians. Their ministry to the poor has been low-key, consisting of free dinners on Saturday nights for anyone and providing free second-hand furniture and clothing. Food drives help out local food pantries.
The Vincentians plan to focus their resources in Africa, where poverty, disease and famine make it hard to deny the need.
The community owes the Vincentians its gratitude for their service to this region and know they will continue to do God's work wherever it takes them.