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Vincentians to dedicate new St. Louis mission house to help recruit Catholic clergy

Four clergymen chat at a wooden table.
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
Clockwise from left: the Rev. Tom Esselman, the Rev. Jeff Harvey, Vincentian seminarian associate Mark Buehrle and the Rev. Toshio Francesco Sato discuss the logistics for the upcoming dedication of the new Vincentian Mission House at 3259 Lafayette Ave. on Monday in the Gate neighborhood. The Vincentians have roots in St. Louis that date back to 1818.

When the Vincentians came to the United States in 1818, they put down roots in St. Louis. Bishop Joseph Rosati, a Vincentian himself and namesake of Rosati-Kain High School, was the first bishop of the Diocese of St. Louis in the first half of the 19th century.

More than 200 years after arrival in the Americas and nearly 400 years after the Vincentians were founded by St. Vincent de Paul, the community — known officially as the Congregation of the Mission — is refocusing on St. Louis.

In 2021, the Vincentians moved their headquarters back to St. Louis after it was in Earth City, Missouri, for 25 years. Now, the Catholic community known for its work helping poor people and marginalized communities is dedicating the Vincentian Mission House this Saturday.

“St. Louis is a great city with a great history and we're a part of that history,” explained the Rev. Patrick McDevitt, provincial superior for the Congregation of the Mission Western Province. There are about 300 Vincentian priests and brothers in the U.S. and about 4,000 members worldwide. A good portion of the Vincentians' U.S. presence is in Missouri and Illinois.

In St. Louis, the new mission house is on Lafayette Avenue near the intersection of Interstate 44 and Grand Boulevard.

Rev. Patrick McDevitt sits looking out a stained glass window
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
The Rev. Patrick McDevitt, the provincial superior of the Vincentians of the Mission Western Province, is photographed on Monday at the new Vincentian Mission House at 3259 Lafayette Ave. in the Gate neighborhood. The house will serve as a recruitment center, formation program and residence for clergy members.

“That house is there to be a place of discernment and recruitment for men who are interested in vocation to the Vincentian life,” McDevitt said. “It should be a place of hospitality and welcome. It should be a place that really idealizes all of our values, and that it is a place where men will learn both in terms of theology and the Vincentian way of life.”

There’s a great need for more Catholic clergy, especially as ordained ministers are getting older and the church continues to deal with the fallout from sexual abuse scandals.

“As a priest, my role is definitely to celebrate the sacraments and be there for people, but I also know it's important for me to walk with people, and that's why we're in St. Louis, again, because we want to be present,” McDevitt said.

To hear more from the Rev. McDevitt including history of the Old Cathedral by the Gateway Arch and the growth of the Vincentian mission in St. Louis, listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify or Google Podcast by clicking the play button below.

Vincentians to dedicate new St. Louis mission house to help recruit more Catholic clergy

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Ulaa Kuziez is our production intern. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.