Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 27, 2003
Irish-Gaelic tells church's story
Old coastal church chose peasant priest St. Vincent de Paul as its holy patron
St. Vincent de Paul -- Feast Day -- September 27
By TED FITZGERALD
Road signs indicated that this area was in the heart of the Gaeltacht, where the old Irish language and culture are valued and promoted.
The reason for our language problem should have been apparent, since road signs for some distance back indicated that this area was in the heart of the Gaeltacht, where the old Irish language and culture are valued and promoted.
So, armed with a copy of the seemingly comprehensive four-page bulletin, assistance was sought along Ballyferriter's main street where pleasant, helpful merchants were happy to translate pertinent portions of the text.
It turned out that the name of the church was Seipeal Uinsinn, or Vincent's Church in Paroiste an Fheirtearaigh or the parish of Ferriter and that Mass in Irish was celebrated daily.
Thus it appeared that patron of the little church was St. Vincent de Paul, 17th century resident of France who, after living a life of ease, experienced a profound change after hearing a peasant's confession and began devoting himself to instructing and caring for the poor, sick and aged.
He founded the Fathers of the Mission in 1625 and with Ste. Louise de Marillac originated the Sisters of Charity. Hospitals, orphanages and seminaries grew from the institutions and after a life devoted to the alleviation of human suffering, "Monsieur Vincent" was named patron of all charitable societies.
The "peasant priest" is best known through the St. Vincent de Paul Society, a lay, non-ecclesiastical organization founded in 1833 by Frederic Oznaman and fellow Sorbonne students. Their purpose was to emulate the saint and to sanctify its members through good works, using a rule based on his writings.
The group, establishing conferences at the parish level, spread rapidly from Paris, reaching Ireland as early as 1843 and Canada three years later.
Their fundamental work - to encourage "the practice of Christian living" - is expedited with visits to the poor, hospitals and institutions and for the distribution of food and basics.
Armed with their newfound insights into the Irish language, the travellers returned to serene Vincent's Church.
One of the most compelling windows in the nave featured St. Vincent de Paul. He is shown comforting two neglected children whose faces are reminiscent of photos of potato famine children in the 1840s.
A short prayer and the respite from driving was over, Dingle's mountains and curvy roads called.
On leaving, one exception to the Irish-only ambience of little Vincent's was apparent. Among the many notices covering the walls of the porch one stands out, stating in English, French and German "Donations graciously accepted."
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