Presenter Information

Thomas Esselman C.M.


Thomas Esselman explores who Jesus was for Vincent de Paul. He places Vincent’s christology within the context of the French school of spirituality, which countered the dogmatic theology of the day by keeping the experience of faith and of Jesus as its main concerns. As Esselman writes, “Vincent lived out of experience and out of the profound conviction that God’s presence could be found in time, events, and people. . . . He would not so much contemplate Jesus as see Jesus at work, strive to imitate him, and learn from this experience.” For Vincent, Jesus’s main work was being the evangelizer of the poor. The Congregation was to continue this while emulating his virtues and seeing him in all people, but especially in the poor. Vincent’s communities were to minister to the whole person, attending to physical and spiritual needs. Esselman explains how Vincent lived “the life of doxology,” seeing God in all experiences and loving the poor as God does. Esselman concludes with questions for reflection on how we incorporate Vincent’s vision of Jesus into our work.