The master's thesis aims to illuminate the person of St Vincent de Paul and his vision of the priesthood. It deals with factors that influenced his life. At the core of his thought is a missionary priest who is sent to preach the Gospel to the poor. This kind of priest figure, which is centered on Christ, addresses also the people of today.
In the first chapter, the author outlines the social and ecclesiastical circumstances in the 17th century. He presents the saint’s life until 1617, a turning year for St Vincent de Paul, and the state of priesthood in that period. He also addresses the foundation of the Congregation of the Mission, which remains the saint’s permanent legacy. The second chapter addresses the fundamental features of St Vincent’s priest model – Christocentrism and the missionary dimension. He was heavily influenced by the Council of Trent, whose regulations he wished to exercise in practice. He was also influenced by the members of the French School of Spirituality, with whom he has many views in common, although he moves away from them in some points. The master's thesis presents St Vincent as a man who recognizes the presence of God in everyday events. God is present in every human being, especially in the poor, and a missionary priest is called to concrete service. The third chapter of the thesis offers some of the fundamental guidelines for a priest's engagement today, following St Vincent's example. A priest should be a man of contemplation and action. He is also called to be a missionary in the world in accordance with Christ’s command. The five Vincentian virtues (simplicity, humility, meekness, mortification, zeal for the salvation of souls) can help and support him in his work. Furthermore, a priest must have a sense for the poor. He is called to this service by the Church teaching and in particular by St Vincent, who argues, according to the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: "When we serve the poor, we serve Jesus Christ." (Coste, 9:199)
The aim of the master's thesis is therefore primarily to present St Vincent’s view on the priesthood. A missionary priest, who is nowadays inspired by his example of following in the footsteps of Christ, is therefore able to preach the Gospel to the poor and the marginalized in the midst of today's world bringing God among them.