(Editor's note: Father Asma, a retired Vincentian priest, is chaplain for the Daughters of Charity retirement home in Menands.)

Look at the Capital Region and its history: Members of St. Vincent de Paul's spiritual family have assisted the people here for almost 200 years.

St. Vincent's feast day, Sept. 27, is particularly memorable this year. It is the 400th anniversary of the existence of his compassionate charism.

Seminal events of charity in his life during 1617 eventually led the French priest to spend his life serving the poor, establishing hospitals and evangelizing to people in need. He founded religious orders -- the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentian order of priests) and the Daughters of Charity order of women religious -- and the lay organizations: the Confraternities of Charity and the Ladies of Charity.

Years after his death, the founders of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul also invoked his patronage. Today, as many as 225 organizations worldwide abide by the charism of St. Vincent.

The saint urged practical charity, declaring: "We cannot make a better use of earthly goods than to employ them in works of charity; by this means we make them return to God who is their source, and who is also the last end to which everything should be referred."

Ladies of Charity
The Ladies of Charity is the oldest continuously-functioning volunteer lay organization in the world. More than 200,000 women are members.

In the Albany Diocese, several chapters of the Ladies of Charity and Junior Ladies of Charity staff soup kitchens and food pantries, donate thousands of dollars to charities each year and volunteer thousands of hours of service in parishes, hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other institutions.

At three locations of Mary's Corner around the Diocese, Ladies of Charity provide formula, diapers, baby food, clothing, strollers, toys and books for almost 1,000 families. The group is also dedicated to systemic change and advocacy. They are a sponsor of "Bridges Out of Poverty," helping parents find emotional and financial stability, and serve as mentors in similar "Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting-By World" classes that help people build resources.

To learn more, contact Kim Seitz, kimseitz313@aol.com.

Congregation of the Mission
Beginning in 1863, the Congregation of the Mission's Vincentian priests taught many dedicated clergy of the Albany Diocese at the Seminary of Our Lady of the Angels, located first at Niagara University and then in Albany. Between 1972 and 1976, the former seminary was converted into a retreat facility and an institute for Christian education. The building is now a job corps training center.

The Vincentians continue to provide a priest to serve as a chaplain to the Daughters of Charity religious order in Albany. Worldwide, the community now numbers about 3,800 men in teaching, in the missions and in the organization of practical charity.

Learn more at www.cmeast.org/ contact-us/.

Daughters of Charity
The sisters have established dozens of charitable institutions in the Albany Diocese since 1828, including St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam, Bishop Maginn High School in Albany and St. Catherine's Infant Home, which evolved into St. Catherine's Center for Children in Albany, providing a wide range of human services for families and children.

During the Civil War, at the request of local military authorities who recognized their expertise, the sisters took charge of wounded soldiers. During a measles epidemic in the late 1800s, they quarantined many sick orphans at Albany's Schuyler Mansion.

Currently, local Daughters of Charity are involved with the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless (and its medical respite program for homeless patients discharged from St. Mary's Hospital in Troy), the American Cancer Society, the Sisters of Charity Federation to the United Nations, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Catholic Charities' Roarke Center in Troy (serving the needy in that area), social services of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, St. Mary's Hospital in Troy and St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam.

The Daughters of Charity are involved in health care, crisis intervention, adult education, advocacy, food distribution and social support.

Elderly Daughters of Charity living at DePaul Provincial House in Menands, all of whom have remarkable histories of service throughout the world, pray and continue to participate in charitable activities.

Worldwide, the Daughters of Charity number about 15,000 sisters. Learn more at http://daughters-of-charity.com/contact-us/.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul
The St. Vincent de Paul Society provides financial assistance for rent, utilities and medical expenses to people in need. It offers referrals for financial management and budgeting, legal services and food pantry services. In each case, two members of the society make a home visit to ascertain the needs of the client.

One particularly memorable case involved a young man who came to the U.S. to have eye surgery, but developed an eye infection that had to heal first. The St. Vincent de Paul Society agreed to assist with the cost of medication. The infection lasted six months and the medicine amounted to $4,000. The man then had the surgery, got his green card, found gainful employment -- and attends Mass regularly.

To learn more, contact Dave Polan, drpolan@gmail.com.