Blessed Frederic Ozanam

Most of the "O" streets in Chicago come from either Native American tribes or chiefs, like Osceola and Ottawa, or from real estate developers, like Olcott and Odell.  But one street name in Edison Park is different: Ozanam.  The 7800W to 7600N section of the city is named after Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the founder of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.

While studying at the Sorbonne in 1833, the twenty-year-old felt the call to put his Catholic faith into action.  He and his colleagues traversed the slums of Paris tending to the needy, thus starting the SVDP.  Ozanam would earn his doctorate in literature, teach at the University of Lyons, and found and write for a newspaper in which called the poor "the nation's priest," all while continuing his work with the underprivileged.  Busy as he was and desirous of helping the poor, Ozanam had a deep spiritual life.  "The best way to economize time," he once said, "is to ‘lose’ half an hour each day attending Holy Mass."

Ozanam never lost sight of his fundamental purpose: to love and serve God.  "It is our vocation to set people’s hearts ablaze, to do what the Son of God did, who came to light a fire on earth in order to set it ablaze with His love."  We are better off being close to God and introducing people to God, than having a nice roof over our heads.

So, the next time we race down the street to make our appointment for work, whatever that may be, perhaps we will recall Blessed Ozanam's words: "Let us go in simplicity where merciful Providence leads us, content to see the stone on which we should step without wanting to discover all at once and completely the windings of the road."

back to top