You Can Help
I wish I could help.
If you have said these words to yourself – you can. Whatever your age, whatever your skill, all we ask is a few hours of your time.
Fredric Ozanam, a 20-year old student of the Sorbonne University in Paris, France, founded the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in 1833. In answer to a challenge for Christians to “practice what they preach,” Fredric Ozanam and a group of fellow students started to seek out and visit the poor of Paris in their homes, taking them bread and clothes, their friendship, and their concern. This small group took as their patron the great, French Priest, who alerted the world of social problems, Saint Vincent de Paul. Similar groups began in Paris, then in the rest of France, and eventually spread throughout the Christian world with the object of visiting, for the love of God, those in need.
Today the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (known as SVdP) is a worldwide lay organization of Catholic men and women, young and old of every race, numbering 880,000 of whom some 60,000 are in the United States. The members meet in Parish and District groups in order to help in a personal way those in need. There is no need which is outside the concern of the Society, be it sickness or disability, mental or physical, family problems, social or economic, the loneliness of old age, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the grieving, or the alienated. The aim of the SVdP is to bring social justice and the friendship of true charity to all those in need.
The work to which SVdP is called will always be necessary. For it is fundamentally the giving of oneself in friendship to one another, which can only be accomplished by personally working with the individual in need. All people search for peace – because of the horrors of street and domestic violence as well as war and ethnic hatred worldwide. People are always looking for peace within themselves, needing assurance of their worth.
The Gospels tell us again and again that true peace is possible only if we live as Christ showed us by His own life. The work of the SVdP is the Gospel message in action:
I was hungry
I was thirsty
I was a stranger
I was naked
I was sick
I was in prison
And you cared!
What Membership Involves
A regular meeting of perhaps an hour's duration at 7:00 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month held in the Parish Conference Room. At the meeting, the “helping” contacts of each member are reported and discussed, necessary action is taken, and plans for any follow-up are agreed upon. Any out of pocket expenses provided by the members to help the needy are reimbursed.
The business of the meeting is strictly confidential. This has always been considered essential to the Spirit of the Society. It insures efficiency and preservation in our work and binds the members together in a bond of friendship.
Weekly visiting is done in the company of another member.
Meetings begin with a short prayer, followed by a scripture reading, and a brief period of reflection to remind members that the motive for their work is the love of God.
The SVdP is easy to join. There is no initiation procedure. No special qualifications are required other than the desire to join with others to help those in need for the Love of God. Christians have an obligation to help others. This service can be done as an individual but is often better accomplished by being a member of a group or a Society that provides an almost limitless range of meaningful opportunities.
If the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul appeals to you and you want to learn more about it, or simply make a donation, please contact the Parish Office at (859) 431-1802 or [email protected].