Vincentians

Contemplation: The Bashful Poor

Contemplation: The Bashful Poor 800 800 SVDP USA

By Timothy Williams, Senior Director of Formation and Leadership Development 

Effective Conferences, our manual explains, are “reachable.” [Manual, 26] While most Conferences make every effort to ensure that their phone number, along with perhaps a website and email address, are well-publicized and shared with other community organizations for referrals, our Rule calls us to do more than that. It calls us “to seek out the poor.” [Rule, Part I, 1.5]

On its face, this might seem unnecessary. After all, if the neighbor has fallen behind on rent, is facing a utility cutoff, or has hungry children to feed, why would they not actively seek out our help? Yet so many wait until the very last moment to call; they exhaust all possible alternatives to avoid calling us; they apologize for having called and are concerned that assisting them might deprive somebody “who really needs help.”

For each person we meet who tells us this, how many more are there who never call, fearful that they would be taking from somebody “who really needs help?” It isn’t that they are in denial about their immediate needs. They simply do not see themselves as “the poor” because their needs are only temporary. When there is a little more month than money, they often choose to just “tough it out.”

In an 1848 letter to his brother Alphonse, a priest, Bl. Frédéric explained that the church must concern itself “not merely with the poverty-stricken, but with the working classes who do not need alms.” [Baunard, 261] To “not need alms,” of course, is not the same thing as needing no assistance at all. In Frédéric’s time and ours, there are many people who work very hard to support themselves and their families, but simply come up a little short from time to time. For that proud working person, their first instinct simply is not to call a church for a “handout.”

These are the same people that St. Vincent de Paul called “the bashful poor” – people who were temporarily impoverished by war or natural disasters, who were ashamed or embarrassed to ask for assistance. [CCD XIIIb:2] How do we find the “bashful poor?” And what do we offer them?

Frédéric believed that they would be best reached by “special sermons, by charitable associations, and by sympathy, which will touch them more than is generally believed.” [Baunard, 261]  In other words, it is our friendship, understanding, and advocacy that will make clear to all that we are here for all of our neighbors.

Unlike an agency, we don’t ask the neighbor to “qualify” or to prove they are poor enough to be deserving of help. No work of charity is foreign to the Society. Sometimes that is a handout, sometimes it is a hand up, sometimes it is a helping hand, but always it must be a handshake of respect, of understanding, and of welcome.

Contemplate

Am I so content with waiting for the desperate poor to call that I don’t reach out to the working poor? 

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A New Century Dawns

07-18-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

07-18-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1200 1200 SVDP USA

Recently, at the Midwest Regional Meeting, I had the great pleasure of meeting and listening to The Most Reverend William Joensen, Ph.D, the Bishop of Des Moines, Iowa. In his after-dinner remarks, Bishop Joensen spoke about Frédéric Ozanam and the idea of “charitable disruption.” It was a fascinating talk (as you would expect from a former University Philosophy Professor)!

I think, in these challenging times, it’s proper and important to reflect on charitable disruption and what it means in relation to our mission as Vincentians and charitable volunteers driven by a commitment to Catholic Social Teaching.

But I want to go a step further and talk today about two powerful concepts that have shaped the very essence of charitable work: Charitable Disruption and Good Trouble. These are not mere terms, but foundational principles that guide us in serving those in need.

Charitable Disruption, as espoused by Blessed Frédéric, is a call to action. It is not enough to provide for the immediate needs of the poor; we must also address the systemic issues that perpetuate poverty. Ozanam recognized that charity must go beyond the act of giving. He said, “Charity is the Samaritan who pours oil on the wounds of the traveler who has been attacked. But it is justice’s role to prevent the attacks.”

This profound statement encapsulates the dual nature of our mission: to heal and to protect.

In the same vein, Good Trouble, a term coined by the late Rep. John Lewis, a stalwart of the civil rights movement, encourages us to question and challenge the status quo when it perpetuates injustice. Lewis believed that getting into Good Trouble was necessary for the advancement of society as a whole. It is a reminder that sometimes, to do what is right, we must be willing to disrupt the peace. Lewis used Good Trouble to describe the necessary and righteous actions taken to confront injustice.

Lewis believed that sometimes, in order to create a more just and equitable society, we must be willing to disrupt the status quo and challenge unjust systems. Good Trouble is about standing up for what is right, even when it is difficult or unpopular.

Both concepts are intertwined in their call for proactive engagement in the fight against injustice. They urge us not to be passive bystanders — but active participants in the quest for a more equitable world. As Vincentians we embody these principles through our efforts. We provide not only material assistance but also companionship, hope, and love.

Charitable Disruption and Good Trouble are not easy paths to tread. They require courage, conviction, and a deep sense of faith. They ask us to look beyond our comfort zones and to take risks for the greater good. But remember, as Vincentians, we are the hands and feet of Christ. We are the modern-day Samaritans, pouring oil on the wounds of society and standing up to prevent further harm.

Blessed Frédéric founded the Society with a vision of transforming society through acts of charity. Ozanam believed that charity was not merely about giving alms, but about addressing the root causes of poverty and injustice. He saw charity as a form of disruption — a way to challenge the status quo and bring about systemic change.

Ozanam’s concept of charitable disruption calls us to go beyond the surface level of charity. It urges us to engage with the marginalized, to understand their struggles, and to advocate for their rights. This form of charity is not passive; it is active and transformative. It disrupts the complacency of society and calls for a deeper commitment to justice and solidarity.

Lewis’s message of Good Trouble aligns closely with Ozanam’s vision of charitable disruption. Both call us to be courageous in our pursuit of justice and to recognize that true charity involves challenging the structures that perpetuate inequality and suffering. Good Trouble is not about causing chaos for its own sake; it is about creating constructive change that uplifts and empowers the oppressed.

At their core, both charitable disruption and good trouble are about love in action. They remind us that charity is not just about alleviating immediate needs but about addressing the systemic issues that create those needs. They call us to be proactive, to seek out opportunities to make a difference, and to be willing to take risks for the sake of justice.

As Catholics, we are called to embody these principles in our work. We are called to be disruptors of injustice and creators of Good Trouble. This means not only providing direct assistance to those in need — but also advocating for policies and practices that promote social justice. It means listening to the voices of the marginalized and standing in solidarity with them.

Why are these concepts so integral to our work? Because true charity is about more than just meeting immediate needs; it is about transforming lives and communities. When we engage in Charitable Disruption and Good Trouble, we are working to create a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Charitable Disruption and Good Trouble remind us that our faith calls us to action. They challenge us to move beyond our comfort zones and to be bold in our pursuit of justice. They remind us that charity is not just about what we give but about how we live our lives in service to others.

So, what can we do to put both these concepts into practice?

  1. Educate Ourselves. To effectively engage in charitable disruption and Good Trouble, we must first educate ourselves about the issues facing our communities. This means listening to the experiences of those who are marginalized and learning about the systemic factors that contribute to their struggles.
  2. Advocate for Change. Charity is not just about direct service; it is also about advocacy. We must use our voices to speak out against injustice and to advocate for policies that promote equity and inclusion.
  3. Build Relationships. True charity is rooted in relationships. We must take the time to build genuine connections with those we serve, recognizing their dignity and worth.
  4. Be Courageous. Engaging in Charitable Disruption and Good Trouble requires courage. We must be willing to take risks and to stand up for what is right, even when it is difficult.
  5. Reflect and Pray. Our work must be grounded in prayer and reflection. We must seek God’s guidance and strength as we strive to live out our call to charity and justice.

Let us be inspired by the lives of Ozanam and Lewis. Let us be disruptors of charity in the sense that we challenge ourselves and others to go beyond mere giving. Let us get into Good Trouble by advocating for policies and practices that uplift the marginalized. And let us do so with the love and compassion that is the hallmark of our faith.

In closing, I encourage each of you to continue your noble work with renewed vigor. May you find strength in the knowledge that your actions are a testament to the power of faith in action. May you always carry with you the spirit of Charitable Disruption and Good Trouble, knowing that through them, you are truly serving Christ.

Thank you for your dedication, your compassion, and your willingness to serve.

Peace and God’s blessings,
John

 

Contemplation: The Way to Peace

Contemplation: The Way to Peace 800 800 SVDP USA

By Timothy Williams, Senior Director of Formation and Leadership Development 

Our little human minds and hearts can sometimes become so bound up in worry and anxiety that we find it difficult to act, difficult even to know what actions to take. We pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and then wonder, with even more anxiety, when our prayers will be answered. This is no less true for us than it is for the neighbor, whose troubles often greatly exceed our own.

Jesus understood this tendency of ours. He understood us, telling us to “let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day,” not to be anxious about material needs, but instead to concern ourselves first with God’s kingdom. But what about the neighbor, whose troubles are many times beyond our ability to alleviate, at least in any permanent way? We’re called to share their suffering, which naturally leads us to share in their anxieties. Over time this can weigh on us, making our hearts heavy, filling us with discouragement. How can we let their troubles also be enough for our day?

In sharing the face of Christ, we are called also to share the great hope that Christ offers. How can we offer this hope to the neighbor when we allow ourselves to lose hope? St. Louise de Marillac offered this advice to the Daughters of Charity, who also suffered what we now call “compassion fatigue” telling them “you will see a great amount of misery that you cannot relieve. God sees it as well …do all you can to provide them with a little assistance and remain at peace.” [SWLM, l.353]

So, we seek a way to the peace that will soothe our anxieties, but there is no way to peace. Peace is the way. God’s peace is already in our hearts, for peace is the God who made us in His image. Letting go of our anxieties and fears, abandoning ourselves to God’s will rather than our own, trusting fully in His providence; in these ways we let go of all the noise and clutter of worldly cares that disturb His peace within us. In turn, we share this peace with the neighbor through our virtue of gentleness; “our friendly assurance and invincible goodwill, which mean kindness, sweetness and patience in our relationship with others.” [Rule, Part I, 2.5.1]

When one person is angry, it can lead others to anger. Laughter, too, is contagious. We are created to live in community, and it is only natural for us to rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. At the same time, as our hearts connect with the neighbor, we cannot help but share God’s peace when we allow it into our own hearts.

The kingdom of God is peace in the Holy Spirit,” St. Vincent taught. “He will reign in you if your heart is at peace.” [CCD I:111]

Contemplate

Do I allow “the day’s own troubles,” mine or the neighbor’s, to crowd out God’s peace?

Recommended Reading

500 Little Prayers for Vincentians

Wayne Bugg shares his story as a Vincentian -Video-

Wayne Bugg shares his story as a Vincentian -Video- 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Wayne Bugg shares his story as a Vincentian

Hear what Wayne Bugg has to say about his experience with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul from a young age, and how his encounters with Vincentians over the years guided his path in life to become the Vincentian that he is today and serve as the Associate Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul Twin Cities.

Wayne Bug, Associate Executive Director for St. Vincent de Paul Twin Cities: 

My name is Wayne Bugg, and I’m the associate executive director for St. Vincent de Paul in the Twin Cities. Around the age of 15, my next-door neighbor worked for St. Vincent de Paul. He invited me to come and hang out with him and move some furniture. At the time, I was a high school dropout and I needed to make some legal money. I needed to make some changes in life. So this was like a divine intervention that this young man reached out to me. So I originally started off as a neighbor in need.

As I came on working for the thrift store, it was culture shock. So I came here to make money and have come to find out that people that are volunteers are working for free. I couldn’t understand the concept and so I found out over a period of time that it was their love for God and their love for people that had called them to do this and this level of love. After many, many conversations, they began to pour into me. I think I had issues with my image as an image bearer of God. I really didn’t see that, but they saw that in me. And in one particular person, Darrell Bach, the Council president, began to talk to me and told me how unique and special I was and how I needed to go back to school because at that point I was a high school dropout, and so that right there I think endeared me to the Society.  They kind of do sometimes what we do with items at the thrift store. We give them a second chance. People donate them to us because they feel that they have no value and I felt like I didn’t have any value. But they were able to take me in, kind of shine me up a little bit and then represent me.

So I work during the day and went to school at night and eventually I got my GED and so I show back up with this piece of paper. I’m thrilled. Not many people that I grew up around, you know, have that or achieved that. I was ready to retire education wise, but Darrell said no it’s not enough. He was thrilled, but he said I had a greater capacity than me and so he talked me into going to college, and so I signed up for the Community College down the street.

Darrell was near retirement age and so they had just hired executive director Ed Curran and he came along. I felt as though there was like, there’s this agreement between the two that he will continue to mentor me, and so here I am hanging out with Ed and watching Ed from you know, from afar, watching him be a husband and a father and some of those things that I didn’t know that they were possible. I saw a lot of broken relationships and things of that nature, so I was encouraged by his lifestyle.

So I finished school, I got my associates degree. And I came back to Saint Vincent and showed Ed, and he says, great, let’s finish. You can do more!  And so he talked me into going to get my bachelors degree and so I signed up for classes and eventually I got my bachelors degree.

And even more so to me I got married, and I never thought as a kid that that would be something I wanted to do. But being able to see Daryl and see Ed and some of these other Vincentians, these couples, that came and volunteered changed my perception about marriage and that you can be happily married. So this is one of the things that kind of impacted me. And along that path, my wife eventually she got pregnant and we had twins. One of the Vincentians, Margaret Kuznia, she said Wayne, while your wife is in these early stages I will come to your house three to four times a week and just cook, whatever else that you need me to do. This is one of those things that communicated the Vincentian virtues that demonstrated the gospel, how Jesus and his level of intimacy that he had given to people. So these are some of the things that kept me there at the Society even after getting my diploma.

Now the roles have kind of changed where I was the mentee and I was receiving all this mentorship and to a degree I still do, but now I have an opportunity to engage with our employees. They have similar stories and situations where they feel that they’ve been abandoned, that they’ve been broken and so I am able to pour into them these same truths about God and his ability to redeem and recover. And then also our neighbors that come in and some of our neighbors are in distress and they come in and they are in the midst of a situation and they don’t have anywhere to turn. But we get to be the beacon of light, the lighthouse in the community. It’s a thrill and a privilege for me to be able to serve in that capacity. Everything has been poured into me. To establish relationships and to love people in a way that so many people yearn for is one of the reasons why I continue to stay with Saint Vincent de Paul and continue to be marveled by all the individuals in this wonderful organization.

Vincentian Embarks Upon Eucharistic Pilgrimage

Vincentian Embarks Upon Eucharistic Pilgrimage 540 552 SVDP USA

Voice for the Poor Chair Bobby Kinkela recently participated in one of four Eucharistic Pilgrimages making their way across the United States as part of the National Eucharistic Congress. He shared his story with us, and urges his fellow Vincentians to participate in the Pilgrimage as it winds across the country:

At Midyear this year, National CEO Dave Barringer asked us to support the Eucharistic Pilgrimages which are leading up to the National Eucharistic Congress later this month.

As Vincentians, we always need to focus on our faith because it’s our faith that allows us to do the work that we do.  Even as chair of Voice for the Poor, which deals with advocacy and politics, I see the Eucharist, politics and service as connected… or at least they should be!  I recently served on the panel for a USCCB sponsored event about bringing together the Eucharist and social action.

Back to the Pilgrimage, though.

A group of 55 of us left from my home parish of St. Ann in Michigan by bus to travel to Notre Dame, IN for the Eucharistic Pilgrimage!  I was happy that my three children came with me. We had a good day touring the Notre Dame basilica and viewing their art museum.

We connected with the rest of the pilgrims at the church of St. Therese of the Little Flower and our numbers swelled to thousands!  I had some SVdP signs made for the Eucharistic Procession, so I was greeted by Vincentians from all over who saw the sign, and even connected with Monika Uriel, a Voice for the Poor rep from Detroit.  We just happened to find each other in Indiana during the Eucharist Pilgrimage!

We then gathered in the Notre Dame basilica for a standing-room-only Mass and then dinner afterwards before heading home.

I encourage all Vincentians to support and get involved in the Pilgrimages and the revival that will come next year. You can learn more at the National Eucharistic Congress website. More Catholics in the U.S. means more Vincentians — and more Vincentians can only enhance our goal to serve those in need.  Serve God, be friends to one another, and serve the face of Christ.

07-11-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

07-11-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1200 1200 SVDP USA

At a recent leadership development retreat for our national Youth, Young Adult and Emerging Leaders group, I provided a session on leadership lessons I have learned (some painfully!) over 11 years as the Society’s National CEO and more than 40 years leading mostly nonprofits.

It became apparent in our conversation that these lessons don’t benefit just young leaders, but to a great extent all leaders. Some take on Society leadership because they were good followers and workers, or because they were the first to raise their hand and volunteer. Neither of these guarantee that a person will, or won’t, lead others well. I wonder sometimes if some of our new leaders have ever led anywhere before now! So, whether you are reading this column at 16 or 60 years old, perhaps these lessons can benefit you on your own leadership learning journey. Here they are, briefly:

  1. Don’t confuse Leadership with Money or Fame. Leadership may be thankless.
  2. Anyone can be a Leader — start now! You can begin from anywhere — no excuses.
  3. Hire/recruit people smarter than you, then let them flourish. Always scout for talent.
  4. Use your entire “leadership toolbox”; apply lessons learned from anywhere and anytime.
  5. Use mentors, and then become one. No one is an island! Pay it back.
  6. Don’t let Perfect be the enemy of Good. Keep moving ahead, and adjust as you go.
  7. Always see and play the long game. Think months, even years ahead.
  8. Your job as a leader is not to Do, but to Get Things Done. (And to Keep the Group Together.)
  9. Work to be a good Follower. It helps you understand how to be a better Leader.
  10. Listen, then speak. Listen more than you speak.

I’m sure that a leadership author could write a separate book on each of the above lessons, and in some cases they probably have. I assume that Vincentians are too busy serving people to read 10 books! Therefore, please make do with just the list. You might choose just five that you need to work on to sharpen your skills. Master those, and recruit for the other five!

Here are some characteristics of Good Leaders. They:

  1. Keep learning, formally and informally. Read constantly — trends, different perspectives, etc. that may inform their work.
  2. Find ways to elevate others and help them to grow.
  3. Know a little about a lot, instead of a lot about a little.
  4. Constantly connect the dots. Everything can relate to, and possibly support, everything else if you look hard enough.

If you are the type that feels that you must read a book to learn more legitimately about leadership, here are my favorite books on the topic, all readily available and very readable:

In my upcoming retirement, maybe I’ll expound on all this with my own book. If I do, I know it will have plenty of great leadership examples from our SVDP Council and Conferences and the wonderful volunteers who step up to lead them in service to God and people in need. That should be a book worth reading!

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer
National CEO

Contemplation: True Presence

Contemplation: True Presence 800 800 SVDP USA

By Timothy Williams, Senior Director of Formation and Leadership Development 

Vincentians are doers, we are people of action. We love God, as St. Vincent said, “with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brows.” [CCD XI:32] We believe, as Frédéric did, that “religion serves best not to think, but to act.” As central as our prayer life is, our Conferences are “communities of…prayer and action.” [Rule, Part I, 3.3] And yet, as we often emphasize in our home visit training, ours is not a ministry of constant motion or problem-solving, but is instead, in its heart, a ministry of presence.

In our person-to-person service to those in need, we seek to “establish relationships based on trust and friendship.” [Rule, Part I, 1.9] We seek to be like the friends we call in our own times of distress, who come to us not to find us new jobs, or heal our sick family members, or bring the dead back to life, but to sit with us, to feel the sadness that we feel, and by sharing it, to lighten our burdens.

We are called to see the face of Christ in those we serve, but also to share Christ’s face, His love, and His presence. Just as He told us the poor would always be with us, so also He assured us that He would be with us Himself, until the end of the age, and He connected these two truths by reminding us that how we treat the poor would be judged as if done to Himself.

Our ideal is to serve the neighbor for love alone; not the love of romance, but the love of God, the love that is called charity, the love that Vincent said is “inventive to infinity.” [CCD XI:131] It was in Christ’s inventiveness, Vincent said, that He found a way, after his earthly life had ended, not to remain a carpenter, but to remain truly present to all who believe, and to all who seek Him, in the Eucharist.

The primary purpose of the Society is our own growth in holiness, and while our person-to-person service is our primary means towards this growth, our spiritual practices, like Vincent and Frédéric before us, include “devotion to the Eucharist” [Rule, Part I, 2.2] And how could it be otherwise? In the poor, as in the Eucharist, we see Christ’s true presence, and our service itself becomes sacramental.

We are called not only to stand with the poor, but on our Home Visits, to sit with them; to be present with them. It is through our presence, not simply our actions, that our Home Visits, like Eucharistic Adoration, become acts of love and devotion to God’s beloved Son.

Jesus, Son of Man, was sent by the Father to share our humanity fully, to be present with us, among us, and finally, through bread and wine, in us. To share Christ’s love as Vincentians, then, is to be truly present, going to the neighbor as Christ came to us, bringing within us Christ’s true presence through the Eucharist we have received. Ours is a ministry not only of presence, but of true presence, for on the Home Visit, as in the Eucharist, He will, as He promised, be truly present, too.

Contemplate

How can I be more present to the neighbor?

Recommended Reading

‘Tis a Gift to Be Simple

The Home Visit: An Encounter with our Neighbor -Video-

The Home Visit: An Encounter with our Neighbor -Video- 1080 1080 SVDP USA

The Home Visit: An Encounter with our Neighbor

Hear what three Vincentians – Kat, Ray, and Tim – have to say about their experiences during a Home Visit with a neighbor, and how that has shaped their time with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Kat Brisette, SVDP Rhode Island:

Home visits are one of my favorite parts of the Society of Saint Vincent DePaul. Just being able to, you know, put yourself in an uncomfortable position, just like our neighbors are in an uncomfortable position and being able to just listen to them and talk with them. My favorite home visits are when there’s kids. Maybe it’s just because I like to fool around, and so it’s fun to interact with them. So a lot of times we’ll bring like a coloring book or things for them to play with while we’re meeting. So a lot of my favorite interactions have been, you know, when you bring the coloring book in and two siblings on the floor and they’re coloring it in while you’re talking with mom. And before they go, they put a big heart on it and give it to you. And so I have plenty of coloring pages that I have framed and I keep with me because it just reminds us of what we do and why we do it.

 

Raymond Sickingar, SVDP Rhode Island:

Years ago, my wife and I went on a Home Visit together. There’s a trailer park where we live – we deal with rural poverty where we live and sometimes that can be even more insidious than urban poverty because it’s less visible and there are less resources – but this one woman was in a trailer park, so we went and visited her and she was out of gas or propane. She also needed to rent the land that the trailer was on. So there were a few needs that she had so we were going over to talk to her. And it was a rainy night, I remember, it was raining pretty bad and we got to the door and she invited us in and we sat down. And I don’t know what made us do it that night, I’m not sure we had done it a great deal before, but we just said “What’s going on? What’s your story?” 45 minutes to an hour later, the woman stopped and took a breath.  And she said. “Oh, I feel so light,” she says. “I have not been able to tell that story to anybody.” And we helped her. We actually got her into a sustainable position, but really what she needed most was somebody to listen. And what my wife and I learned that night, was to first stop and take the time to listen. The stories are powerful, and people need to feel like they’re human.

 

Timothy Williams, SVDP USA:

One is one of the first visits my wife and I went on and it was a man who rode his bike to work every day and back 7 miles. Because he didn’t have a car but he had ten kids. There’s always more mouths than money, even with food stamps, and so he called us for help with food, it’s the end of the month. And so we come with the groceries and all these kids come tumbling out the house to help with carrying them. This one little girl grabs a gallon of milk. She turns around towards that house, and she danced back to the house – this gallon of milk. Gandhi once said there are some people so poor they can only see God in a piece of bread. But I was looking at her and the only thing I could think was “the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

 

Kat Brisette, SVDP Rhode Island:

The Society is such an awesome way that we’re able to live out our faith and be that example of what it truly means to be a Catholic and a Christian in today’s world.

 

Timothy Williams, SVDP USA:

When we go to visit the neighbors in need in their homes, we see Christ, and you really receive this Grace from God.

 

Raymond Sickingar, SVDP Rhode Island:

I found it very easy to see the face of Christ and those we serve over the years that I’ve served. But we also have to reflect that loving face back to Christ. That’s the part of that Vincentian charism, that an incredible gift of the Holy Spirit, that speaks to me most.

John Berry: How Can We Help Families on the Brink of Homelessness?

John Berry: How Can We Help Families on the Brink of Homelessness? 1080 1080 SVDP USA

“Many…people at risk of homelessness today would have been, in simpler times, ‘the working poor,'” writes SVdP National President John Berry.

“But as families and communities have broken down, the burden of providing has shifted onto frailer, lonelier shoulders. And as inflation continues to wreak havoc on families’ budgets, more and more single-parent families stand on the brink of homelessness. One car wreck, hospital stay, or layoff can dislodge a family from a home and put them out on the streets.”

Read John’s full piece in Newsweek.

Why Am I a Vincentian? -Video-

Why Am I a Vincentian? -Video- 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Why Am I a Vincentian?

Hear what three Vincentians – Mike, Pamela, and Marge – have to say about why they joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Marge McGinlly, Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Mt. Holly, New Jersey:

It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun, yes.

 

Mike Flynn, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Seattle:

What happened to me was I went to a ministry fair in our parish. I thought it was going to be doing Liturgy and this guy captured me and said you need to become a Vincentian. I said, what is that? He said, well, we help people, and I thought I’d like to help people. And so I went to a meeting and discovered how much more it meant to be a Vincentian than just helping people.

 

Pamela Matambanadzo, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Chicago:

Why do you keep coming back? What brought you here? And I think for me… we talk about service, we talk about spirituality and we talk about friendship. And it’s just the enrichment of all of those on the people you meet. You know the relationships you build. Just being able to serve, you know whether you’re at a soup kitchen or whether you’re at a home visit.

 

Marge McGinlly, Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Mt. Holly, New Jersey:

I’m a Vincentian because when I found the Vincentian family it spoke to my heart. It was a place where I fit. I have this love of people, especially the poor and the sick. And when I found the Vincentian charism it fit who God made me. So it was like finding a second family for me.

 

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