Conferences

New Conference With Special Tie to St. Gianna Beretta Molla

New Conference With Special Tie to St. Gianna Beretta Molla 680 583 SVDP USA

St. Gianna Molla Parish was erected by Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila in 2018. Fr. Jason Wunsch, who was the Parochial Vicar at Ascension Parish, was appointed as pastor of the new parish.

Fr. Wunsch and Archbishop Aquila are pictured here with Gianna Emanuela Molla, St. Gianna Molla’s daughter, at her mother’s grave in Mesero, Italy. Gianna Emanuela has since come to visit the parish in Denver and gave her testimony.

Fr. Jason was instrumental in initiating a Society of St. Vincent de Paul Conference at the new parish in April 2021. The Conference was approved by the National Council of the U.S. on April 28, the feast day of St. Gianna. The St. Gianna Molla parish boundaries cover a large area, including Denver International Airport, multiple new housing developments, and a rapidly growing population.

About St. Gianna Molla

St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1961) was an Italian pediatrician and the tenth of 13children in her family. At the age of 20, she entered medical school in Milan and was diligent as a student and as a Catholic. While a medical student, she became a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and was active in reaching out to the elderly and needy.

She specialized in pediatrics and received degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949. Gianna was devoted to babies and mothers and at the same time, the elderly and poor. She opened a medical office in Mesero near Magenta where she was born.

Gianna married Pietro Molla in 1955. Their fourth child, Gianna Emanuela Molla, was successfully delivered by Caesarean section in 1961, but Gianna died from complications. She insisted that the baby be saved at the risk of her own life.

Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul on April 24, 1994, and officially canonized as a saint on May 16, 2004. Her husband and their children attended her canonization ceremony.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla’s feast day is celebrated on April 28.

help the needy

Will You Help the Friends of the Poor?

Will You Help the Friends of the Poor? 2560 1707 SVDP USA

At the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, many of our nearly 4,500 Conferences and Councils across the United States have felt the financial effects of COVID-19. Some are seeing up to a 300% increase in need for food alone! And with 10 million Americans currently behind in rent payments, we expect a similar increase in demand for rent assistance in coming months, regardless of eviction moratoriums and government help.

By making a gift to the Friends of the Poor Grant Fund, you will provide emergency funding for local St. Vincent de Paul Conferences and Councils, to help Vincentian volunteers meet the growing demand for food and other basic emergency needs.

Will you donate today to the Friends of the Poor program? Your financial support is crucial and will allow Vincentian volunteers to bring the hope of the Gospel, answering Christ’s call to his disciples in Mathew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.”

Your Donation Makes a Difference 

Please donate today at www.svdpusa.org/friendsofthepoor. You will be helping those most impacted by COVID-19.
Thank you, and may Christ’s presence fill your hearts this most sacred time of year.

A Brief History of the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at St. Columba Catholic Church

A Brief History of the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at St. Columba Catholic Church 2560 1707 SVDP USA

Oakland, California’s St. Columba Catholic Church is home to a vibrant St. Vincent de Paul Conference rooted in African-American traditions. In honor of Black History Month, please enjoy this history of the Conference at St. Columba, written by President Jo Ann Evans.

A Brief History of the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at St. Columba Catholic Church

Long before there was a Conference at St. Columba, members used to assemble grocery bags to be given to those who came by and asked for food. According to oral history, the groceries were distributed from the rectory next door to the church. Sometimes the bags held sandwiches. Other times, they contained staples that could be added to the pantries of those who came looking for food.

Spending time discussing the genesis of St Vincent de Paul Conference at St, Columba Church was like viewing into the windows of history as the SVdP Conference was formed in late 1998, early 1999. At the prompting of Mrs. Maud Green whose husband, Bill, was one of the founding members, I called Mrs. Bea Morgan to fill in the pages of an extraordinary story of caring people. They were approached by their pastor at the time, Fr. Tony Herrera, who suggested that their gestures of kindness and generosity could become formalized to establish an organization such as St. Vincent de Paul Society, and to begin a Conference at St. Columba. With very little prodding, Al Morgan, prominently known for his generosity and enthusiasm in helping the less fortunate and for having a big heart, called on a few of his friends to begin St. Columba’s SVdP Conference.

With five members donating $100 each as their starting “kitty”, Al Morgan, Al Muldrow, Bill Green, Hilton Hill, and Robert LaSalle opened up and began serving anyone who came to them for food, a stay at a motel, furniture, and sometimes vouchers for food at McDonald’s. No one was turned away.

Home Visits were common, and some regulars even had Al’s telephone number and called him when they were in need. On many occasions Bill and Bea went out to help someone who called them for help. One such call was for furniture to furnish an entire apartment with everything from napkins and silverware to bed, sofa, kitchen table with chairs, towels, sheets, EVERYTHING. And the caller wasn’t even Catholic, but attended a church not far from her newly furnished apartment! She had heard that Catholics were generous, and indeed, we are.

Fast forward through many years of service to 2016, when our Conference supported stable hands and migrant workers at Golden Gate Fields, college students, members of communes, and our guests. Anything left over was often taken to Guerneville by one of our volunteers (a Christian Brother) who knew of the needs of a community of migrant workers and travelers (unhoused population).

Our Vincentian volunteers became proficient at sorting through produce and food given to our conference through a grocery rescue program. The display of fruits and vegetables, bread, pastries, and miscellaneous items were comparable to a grocery store’s display, neatly arranged.

March of 2020 changed that. Just as we were preparing for St Patrick’s Day with decorations and candy for our guests, the pandemic paid all of us a visit and has refused to leave. After the shock of learning what SIP (shelter in place) meant, our routine for service and operation had to be reimagined.

Now, instead of grocery bags filled with food, we collaborate with a caterer and two other organizations weekly to offer salads, entrees, desserts in take-out containers in an outdoor setting. Due to the ages of our volunteers, many are unable to help with the weekly take-out meals, but other parishioners have stepped in to make sure that our program continues.  At Thanksgiving, instead of the turkeys and all the trimmings that we customarily provide, we offered gift cards for our families to shop for themselves, and at Christmas, our benefactors helped us to bless the families with gift cards, boxes of food and Christmas presents.

From serving sandwiches from the rectory in the early days to formally becoming a St Vincent de Paul Conference to dealing with the restrictions of a pandemic, our conference continues our work and mission to help those in need and to share the blessings that we have received. By the Grace of our Creator, we will continue for many more years to serve to the best of our ability.

Learn More

To learn more about St. Columba Conference, or other St. Vincent de Paul Conferences in the Western region, please contact:

Wallita Sykes-Bush
Western Region Representative
National Multicultural Diversity Committee
African American Task Force

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Does your Council or Conference have a story to share? Email us at mystory@svdpusa.org.

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