St. Vincent de Paul

04-29-2021 Letter from Our Servant Leaders

04-29-2021 Letter from Our Servant Leaders 275 287 SVDP USA

We all learned something this past pandemic year. Individuals learned how much they can stand their family members in the house for long periods of time. They memorized the pizza carryout phone number. And they realized how much we miss airplanes, meetings with real, live people and the concept of breaking bread together – without a mask, closer than six feet apart.

Businesses and organizations such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are learning from the past year, too. Was it a better idea to have cubicles or private offices? Can workers be as effective, efficient, and even trusted when they aren’t in the office looking at each other every day? And we all learned new tech tools to bring us together — from a distance of course.

A painful lesson for some, including a few groups in the Society, is diversification of income streams. We learned the hard way. If all of our Conference revenues come from parishioners in the pews, and suddenly the parish is closed for public Mass, that income largely disappears. If a Council invested all their resources into thrift stores at the expense of fundraising and other incomes, and again, suddenly those stores can’t be open for business, that’s a serious scenario.

Costs don’t end when the income stops, unless you make intentional, serious decisions. This may involve staff layoffs, cutting programs, and otherwise reducing the footprint of the organization. Rent and utility bills, just as we see for those we serve, continue whether or not you have income. You may be a local restaurant or a multinational corporation, but having all of your income eggs in one basket was a painful place to be this past year.

The National Council has been blessed to be funded by member solidarity dues, and even more so this year when Councils continued to pay these funds amid their own uncertain incomes. Fortunately, the solidarity covers 30-40 percent of our operating budget, not all of it. Other income streams include traditional fundraising, bequests, member purchases of publications, event fees, and shared partnerships with vendors. That might seem an unwieldly combination of many inputs into an annual budget. The reality, though, is that this revenue diversification allows us to do much more on members’ behalf than permitted through only dues. Also, if the operating environment changes as drastically as it did this past year, some streams will fare better or worse, but we can manage through the challenging period.

As we all develop strategic plans and related financial conversations among friends, we should consider how this past year challenged our risk assumptions. Did we do well financially, but only because a major grant came out of nowhere? Many stores roared back to profits after the shutdown, in part due to federal stimulus payments and newly-cleaned closets full of material donations, but what if they hadn’t? How did our fundraising change, and perform, this past year? Overall, did we have a plan that worked, or were we simply lucky? In which ways did God bless our work and finances?

Looking at the present pandemic situation, we suddenly have millions of federal dollars available for rent and utility assistance due to COVID. By helping our friends in need to apply for these funds, we preserve our locally-raised dollars for other services, or we can help each person coming to us a bit more. Even though the Society does not receive these funds directly, this is revenue diversification to extend and expand our mission works.

We pray for God’s providence, and we trust Him to give us what we need. The first thing He gives us, though, is an ability to learn and adapt. What did we learn this year about our capacity to serve? What did we learn about our corporate, foundation, government, and other partners and collaborators? How much did our reputation grow, or get harmed, by our physical presence in our neighborhoods? How then did our reputation, mixed with prayer and respectful solicitation, help us raise the funds we needed to serve?

These questions could be ignored if we choose to try and forget the past year. Or, in response to God’s blessings and challenges to grow, we can assess, learn, and change. As with most Vincentian activity, this will be even better if we do it as friends serving in hope together.

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer
CEO

 

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.

04-22-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

04-22-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders 600 685 SVDP USA

We are in the liturgical season of Easter.  We have come through 40 days of Lent, ending in Holy Week with the observance of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.

During this past month, I have been pondering the intersection of our liturgical celebrations with what is going on in the world and what is going on in my life personally. The Easter season is one of being open to the unexpected ways in which Christ appears in our lives. Like Mary and the apostles, we consider what do we do now and what do we do next.

My vocation was not always one of service to the poor. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, I took a job as the Liturgy Coordinator at the campus Newman Center. It was on Good Friday in 1975 when I witnessed an unexpected intersection of liturgy with life outside the church walls and even with my personal vocation.

The environment was carefully planned, the music was moving and, of course, the Good Friday liturgy itself was profound. The church was packed, with many people standing or sitting in the aisles. After the first reading, we sat for a minute or two in silence before singing the responsorial psalm. That’s when down the aisle came a man who was about 35 years old, not well dressed, but not dirty or unkempt. He walked to the sanctuary center in front of the altar and began to talk to the congregation.

He said that Christians did good things and that religion was probably very important to us, but he thought we ought to consider how difficult life was out on the streets of Madison. The war in Vietnam was just ending. Returning soldiers were often on the streets and homeless; students were disillusioned, and it was hard to find work. The man said he was dealing with addiction issues and had been occasionally homeless.

The man spoke well. He engaged the crowd, but I wanted him out of there. He was wrecking the whole thing. What should I do? What I did was nothing, and I relied on our pastor to make the call. He sat there and patiently listened for almost 10 minutes, as did more than 700 others.

The uninvited speaker started to talk about how his life had fallen apart and how alienated he was from his family. Then he described how his brother had invited him to come share Easter with his family. He was hopeful that this was the beginning of a reconciliation and maybe an opportunity to start a new chapter of his life. He said he needed about $40 for a bus ticket, however, and was thinking that among all these fine Christians, there must be someone who would be willing to help him.

At that point the pastor slowly walked up behind him, put a hand on his shoulder and invited him to take a chair and worship with us. Father promised to work with him after the service. To this day there are people who are certain we planned the whole thing. They are sure that it was one of those creative things we were known for doing, and many insist it was the most meaningful Good Friday service they have ever attended.

After it was over, I was still upset that a carefully rehearsed and important liturgy was screwed up by a street person. Little did I realize that several years later working with the homeless and addicted would become part of my faith journey. The events of that day were a real-life parable of the world intersecting with the practice of our faith and a carefully planned liturgical celebration.

I remembered this story during Holy Week, while I was considering what the Society of St. Vincent de Paul plans to do as we emerge, I hope, from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are in the process of developing our next strategic plan, which will be rooted in living out our Rule and Mission Statement. We need to make those plans, but my Good Friday experience also cautions me to be open to the unexpected. Our neatly organized plans will never match the reality of what will walk into our lives. But we should look for grace in those moments and never doubt Divine Providence.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

Friends of the Poor Walk

Friends of the Poor Walk/Run: A Step Towards Eliminating Poverty

Friends of the Poor Walk/Run: A Step Towards Eliminating Poverty 800 533 SVDP USA

Now in its 14th year, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Friends of the Poor® Walk/Run is an annual event that provides local Vincentian Conferences and Councils with an opportunity to raise funds and awareness to support neighbors in need. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, September 25, 2021.

The nationwide event raises awareness of the challenges faced by neighbors in need. At over 200 Walk locations across the country, more than 20,000 Vincentians, parishioners, families, and friends join together to support the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Annually, over $3.4 million is raised each year.

Benefits of Hosting a Walk

While many Conferences and Councils are avid supporters of the Walk, others may be new to the program. Here are some of the benefits of hosting a Friends of the Poor Walk/Run:

  • Generating funds for direct service to people living in poverty in your community.
  • Increasing awareness regarding the challenges faced by neighbors in need.
  • Enhancing visibility and reputation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
  • Involving your parish, neighbors, and friends, family, and community in helping men, women and children in need in your area.
  • Cultivating new and existing members and donors.

Says Nathan Martin, who manages the program nationally, “The National Friends of the Poor Walk is an excellent way to raise awareness of the issues surrounding poverty, while at the same time raising money to help neighbors in need.”

To learn more about the Friends of the Poor® Walk Program, please contact National Director of Fundraising Programs Nathan Martin by emailing him at the link above, or by calling (314) 576-3993 ext. 218. Or visit the Walk website: www.fopwalk.org/

St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy

Serving the Uninsured at St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy

Serving the Uninsured at St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy 1920 2560 SVDP USA

For the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, one pervasive challenge across the communities we serve is poor health management, often exacerbated by lack of access to prescription medications.

The first pharmacy of its kind in Texas, the St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy serves the uninsured whose household income is at or below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, which for a family of four is an annual income of $25,701. Nearly 1 in 2 Texans have incomes at or below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

Since its founding in March 2018, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul North Texas’ freestanding charitable pharmacy, named the St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy, has filled the gap for many North Texans unable to afford medication. Nearly half of all Texans have incomes at or below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

As the pandemic’s effects continue to severely impact our neighbors in need, the pharmacy has been busier than ever, serving nearly 1,000 patients and averaging more than 400 prescriptions per week since March 2020. The St. Vincent de Paul team also innovated their service model by removing the transportation barriers that had previously prevented some clients from obtaining their medication by allowing for prescriptions to be mailed or personally delivered to those who need it.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul North Texas CEO Mike Pazzaglini recently spoke on the program’s expansion on Good Morning Texas. He noted that rather than a reduction in services, the St. Vincent de Paul pharmacy actually served exponentially more neighbors in need over the last year. “We went from 9,000 the year prior, to this year, where we filled over 17, 500 prescriptions.”

Says one pharmacy patient, Elsa R., “I am really grateful because I depend on my medication and I would not know how to find the means to pay.”

Neighbors in need aren’t the only ones who see the benefits of the pharmacy. Vincentian volunteer Martha Korioth notes that, “Vincentians are called to BE the face of Jesus TO others — and, to SEE the face of Jesus IN others. As a volunteer at the SVdP Pharmacy, I see the face of Jesus in the face of each Pharmacy staff member, and I see Jesus’ smiling face on each friend, who comes to pick up their medications. Remarkable growth [of the program]… is leading to Systemic Change for the poorest of the poor in this community.”

To learn more about how you can help support the St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy in Texas, or to learn whether you qualify for services, visit the Society of St. Vincent de Paul North Texas website.

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.

04-01-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

04-01-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1920 2400 SVDP USA

The ultimate consequences of sin and death are perpetual solitude and eternal separation from God. To save us from all that, God sent His Son, born in our likeness, fully divine and fully human, to suffer and die on the cross. Through that astonishing sacrificial gift of self and the glory of the Resurrection, we are redeemed, forgiven and promised a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus leads us into an eternal relationship with the Father and bestows His own identity on us, as we become beloved children of God. These truths summarize the amazing good news of our Catholic faith.

We have all certainly tasted solitude and separation this past year. The impact of COVID has been far-reaching: hundreds of thousands of people facing sickness and death, massive unemployment, no public Masses for months, children not in school, elderly folks completely shut off from family and friends, spikes in depression and suicide. Vincentians have not been able to make Home Visits in a moment when they were needed the most.

Yet, in the midst of such tragedy and difficulty, people have responded with generosity and compassion. Telephone calls, Zoom sessions, curbside pick-ups of food, clothing, and medicine are practical and loving ways that Vincentians have superseded the obstacles of the pandemic. Priests, deacons, religious, and lay ministers have reached out, often heroically, to offer sacraments, prayer, blessings, and human comfort to our isolated and struggling brothers and sisters.

All of this compassionate and zealous effort is fruit of the Vincentian spirit which seeks to find and love our suffering brothers and sisters, to behold the face of Christ in them, and to serve their needs as we would literally treat Christ Himself. This putting the Gospel into living action is the heart of the Vincentian apostolate.

In His public ministry, Jesus ministered in His divine power, healing, preaching, forgiving, and feeding through His unique gifts as the Son of God. How shocking to behold the Lord on the cross, where He becomes the wounded, rejected, thirsty, suffering, and dying One, seemingly powerless and even abandoned by God. Yet, in that moment, Jesus was never more free and powerful, as He won salvation for us by embracing everything within us that was broken, sinful and dead. As we contemplate the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Christ this week, we ask the Lord to break open our hearts, to feel in a deeper way His tender mercy and to know ever more profoundly how we are loved.

Thank you for the good work you do as a Vincentian, giving witness by your words and deeds to the mighty compassion of Christ. Especially this past year with its unique difficulties and crosses, your radiant presence in the Church and the world makes a profound impact for the common good, especially those we are privileged to serve directly, as we touch Christ in His distressing disguise. On behalf of the bishops of the United States, I offer you our prayers, blessing, and thanks.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop Donald J. Hying
National Episcopal Advisor

Fred Talks – Our Timeless Home Visit

Fred Talks – Our Timeless Home Visit 462 472 SVDP USA

Fred Talks Are Back!

Fred Talks are short videos that offer information on topics like Vincentian Heritage, Traditions, and Spirituality. Each video is five minutes or less! What Vincentian can’t spare time for that?

Fred Talks are also great to share with other members of your Conference, or with fellow parishioners who may be curious about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director, produces the Fred Talks series.

In this newest edition, titled “Our Timeless Home Visit,”  Tim reminds us that Home Visits have never been the easiest way to help serve our neighbors in need — even before the pandemic that’s gripped us over the past year. But just because it’s not always easy doesn’t mean it’s not important — both for our own spiritual growth AND bring the face of Christ to those we serve.

Be sure to check back periodically in the E-Gazette and on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for new Fred Talks!

St. Anthony Messenger cover story

Society of St. Vincent de Paul featured in St. Anthony Messenger Magazine

Society of St. Vincent de Paul featured in St. Anthony Messenger Magazine 360 480 SVDP USA

St. Anthony Messenger magazine, an American Catholic family magazine published by the Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati, has selected the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as its March cover story.

The wide-ranging, multipage article touches upon several key aspects of the Society’s work in serving neighbors in need, including our food pantries, thrift stores, emergency financial assistance, and the Getting Ahead program. The print copy also includes many photos of Vincentian volunteers serving their communities, including several images of the Society’s international efforts.

While the article tells the Society’s story through the lens of the Bloomington, Indiana and Dayton, Ohio Conferences, programs from other Conferences across the country are also highlighted, including Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, North Texas, Chicago, and Cincinnati.

With a monthly circulation of more than 50,000, St. Anthony Messenger’s story provides the Society with a unique opportunity to reach new volunteers and donors. We hope you’ll read it and share it with your parish and community.

To read the article online, visit the St. Anthony Messenger website. To inquire about a hard copy of the issue, you can visit their subscription page.

Contemplation – One Heart and One Soul

Contemplation – One Heart and One Soul 940 788 SVDP USA

The Rule tells us that “All decisions are made by consensus after the necessary prayer, reflection and consultation.” [Rule Part I, 3.10] And that, “In rare circumstances, if consensus cannot be reached the decision may be put to a vote.” [Part III, Statute 16] Doesn’t that just drag things out? Isn’t it faster to vote?

These are the wrong questions! Our goal isn’t to reach the fastest decision, but to reach the right decision; the one that is aligned with God’s will.

The process of reaching consensus, then, is a concrete instance of discernment.

The foundation of consensus in our Conferences is for each of us to let go of our egos, “surrendering our own opinion,” as our original 1835 Rule put it, “without which surrender, no association is durable.”

This concept of surrender, of emptying ourselves, occurs throughout the Scriptures, and is a result of our Vincentian virtue of humility, which St. Vincent taught “causes us to empty ourselves of self so that God alone may be manifest, to whom glory may be given.” [CCD XII, 247] Even Christ “emptied himself” to better fulfill the Father’s will! [Ph 2: 6-8]

There is an old joke that voting is like two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. In a similar way, consensus is like a group of friends deciding where to go for dinner. We would never make our friend with the fish allergy go for seafood, and it is obviously better to skip the pizza if another friend just had that for lunch.

When we keep our friendship foremost, our consensus on a dinner destination becomes obvious. Our differing needs and opinions don’t block the road, they light the path.

Just so, in our Conferences, with the bond of our Vincentian friendship enabling us to listen and speak openly, the group’s wisdom and insights will soon distill, revealing to us God’s will in the form of our consensus. Rather than vote fellow members off the island, we all remain in the same boat.

St. Louise often advised that “following the example of the Blessed Trinity, we must have but one heart and act with one mind as do the three divine Persons.” [Correspondence, p.771, 1647]

The Divine life, in the example of the Holy Trinity, is a shared life, and our pathway to it also is shared; in service, in spirituality, in friendship, and in consensus.

Cor unum, et anima una!

Contemplate

When have I let my own strong opinions shut down other voices in my Conference?

Recommended Reading

Turn Everything to Love – especially “Listening to God’s Word

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