St. Vincent de Paul Society & The New Evangelization Perfect Together

How do we evangelize? Certainly not by being confrontational. Better to follow the advice of the American Bishops. They say, in part, “We do not have to stand on a street corner or shout from a roof – we simply need to allow Jesus to work through us in our everyday lives – at home, at work, at recreation, or the grocery store. Often the best way to witness is through our actions rather than our words as St. Francis reminds us: ‘Preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary.’ ”

This good counsel of St. Francis is precisely what is practiced by Vincentians, particularly during the Home Visit. In this setting the person requesting assistance is visited by a pair of Vincentian Volunteers. They have not come primarily to evangelize but rather to provide practical and knowledgeable assistance to their neighbor-in-need. In providing their help, the Vincentians seek to emulate St. Vincent de Paul in the five virtues essential for promoting love and respect for the poor: Simplicity, Humility, Gentleness, Selflessness and Zeal.

This is an ideal opportunity for evangelization. The Vincentian visitors have answered a plea for help from a neighbor in need. They have arrived not only with a check-book but also with a loving and zealous interest in helping their neighbor, to give them hope, to uplift their spirits, to develop a plan, to suggest resources, and more, so that the neighbor will know God’s love in a tangible way.

Vincentians have worked this way since the time of Bl. Frederick Ozanam. Frederick founded the Society in 1833. He was then a twenty-year-old law student at The Sorbonne where he recruited seven friends to begin helping the desperately poor in nearby neighborhoods. (A year later, his growing organization had over 700 members in Paris.) Today, the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul has 700,000 members in 148 countries world-wide.

The story of The SVdeP Conference here at Resurrection is a “gem of many facets”. Let’s examine just one facet through the lens of a question. “With pleas for assistance arriving at the Parish Office every day, where do you find the resources to deal with them?” Answer: Mainly they come from the warm-hearted people of our Parish. They give generously through their Prayers, the Poor Boxes, the 5th Sunday Collections, gifts of material and time, and more. It is their generosity that enables our Conference to serve our Neighbors. We are most grateful.

Bill Graves

Note: On behalf of the parish family of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Father Pete thanks all the members of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society for their service to our sisters and brothers in need.