John Harris, 247-2291
What does the Society of St. Vincent de Paul do?
Currently, in the Blessed Sacrament Conference, we do the following:
- Coordinate delivery of weekend Meals on Wheels twice a year
- Visit the elderly at the Catholic Care Center
- Provide bags of “kid-friendly” food for deserving students every weekend
- Prepare and serve a hot breakfast monthly to the residents of the St. Anthony Family Shelter
- Work with the Knights of Columbus on their annual food drive for God’s Food Pantry
- Provide sandwiches occasionally to Wichita’s homeless (Blessed Sacrament Mom’s Group)
- Hold an annual coat and blanket drive
- Organize an annual toiletry and diaper drive
- Prepare sack lunches and provide meals at the Warming Souls overflow shelter each winter
- Deliver ham dinners and turkey dinners to the needy at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas
- Seek out the forgotten and lonely and remember them at Christmas (Christmas gift tree)
- Perform fund-raising to have the money to help those we serve
- Deliver furniture to those who have none
- Provide a monthly dinner to homeless veterans staying at Passageways Shelter
- Correspond with those in prison and with shut-ins
- Mentor and support Blessed Sacrament’s Junior St. Vincent de Paul group
How do those in need contact you?
Usually, the Parish Secretary or the Priests receive calls from individuals needing help, and the calls are passed on to the St. Vincent de Paul volunteer who is in charge of coordinating visits. For example, if a “client” requests emergency assistance, the phone coordinator receiving the call contacts other Conference members to arrange a “home visit”, and obtain a better understanding of the client’s unique situation. (Note: When we make a “home visit” to the person or family in need, we are required to visit in pairs.) Based on the outcome of the “home visit”, other Parish organizations may be contacted for additional help (i.e. Compassionate Care Ministry, Parish Nursing Program, etc.)
What are your limitations when you help someone?
We have a fairly small budget, so we are limited. We usually analyze the need and make a determination based on what we learn from our client during the “home visit”. Perhaps we will make a rent payment, pay a pressing utility bill, and/or give them a grocery store voucher for groceries or gasoline. Additionally, we are able to offer suggestions for other sources of assistance (Food Pantries, and other agencies). Due to financial constraints we are typically only able to help someone with monetary assistance once a year.
How do you obtain funding?
The primary way we obtain money with which we help the poor is through the Parish’s annual Thanksgiving collection, and the September “Friends of the Poor Walk”. Additionally, Blessed Sacrament’s St. Vincent de Paul Conference is supported by a large number of generous benefactors who make donations throughout the year.
How often do you meet?
We hold two business / planning meetings each month, on the first Sunday of the month, after the 9 am Mass, and on the third Tuesday of the month, at 6:30 pm. On-going activities are reported each week in the Parish Bulletin. Due to the wide scope of work we do for those in need, volunteers are always needed, and welcomed. The time commitment can be from an hour or two per month to as much as you care to help.
What is the purpose of the meetings?
These are standard business meetings, where we review our Treasurer’s report and meeting minutes from the previous meeting, review acts of assistance we’ve performed since our last meeting, and plan for any upcoming conference activity (Catholic Care Center visits, approval of unusual financial requests, communication, etc.). However, in addition to the business aspect of the meeting, there is also a spiritual side, to promote the spiritual nature of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul. The meeting opens and closes with prayers, and we have a Spiritual reading as well. The meeting is an opportunity to bond and create deeper friendships with our fellow Vincentians, and develop our own spirituality.
How long has the Society of St. Vincent de Paul existed?
The St. Vincent de Paul Society, an international Catholic lay organization, was formed in 1833, in Paris, France. Today, the Society has over 700,000 members in 149 countries.
How long has the Conference existed?
We believe the Blessed Sacrament conference was formed in perhaps the 1950’s. During that time, the Conference has helped hundreds and hundreds of people.
If I become involved, what would I do?
Due to the broad mission of St. Vincent de Paul, there are many opportunities to volunteer, depending on your interests. If you want to become involved in helping those in need directly, you can be trained to go on “home visits”. Additionally, you can visit the elderly at the Catholic Center, help with writing bulletin or website articles to promote the Society, help deliver donated furniture and appliances to those in need, participate in Meals on Wheels, food drives, etc.
How can I learn more about the Society?
The Society has published guidelines that describe in detail the Society’s philosophy and guiding principles. It is called “The Rule”, and we will be glad to get you a copy. Also, feel free to attend a meeting and see first-hand what we do.