The St. Christopher's Conference, our parish's representatives of the world-wide organization, is a dedicated group of Christian people identifying and responding to the needs of the poor among us. Activities include providing food, furniture, and assistance with rent, utility bills and prescriptions. At Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas special food baskets are prepared and distributed to those in need. During the Christmas season, this ministry organizes the Angel Tree Program, which provides over 500 gifts to our needy families.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society Mission statement reads: "Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering in the tradition of its founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul."
From the beginning of the Society, the most basic activity of the conference is the Home Visit, two Vincentians visiting the needy in their homes. This is the most profound symbol of the Vincentian charisma which dictates the highest respect for the dignity of the poor; the visitors become the guest and the person being helped becomes the master. In the home environment, the needy feel freer to entrust their needs to the Vincentian.
While the most commonly known service the Society provides is the delivery of food to the needy, we also give assistance to help defray the costs of rent, LIPA, Keyspan, water, heating oil and prescriptions. In addition, where appropriate, we will work with our families to apply for FEMA funding and Project Warmth grants, supply furniture and provide clothing vouchers, food vouchers and Metro cards. Finally, we have a limited driving program which, for insurance reasons, can only be provided to parishioners for local doctor and hospital visits.
The members of our parish conference meet on the first and third Thursday of each month. Our meetings open and close with prayer and a spiritual reading; then we discuss the cases and attempt to work together to find the best solution for each of our families' needs. Our Spiritual Director, Deacon Anthony Banno, provides us with guidance through spiritual discussions at each meeting. As well, we have a special Mass celebration each year for our benefactors and deceased members of the Society.
We are very eager to bring younger parishioners into our ministry. No one is asked to take on more than they can handle. Those who would like to help those less fortunate and, at the same time, grow into the Spirituality of the Society are more than welcomed into a lay society that is known and loved worldwide.
Our work could not be accomplished without the wonderful parishioners who provide us with food and monetary donations. We welcome and are thankful for any and all assistance as we attempt to follow the Gospel message of our Lord and to see Him in those we serve.
Meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month - 1:00 pm in Rectory.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society is trying to expand to picking up food from restaurants, grocery stores, Long Island Cares and Island Harvest. Though we do have many helpers in the pantry, we need individuals or groups who can volunteer once a week/once a month to drive to local areas to pick up items and bring them to the pantry in the lower church.
This would be a great help to the Society and benefit those in need. Could you spare just a couple of hours once a week/once a month? Please contact Lynda @ 632-5139 with your availability.
175th Anniversary - History
On the evening of 23 April 1833, Frederic Ozanam's twentieth birthday, six students from the Sorbonne: Augustine Le Tallandier, Francois Lallier, Felix Clave, Jules Devaux, Paul Lamache, Frederic Ozanam-and their mentor, Emmanuel Bailly, met in the offices of the Catholic Tribune. The previous week they had been confronted by a fellow student in these words: "We agree that at one time your Church was a great Church and was a source of good. But what is your Church doing now? What is she doing.for the poor? Ozanam had accepted the challenge, and he said to his friends: "We must do what is agreeable to God. Therefore, we must do what our Lord Jesus Christ did preaching the gospel! Let us go to the poor!" On that night the Conference of Charity, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, was born. Frederic Ozanam was the primary founder, inspiration, and soul of the Conference.
These young men sought out Sr. Rosalie Rendu, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, for her assistance and suggestions in ministering to God's poor. Sr. Rosalie taught them how to minister to the suffering with gentleness and kindness and to respect their God-given dignity. It was she who mentored them in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul.
During the first five years, membership increased to more than two thousand in fifteen centers throughout France. Although the Society was still composed principally of students, by 1838 others had joined the Society. Several of these were men in high places. Most of the expansion of the Society took place when students would return home from school and encourage others to join them in establishing local Conferences of the Society. The Society took fire from the spark within its membership.
Members of the Society refer to their individual groups as Conferences and to themselves as Vincentians. From the beginning the key to their ministry to the poor and needy was home visitation. Members would always go in pairs to the homes of the poor after the exhortation of Jesus who sent his Apostles and disciples two by two to continue the mission.
No form of charity was foreign to the Society. Not only did Frederic and the others take care of the physical and material needs of others (food, shelter, clothing, firewood), they also involved themselves with tutoring, even setting up libraries for members of the military. During the bloody skirmishes, Vincentians attended to the wounded and the dying. In every work, members of the Society were solicitous to the spiritual and moral welfare of others.
Frederic, during his lifetime, witnessed the establishment of the Society in Italy, Belgium, Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, the United States, Holland, Greece, Turkey, Jerusalem, Switzerland, Austria, Mexico and Canada. Today, the Society is the largest organization of lay Catholics, consisting of 690,000 members serving in 142 countries world-wide. In the United States, there are 115000 members serving in 4,600 Conferences, mostly based in Catholic Parishes.
St. Christopher's Roman Catholic Church 11 Gale Avenue Baldwin, New York 11510 Tel: (516) 223-0723 Fax: (516) 867-5678