Last week we had the official kickoff for our Christ the King St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Conference, and on Monday the 17th we had our introductory meeting. About 40 parishioners were in attendance, with several more who were unable to attend but want to be involved. It was a terrific turnout, and it was great to see so much enthusiasm for this ministry. It left me with a great deal of excitement for what the future holds.
The centerpiece of the ministry of SVdP is home visits, during which not only do parishioners deliver about a week’s worth of food, but just as importantly, try to establish a human connection with people who are suffering. We’ve had a core group of parishioners working for several months to establish SVdP at Christ the King, and several of them shared stories about their experience doing home visits over the last month or so. The goal was not so much to train people to do home visits – that will come later – but rather to share their own experience of what it was like to encounter the poor right here in our own neighborhood. Some indicated that they drove by these houses all the time and didn’t realize that people inside were suffering. As one parishioner described a home visit, “They may not remember me, but I will never forget them.”
And that’s the point of this ministry. Yes, our SVdP Conference will allow us to offer material assistance to the poor to a greater degree than we’ve ever been able to in the past, but ultimately these encounters with the poor transform the giver every bit as much as the receiver. It was evident from these stories that our parishioners have already experienced this in powerful ways, and it was beautiful to see how the Holy Spirit was at work in these simple encounters. While it was jarring to hear how severe the need is right here in our own neighborhood, it was moving to hear how our parishioners were able to step in and be the face of Christ simply by providing some food and a listening ear.
The next step for our conference will be to train parishioners who wish to get involved. Training for food deliveries will take place on Tuesday October 25th at 7pm in the Youth Room. There are other ways to get involved, too, such as being a Call Coordinator (who receives the requests and finds volunteers to fulfill them), or being a shopper for perishable items. Feel free to show up at Tuesday’s training even if you weren’t at the introductory meeting (or contact me for more information and I can put you in touch with the leaders). And most importantly, please pray for our parish as we get our conference off the ground, that it may be a means for our parishioners to have powerful encounters with Christ by encountering Him in the poor.