By Eric Martin
Saint Vincent de Paul Society commemorated the Feast Day of St Vincent de Paul (the Patron Saint of Charities) on 27 September at a special Thanksgiving Mass, in gratitude for God’s generosity in their work with those in need and in celebration of a rich heritage of spirituality and mission in Australia.
State President Gladys Demissie and CEO Susan Rooney joined Vincentians from across Perth at St Mary’s Cathedral for the 6.30pm service, with buses provided by the Society to transport the many senior volunteers who are the backbone of the charity’s work.
President Demissie opened proceedings, welcoming and thanking those in attendance for their valuable contribution to the Society.
Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton celebrated the Mass with Society Chaplain Fr Nino Vinciguerra, Fr Brian Russell and other clergy connected with SVDP through conferences as concelebrants.
“You, in a way, are part of the great treasures of the Church: you are the ones who show what the Christian message and the Gospels are really all about,” Bishop Sproxton said.
“We give thanks for you and for your response to the Word of God, and to the way in which you enable many, many people to be relieved of their situation and supported in their situation.”
SVDP is one of the most recognised charities in Western Australia, with support being provided to more than 50,000 people in need each year.
The Bishop’s homily reminded the Vincentians that it is not just the people whom they assist on a daily basis that are blessed by their charity, but that the Vincentians themselves are blessed by the process of giving, by living a life according to the example set by Jesus.
“You are blessed in the work that you do because you are with those, who in a way, can show you Christ, can lead you to the person of Jesus,” Bishop Sproxton said.
He shared that history is full of examples of great men and women of God, saints, who heard the call of the Lord to follow a path that puts others first, responding to Jesus’ message of, “Go and sell everything, give to the poor and follow me.”
“They took that challenge up and that became, that beautiful path that they followed, became the way that they learned who Christ was,” he explained.
“And they developed a tremendous love for their Lord because of the experiences that came their way, because they chose to follow that particular path.
And just like those saints, by giving up the ‘normal’ life that we expect: by sacrificing the comforts of the familiar in order to rely on Jesus and his provision in our lives; by living a life in service to others, “we come face to face with the issues in our own hearts that still require conversion.”
“I’m sure the word of God has had an impact on us too, that there is something that has moved in our own hearts that has brought us to a point where we want to do something; we want to do something that will help those who are less fortunate, those who are very wounded in their lives, those who are very lonely,” Bishop Sproxton said.
“And that has set us on a path that has led us to the Society that you are members of and that you support so beautifully.”
“We ask that the Lord will continue to bless you, to keep you motivated and committed to this Society and its fundamental work.”
At the conclusion of the service, Fr Nino presented CEO Susan Rooney and the SDVP Regional Presidents with a candle to commemorate the 2019 Thanksgiving Mass celebrations.