Jesus reminded us that “the poor will always be among us” [Deuteronomy 15:11].
Frederic Ozanam (1813 - 1853) — a student in Paris, France — recognized that to carry out the mission to alleviate the plight of the poor and marginalized in society is a challenge that is more manageable through an organization. Shortly thereafter, he formed the Conference of Charity in 1833 on the evening of his 20th birthday. Two years later, the name was changed to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP). The organization grew, and 13 years later the first SSVP conference was established in Canada.
Now, 170 years later, 871 conferences of SSVP can be found across Canada thriving on the generous dedication of more than 14,000 volunteers. In Calgary, there are more than 20 conferences involving 365 volunteers.
If successes of an army depend on its generals, so do SSVP’s achievements depend on the pastors of the parishes in which they operate. The St. Peter’s parish SSVP conference is thriving because of the pastoral leadership of Frs. Jerome Lavigne and Jonathan Gibson. Their call into action is heeded by the congregation and as such SSVP has been able to grow and receive outstanding support from parishioners, and the parish councils of the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League.
Because of the new extension to the church, SSVP has moved from using a broom-closet-sized hamper room to an operative food storage area the size of a two-car garage! More than 75 volunteers in our parish purchase, sort and collect food; deliver hampers; visit families; assess needs and seek solutions by contacting other organizations. Shelves are filled regularly by parish donations and generous school drives.
We are grateful to all of the presidents, secretaries, treasurers and other volunteers who dedicate their time and stretch each and every donation to the maximum extent in favour of the recipients.
Immediately following the closing of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy See released on November 21, 2016, the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis entitled Mercy and Misery. In his letter, the Holy Father has established the World Day of the Poor which will be celebrated annually throughout the Church on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Reflecting the experience of the Jubilee for Socially Excluded People this past November 13, the World Day is to "help communities and each of the baptized to reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel and that, as long as Lazarus lies at the door of our homes (cf. Luke 16:19-21), there can be no justice or social peace," Pope Francis has written. In his Apostolic Letter he points out that "this Day will also represent a genuine form of new evanglization (cf. Mt 11:5) which can renew the face of the Church as She perseveres in her perennial activity of pastoral conversion and witness to mercy."
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
November 22, 2016
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In this current economic climate, trying to raise funds through events has become a worrisome endeavour. Everyone’s dollars, both personal and corporate, are being stretched a little farther. As part of my job I recently spent the day out at the stunningly beautiful Silvertip Golf Resort in Canmore, Alberta hosting a very generous group of people golfing in support of the Diocese’s Feed the Hungry Golf Tournament. I spent a lot of the day monitoring the bottom line of our event, praying for success.
Despite our tournament not selling out for the first time in four years and the cancellation of our silent auction we raised $55,000! These funds will help Feed the Hungry continue its mission: to create a different type of Sunday for Calgary’s impoverished. We do that by serving a family-style sit-down dinner to almost 500 of our neighbours most Sundays in Mission at St. Mary’s Hall. How did we raise that $55,000? Because God provided for us. Whenever I was worried about how the event was going to turn out, I prayed. And He answered. First by giving me peace about the event, but then also with financial provision, including $38,000 in corporate sponsorships!
As I pondered how to share the story of our success, Matthew 6:28b came to mind, and I realized the story isn’t just about our event. It’s about the lesson learned. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.” This whole passage of St. Matthew’s Gospel exhorts us not to worry. That as God cares for the creatures and the earth, so much more abundantly does He care for us, His children. If you are worried about a situation in your life, I encourage you to read this scripture and rest in His peace. If you are feeling called to reach out and help those in need, we can help connect you. Visit the Charities & Development website page at www.calgarydiocese.ca. Thank you to all our supporters who continue to give of their resources. We appreciate you so much.