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posted Sep 19, 2018, 8:54 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 8:54 AM ]

SSVP shows people still care


Most of us have felt the hunger pangs that can lead to low blood sugar, faintness and becoming irritable. But imagine being a parent going without meals yourself in order to feed your children, or having to choose between heating your home or feeding your family, so as to survive on a small budget.

This is the reality for thousands of families in England and Wales who depend on Catholic charity, the St Vincent de Paul Society (SSVP), for that extra bit of support to put food on the table.

This month, the SSVP is running an awareness campaign to let the public know about the work of the charity's 10,000 volunteers. Entitled 'Beyond Boundaries', the campaign focuses on the hidden poor – people often unseen, who receive help every day in the form of practical assistance and friendship.

Week 2 of the Campaign is about food poverty, and how the Society overcomes the boundaries of shame and stigma that sometimes accompany not being able to provide for your loved ones. As SSVP volunteers visit people in their own homes, they see first-hand the level of need being endured by so many people, often too afraid to ask for help.


What being a Vincentian means to me


In February 2014, after retiring from the services of the Bank, my dream of joining the Society of St Vincent de Paul finally came true. Earlier, I could not attend the meetings on Tuesdays, due to work commitments. I was brought up seeing my parents always giving aid in cash or kind to the SSVP. After my name was proposed by a member, I was able to attend the meetings and thus joined the SSVP, St Peter's Conference in March 2014. Six months later, I proudly took the pledge. As a Vincentian, I am happy to be visiting the poor adopted families of our Conference with a new partner every six months, thus enabling me not only to get to know my fellow Vincentian, but also to know our adopted members and their families personally. Sitting with them, praying with them, listening to their woes, touched me deeply. They too would wait for our visits, and seeing the happy smiles on their faces was enough to make the world a happier place. Sometimes, I would get emotionally attached to them, and had to pull myself together. I also assist in the distribution of bread on Tuesdays. I attend the Holy Hour every second Saturday of the month and learn how to use the reflection to deepen my understanding of SERVICE. I learned that everyone lived their own faith, and found my own way of weaving the story of St Vincent de Paul into the story of my own life. It broke my heart to see that in the midst of the posh localities of Bandra exist the poorer needy families in the different wadis of our parish.


Pope honours priest martyred by Sicily mafia


Honouring a priest shot at point-blank range by the mafia, Pope Francis insisted that true happiness and a real change in Sicilian society will come only when people love and care for one another, rather than trying to grab as much money and power as they can.

"Having always leads to wanting. I have something, and immediately want another and another without end. The more you have, the more you want. It's a horrible addiction," Pope Francis said, celebrating Mass in Palermo.

"On the other hand, one who loves finds himself, and discovers how beautiful it is to help others; he has joy on the inside and a smile on the outside, just like Fr Pino."

Fr Pino Puglisi, an anti-mafia priest, was gunned down on September 15, 1993 - his 56th birthday.

Pope Francis made a trip to Sicily to mark the 25th anniversary of the now beatified priest's martyrdom. His homily and speeches included denunciations of the mafia and a call for the mafiosi to convert. But he focused especially on encouraging local Catholics to live their faith, and to courageously stand up to all forms of injustice, which flow from and feed into the mafia's power.

Meeting Sicily's bishops, priests, religious and seminarians in the afternoon, Pope Francis asked for special care in ensuring that the traditional religious festivals of the region's cities and towns not be used, as they have been in the past, to give a pious varnish to members of the mafia.

"I ask you to be attentive guardians so that popular religiosity is not instrumentalised by a Mafia presence," he said. Stopping processions with a statue of Mary "and having her bow before the home of the Mafia chief", as has been known to occur, "this will not do, absolutely not!"