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St. Vincent de Paul Society


The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a worldwide Christian community; founded in Paris in 1833, by a group of young Catholic lay people and an older person, who joined together to create the first Conference. The Society, Catholic from its origins, remains and international Catholic voluntary organization of lay people, men and women.

The vocation of the Society’s members, who are called Vincentians, is to follow Christ by service to those in need through person-to-person contact. This is done by providing any form of help that alleviates suffering or deprivation and promotes human dignity and personal integrity in all their dimensions. The Society serves those in need regardless of creed, ethnic or social background, health, gender, or political opinions.

Vincentians recognize three types of membership:

Contributing Members are those individuals who regularly or in a substantial way provide in-kind or financial support but who do not engage directly in the Society’s work.

Associate Members are those individuals who are affiliated with the Society by formal action of a Conference or Council. Associate Members often assist with one or another of the projects of the Society.

Active (Full) Members are those individuals who participate regularly in the prayer life, meetings, and charitable activities through personal contact with the poor of the Vincentian Conference or Council in to which they have been received.

At St. Teresa of Avila parish there are many contributing members who provide financial support through monthly collections or through individual monetary gifts out of the generosity of their hearts. All parishioners are encouraged to be “Contributing Members” as the St. Vincent de Paul Society is the main parish outreach to the poor, a gospel requirement for disciples.

Funds that are donated to St. Vincent de Paul allows our Society to:

  1. buy food from the Food Bank when our pantry supplies are low
  2. assist people in need to cover utility bills, rent, etc. when there is an emergency or unforeseen event
  3. provide essential furniture such as beds when families are in need
  4. assist in the major works of the Society in San Francisco which includes shelters for families, detox programs, health services, etc.
  5. provide small items for personal comfort to residents of the Convalescent Hospital in our parish
  6. respond to individual needs of the poor as they are presented.

St. Teresa’s parish is also blessed with a good number of Associate Members who:

  1. come to help make sandwiches two or three times a month for distribution to the homeless
  2. come to help sort groceries and prepare Thanksgiving boxes for the poor of our neighborhood
  3. assist with the Tuesday distribution of groceries to the poor
  4. respond to the food and/or clothing drives of the Society
  5. give of their time and talent as they are able.

The Active (Full) Time members are a group of faithful Vincentians who make it possible for the parishioners of St. Teresa of Avila parish do all of the above works of charity. They meet monthly, join together in prayer, review their services to see what is working well, what needs to be modified and how to best respond to any current needs in our parish, our city, our world. When there are major trajedies such as the recent events in Haiti and Chile, the Society responds with any help that it is possible to give. Often there will be a St. Vincent de Paul national response.

Much more can be said about this wonderful ministry to the poor. Each and every parishioner is invited to consider whether or not they are called to be more involved in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. New members are always needed, always welcome and always blessed by the Good Lord.

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