SOCIETY OF ST VINCENT DE PAUL, CORPUS CHRISTI CATHEDRAL CONFERENCE AIMS AT STEPPING UP FROM FEEDING THE POOR TO EMPOWERMENT.
A feast day in the Catholic Church is primarily celebrated on the anniversary of a Saint’s death. St Vincent died on the 27th of September, 1660. This is an important annual celebration in the liturgical year and a chance for all active Vincentians and indeed benefactors to reflect on how his legacy lives on today through our good works.
St Vincent urged his followers to bring God’s justice and love to people who are most vulnerable and unable to live a full life.
He walked the streets to seek out and help people experiencing extreme hardship. This is the Spirit that pervades the work of the Society today.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in France in 1833 by a group of students led by Frederic Ozanam. Ozanam as a student was surprised to find that the professors in the course of their lectures took every opportunity to attack Christianity and Catholicism in particular. The attack bothered principally on the sore point that in the midst of gospel preaching, there was no practical show of love to the poor and oppressed. His search for a solution led him to the poor. “it is not enough to believe or even to defend the faith, not enough to adore the God of the Gospel, one must follow Christ in the service of the poor”.
St Vincent was chosen as the Patron Saint of the Society due to his extraordinary personal example of tender and practical love for the poor and for inspiring others to do works of mercy.
Our theme for this year’s feast “Charity Beyond Aid” is borne out of our realization and acceptance of the fact that there is a need for a paradigm shift in the way we render service to our masters. It identifies with the broad-based and interdependent sustainable development goals set by the United Nations General Assembly since 2015.
Let us recall that while Goal 1 is “No poverty”, Goal 2 is “Zero Hunger”.
Statistics show that 1 in 10 people live below the extreme poverty threshold. If our country has been declared the poverty capital of the world, I fear to guess what our ratio will be.
Goal 2 on Zero Hunger says “end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Agriculture has been identified as the single largest employer in the world, providing a livelihood for over 50% in Africa. Experts have recognized that one of the effective ways of ending hunger is by improving agricultural productivity and incomes of small scale food producers especially women and indigenous peoples.
The terrible condition of extreme poverty in 1833 France that challenged FerdrickOzanam and his friends into founding our society seem to be very much with us today. However, we realize that we cannot employ the same methods used in service to the poor in the 17th century forever. As society changes, even the mode of effective service to the poor must change. We must aim at greater impact by moving from feeding the poor to empowering them as much as possible. Yet you cannot empower others if you are not empowered yourself. Our conference has thus taken a bold step towards empowerment by aiming at engaging in agriculture and such other business ventures as will sustain our service to the poor and facilitate their empowerment.
St Vincent De Paul invites you on the occasion of our feast day to donate generously towards the empowerment of the powerless. Remember the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ “whatsoever you do to the least of these my brethren, that you do unto me”.
We invite you to rejoice with us on this special feast day, that is being celebrated on Sunday, the 29th of September, 2019.