By Maureen Mack
In the wake of a cholera epidemic that had swept through the poorer suburbs of Paris, a young student by the name of Frederic Ozanam was spurred to action. After being moved by the hopeless state of the families who he passed on the way to university, he gathered a group of fellow students on 23 April 1833 to decide what could be done. Following this meeting, Frederick, along with his flatmate, took the remainder of their own winter wood supply and, ascending the staircase of a garret, gave it to a poor widow. With these humble beginnings, the St Vincent De Paul Society was born.
Since those early days, the St Vincent de Paul Society has spread throughout the world, and the name 'Vinnies' has become synonymous with providing more of a ‘hand up’ than a ‘handout’. Here at Holy Family, our own St Vincent de Paul conference was established in September 1959, while the parish itself was still in its infancy. The founding members, Kevin Moloney, Keith Stewart, John Hayes, Brian Ross, Jack Brown, Frank Murphy, John Fyfe, Les Thompson, Gerry Tipping and Alan Warner, gathered together under the spiritual director at the time, Father Curley.
For the past 60 years, the members of our parish Conference have volunteered to give a hand up to those less fortunate. No matter what the need: domestic violence, homelessness, drug abuse, unemployment, disabilities, or asylum seekers, our members have responded without comment, judgement or criticism, and have quietly gone about this work, often unseen and unrecognised.
The bread and butter work of the St Vincent de Paul Society has always been home visitation. Much like Blessed Frederic Ozanam all those years ago, our Conference has assisted families and individuals in our local area who are struggling in their daily lives. In addition to this, our Conference has been proud to support (or launch) some other projects, including the local bread run; Balgo (Kimberley); Assist a Student Program; Twinning with a Parish in India; Pinewood Op-Shop; Holy Family Piety Stall; Tandana (W.E.A.C); clothing bin (in car park); Collingwood Cottage; support of Mission in Zambia (via Sr Marie Bourke); Tins for Tucker; and Christmas hampers.
As we celebrate our 60th Anniversary, we would like to thank all those who over the years have supported our work. In particular, we have valued the connection built up over many years with the local schools and their ongoing generous commitment to our appeal for food donations.
Most importantly, we thank you, our past and present benefactors over the past 60 years, for your ongoing support at our winter appeal, food donations, poor box donations, and anonymous donations of funds. Your generosity has enabled us to continue the work of those Vincentians who had the foresight and commitment to set up our Conference here at Holy Family Parish, way back in 1959.
Please join us, as we celebrate this wonderful milestone:
Sunday 8th September
10:30 am Mass
Followed by morning tea.