Celebrating Ozanam Sunday

Next weekend, April 21/22, Holy Redeemer Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society will be celebrating Ozanam Sunday. Ozanam Sunday is celebrated on the last Sunday of April. It marks the founding of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul by Blessed Frederic Ozanam and six fellow students at the University of Paris, on April 23, 1833. Coincidentally, it was Frederic Ozanam’s twentieth birthday and also one day before the anniversary of the birth of St. Vincent de Paul on April 24, 1581.

These were difficult times for the poor of Paris. The early 1830s saw political uncertainty with uprisings against the regime and a serious cholera epidemic. Paris had many widows and orphans struggling because of the death of the family bead winner.

One day a secularist student challenged Frederic. Like many secularists he claimed that while the Catholic Church had done many good works in the past it was not doing enough to help the poor in the current conditions. In answer to their fellow student’s challenge Ozanam and six friends organized what they first called the “Conference of Charity”.

To help guide their work with the poor the first Vincentians sought the guidance of Blessed Rosalie Rendu. Sr. Rosalie was a member of the Daughters of Charity. The Daughters of Charity were founded by St. Louise de Marillac, a coworker with St. Vincent de Paul. Together they are patron saints of those who work with the poor. Blessed Rosalie was able to help Frederic Ozanam and his co-workers to focus their work with the poor. With respect for Sr. Rosalie’s help these students renamed their group the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and placed it under St. Vincent’s patronage.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society quickly grew in France and spread to Ireland another country where there was desperate poverty and need for charitable works. The SVDP then came to this country in 1845, only twelve years after its founding. It was first established at the old Basilica of St. Louis de France in St. Louis, MO. Since that time the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has grown to become the largest lay charitable organization in the world.

The Vincentian Mission Statement is;

Vincentian ministry is a means for acquiring holiness, the ministry of a Vincentian to those and with those who stand in need is the powerful means that affects holiness of life for the individual Vincentian. Vatican II states that the principal means of holiness for bishops and priests is their ministry. This applies to the laity also, because, in attending to the needy and suffering, a Vincentian is ministering to Jesus Christ himself.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society is special to me because as a young man I became active in my home parish’s conference. I believe that work helped contributed to my decision to become a priest. I am very happy that we have such an active SVDP Conference here at Holy Redeemer. The Holy Redeemer Conference helps the poor of our parish and in special cases is able to support neighboring parish conferences with difficult cases.

The work of the Holy Redeemer SVDP Conference is supported by the generosity of our parishioners and its friends. Sources of financial support come through donations to Holy Days of Obligation Mass Collections, the generosity of members, conference fundraising such as the summer raffle, Christmas Giving Tree and donations made anonymously to the SVDP Poor Box at the back of the church. The Poor Box is located on the left just as you enter the nave of the church.

Would you consider joining the St. Vincent de Paul Society? They are always ready to welcome new members whether you are old or young, male or female, experienced or unexperienced. What is needed is a heart open to the plight of the poor, the willingness to have direct interaction with the them, but most of all you need a willingness to share your own time, talent and treasure to help the poor and the Kingdom of God.

House for Haiti Funds Sent

As of Monday, the proceeds of our Lenten Almsgiving Folders had reached $3,974. Our goal for the almsgiving was $3,600, the amount needed for the lay Catholic relief agency Food for the Poor to build a modest two room cement block home with sanitary facilities. We rounded our donation up to $4,000 and sent the proceeds in this week. Thank you to all those who donated to the project. Your generosity is appreciated. Hopefully, we will be able to do a similar project again next year.

Meals for the Homeless

You can help the homeless at the Diocese of Fall River Catholic Social Services’ St. Joseph’s Shelter in Hyannis right now. Parishioners provide a lunch of sandwiches, fruit and cookies for residents of the 60 bed shelter every first Wednesday of the month. They are always looking for more volunteers to help make the lunch. If you would like to share your time, talent and treasure with these homeless please volunteer by calling 508-945-1834.

No, I’m Not Too Busy for You

Pope Francis often sends his fellow priests a zinger every now and again. When he first became pope, he wasn’t reluctant to make some comments to challenge us. Most memorable was his observation that pastors need to “smell like the sheep”. In one of his Holy Week Homilies Pope Francis “joked” that you can tell a priest who doesn’t have time for his people when parishioners say to him, “Father, I know you are busy.” It isn’t such a joke but speaks to a real pastoral need. In past assignments I’ve tried to make a gesture to show my availability to parishioners by blocking off some time each week to be available if you feel the need to drop in to the Parish Office and talk with me. I’ve made a conscious effort to renew that practice. I’ve blocked off Monday afternoons from 3 pm-5 pm as time I’ll always try to be free if you feel the need to just drop in to talk something over with me. Of course, you aren’t limited to this time slot and it’s always good to make an appointment but this is my small gesture to try not to have people say to me, “Father, I know you are busy.”