SEATTLE – Society of St. Vincent de Paul members are among those “who best live the Gospel,” responding to God’s invitation to work in his vineyard, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne told Vincentians on the feast of St. Vincent de Paul.
“Every one of your acts of love, whether seen or unseen, makes the world a better place. It is advancing the kingdom, it is bearing the fruit of the vineyard of God,” the archbishop said in his homily during the September 27 Mass celebrating the 100th anniversary of SVdP in the Archdiocese of Seattle.
Some Vincentians, as SVdP volunteers are called, joined the Mass at St. James Cathedral in person (with masks and physical distancing), while many more participated via livestream.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Vincentians renewed their commitment to the work of the society, a ministry of presence and encounter that also provides tangible assistance, like food and help with rent and utility payments.
“Every day, Vincentians help to keep people in their homes by helping financially when needed and responding to multiple needs as they arise,” Mirya Muñoz-Roach, executive director of SVdP Seattle-King County, said at the end of Mass.
Around the archdiocese, she noted, SVdP ministry groups (called conferences) are active in more than 100 parishes, under the direction of several regional SVdP councils. Vincentians go in pairs to the homes of those in need. Even with the restrictions of COVID-19, Vincentians are conducting home visits with social distancing, “and doing our very best to transmit a loving care through phone call visits,” Muñoz-Roach said.
Banners on display during the Mass celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Western Washington included SVdP founder Blessed Frederic Ozanam; St. Louise de Marillac, a contemporary of St. Vincent de Paul; and St. Vincent de Paul.
Vincentians offer a listening ear, “bringing compassion, giving dignity, hope, love, mercy,” she said, a ministry through which they both bring and encounter Christ. “It is in this exchange and this encounter with the other that Christ is revealed and we are transformed spiritually.”
Vincentians, Archbishop Etienne said, have “certainly heard the invitation of St. Paul, which is the invitation and teaching of Jesus … to do nothing out of selfishness, nothing out of vainglory, but rather humbly regard others as more important than yourself.”
He thanked the Vincentians “for putting on this attitude of Christ,” serving others “not for any glory other than for the glory of God’s kingdom.”
As Munoz-Roach said in her parting words, “there is much work ahead, so let us leave today renewed, ready to invite others to the work that awaits us,” preparing the way for the next 100 years of SVdP ministry in the archdiocese.
After the St. Vincent de Paul centennial celebration Mass, students from SVdP’s Centro Rendu Re-route program joined in a solidarity walk from St. James Cathedral to SVdP’s office in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. The students carried the SVdP centennial torch. Watch their videos.
Vincentian hopes and vision
Vincentians from across the region submitted videos expressing what brought and continues to draw them to the ministry of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, as well as their hopes and vision for the next 100 years of the ministry in the communities of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Watch what they had to say.