The St Vincent de Paul Society is an international Catholic charity which follows the principles of its’ founder Blessed Frederic Ozanam. Members, both men and women, commit to expressing their Christian values through personal service to their neighbours with a distinctive feature being person to person contact. Help is offered to anyone in need be it friendship, financial, material or advice and support.
The society operates in branches called conferences which meet regularly to review their work and allocate future work – all in spirit of prayer and mutual support.
St Peter’s Conference currently has nine members and two associate members. Commitments include visiting the sick and elderly or housebound either in their own or residential homes, assisting at Mass at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, food parcels for those in need and financial and material support to our own parishioners and, on occasions, other Edinburgh Conferences who are in need. This includes help for Jericho House which provides food and help to Edinburgh Homeless.
Twice a year the Conference organises a Mass and afternoon tea at Gillis Centre for the sick and elderly of the Parish. In addition, the Society in Scotland is ‘twinned’ with 3 countries – India, Republic of South Africa and Hungary. St Peter’s supports projects in 2 conferences in India, 1 in South Africa.
A very small sum of money from St Peter’s can make a vast difference in a country where a needy person may earn 50p a day. Disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti and humanitarian assistance programmes for Christian Refugees of both Iraq and Syria have also been supported by the Parish Conference.
New members always welcome and commitment to the Conference can be suspended or discontinued according to changing personal circumstances.
Recently the St Vincent de Paul Conference of St Peter’s received a letter from our Twin Conference in Kimberly, South Africa telling us about their work.
They visit two Homes for the Elderly where they give out clothing and pray with the residents. They visit a psychiatric hospital and two other hospitals and assist with funerals.
They distribute food parcels to the poor and organise children’s parties.
This is what they wrote:
“We want to thank you for the assistance that you give us in order to do this for the needy.” We, the members of St Peter’s SVDP Conference wish to thank you, the parishioners, for your great generosity all year round. You are making a direct contribution to the work of our Twin Conferences in South Africa and India as well as the needy here at home. You are fulfilling the words of Jesus recorded in St Matthew’s Gospel 25,40 “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these sisters and brothers of mine you did it to me.”