How long have you been a Vincentian?
About 20 years.
Cathedral/ St. Xavier Conference
How did you become a Vincentian?
My office was close to downtown and I was going to morning Mass at the Cathedral. There was a notice in the bulletin by the pastor about wanting to start some kind of a social action group. Even though the Cathedral is not my parish I was able to join. There were about 6 of us. (I am the only one still active) We tried various volunteer activities when the pastor said that there used to be a St. Vincent de Paul Society at the Cathedral but was not currently active. We decided to explore it and visited St. Vivian Conference. The president from Bank Street also met with us. In addition there was still money left over from when the conference was active. So we restarted the conference.
Most memorable Home Visit:
One that I will never forget is we met with a young twenty-something woman on her own since her teens. She was bright and articulate. She shared a dream of going back to school. I forget what it was for. I said something to encourage her like, “You can do this. You have a lot of gifts. You’re smart and express yourself very well.” Then went on talking about something else. All of a sudden tears start rolling down her face. She looks up and said “You’re the first person who ever believed in me.” Imagine someone in their twenties who never had someone believe in them or support them or say anything positive said to them! Sometime helping is saying the right words.
Biggest lesson you’ve learned as a Vincentian?
I think meeting and talking to people in situations I have never experienced. It is so easy to criticize and judge. It so easy to assign blame. We must remember that for many of us, and definitely for me, the advantages we have had many others have not. We can’t underestimate that. All that I have or any good that have come from me is entirely gift. I like to ask other Vincentians if there is a different between themselves and those we help and serve. In the eyes of the world there are all kinds of differences. Do those matter? But what about in the eyes of God? When God looks down and sees me in a visit with someone does he see any differences between us? I don’t think so. We are all poor in the eyes of God. In one way those we help, the “poor,” show me how to approach God. Yes, they are my teachers. We are all beggars before God. Having nothing. Needing everything. Hoping simply that God is merciful and will provide what we need. That is how our neighbors are with us and us with God.
What has made you stick with the ministry?
There have been times when I considered stopping or taking a break. But this is a calling for me. This is what our Lord wants me to do. This is one of the ways I build up treasures in heaven where neither moth can take or rust destroy.