By Tim Keenan | The Michigan Catholic
Society hosting membership drive through October
DETROIT ‚ÄĒ As political candidates offer rhetorical solutions to the economic problems facing this and other areas, real people are struggling to make ends meet, and in many cases are homeless. It‚Äôs no surprise to anyone paying attention that the Detroit area has been hit particularly hard, and continues to reel from economic stress.
But that stress extends to organizations that offer aid as well, such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose 2,700 members in the Archdiocesan Council of Detroit minister to the poor through its conferences in 163 parishes within the six counties served by the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Because of an increasing need for volunteers, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is conducting an archdiocese-wide membership campaign in October called ‚ÄúEach One Reach One.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúOur membership drive is designed to motivate our members to invite at least one person to join St. Vincent de Paul,‚ÄĚ explained William D. Brazier, the society‚Äôs executive director. ‚ÄúThe membership drive also includes pulpit talks at Masses and other ways to encourage participation.‚ÄĚ
St. Vincent de Paul currently covers about 75 percent of the ZIP codes in the region, and the membership drive is part of a plan to make that 100 percent by 2015.
According to Brazier and Jeanne M. Salerno, director of recruitment and mission integration for the society, the needs in the area are as great or greater than they‚Äôve ever been.
‚ÄúAs the economy struggles in Michigan and the percentage of people in poverty remain just under 16 percent, our St. Vincent de Paul conferences have recorded a significant increase in requests for assistance,‚ÄĚ Salerno said.
Brazier added, ‚ÄúSince the economic crisis of 2008, the needs for our services is great. Suburban poverty is growing faster than poverty in our cities.‚ÄĚ
In 2011, the St. Vincent de Paul conferences provided more than $1.5 million in goods and services, helping 52,912 individuals and visiting 17,881 people at their homes.
‚ÄúOur core tenants are friendship, spirituality and service,‚ÄĚ Brazier said. ‚ÄúOur charism is ‚Äėthe home visit‚Äô where our members visit neighbors in need and provide emergency goods and services. Our members also operate parish food pantries and distribute communion to the homebound or in hospitals. We make prison visits and outreach to the families of the incarcerated.‚ÄĚ
In addition to increasing its human resources from every archdiocesan parish to do the work of the society, the St. Vincent de Paul membership campaign offers more.
‚ÄúJust as important, we provide a delivery channel for individuals to enter into a Catholic ministry that goes to the very heart of Christ‚Äôs evangelical teaching to love and care for each other, especially in times of need,‚ÄĚ Salerno said.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a Catholic lay organization founded in 1832 by Blessed Frederic Ozanam when he was a 20-year-old French college student. St. Vincent de Paul was a 16th century priest who was credited with being the first to organize charity. The society has been operating in southeast Michigan since 1878, when its first conference was formed at Ss. Peter and Paul Parish on Jefferson in Detroit.
For more information about volunteering with the society, contact your local parish or visit the society‚Äôs website at www.svdpdetroit.org.