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Members of St. Vincent de Paul Society meet in Perechyn

Members of communities of the charitable Society of St. Vincent de Paul held their meeting on March 9-10, 2019, at the parish house of the Parish of St. Augustine in Perechyn. Communities’ representatives arrived there from all over Ukraine: Kyiv, Svaliava, Vinnytsia and Perechyn.

Although participants were of different ages and trades, all of them were untied with one thing – their service to the poor in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul. As attendees introduced themselves to each other, the Holy Mass was celebrated, during which they prayed to God asking Him for the gifts of the Holy Spirit for all people in need as well as thanked God for being able to serve the poor.

Fr. Yan and Fr. Tomasz held the conference entitled “Christian and Vincentian vision of voluntary service”. We know the basics of Christian life: fasting, praying and doing good works. If you do not practice them, you will quite easily neglect your Christian life. Our present-day world is the world of different traps devoid of joy of life. Voluntary service is a cornerstone of spiritual life development. Lay voluntary service takes care of people’s physical needs, while religious voluntary service concerns the salvation, sainthood, spiritual life, that is to say, everything that used to be the foundation in St. Vincent’s service – spirituality and salvation. As Fr. Yan pointed out, the key thing in that matter was one’s sensitiveness to God and other people. That is the core thing in the training of seminarians preparing for priesthood, because Jesus also paid special attention to that issue when He was teaching His disciples. Likewise, we can find these motives in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, since, having seen a suffering person, a passerby felt for him. This is exactly what we lack in our present-day world. However, at our times we see an example of such a service: Pope Innocent III built the first orphanage for kids rejected by their parents. Nowadays, we have The Window of Life. Thus, we can trace back these issues and see they were urgent still long ago, and people tried to solve them.

In voluntary service, it is unimportant how much we do. What matters here is how much of our hearts and souls we put into our activity. While performing their service, volunteers often face danger as well, because so many people try to see some evil in it and hence insult volunteers or do not believe in their disinterestedness.  However, one should be ready for this and learn from the example of St. Vincent de Paul, who became a sort of innovator in service to the poor. Although that activity had been carried out long before him, he just systemized the whole thing. His mission was about reviving, strengthening, systematizing the service, engaging as many people as possible and broadening its borders.

Fr. Tomasz pointed out the branch of the Vincentian Family – The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was the second-largest community, which spoke to the fact St. Vincent’s ideas were brilliant.

St. Rosalie Rendu’s cite was reminded saying that service to an ill person in the present-day world consists in feeling the needs of a poor person at this very moment. For this reason, voluntary service very offer involves helping a person in need to restitute his or her physical health and only after having done that – taking care of person’s spiritual state.

Sometimes the situation demands our decision whether to pray or to help a poor person. In that case, the most important thing would be serving, because a person in need waits for some help, and we should render it. In order to reach out to people with love, you should have that love inside. Moreover, you should not strive for much, it is better to do less.

Every group held a presentation on its work as well.

On Sunday, Sr. Marta gave a presentation on the life and activities of Frederico Ozanam. What impressed all those who attended the presentation the most was the fact that he had begun his service as a very young man and, having lived a short life, he managed to do so much for people in need. F. Ozanam saw the Divine Providence in everything, although he faced a lot of obstacles. With this in mind, we should appreciate every person with his or her view and understanding as a chance for community development.

Summing up, the participants thanked first and foremost to Fr. Yan for organizing the meeting as well as to Fr. Stanislav for providing the venue for the event, to AIC members for tasty food, and to one another for the warm and sincere meeting spirit.

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