St. Vincent de Paul Society meets, seeks to reenergize workers

MOUNT PLEASANT — Bishop David B. Thompson, retired bishop of the Diocese of Charles ton, was the keynote speaker at the quarterly meeting of the Coastal District of the St. Vincent de Paul Society on Sept. 27.
During his talk, Bishop Thompson told the members of the charitable organization a story about a man who was walking by a riverbed when he noticed a person in distress struggling in the water. After the man jumped in and made the rescue, he noticed another person in distress going by in the current. Again he pulled a near-drowning victim to safety. By now a crowd had gathered and a third person was coming downstream in the cascading water. Instead of diving back in, the man told the witnesses, “Now you know what to do. I’m going upstream to see what is causing them to fall in the water.”
“You go upstream,” the bishop said to the Vincentians. “You give needed help but you also try to seek out the cause of the problems.”
Seventy-five society members representing all of the coastal St. Vincent de Paul conferences attended the meeting at Christ Our King’s Grace Hall.  
The event included Mass, breakfast, and spiritual readings and reflection by Father Bryan Babick, parochial vicar. A business session was held with reports from district officers and individual conferences.
In line with his keynote theme of “Re-energizing St. Vincent de Paul Workers,” Bishop Thompson named the four R’s of the society’s ministry: Rescue, Redemption, Renewal and Restoration.
“We have heard the expression, ‘where the rubber hits the road,’ ” he said. “You make religion hit the road. Your work is not just humanitarian and not just altruistic. You are doing the work Jesus came to do and what he wanted his disciples to do: rescue poor souls.
“This is the year in which we are honoring St. Paul,” he said. “Part of St. Vincent de Paul’s name is Paul, St. Vincent imitated St. Paul, and Sts. Paul and Vincent are twin towers in the St. Vincent de Paul ministry.”
The Vincentians laughed when the bishop told them that St. Paul is the patron saint of collections. His missionary work was reinforced by his saying, “God loves a cheerful giver.”
“Don’t be bashful about taking up collections,” Bishop Thompson said. “Don’t be bashful about asking people for money to help others. St. Paul gave us the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. We are one body. When parts of the body hurt, we all hurt. … Jesus died for every one of us.
“St. Paul was an evangelist, a missionary, and also our first theologian,” he added. “St. Paul focused on the resurrection and his emphasis was on faith and not just good works. St. Paul said, ‘woe to me if I don’t preach the Gospel.’ You preach the Gospel every time you go out to help people in need. You are evangelists and missionaries, preaching not by good words but by good works. A good example is so much better than good words. Mother Teresa had a beautiful way of describing evangelization: ‘Taking the Jesus in my heart and putting that Jesus into your heart.’  Please keep preaching the Gospel.”
The bishop said that it was no secret that the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is challenged by those people who make the charity a way of life.
“But these are people and souls, made in the image and likeness of God. When we are trying to help a persistently poor person, we must try to find a cause and correct it, if possible, but it is better to err on the side of charity than on the side of justice.
“Pass it on. ‘Now is the acceptable time’ (2 Cor 6:2),” he said. “You must recruit new members and you must recruit young members. … Without young people working in the St. Vincent de Paul vineyard, your conference will die on the vine.
“With the troubled economy, people will be losing their jobs. You will be needed more than ever. … Your presence to people in need and at conference meetings is so important. … And so are your prayers.”