Last Tuesday evening was a very blessed event for the St Vincent de Paul Society, as over 100 members and volunteers from the Society gathered at St James the Apostle Church for the annual Altona Region Festival Mass. The Mass brought together members and volunteers from 23 different Parish Conferences, Vinnies Stores, soup vans and educational programs from across the region, which covers an area from Werribee to Deer Park, to as far afield as Footscray, Williamstown and Port Melbourne.
This was the first time in three years that we had been able to gather like this, and there was such a sense of joy among the congregation at finally being able enjoy this face to face interaction once again. At the Mass, new presidents were formally commissioned, while members and volunteers were formally commissioned and re-commissioned, to carry out the St Vincent de Paul Society’s mission of bringing the light of Christ’s love to people in need.
All aspects of the Mass were truly beautiful and moving. We were so blessed to have such beautiful music provided by the Parish music ministry team. Father Jude’s Homily was a source of inspiration, as he spoke about the work carried out by the Society across Australia, and the wonderful spirit of generosity among local communities affected by the recent floods.
The Mass concluded with presentations of long service badges and an acknowledgement of the service of our retired members. Nearly 100 long service badges were awarded, which included four members celebrating 50 years of service in the Society. In all, the service badges awarded totalled over 1100 years of service to people in need!
Following Mass, we all gathered to socialise and share stories – once again, marvelling at the fact that we could actually chat face to face, rather than via phone or a computer screen! The camaraderie and spirit among all members and volunteers was so strong, and as we all went our separate ways at he end of the night, we felt energised and inspired to continue on the work of the Society and try to emulate the work and spirit of our founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam.
We are so grateful to the Parish of St James the Apostle for hosting this Mass, and for the amazing work done by all of the members of the Hoppers Crossing North Conference in organising this event.
Rohan Smith| Mission & Spirituality Co-ordinator
St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria