Weekly Messages

St Vincent de Paul

Below is a list of highlights of the life of our Patron, St Vincent de Paul.

1581 He was born in Pouy, now St Vincent de Paul, France,

1600 After studying theology was ordained a priest.

1613 became Chaplain to the rich de Gondi, General of galley ships.

1633 onwards --  he worked very hard for the poor, the sick, prisoners and the aged.

1660 He died, and was canonised in 1737. We pray for his intercession.


Our International Impact

Vinnies has a term for all international programs and fundraising carried out in Australia. It is simply called Overseas Development. Vinnies operates in 143 countries in Asia and Asia Pacific such as India, Pakistan and Fiji. Programs implemented there include

Assist a Student -  which provides funds for a year long educational or training scholarship for a child of poor or marginalised family in our region. The self esteem and skills developed by the student have a happy positive effect on the family and the overall community.

Twinning – Vinnies has partnerships between conferences in Australia and those in 14 other countries. Their twinning commitments are shared by prayer, exchange of letters and some financial help for the needy.

Overseas Development Projects – Australian conferences sometimes provide twinned overseas conferences with money, usually under $20,000, for a project that will bring income for the poor twin conference , for example  cow / goat banks, water systems and tailoring. These projects engender faith and hope and gratitude in twinning members.


Honouring  Charles O'Neill

Charles O'Neill, the major founder of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia, was born in Glasgow,   Scotland in 1828. He trained as an engineer. Later, he joined the army and as Captain of  troupe of riflemen designed small targets to improve their accuracy of their shooting. He also joined the St Vincent de Paul Society and by 1863 was President of the Superior Council of Glasgow.

In 1864, Charles went to New Zealand where he aggregated their first St Vincent Paul Society Conference, worked as a surveyor and became a colonial parliamentarian. In 1880, at the request of the Society's President General, migrated to Sydney where he set up 20 active conferences with 300 members who made about 11,000 visits a year to needy people. At the end of his life, aged 72, he had used up all his money in helping the poor. In 1900, Charles O'Neill died in St Vincent's Hospital and was buried in Rookwood Cemetery . His remains, as he wished, were later buried in a plot with the destitute that he served.

Last week's Catholic weekly, in an article entitled " Walkway honours friend of the poor", we are told of the blessing of the Charles O'Neill Walkway to take place at Rookwood on Wednesday 18th November at 12 noon.

For more, visit www.vinnies.org.au.


Sick with worry

Vinnies' main contribution to the recent Poverty Week 2015 cause was the release of a report entitled "Sick with worry". This report comprises more than 20 stories fromclients’ suffering severe poverty or inequality in prosperous Australia.  

National CEO Dr John Falzon said "Our task is to transfer those personal stories into powerful collective struggle for a society in which people are not blamed because economic structures lock them out, or in some cases lock them up; one in which people are not told that they would not be poor if only they would be a little more productive....  What people want most is to participate in and contribute to society".

Recommendations  from the reportinclude

     "We call on the Federal Government to commit to a National Jobs Plan".

     "For all government services to be properly funded".

     "To make income support adequate and non-stigmatising".

 For more visit www.vinnies.org.au.


Home , Sweet Home

 Anthony Thornton, our previous National President, told us of the sad ABC story of a 31 year old; homeless, pregnant lady called Sara [ privacy pseudonym] who, one week after getting temporary accommodation, was told by the NSW housing department to find a new place to live. She was unable to find a place to call home, ending up sleeping in her car with her baby in her jacket. To make matters worse she fell sick with the flu. For the next few months Sara slept on the streets, in her car, or at her friends' places.Sadly, she was told she was on a two years' waiting list for a departmental home. Sara said she felt scared for herself and her daughter, enough to think of doing something drastic.

Mr Thornton found her situation was hard to believe in a country like Australia. He said housing was a human right and no one should be turned away from a homelessness service.  Graham West, our current National President,  says " I am pleased to build upon the legacy of the National Council established by my friend and mentor Tony Thornton who died suddenly in July....Tony's Loss has left a deep hole in our hearts.

Dr John Falzon  , Vinnies' National CEO, believes National action is needed to end homelessness and calls on political leaders across Australia to commit to a National Partnership Agreement (NPAH) and keep homelessness on the National agenda. For more visit www.vinnies.org.au  andclick on Our Impact : Housing for All.


Mental Health Week

Last week was Mental Health Week which aims  at raising awareness of the importance of mental health in the community and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. Vinnies has a strong commitment to assistance of people with mental illness and  was proud to support the week's  program Vinnies assists over 2 million clients a year and members come across a large number people with mental health difficulties who are then given help or  some assistance. Rates of mentally ill  vary significantly according to the programs we run. it is estimated that 15-25% of people have a diagnosable mental illness with more than 40% being that for those given emergency relief help, even rising to 88% for one service.                                                                     

To assist the mentally ill, Vinnies has special works such as Bethlehem House in Tasmania which provide a safe environment within its crisis accommodation for the homeless men or men at risk of homelessness. There is also the Compeer friendship program. for those recovering from mental illness. Many states run their own program in conjunction with the government. Some  Vinnies conferences focus on mental health.

Vinnies is also concerned about the elderly and their health problems.They are often social outcasts.  In particular, people with chronic illnesses have less chance of employment and social connectedness. The Society also supports step down facilities which provide  recovery environments for vulnerable people exiting an institution.

For more, and how you can get involved, visit www.vinnies.org.au.