“We take love out into the community.”

Of all the statements I heard last Saturday night, that is the one that touched me the most – and has stayed with me ever since.

My husband and I were at a Wine and Cheese gathering for new parishioners at our church. We met a number of other new members there, as well as some long-time parishioners. And we chatted with some of the people we see regularly at Mass, but had never officially met before.

In addition to a greeting from the pastor and a blessing over the food, we heard a few short presentations from representatives of some of the organizations and ministries that are active in our parish, including the Knights of Columbus, the Youth Ministry, and the Newcomers Welcome Ministry – which I know does a great job, since they’re the ones who organized the Wine and Cheese party.

But it was a woman from the St. Vincent de Paul Society who really got my attention when she talked about taking love out into the community.

St. Vincent de Paul was a French Catholic priest who was born in the late 16th century and dedicated himself to serving the poor. I didn’t know that about him until I looked it up just now, but I’ve always been familiar with his name. A seminary named for him was in the town where I grew up, and I remember going to plays and chicken dinner fundraisers there. Also, a number of parishes I’ve belonged to in the past have been a part of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Although I’ve been a member of other church groups and ministries, I’ve never really been a part of this one, other than to contribute whenever a collection is taken up for it in church.

What I learned on Saturday is that the St. Vincent de Paul Society offers person-to-person help and support to those in the community who are suffering and in need of assistance. Sometimes it’s in the form of financial help, other times it may be with food or other supplies or material goods. But it always comes with a personal visit from someone who cares, and is willing to spend time with and listen to another person who’s going through a difficult time. Often, I was told, it’s the visit that seems to be the most appreciated part, no matter what the specific need may have been in the first place. That’s what it really means to take love out into the community.

I’m not sure if the St. Vincent de Paul Society is an area in which I’m being called to serve, but I plan to learn more about it and pray more about it, and proceed from there. In the meantime, I’m going to remember that taking love out into the community is something we all can work on, and it’s a wonderful goal to have. We can start by simply focusing on how we treat others – family, friends, and neighbors, as well as anyone who crosses our path on any given day.

And from there, I’m sure we’ll be able to watch love grow – in our communities and around the world.

September 29, 2017
©Betty Liedtke, 2017

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