Preparing for Lent, I find my focus is often on what to give up. But I’ve come to realize the opportunity to give alms to help those in need is an equally important practice of our Catholic faith traditions.
One way to do this at The Basilica is to share your financial gifts with our St. Vincent de Paul Outreach ministries (SVdP). One hundred percent of every dollar you donate goes back to help someone in need. During Lent, please take a coin bank, fill it, and bring it back on Holy Thursday and, if you can, make a pledge to help those most in need in our city.
Five days a week at The Basilica, more than 70 St. Vincent de Paul Outreach volunteers welcome people from our neighborhood. They carry out this ministry by visiting with people and listening to their concerns and needs. We offer help in many ways, and when we can’t assist financially, these volunteers offer a listening ear, a warm welcome, and help connecting people to community resources.
Laura Schommer, A long time SVdP volunteer, helps with our Saturday Shoe Ministry and weekly Outreach. Laura has volunteered for the past 20 years and I asked her about her involvement over the years.
“It could be any one of us” Laura said of the people she meets each week. “Just a few things go wrong, and any of us could find ourselves needing help and support. I’m honored and humbled to be able to meet with people and hear their stories. It’s gratifying.”
Laura shared the story of a young pregnant woman who came to The Basilica many winters ago. She didn’t have a winter coat. Laura had just brought a red wool coat to church that had belonged to her mother, and she gave it to the young woman. All these years later, Laura still remembers this encounter.
The work of our SVdP volunteers brings to mind a quote from Saint Teresa of Avila. “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours…” She challenged us to live our faith and reminded us that it’s our job to do Christ’s work on earth.
Your financial gifts truly make a difference in people’s lives, and your contributions go directly out to help people in need. Last year alone, your donations to SVdP and our Outreach ministries:
· Helped 352 families keep their housing and prevented them from homelessness.
· Provided bus cards or gas vouchers to more than 4,000 people that helped them get to work, school, or appointments.
· Offered a meal and practical and spiritual support to 900 participants in our Pathways life-skills programs.
Sharing our financial support and coming together, our parish gave more than $600,000 last year to help people in need in our city. In past years, we’ve also supported affordable housing in North Minneapolis, and it’s exciting to report that, as a result of a partnership, the West Broadway Crescent Apartments are now open and filling up with new residents.
This Lent, we ask you to consider an intentional, pledged commitment to support our outreach ministries. Watch for a letter with more information, and the weekend of March 21 and 22 bring your completed pledge form for our St. Vincent de Paul Outreach ministries to church.
Our St. Vincent de Paul Outreach ministry is our faith in action.