An invitation to serve — from the heart Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Ernie Stetenfeld, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Sep. 23, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- The invitation may not be engraved, but it’s from the heart.

Members of several Society of St. Vincent de Paul conferences in the Madison area will hold an “Invitation to Serve” weekend at their parishes this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 to 26, to invite fellow parishioners to join them in growing spiritually through service to the poor or suffering.

The parishes taking part in this weekend’s effort are:

  • Cathedral Parish (at St. Patrick and Holy Redeemer), Madison
  • Christ the King, McFarland
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monona
  • St. Ann, Stoughton
  • St. Bernard, Madison
  • St. Christopher, Verona
  • St. Francis Xavier, Cross Plains
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, Madison

At these parishes, members of the society will make themselves available after weekend Masses to answer questions. These conferences are also scheduling follow-up information sessions to better acquaint interested parishioners with the mission and work of society members on behalf of people in need.

Not taking part in the program at this time but also welcoming new members are the six other Dane County parish conferences: Blessed Sacrament, Madison; Our Lady Queen of Peace, Madison; Sacred Hearts, Sun Prairie; St. Dennis, Madison; St. Maria Goretti, Madison; and St. Paul’s University Catholic Center on the UW-Madison campus.

Interested parishioners around the diocese are encouraged to check with their parish office about any local conference.

What the society is

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a local, national, and global Catholic lay organization in which members join together to grow spiritually by providing person-to-person services to people who are in need, suffering, or forgotten.

The basic unit of the society is the conference, a group of society members organized at the parish level. The society is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, charitable organization. All aid that the society offers is provided without regard to the religious affiliation, race, or ethnicity of those assisted.

Apostle of charity

Part of the impetus for holding Invitation to Serve weekend is the September 27 feast day of St. Vincent de Paul. The young people who founded the society in 1833 chose this 17th century “Apostle of Charity” as their patron. Like St. Vincent de Paul, members strive to see the face of Christ in those whom they are privileged to serve.

Last year in Dane County, 304 Vincentians provided more than 11,200 hours of their time to help those struggling with poverty.

The hours Vincentians donated included time visiting the homes of people seeking the society’s assistance, as well as members’ work on conference projects and at their Madison food pantry.

How to respond

Those interested in responding to the society’s invitation to serve may contact their local St. Vincent de Paul conference or call the society’s District Council of Madison at 608-442-7200, ext. 443.

For interested persons from parishes lacking a St. Vincent de Paul conference, the District Council staff will hold an information session at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at the Center for Vincentian Charity, 2033 Fish Hatchery Rd., Madison. For more information visit


Ernie Stetenfeld is director of community relations for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul District Council of Madison.

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