Local St. Vincent de Paul staff member receives international award Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

st vincent award
District Council of Madison Society of St. Vincent de Paul Member Services Coordinator Gayle Westfahl receives the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul 2016 Founders’ Award from David Barringer, the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul chief executive officer. (Contributed photo)

MADISON — Gayle Westfahl, the District Council of Madison Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s member services coordinator, has been recognized by the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul with the 2016 Founders’ Award for her work with Dane County youth and leading efforts to grow youth involvement in the society around the globe.

Each year, the award is presented to only six youth or young adults from around the world, one on each continent. Recipients are those who have followed in the footsteps of Fredéric Ozanam (founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris in 1833) and his companions, showing great courage and conviction, love of God through service to the poor, and the idealism of creating a better world.

Engaging youth

District Council of Madison Society of St. Vincent de Paul Executive Director and CEO Ralph Middlecamp explains, “The society was founded by Parisian college students to show their love and faith in God and Jesus Christ through service to the poor. This award recognizes youthful Vincentians like Gayle who carry on and represent those ideals, and continue to further them by engaging youth in today’s very busy and complex world.”

Westfahl’s work with youth and young adults in the District Council of Madison began in 2011 when she was hired for her current role. A member of the St. Paul Conference on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, she was key in revitalizing and establishing consistent leadership for the oldest conference at a secular university in the United States.

She has participated in World Youth Day twice, organized the youth and young adult participation in the society’s annual National Assemblies, and participates in the United States National Council’s Young Adult Committee and Youth Committee.

Here at home in Dane County, Westfahl coordinates the Youth Service Council, where high school students develop their Vincentian values and spirituality, leadership, and commitment to community service through projects. Twenty students representing Dane County high schools are active in the council.

Additionally, she provides training, coordination, and support to members of the 18 parish-based St. Vincent de Paul conferences in Dane County.

Shares her faith

Beyond her commitment to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Westfahl is active in the Catholic faith, sharing her musical talent by performing at weekend Masses at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Madison, where she directs the children’s choir.

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