Facing challenging times with love Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009 -- 1:00 AM


Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me. The saints — consider the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta —  constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbour from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its real-ism and depth in their service to others. Love of God and love of neighbour are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has loved us first. No longer is it a question, then, of a “commandment” imposed from without and calling for the impossible, but rather of a freely-bestowed experience of love from within, a love which by its very nature must then be shared with others. Love grows through love.

From Deus Caritas Est, “God Is Love,” Pope Benedict XVI, 2005

As our nation and world face challenging economic times, I think it is important to remember that all of us — each one of us — impacts what happens in our society. 

Editor's View
Mary C. Uhler

Oh, we’d like to blame big business, the oil companies, the government’s poor watchdog role, or the global market place. They all play a role, but so do we.

We are the consumers, the workers, the supervisors, the government employees, the voters. We can’t just sit back and complain. We’ve got to do something to help the less fortunate, those hurting from the economic downturn in our country.

As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us in his first encyclical “God Is Love,” we must love our neighbor. This is not just a “nice thing” to do; it is an essential element of our Christian faith. Just as God loved us, so, too, must we love our neighbor.

Loving our neighbor

There are many ways to love our neighbor. One of the ways many Catholics show this love is through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Last year across the globe, Vincentians celebrated their 175th anniversary. 

The society was founded in 1833 by a young college student, Frederic Ozanam. He had just celebrated his 20th birthday and met with six students from the Sorbonne in Paris at the offices of the Catholic Tribune, along with his mentor, Emmanuel Bailly. That night the Conference of Charity, later called the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, was born.

The men recalled the Lord’s preaching of the Gospel and his reaching out to the poor. Frederic and the others who joined him took care of the physical and material needs of others. They also involved themselves with tutoring, even setting up libraries for members of the military.

For the past 175 years, the society’s motto, “no act of charity is foreign,” means that the members of the society, known as Vincentians, have continued to bring to those in need what they need when they need it, with the help and grace of God.

Busy food pantry

In the Diocese of Madison, the society continued its work in difficult economic times. In Dane County, St. Vincent de Paul has the busiest food pantry. It was outgrowing its space. For the first time, the local society launched a capital campaign with a goal of raising $4 million to build a new service center. Just last week, volunteers and staff moved into the new, larger space on Fish Hatchery Rd. (see related article).

The society still needs to raise about $800,000 to meet its goal and finish its building project. Those who would like to help may visit for more information or to donate online.

I would encourage people to contribute to this worthwhile project to help those in need, especially with the current economic situation. As always, your contributions of clothing, household items, and other necessities are always welcome at the St. Vincent de Paul blue boxes or at their thrift stores.

As Pope Benedict says, “Love grows through love.” Let’s help the Society of St. Vincent de Paul continue to spread love throughout the world and in our local communities in its next 175 years.