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Youth carrying on mission of St Vincent de Paul

File photo: Some SVP Youth with Fr Gregory McLawrence (2019)

By Tyrone Thomas

“Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity” – St Vincent de Paul.

The Feast Day of St Vincent de Paul was September 27. Born in Pouy, France on April 24, 1581, St Vincent de Paul was ordained a priest on September 23, 1600. He dedicated his life to serving the poor and is recognised for pioneering clerical training and contributed to founding seminaries. He died September 27, 1660. The Society of St Vincent de Paul was named after him by its founder Blessed Frédéric Ozanam.

The SVP Santa Rosa Conference Arima Youth Volunteers currently comprise 12 young persons, between the ages of 13 and 35, who reside in the parish.

This group has been active and engaged in community outreach to the needy of Arima and environs for the past three years, and most significantly, during the more acute period of the Covid-19 pandemic, notably 2020 and 2021.

In recent times, members of the group have been planting agricultural produce on a five-acre plot of land which is owned by the family of one of the youth members, while other members have personally been growing produce at their kitchen gardens. This has resulted in the harvest of large quantities of vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, patchoi, callaloo-bush and similar nutritious crops which are distributed to needy families in the community.

The volunteers also participated in the SVP National President Youth Food Basket Launch and Initiative, which was held in July 2021. This project has continued, and garden produce are added to the regular grocery supplies which are donated to the needy.

During 2020 and 2021, volunteers assisted in the distribution of hundreds of lunch boxes to needy families with children of school-aged households. This was a welcomed initiative, as schools were closed for an extended period. These lunches were made possible through the generous donation of an entrepreneur who preferred not to be named.

At the commencement of this academic year, a youth group member donated children school needs and personal requisites to a well-deserving family.

Currently, the volunteers are planning to help the Rigsby Pius Charles Home for the Aged, Arima, such as refurbishing the structure. A youth member has also offered nursing aid assistance to the elderly occupants of the institution.

Spiritual growth, skills training and career development is also on the agenda for the youth group members.