Pope’s encyclical calls for new relationship with the earth
1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.
Nothing in this world is indifferent to us - READ MORE
Marie Palmer – 2015 New Year’s Honour Recipient
53 years ago, a few days after her husband had been hospitalised in a hit and run, Marie Palmer answered a knock at her door.
It was a moment that changed her life.
The two visitors standing at her doorstep were from St Vincent De Paul and they had come to deliver a Christmas hamper and toys for her 10 month-old baby and support if she needed it.
“I’ll never forget that day,” Marie said. “And I made a promise to them and to God that I would dedicate my life to SVDP when I retired. And after twenty years as a hospice nurse, that is what I did.”
After following the ‘passion in her heart for helping people’, Marie has been awarded a Queen’s Honour in this year’s New Year Honour’s list for her contribution to St Vincent de Paul and the other social organisations she supports in Hawke’s Bay. In May she will be invested at Government House.
Marie believes that this honour is a wonderful opportunity for others to hear about the work of St Vincent de Paul.
For Marie her contribution through the Society and the other organisations that she works for, as well as being a JP, comes from a wish as a six year-old to help others. “If there is a need, then you go. It becomes a normal part of your daily life.”
Marie spends a day a week at the Vinnie’s shop helping to assess those who need food parcels, as well as those who require more support.
On a Tuesday, along with Brother Brian, a retired Marist brother, they visit those who have been referred by the shop, schools, parishes or social agencies. Visits are not just one-offs but are repeated until they can see some stability in the home. For many, these visits are marked in the calendar and are something to look forward to. And for some it may be the only outside visit they receive.
Marie believes that there is a lot of loneliness in the community. She and Brother Brian believe that many people trust them because they are non-judgemental, they build up trust and they make repeat visits. Marie says that the work is very rewarding and that it’s good to see a smile on a sad face of someone in despair.
“Life is great … you learn something from somebody every day. You can always find a positive thing in a grim situation, even if it is just a thank you from a grateful person or family,” she says.
Marie has always been an advocate for those struggling and trying to do their best on very little. She says that she knows what it is like for many families, as she had to cope with a husband in hospital for three years, a baby to look after and very little to live on.
“I think it helps that I can remember what it was like to really struggle,” she says.
Like so many volunteers in St Vincent de Paul, Marie wishes to continue her work for as long as she can.
“I’ll burn out, not rust out,” she says. “And I might retire when I’m 105.”
Call for solidarity with Christians in Syria
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Who brings good news, who proclaims salvation! Of the one who says to Zion: your God reigns!” Is 52.7
Christians, persecuted, are fleeing their villages,
Massacred by those who believe only in evil
Those who kill children, women and men
They destroy churches, they wipe away ancient civilisations, thousands of years old
They plunder and destroy everything in their path
Our brothers and sisters are homeless, cold and hungry, they need…EVERYTHING ... READ MORE
Nepal : a second phase of visits and training programs to boost new conferences
The Society formed its first conference in Nepal in 2010. Since the beginning, Nepal is twinned to Malaysia. First visits and reports highlighted the growing interest of Nepalese people in the work of SVP, and the important needs in formation, as conferences started across the country. With the active support of Malaysian National Council, Vincentians volunteers had the opportunity to attend a formation and training program in March 2015......READ MORE
In Vanuatu, the SSVP mobilised to help the victims
On 13 March, Cyclone Pam crossed the Vanuatu archipelago, with winds of up to 360km/hr. Mobilised to offer emergency help to the victims. SSVP is also involved in a prevention scheme to help the population deal with future natural disasters.
The government of Vanuatu announced a state of emergency. According to the estimates from the NDMO (National Disaster Management Office) 15,000 homes were destroyed or damaged, 75,000 people are still without shelter and 160,000 people (out of a total population of 260,000) will need food aid over the next 3 months. The impact of the disaster on the farming sector is grave, compromising food security and the income of a large majority of the people affected throughout the country.....READ MORE
Vinnies there to provide extra help
School is well and truly back and so is an increase in help sought through some Vinnie’s foodbanks, services and shops.
The pressure on families already crippled by debt, unemployment and in extreme circumstances homelessness is heavier at this time of year, so report some of our conferences.
As one single father of five explains, “We know back to school is coming up and we know that we should be saving for this but we just can’t. Other families can but there is nothing left for us. We’ve just got over Christmas and the kids home for the holidays. It’s too much.”
Bills arriving from Christmas, and extra debts still to pay mean many families are unable to get their children ready for the start of the school year.
Some foodbanks are seeing unprecedented levels of need, with some struggling to replenish dwindling foodstocks from the demand before the Christmas period.
“The request for food parcels has outstripped our foodbank,” says one conference leader in South Auckland who will have to restock his foodbank to meet this demand.
One volunteer believes that there is enormous pressure on families to overspend at Christmas in order to have the right kind of Christmas.
This pressure along with the increasing cost of getting children ready for school puts even more stress on families who struggle with providing the basics.
Whilst the Vinnie’s shop in Napier has not seen a massive increase in assistance for help, Arthur Schultze, Manager, says, “of those seeking help with food the majority are solo mothers with school-aged children. We have also seen, in the past two to three weeks an increase in people asking if we sell second-hand uniforms.”
The conference will liaise with school principals in the area to identify families who need extra assistance. The families will get help with the appropriate school footwear as well food parcels, if needed.
The Miramar/Seatoun conference offers help with school stationery and uniforms. And many conferences, such as Whangerei and the Young Vinnies in Hawke’s Bay operate a breakfast club as well as providing school lunches during the week, ensuring that students are fed and able to keep up with their learning.
If you would like to donate any quality goods or food for our food banks across the country, your donation would be greatly appreciated. To find out your local Vinnie’s shop or conference, please check our website: http://www.svdp.org.nz/