November 12, 2014 // Uncategorized

New concept St. Vincent de Paul store opens in South Bend

Vinnie’s, a new kind of St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store, opened in the former Belleville Plaza on Western Avenue on Nov. 3. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blessed the new concept store, which is the size of a typical boutique store and will sell only used clothing and accessories, before celebrating Mass with St. Vincent de Paul Society members in the South Bend area on Nov. 3.

By Ann Carey

SOUTH BEND — A new kind of St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store opened in the former Belleville Plaza on Western Avenue on Nov. 3. Named Vinnie’s, the new concept store is the size of a typical boutique store and will sell only used clothing and accessories.

The name Vinnie’s has been used by the society in other parts of the country for similar stores, according to Thom Villing, a board member of the St. Joseph County society. The Vinnie’s name conveys a more contemporary image for a specialty store that is in a setting such as a strip mall, he said. However, the St. Vincent name will remain prominent, for the rebounding shopping plaza is being renamed St. Vincent Plaza.

Additionally, a new traditional store that will carry the full range of merchandise —clothing, furniture, household goods, toys, sporting goods — is set to open soon on Bendix Drive, also on the city’s west side. Both new stores will take the place of the store on Ardmore Trail.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blessed the new venture on its opening day, assisted by Holy Cross Father Adam Booth, associate pastor of Holy Cross and St. Stanislaus Parishes. The bishop noted that the Vincentian project is “dedicated to service in the order of Christian charity.”

Addressing members of the society’s staff and board who were present for the blessing, Bishop Rhoades commented on the new store: “It is a place where you will continue to aid the poor, clothe the naked, and give counsel and advice to those in need. By this great work for the disadvantaged, you further the mission of Jesus Christ, and bring His people closer to Him.”

The new store will assist the disadvantaged in another way, too, for a partnership with South Bend’s Center for the Homeless will enable guests of the center to work in the store as part of an externship program to help them develop job skills for future employment.

Anne Watson, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, speaks at the Nov. 3 dinner for society members in the St. Joseph County region. The society recently opened a new concept boutique thrift store called Vinnie’s in South Bend.

After the 4:45 p.m. store blessing, Bishop Rhoades celebrated a special Mass of Vincentian Friendship at nearby Holy Cross Church. Members of the St. Joseph County St. Vincent de Paul Society’s staff and board attended, as did members of the society’s parish conferences from across the county.

“St. Vincent de Paul said that ‘In serving the poor, we serve Jesus Christ,’” Bishop Rhoades noted in his homily.

“In the tradition of its patron, you, the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, serve those who are needy and suffering, seeing in each individual you help the face of the Lord Jesus. Your beautiful and important apostolate in the Church reflects what Jesus told the Pharisees in today’s Gospel: ‘When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind,’” he continued.

“And you aim to do so with the Vincentian spirit of humility. St. Paul teaches us in today’s first reading: ‘Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others.’”

Bishop Rhoades noted that the saint honored by the Church on that day was St. Martin de Porres, known as an “Apostle of Charity.” It seemed “providential,” he said, that the Vincentian Mass would be celebrated on St. Martin’s feast because St. Vincent de Paul was also known as an “Apostle of Charity.”

The bishop reminded the Vincentians that members of the society “are called to seek personal holiness by works of charity,” and their vocation and mission “necessarily include a life of prayer.” And he concluded, “Whatever work you do as Vincentians, however menial it might seem, is sacred, when done in a spirit of loving service.”

After the Mass, a dinner was enjoyed by the Vincentians in the Holy Cross School gymnasium, with an informal annual meeting of the society taking place afterward.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift stores support the mission of the society, which administers food, clothing, financial and other forms of direct assistance to the poor and those in need. It also offers self-sufficiency initiatives including the Bridges out of Poverty “Getting Ahead” classes, as well as the Food for Thought and Healthy Living programs.


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