By May Lee Johnson
SOUTH BEND — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades told hundreds of guests gathered for the blessing of the new St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County’s building, “May this be a place where you will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give counsel and advice to those who need it.”
The bishop was on hand Sunday, Aug. 28, to officially bless and dedicate the new facility, located at 520 Crescent Ave., in South Bend, the site formerly known as Madison Center’s Sunshine Clubhouse.
Remarking on the new building, Bishop Rhoades noted that “By the great works that will be done for the poor and underprivileged you will further the mission of Jesus Christ and bring His people closer to Him.”
Bishop Rhoades then walked though the building blessing each room, person and the garden.
Charlie Thompson, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County, was pleased that Bishop Rhoades provided the blessing and said, “We are honored to have Bishop Rhoades at the open house and providing this special blessing for our new facility. His presence is symbolic of the society’s mission and vision to serve as the voice of the poor in our ongoing efforts to reduce poverty in our area.
The new building houses the society’s administrative offices and programs, and provides space for meetings, retreats, liturgies, training and social functions. Many of the offices, which will be used for counseling and other services, are decorated with soft lighting and comfortable furniture to make visitors feel at ease.
“I think this building is a gift from God,” said Mary Primson of Mishawaka. “I had to call on the St. Vincent de Paul Society a few times last year and they were very nice. So I thought it would be nice to come over and see their new place. I just love the garden out back and when the bishop blessed it, I cried. I’m so happy I was able to be here today.”
The St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County is a Catholic lay organization with a long history of service to neighbors in need. It offers support such as food, clothing and household necessities, as well as emotional and spiritual support through one-on-one interactions with those who are suffering.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society provides support by making home visits. During these visits the members provide emergency food, clothing and financial assistance. More importantly, they offer friendship and compassion. Vincentians serve families throughout St. Joseph County.
Among the client services offered at the new site are the food pantry and direct assistance from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. During that time, clients may apply for food, clothing and miscellaneous material assistance. They also may call the office at (574) 234-6211 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to request assistance. The St. Vincent de Paul Society will continue to partner with Stone Soup Community to provide financial assistance.
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