«Our Vision The St Vincent de Paul Society aspires to be recognised as a caring Catholic charity offering “a hand up” to people in need. We do ...»
The St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organisation that aspires to live the Gospel message by serving Christ
in the poor with love, respect, justice and joy, and by working to shape a more just and compassionate society.
The St Vincent de Paul Society aspires to be recognised as a caring Catholic charity offering “a hand up” to people
in need. We do this by respecting their dignity, sharing our hope, and encouraging them to take control of their own destiny.
Privacy Statement Because the St Vincent de Paul Society respects the privacy of the people it serves, the names of any clients featured in this report have been changed and pictorial models used.
The Mini Vinnies Starter Kit is produced by the Youth Team and the Community and Corporate Relations Team of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, January 2009.
Text provided by Contributors: St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, St Vincent de Paul Society South Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society Sydney Archdiocesan Council, St Vincent de Paul Society Parramatta Diocesan Council.
Editing and Design by Rachel Anne Irvine.
For more information about Mini Vinnies or for any enquiries, please contact the Vinnies Youth Team in your Diocese.
ABN: 46 472 591 335 www.vinnies.org.au 2 VICTORIA CONTENTS About Mini Vinnies - ‘See, Think, Do’ 4 What is Mini Vinnies?
What does a Mini Vinnies group do?
What do people think about Mini Vinnies?
About the St Vincent de Paul Society 7 The St Vincent de Paul Society The Saint Behind the Society: St Vincent de Paul The Woman Behind the Saint: St Louise de Marillac Our Founder: Blessed Frederic Ozanam A Woman with Experience: Blessed Rosalie Rendu The Beginnings of the Society Vinnies in Australia The Vinnies Logo Services Offered By Vinnies Around Australia ‘See’ – An Introduction to Social Justice 22 Why is it Important to Learn About Poverty and Social Exlusion?
What is Poverty and Social Exclusion?
‘Think’ – Formation 25 How to Form a Mini Vinnies Group The First Meeting Commissioning Ceremony The Role of the Teacher Meetings Learning about Vinnies Having Fun ‘Do’ – Community Service 30 Raising Money Where does the Money Go?
Supporting People in the School Community Raising Awareness Fundraising Ideas Mini Vinnies Pledge 34 Contact information 35 Mini Vinnies
ABOUT MINI VINNIESWhat is Mini Vinnies?
Mini Vinnies is a group of primary school young people who get together to help those in need within their school and local community. Mini Vinnies introduces children to social justice issues, to the St Vincent de Paul Society and to living faith through action.
What does a Mini Vinnies group do?
Mini Vinnies is about doing good works in the community, but it is also about young people meeting to talk, to share ideas and concerns, to have fun and to support each other. The Vinnies model of ‘See, Think, Do’* is a great way to get young people thinking and talking about their spirituality; by connecting their beliefs and values with service activities and issues in their community, they can help to make their faith real, meaningful and relevant.
The actions of a Mini Vinnies group generally involve three components:
‘See’ Education and Awareness. ‘Seeing’ means becoming aware of some of the community’s social ills and knowing that, whilst there are many beautiful things in this world, it can always be made a little better by good works. ‘Seeing’ is an opportunity for members of a Mini Vinnies group to be exposed, often for the first time, to some of the world’s troubles. It is an opportunity for members of a Mini Vinnnies group to develop empathy for those in need.
“Be good, keep your feet dry, your eyes open, your heart at peace and your soul in the joy of Christ.” – Thomas Merton 4 VICTORIA ‘Think’ Formation. ‘Thinking’ means forming a Mini Vinnies group and through that group participating in spiritual activities, personal development and discussions. ‘Thinking’ is an opportunity for Mini Vinnies members to develop a real understanding of some of the world’s causes, its effects and how it might be alleviated. ‘Thinking’ is an opportunity for Mini Vinnies members to share their thoughts, to engage in thoughtful discussion and to consider and form their relationships with their peers, those in need and Christ.
“Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds.” – Albert Einstein ‘Do’ Community service and fundraising. ‘Doing’ means supporting the Society in its good works in Australia and overseas.
‘Doing’ is an opportunity for children to do something about the issues they have seen, thought about, and discussed.
“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do.” – Pope John XXIII *Joseph Cardijn was the founder of Young Christian Workers. He developed the “See Judge Act” method during his work with the YCW movement. The “See Think Do” method outlined above has been derived from the “See Judge Act” method and we would like to acknowledge that the idea was based on Cardijn’s method.
Mini Vinnies What do People Think about Mini Vinnies?
Here is what some children and teachers have said about their experience of being involved in Mini Vinnies:
“Mini Vinnies made sure that others in our school are happy because we look out for people who are alone. I am a better person since joining Mini Vinnies.” “I think Mini Vinnies is about helping other people and making them feel loved and happy in a special way.” “The children love the experience of helping others and they are also involved in fun activities while fundraising for their local Vinnies. What is really important is that the children feel part of a community and this gives them a great sense of pride. It helps break down the attitude and the peer pressure of joining Vinnies when they enter high school, as it is what they have known their whole primary school life.” “It is such an amazing opportunity for our young people as it enables them to put what they learn in the classroom for Religion into practice – they are living out their faith within their school.” “The most important aspect of the Mini Vinnies’ work is the request to care for the children in their own school environment, especially those who didn’t belong to a group, who frequently played alone or were regularly in trouble for misbehaving in the playground. This activity aims to sensitise the children to become aware of the feelings and needs of others, and has made a noticeable contribution to the school atmosphere.”
Frederic Ozanam, the Society’s founder, once said, “Yours must be a work of love and unlimited kindness; you must give your time, your talents, yourselves. The poor man is a unique person of God’s fashioning with an inalienable right to respect.
You must not be content with tiding the poor over the poverty crisis; you must study their condition and often the injustices which brought about such poverty with the aim of long term improvement”.
Vincent was a very intelligent young man, who spent four years with the Franciscan friars obtaining an education. He tutored children of wealthy families and was ordained at the age of 20.
At the age of 24, Vincent was taken captive by Turkish pirates and sold into slavery. During this time, Vincent witnessed the terrible conditions in which slaves were forced to live, although his own master was a doctor who treated him well and taught him about medicine. When his master died, Vincent escaped and returned to France.
Mini Vinnies In France, Vincent became a parish priest. He committed himself to serving the poorest of the poor, pledging his life to people who were sick, insane, orphaned, elderly, starving or abandoned, and to beggars, prisoners and slaves. There was no form of poverty or suffering – physical, emotional or spiritual – which Vincent did not try to alleviate. He was appointed Royal Chaplain General and set about improving conditions for prisoners, slaves and people in hospital.
Vincent started an order of priests called the Congregation of the Mission – more commonly known as Vincentians – whose mission it was to share Jesus’ good news to the villages through preaching and service. Along with Louise de Marillac, he also started the Daughters of Charity, who cared for people who were poor and sick.
St Vincent de Paul is the patron saint of charities, charitable societies and workers, hospitals and hospital workers, lepers, prisoners and volunteers. The town in which Vincent was born in now known as Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.
Vincent believed that in serving the poor, he was serving Christ:
“Go to the poor: you will find God.”
Louise did not know her mother and was raised by her father. From the time she was a small child, she was taken to the Dominican sisters, who gave her a good education. Later, she went on to further education at a residence for young girls in Paris. Her education was much better than that of most children her age, and Louise became one of the best educated women of her time.
Louise had a desire to join a religious order, but she was not allowed to join. She married Antoine le Gras, secretary to the Queen Mother, in 1611. According to Louise, Antoine was a good man. Throughout their marriage, Louise traveled a lot and socialised with the royalty and aristocracy of France. Louise and Antoine had a son, Michael, and lived together happily for many years. Antoine, however, became sick, and died in 1625.
After her husband died, Louise met and became friends with Vincent de Paul. Despite the fact that she had come from a background of wealth, and knew many rich people, she was just as comfortable around poor people. Louise dedicated her time to helping abandoned children on the streets. She also visited sick men in the prison hospital (which was a horrible place) and established a house near the hospital where, each day, many women would cook food that visitors would then take to the prisoners.
Mini Vinnies Throughout France, women set up centres to serve the poor. Louise pushed for every village to have its own clinic, school nurse and teacher. With Vincent, Louise started the Daughters of Charity in 1642. The Daughters of Charity were a revolutionary order of the poor. They helped abandoned children, people who were poor and sick, wounded soldiers, slaves, people who were mentally ill and the elderly. Today, there are over 20,000 Daughters of Charity, and they continue to help people in need.
Louise is the patron saint of sick people, widows and orphans, and in 1960, Pope John XXIII proclaimed her the Patroness of Social Workers.
“Love the poor. Honour them, my children, as you would honour Christ himself.”
Frederic’s family was an upper middle class Catholic family – his father was a doctor and his mother was an heiress. He was the fifth born of 14 children, but he was one of only four to survive early childhood, with 10 of his siblings dying from disease at a young age.
Frederic was a very intelligent young man and decided to study Law at Sorbonne University. People at Sorbonne were very anti-Christian, and there were not many other Catholic students. Many students – and even teachers – at the university attacked the religious beliefs of Frederic and his fellow Christians, claiming that the Church had become irrelevant and was not doing anything to help the many poor and suffering people of France. Frederic, who was seen as a natural leader of his fellow Catholic students, decided to take action, and he started a Conference of Charity with a few other students.
Guided by a middle-aged journalist named Emmanuel Bailey, the Conference members were driven by a deep desire to build their faith, and they decided to go out and become servants of the poor, just as Jesus Christ had done. The group followed the example of St Vincent de Paul – the French saint who had done so much work to help the poor 200 years earlier – and named their Conference ‘the Society of St Vincent de Paul’. The group was also inspired by a young Daughter of Charity, Rosalie Rendu, and the young men worked closely with her to help the poor people of Paris.
Mini Vinnies As well as becoming a lawyer, Frederic was also a teacher and a scholar. He wrote many essays and journal articles on a whole range of subjects, and was appointed Lecturer in Foreign Literature at the University of Lyon. Much of Frederic’s work was based on his passion for social justice, and he argued for better social conditions, higher moral standards and the restoration of the Catholic faith in France.
On 23rd June 1841, Frederic married a woman named Amelie Soulacroix, who in 1845 gave birth to their daughter Marie.
Frederic was a sick man his whole life, and was forced to resign from his job in 1852. He died in September 1853, at the age of 40.
“Let us do whatever good lies in our hands.”
Jeanne Marie Rendu (later called Sister Rosalie Rendu) was the eldest of four girls in her family. Her parents were simpleliving but well respected people who lived in the mountains. When Jeanne was only three years old, the French Revolution broke out in France. At this time, many faithful priests were forced to flee because people wanted to hurt them, and the Rendu family home became a refuge for many of these priests.
Following the death of her father and baby sister, Jeanne helped her mother to look after the family. Jeanne’s mother sent her to a boarding school so she could get a good education. During her two years there, Jeanne would walk around the town, and one day she discovered a hospital where the Daughters of Charity cared for the sick. Her mother gave her permission to spend some time at the hospital, and Jeanne soon felt called by God to become a Daughter of Charity.