Society Of St Vincent De Paul (SSVP)

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) in our parish OLPS started 52 years ago on 30 October 1961.

Newly appointed President, Jean Phoon has a busy task with the large membership of 73 in the society. Their age ranges from 23 to as young as 84. Three of them are Honorary Members aged 75 years and above. Combining their years of service in SSVP would add up to 82 years in total (with lengths of 27, 30 and 45 years added up).

One of the main activities of the SSVP is the Ration Day, which is held on the 1st Saturday of the month. The Friends in Need (FIN) come to collect food rations and cash aid. Lunch is also provided for FINs and walk-in cases seeking assistance. In addition to the monthly assistance given, NTUC vouchers are also distributed on a quarterly basis to the FINs to purchase basic essential items. Assistance given to the FINs includes medical care, school transport, tuition for school children, and other necessary needs. On festive occasions such as Chinese New Year and Christmas, additional food items are given out. Other activities and celebrations include CNY Lo Hei lunch, mid-year lunch and outing which are organised for the FINs.

Rations and vouchers are purchased from funds in the collection. Funding comes from the once-a-month collection during Mass. In addition, some private donations from individuals or companies are also received. OLPS also manages the Thrift Shop which sells donated items at low cost, with proceeds also going into the collection pool.

So now you know what a worthwhile cause your donations go towards helping the needy in our community!

The SSVP members meet fortnightly on Tuesdays for meetings to update and report on the status and the FINs under their charge. Opportunities for fellowship are celebrated hand in hand with durian parties and dinners. Food and sharing is a big part of SSVP!

On an informal basis, SSVP works with the nearby mission schools, St Patrick Secondary School and St Stephens, which also have their own SSVP, formed by the Catholic boys. Confirmation teens are also invited to do internship with the SSVP.

History of SSVP OLPS

When it first started in OLPS, there were separate conferences for men and women. Men took care of male FINs and lady members managed the female FINs with families. Subsequently in 2000, both conferences merged to a single conference.

The 6 churches in the East District take turns to host and organise feast days like the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The total number of SSVP members from the 6 churches is 235, while the total number of families assisted by the 6 churches is 357 families or 642 persons! The EXCO members from the 6 churches meet on the last Wednesday every two months.

Together, they also jointly organise the yearly Christmas party for the FINs. The organising committee from one church will take the lead to plan the event and the other churches will be represented members in the Xmas party committee. The Christmas party event is organised by one of the East District each year and this is rotated each year. For example this year, the event will be organised by OLPS and the next year it will be Queen of Peace.

If you need further information or wish to join SSVP, do contact the President, Ms Jean Phoon at 97389160.

About SSVP’s Founder: Blessed Antoine Frederic Ozanam

Antoine Frederic Ozanam was born in Milan on 23 April 1813. His family relocated to France where he attended the prestigious Sorbonne University and studied Law. When he was still a student, he was confronted daily by the misery of the poor of Paris. To this challenge he responded not only by devoting himself to the service of the poor but also by organising others to do the same.

This is how The Society of St Vincent de Paul was born in Paris on 23 April 1833, with the purpose to alleviate the sufferings of the poorest of the Parisians, founded by a 20-year-old Ozanam and five fellow students. Started with the name of “Conference of Charity”, it was later dedicated to St Vincent de Paul, a saint who had devoted his life to the service of the poor.

A loving husband and devoted father, Frederic achieved greatness as a gifted scholar (after fulfilling his father’s desire for him to become a lawyer, he went on to study what he really liked and became professor of foreign literature at the Sorbonne), a dedicated teacher, a generous Christian and a gentle but effective reformer. Frederic Ozanam died on 8 September 1853, when he was just 40 years old, and he was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22 August 1997.

About St Vincent de Paul

St Vincent de Paul was born on 24 April 1581 in the French town of Pouy. His parents were peasants and had seven children but, as Vincent proved to be a promising student, they sold the family oxen to send him away to study for the priesthood. He was ordained when he was just 19. In 1605, during a journey by ship, he was captured by pirates who took him to Tunis and sold him off as a slave (something similar happened also to St Patrick).

He eventually managed to escape and went to Rome to further his studies. He then became chaplain to Queen Margaret of Valois, then parish priest and finally he became private tutor for the children of a noble family as well as their spiritual director. Everywhere he went, Vincent worked with the poor and the prisoners of the terrible French galleys. To support his mission, he founded “The Congregation of Priests of the Mission” in 1625.

On 29 November 1633, Vincent de Paul, together with his friend Louis de Marillac, established “The Daughters of Charity”, a religious order whose main task was to help the poor. As well as relieving the sufferings of millions of poor people through the congregations, hospices, soup kitchen that he started, Vincent de Paul also established a number of seminaries to address the issue of the formation of the priests, which was lacking at that time. Vincent de Paul died on the 27 September 1660 and was canonised on 16 June 1737.