Published May 29, 2008
This year’s “Spring” meeting included a special celebration because of the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Society by Blessed Frederic Ozanam in Paris on April 23, 1833, Ozanam’s 20th birthday.
From a small beginning, the society has grown to a membership of over 650,000 members in 142 countries. In Atlanta, the Society has been serving people in need since 1903.
The day’s events began with a morning program including presentations by council president Jim Rosentreter, executive director John A. Berry, and council presidential candidate Richard Kessler. Members then had the opportunity to participate in various workshops, including deepening one’s spirituality, a discussion of food pantries, increasing membership, fundraising, visiting needy people in their homes, and an overview of the services provided by Catholic Charities.
A highlight of the day was the Mass celebrated by Father Vic Galier, pastor of St. Matthew Church in Tyrone. During his homily, Father Galier took the opportunity to “preach to the choir” and challenged Vincentians not only to continue in their service to the poor, but to address the causes of poverty. He acknowledged the difficulties in doing this because followers of Jesus need to cut across political lines and economic class. He challenged participants to serve their local community, but also to see the poverty and suffering in other parts of the world and to ask, “Can we do more?”
The Mass included a commitment ceremony in which all Vincentians had the opportunity to renew their commitment to grow in holiness, build community, and serve those in need.
The Mass concluded with the presentation of the Top Hat awards, given annually to two outstanding Vincentians nominated by their peers and selected by the council’s district presidents. This year’s honorees were Tom Coleman of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta and Mary Ann Cox of Holy Trinity Church in Peachtree City.
Coleman’s involvement with St. Vincent de Paul started 57 years ago in Pittsburgh, Penn., where he assisted his uncle in delivering meals and goods to various needy families in the area. Since 1968, he has been a member at Christ the King and has served as treasurer, vice president and president of the conference.
Cox was integral in creating the Clothes Less Traveled Thrift Shop, a ministry of Holy Trinity serving those in need of clothing, furniture and household items. She also played an essential role in opening the Fayette Care Clinic, which offers medical treatment to individuals without insurance.
For more information, to volunteer, or to make a donation to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, visit the Web site at www.svdpatl.org or call (770) 458-5415.