Archbishop Chia receives offertory gifts from a Society of St Vincent de Paul beneficiary. Behind him is Jesuit Fr Philip Heng, parish priest of Church of St Ignatius.Archbishop Chia receives offertory gifts from a Society of St Vincent de Paul beneficiary. Behind him is Jesuit Fr Philip Heng, parish priest of Church of St Ignatius.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) organised a Mass to pray for its aid recipients or Friends-in-need (FINs).

The concelebrated Mass with Archbishop Nicholas Chia as main celebrant was held on April 22 at Church of St Ignatius and attended by some 400 people comprising the society’s volunteers as well as FINs.

Speaking to CatholicNews after the Mass, Mr Paul Foo, the president for the society’s National Council of Singapore, said that it is “right” to keep a day to pray for the beneficiaries.

The date April 22 was chosen to mark the birthday of the society’s founder Blessed Frédéric Ozanam and the society’s first meeting in Paris in 1833, said Mr Foo.

Blessed Ozanam’s birthday is on April 23, 1813.

The Mass also encourages the SSVP members to reflect about their service and the needs of the beneficiaries as well as to create awareness within the congregation to pray for the poor, added Mr Foo.

He said that such a Mass will be held next year.

In his homily, Archbishop Chia exhorted the SSVP members to place the needs of those they serve before their own, to have their eyes and ears opened to the needs of the beneficiaries, to listen to them.

He also encouraged the society’s members to be grateful to the beneficiaries as they are “instruments” for SSVP members to encounter Christ.

He also encouraged members to work closely with one another as “team spirit is important in apostolate”.

Mr Joseph Ong, an SSVP member from the Church of St Michael said that it is “good” to meet other members.

He sees this Mass as a form of encouragement for members as they come together in prayer and receive God’s blessings.

The beneficiaries too have expressed their joy that such a Mass had been organised for them.

Madam Catherine William, a recipient from Church of St Francis of Assisi SSVP, said that she is happy to attend the Mass with Archbishop Chia present and to be treated to a small meal later.

Madam Josephine De Cruz a recipient from Church of the Risen Christ SSVP thanked God that the Mass had been organised.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul was founded in Paris in 1833 by a group of young laymen. It is an organisation of lay people dedicated to providing “personal help to people in any kind of need”, according to the society’s website.

It lists 51,000 SSVP conferences with 700,000 members in 142 countries.

The SSVP in Singapore has 30 conferences and serves about 1,700 families or 3,000 people. About 15 to 20 percent of its beneficiaries are Catholics, said Mr Foo.

He said he hopes more Catholics of all ages can become members of the society.

For more information on SSVP, go to http://www.ssvpsingapore.org/

By Darren Boon
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