Archbishop William Goh with members of the Society of St Vincent de Paul after a Mass to celebrate the society patron’s feastday.

Divine compassion is vital in the work of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP). Without it, the work the society does is reduced to the purely humanitarian, and members would not be able to offer the fullness of the Gospel, i.e. Jesus, to others.

Archbishop William Goh made this point at a Mass to celebrate the society patron’s feastday at the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace on Sept 28.

Speaking to about 400 members about the Vincentian spirit of service to the poor, he noted that if this comprises of only human compassion, it cannot make one a good apostle of charity. Human compassion is limited, myopic and dependent on human strength, he said.

He stressed to Vincentians that it is not enough to focus on the material needs of the poor, as the ultimate end of their service is to bring God into people’s lives.
With divine compassion, Vincentians will find the strength to love everyone like God, said the archbishop, who concelebrated the Mass with Fr Eugene Vaz and spiritual advisers from various SSVP parish conferences.

As the Mass came to an end, 80 new Vincentians gathered in front of the archbishop to take the Vincentian Pledge Several longtime Vincentians spoke to CatholicNews about the joy they experience in serving others.

“People say we help the poor but actually the poor are helping us,” said Ms Helen Ng, 62, one of seven Vincentians who received  the 25-years long-service award.

Mr Christopher Goh, 65, another long serving member, has provided educational support to a pair of twins from primary school to polytechnic level, and seeing them attain scholarships from the Singapore Armed Forces was a memorable and rewarding experience.

When their mother told the society that the twins “could support themselves from now on, I felt really happy, ” he said.