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Tuesday, October 18, 2016


By Roland Henry and Cristine Tan

St Vincent de Paul Society was founded in Paris in 1833 by Frédéric Ozanam and the society took the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Vincent de Paul as its patrons. It is an international Catholic voluntary organization based on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and dedicated to the sanctification of its members through serving the abandoned poor and the disadvantaged. As of today, the society has 800,000 members in some 140 countries worldwide, whose members operate through "conferences". 

St Vincent de Paul Society at Holy Trinity Church Tawau of Sandakan Diocese started in March 2014 with some 20 active members. This first and isolated conference in Sabah is called Conference of Holy Trinity Tawau wherein Mgsr. Nicholas Ong is the rector of the Church. This society, indeed, is always in collaboration with the Parish Integral Human Development Committee to achieve its mission.

The conference in Holy Trinity church carries out many Corporal Works of Mercy activities such as:

Visiting the poor and provide aids until they can care for themselves. Currently, the conference is supporting 12 families in their monthly necessary groceries such as rice, salt, eggs, detergent, etc. With different needs, there were 10 to 26 other families received help. Other than that, some families were helped by giving cash and sometimes rehabilitating infrastructure of the family house. For example, a toilet was built for a poor old man who was unable to go to his toilet downstairs. The society arranged someone to build for him upstairs for easy access.
Apart from giving aid, they also become good listeners to their problems, give counsel, to arrange the EMC for the communion and some members bring the family to attend Mass or confession at the church. 

The SSVP thrift store which is located in the old canteen building at Holy Trinity Church compound officially opened its door on Sunday, 21st August 2016 selling clothing, books, magazines, bags, toys and kitchen utensils, all pre-owned and donated by parishioners and the public. All profit of the sales will benefit for any charity projects and the education programme undertaken by the Society. They also contribute goods and used clothing to fire victims.

Besides, they also help the poor children who are illiterate.  Some of SSVP members started an English class in April 2016 through The SSVP Fatima Education Programme. The SSVP Fatima Education Programme is created and compiled for SSVP Malaysia by the Project Team comprising teachers from the Learning Centre project of the SSVP Conference of Our Lady of Fatima, Kuala Lumpur with the mission to provide free basic education for children communities-in-need. The classes held once a week on Saturday for 90 minutes at Jalan Sin Onn Tiku in a small chapel called St Jude.
In the beginning, the children study with no ceiling. When the society got the materials they managed to get the ceiling done. They have about 40 children ages from 6 to 14 years old. 15 children do not go to school due to financial difficulty. Others attend the Migrant School in Holy Trinity Church Tawau. Recently, one teacher from the Migrant school has initiated to teach the children Bahasa and Mathematics. A dental talk was given to the children last August. Toothbrushes and toothpastes were sponsored. Some members have encouraged their children to help in the weekly class. This came to be an eye opener to start a Young Vincentian group.

The 1st Formation for Young Vincentian was held on 20 August 2016. About 23 children from ages 11 to 14 attended. They were given the knowledge of the founder and patron and how it started. The society hopes that children through The Young Vincentian will know they can do big things too in their little own way like raising funds through their activities or  making cookies for sale and others. They can help in promoting the collection and selling of second hand clothes and things. They can visit the poor, the old and the handicap children.
The society has even brought Christmas joy to poor children in an estate last year 2015. Gifts were given to them through generous sponsors. The conference hopes to reach out to more families in need. The conference in Tawau depends on generous donors and sponsors to run their activities. Like St. Theresa of Calcutta said “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” So let us do our part to make this a better world for all.
“Let us continue to offer one another to God and to love each other in our Lord, as He has loved us” – St Vincent de Paul, patron saint of the SSVP.

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