The St. Vincent de Paul Society, District Council of Knoxville, held a Festival Meeting and “Day for Spiritual Renewal” hosted by the St. John Neumann Conference on Sept. 12 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
There are currently nine parishes within the Diocese of Knoxville that have active St. Vincent de Paul conferences.
The day began with Mass at 9 a.m. at St. John Neumann Church in Farragut with celebrant Father Michael Maples. Approximately 75 people attended the Mass including members from the nine SVdP conferences in the diocese, as well as friends of the society.
After the homily, SVdP members were called forward for the Annual Commitment Ceremony led by Deacon Michael Gouge in which members indicated their continuing commitment to work to serve the poor as members of the SVdP Society.
Following the Mass, activities continued in Seton Hall. Sister Elizabeth Wanyoike, ESM, is the coordinator for adult faith formation at St. John Neumann and provided a presentation titled “Our Quest for God Echoes God’s Quest for Us.”
Paul Simoneau, who serves the Diocese of Knoxville as vice chancellor for administration and as director of the Office of Justice and Peace, discussed the art of giving and giving your best to the poor from the heart in his talk “The Measure of the Gift.”
After an outdoor picnic lunch under the pavilion behind Seton Hall, members reconvened in the hall for further activities. Patricia Farner, current president of the SVdP District Council of Knoxville, provided a short video that gave an overview of the work of the society.
After the video presentation, SJN parishioner Richard Tabler shared his personal account of his call to help the poor and described his work as a member of SVdP.
Current SJN conference president David Campbell shared a success story of assistance given to a client, a single mother, who was able to get training to secure a better-paying and stable job so she could provide for her young child and finally buy a mobile home.
Mrs. Farner conducted a brief council meeting and also alerted members to a current situation in the Chattanooga area where 300 families (approximately 1,500 people) have been displaced after a hotel was suddenly condemned two days previous to the SVdP meeting.
The SVdP conference of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish is assisting eight of those displaced families, and other charitable organizations and local churches are also involved in providing aid.
The Festival Day concluded at 1:30 with a final prayer led by Deacon Gouge.
For more information about establishing an SVdP conference in your parish, contact Mrs. Farner or Deacon Gouge.