On 24 February the Swansea Conference of St Vincent de Paul celebrated 50 years of service to the poor and needy of the area. The well attended Saturday evening Vigil Mass at St Patrick’s Church was concelebrated by Bishop Bill Wright and our parish priest Fr Gerard Mackie.
In attendance on the night, along with parishioners of Jesus, the Good Shepherd Parish, were St Vincent de Paul members from other conferences in the Newcastle area, several conference presidents, regional presidents and President of the Maitland/Newcastle Central Council, John McKendry and his wife Joan.
The Mini Vinnies group from St Patrick’s Primary School were also present at the Mass, with many taking an active part in the liturgy. The Swansea Conference and St Pat’s Mini Vinnies enjoy a close and mutually supportive relationship and thanks must go to School Principal Peter Green and Religious Education Coordinator Nicki Graham, who continue to foster this valuable connection.
During the Mass five children who are enrolled in the parish Confirmation program were presented to the congregation and introduced to Bishop Bill.
Bishop Bill presented well earned service badges to five members of the Swansea Conference: Alice Doro, Marion Ward and Michael Gore received their 10-year badges, while Glenda Doggett and John Murphy were presented with 15-year badges. Congratulations to these five members on their commitment to the work of the Society.
Following Mass, parishioners and guests enjoyed supper, served in the school hall. During the evening Brian Halligan, Eastlakes Regional President, thanked everyone for their presence at the Mass and celebratory supper. The anniversary cake was then cut by Paul Prior, Swansea Conference Treasurer, ably assisted by Rose, Ava and Charlotte, three of St Patrick’s Mini Vinnies. Paul has been a dedicated Vincentian for 58 years and is an inspiration to all.
Some of the conference members summed up their thoughts on why they joined the Society:
I hoped in some small way I could make a difference in the lives of people in need.
Joining the Swansea Conference has been one of the best decisions I have made in my retiring years.
Sharing the joy of caring for the poor with such a committed group each week inspires me to be a better Christian.