More than 100 candles were lit at St Francis’ Church in Melbourne on Tuesday 14 November, each representing members, volunteers, benefactors and staff of the St Vincent de Paul Society (Victoria) who passed away in the last 12 months. The Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Anthony Ireland, is one of the society’s most important annual events, with hundreds of members from local conferences gathering with families of the deceased during this memorial month of November.
Each year, the names of deceased Vincentians are written in the St Vincent de Paul Society book of the deceased and read aloud as part of a procession of light at the start of the Thanksgiving Mass. State president of the St Vincent de Paul Society Michael Quinn said the Mass was an opportunity to remember and honour ‘all those who have gone before us in service to Christ in the poor’.
‘So many people have passed away in the service of Jesus Christ, and we should be honoured and blessed that we share this evening to respect the service they’ve given,’ Michael said.
For the last 40 years, the Mass has been held at St Francis’ Church, where the society was first established in Australia by Fr Gerald Ward in March 1854. ‘We, as Victorians, should be very proud that the first society started here in Melbourne,’ Michael said.
Bishop Ireland said it was a joy to be with the ‘Vinnies family’ during the Month of the Holy Souls, and paid tribute to the service of society members and volunteers, and to the generosity of benefactors.
‘Here at the location of the foundation of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Victoria, every one of you is welcome,’ he said.
‘We recall the service of members, the generosity of benefactors, the kindness of volunteers, and we hold in prayer those who mourn the deaths of loved ones who have gone before us marked with the signs of faith and hope.’
‘It is quite lovely that each year, the Society of St Vincent de Paul calls this occasion the Thanksgiving Mass. We who gather this evening, some remembering their loved ones who died in this past year and others holding dear those who have indelibly marked their lives in lifelong love. For some grief is fresh and for others the mourning is the sign of a long, long love.
‘Whatever your situation, as we gather once more around God’s holy altar, may we gather as the friends of the Lord Jesus and here cast our burdens on him—so as to take up the journey freshly inspired to walk in the Lord’s way of love.’
We hold in prayer those who mourn the deaths of loved ones who have gone before us marked with the signs of faith and hope.
Next year marks the 170th anniversary of the establishment of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia.
Banner image: St Vincent de Paul Society Thanksgiving Mass. Photo courtesy Casamento Photography.
VMCH11 December 2023
Melbourne Catholic08 December 2023