Turning Faith into Action
The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) is a well-known charity that helps disadvantaged people in the community and offers friendship to those who are lonely. Many of you will be aware that our parish has a well-established SVP group made up of volunteers. You may not, however, have heard that the Society has developed its own national programme for primary school children. It is aimed at young people between 7 and 11, who with the permission of their parents, embark on a journey as ‘Little Vincentians’, or ‘Mini Vinnies’. Their motto is ‘Turning Faith into Action’.
Last year, St Mary’s launched a Mini Vinnies pro-gramme for a group of children in Year 4 who wished to join. Their goal is to identify those in need in our parish and for the children to follow the SVP maxim: ‘See-Think-Do’.
Our children rose to this challenge by identifying ways in which they could help. Plans were soon formed, and among them were two special visits we carried out last year:
A trip to a local care home
St Mary’s Mini Vinnies visited a care home in Shortlands, where the children met a large group of residents, some of whom never have visitors.
“As soon as we arrived they started smiling. One lady held my hand.” Alice, age 9
It was a fantastic occasion – the children handed out the cards they had made to the residents, and together they sang songs from the song sheets they brought. The residents and children talked to each other with great interest. At the end of the visit many of the children and residents were beaming with joy. Back at school our children reflected on the happiness they had brought to others by spending time with and listening to them.
Carols at the SVP Christmas lunch
Last December, the Beckenham SVP group held its annual lunch in St Edmund’s Hall. The Mini Vinnies joined them to sing carols while the invitees enjoyed lunch. Afterwards, the children mingled with the guests and gave out the Christmas cards they had made. On our way back to school, one pupil said, “They told us about their lives. I was amazed the world was different when they were children.”
Mini Vinnie meetings
Every two weeks, meetings take place in our school library. We nominate a Secretary, who takes the minutes and a President, who acts as spokesperson. We listen to the Gospel readings for that week and discuss what we would like to do. Our ideas have included ways to raise money for those in need. The children have also set up a regular prayer club at playtimes to which younger pupils are also invited. This term we will be attending Mass at Westminster Cathedral as a final celebration of this year’s amazing work.
If you would like to know more about the Mini Vinnies, please feel free to talk to us at the SVP coffee morning in the Hall after the 9.30am Mass on Sunday 12 May.
By Mrs Harrison, St Mary’s, and Helen Thomas, SVP Beckenham