Ministry changing name, mission staying the same

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Massena received a $500 grant from the Northern New York Community Foundation earlier this year. Pictured are John Witkop of St. Vincent de Paul, Dan Witchey of the Food Bank of Central New York, Randy Besio and Bob Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul. St. Vincent de Paul will become St. Peter’s Outreach Ministry effective Thursday. Submitted photo

MASSENA — Starting Thursday, St. Vincent de Paul in Massena will no longer be St. Vincent de Paul, but its mission will remain the same.

The organization is undergoing a name and brand change and will become St. Peter’s Outreach Ministry.

“Our mission and what we do will stay the same,” said Kitty Samuels, who will serve as a St. Peter’s Parish board member on the new organization’s board of directors that will also include the Rev. Mark Reilly, Deacon Thomas Proulx, St. Peter’s Parish trustees and a St. Vincent de Paul member.

She said the organization had a couple of choices — “Either continue to affiliate internationally and pay dues or affiliate locally. St. Vincent de Paul is an international organization. Our mission is local, so we chose to affiliate locally.”

As an international organization, it fell under the direction of Diocese of Ogdensburg bishop, Terry R. LaValley. As St. Peter’s Outreach Ministry, it will fall under St. Peter’s Parish.

“Everything will continue. All of our programs will remain the same,” Ms. Samuels said. “Everything we do, the missions needed in our area, will remain the same. Our ministry is ecumenical. We don’t discriminate. The name change is purely administrative.”

Among the services offered by St. Vincent de Paul is emergency food calls within the Massena Central School District or parish boundaries. They also hold a food distribution for St. Lawrence County residents every 30 days.

“That won’t change,” she said. “They’ll work with the Food Bank of Central New York.”

St. Vincent de Paul also oversees the Gabriel’s Helping Hands Program, also known as the Gabriel Project. The program provides diapers, formula, cribs and baby clothing for pregnant and new mothers. It’s open to mothers, fathers, grandparents or caretakers of an infant and/or children up to 3 years old.

The organization also staffs a thrift store and offers a Christmas program.

“This year’s Christmas program will be drive-through,” Ms. Samuels said. “We’re still working out the details.”

The organization’s phone number will remain the same, 315-769-1200.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment

zeitgeist

I believe there is more to this story.

The Diocese of Ogdensburg is relinquishing its direction of St. Vincent de Paul, and St. Vincent de Paul is establishing itself as an independent entity, for, at least, three reasons:

1. In establishing itself as an independent entity, and undergoing a name and brand change, St. Vincent de Paul hopes to preserve and expand its donations. The Diocese's ongoing and multiple issues resulting from the sex abuse crisis impede donations. Folks are hesitant to contribute to anything associated with the Diocese, however, they will contribute to independent entities associated with local communities.

2. In relinquishing its direction of St. Vincent de Paul, the fiscally unstable Diocese is relieved of its duty to contribute to it.

3. In establishing itself as an independent entity, St. Vincent de Paul cannot be attached to any judgments against the Diocese should it file for bankruptcy, nor can its funds be seized to compensate victims.

The termination of the association between the Diocese and St. Vincent de Paul is merely a fragment of the Diocese's ongoing "moving" and "re-classifying" of its assets, holdings, monies, and associations in preparation for bankruptcy or payouts to victims. Every diocese in the country is undergoing a similar self-protection "reorganization." In Jan. 2020, it was reported that the Catholic Church had shielded $2 billion in assets to limit abuse payouts or shrink the value of their bankruptcy estates.

This article does not convey the entire story around the change in Massena. Grossly lacking is transparency on the part of the Diocese and Bishop Terry LaValley.

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