By Joanne Thompson, Associate
I have been a Vincentian volunteer for over 24 years. My earliest years of ministry include facilitating faith sharing groups and Communion services at the men's county jail in Redwood City. Then as a Conference volunteer at St. Charles Parish, visiting families in our local area each week and responding to their need for services such as food, clothing, furniture, rental assistance and PG&E assistance. I also served as conference spiritual advisor for many years providing formation in Vincentian Spirituality.
I have also served as Chair of the Voice of the Poor which is the social justice arm of St. Vincent de Paul. This group advocates for the needs of the poor when they have no voice. We do this by contacting our legislators encouraging them to vote on issues that help the underserved. We research issues of homelessness, hunger, immigration, healthcare and restorative justice and reflect on how we can take a stand on current issues that will benefit the vulnerable among us. Our motto in St. Vincent de Paul is to "See the face of Christ in the Poor." To have this opportunity to see the face of Christ in those we serve has helped me to realize that I need the poor as much as they need our services. It is a mutual ministry. We call them poor or underserved, but they are so rich in God's goodness shining through them, that they truly bless my life.
Speaking of children, my other ministries are strongly connected to children. I serve on the Children's Faith Formation Board and on the Faith Formation Commission which is currently implementing Intergenerational Catechesis. A very exciting adventure for St. Matthias Parish where my grandchildren attend formation.
I am also blessed to minister to my own granddaughters ages 5 and 7 who are currently living with me. I will only have this privilege for a short while, so I make it my priority. My goal is to make known to them God's goodness and lavish love for them each day. This is not only a blessing for me, but a great joy as well!
Julie is with me in all that I do especially in my ministries. I think of her Charism especially when dealing with my granddaughters wanting them to fully and truly how good God is. Also her model of Catechizing children is something I rely on when working in Children's Faith Formation. She always proclaimed God as good and loving, and that is the message I want children to hear as well. Also, Julie never forgot the needs of the poor, especially women and children. Both Julie and Vincent knew the poverty of France very well and responded to the needs of the poor whenever and wherever they could. I carry both of them with me when I make home visits. It really helps to lift the spirits of people who are struggling when they are reminded that God is good. Sometimes they say it to me first and I am reminded again and again of God's goodness. I am so thankful for St. Julie and the spirit of Notre Dame that enables me to find the goodness of God in all things.