ST Vincent de Paul in Lurgan is celebrating its 150th birthday with a special Mass at St Peter’s Church on Friday night.
The 7pm service is to be concelebrated by Monsignor Aidan Hamill and other priests in the parish.
Established in on January 4, 1863, St Vincent de Paul in Lurgan has helped thousands of people struggling to survive poverty.
The first meeting of the Lurgan conference of St Vincent de Paul began with Fr McMullan PP reading a letter from Dr McAllister, then the Bishop of Down and Connor, blessing the new branch and wishing it future success.
Fr Darragh CC was the first spiritual Director of the Conference and the priests of both St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s parishes have continued to support the work of the Society over the years.
The St Vincent de Paul Society was founded by blessed Fredric Ozanam, a man convinced of the inestimable worth of each human being, Frédéric served the poor of Paris well and drew others into serving the poor of the world. Through the St. Vincent de Paul Society, his work continues to the present day and the members of the Lurgan Conference are proud to continue his legacy.
From its humble beginnings the Lurgan Conference has gone from strength to strength. In 1986 the organisation was awarded a lease on the Ozanam Centre by the Parish and undertook the running of an ACE scheme which offered work to the long term employed of the parish. Renovations took place within the Centre and a Thrift shop was opened, providing quality second hand clothing and furniture at a reasonable prices.
In 1988 St Vincent de Paul took its first tentative steps into childcare with the provision of a pre-school playgroup and over the next few years expanded the service to meet the needs of children in the 0-12 year age group. The daycare project currently provides care for 130 children and employment for 36 staff.
“We are of course under no illusion that our work is totally dependent upon the generosity and support of the people of Lurgan. The invaluable contributions of furniture, clothing and financial support offered by our parishioners can not be underestimated. The collections of food and toys by local schools for our Annual Christmas appeal and donations made through our church door collections enable us to provide support to families and individuals throughout the parish,” said a St Vincent de Paul spokesperson.
The society of St Vincent de Paul has often been conceived as being a Catholic organisation, however, the Society is of a Christian nature and serves people from all sectors of the Community. This was recognised in 2006 by Craigavon Borough Council when the Society was awarded the freedom of the Borough.
“It is important that at this time we should not forget our deceased members who have passed on to their eternal reward RIP and without whose generosity of time and effort our society would not exist.
“We would ask you at this time when an increasing number of families within our parish are facing financial difficulties and increased demand is being placed on our resources that the Society with your help will continue to be able to provide assistance to those in need.”