In the spirit of charity that permeates the Vincentian charism, parishes throughout the Congregation of the Mission Western Province run Christmas programs to provide food, gifts, clothing, and other items to the poor and abandoned. The following is a small sampling.

St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Chicago holds a winter clothing drive for the homeless and a Christmas toy drive on Dec. 12 that last year distributed 600 toys through Marillac St. Vincent Family Services. The season concludes with a food drive on Jan. 7.

“We seek to inspire others to embrace the Vincentian charism by serving the poor in whom we see the face of Jesus,” said Pastor Fr. Joseph Williams, C.M.  “What better time to affirm this than during the holiday season!”

Holy Redeemer, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and St. Michael Parishes in San Antonio, TX, annually offer food giveaways at Thanksgiving and Christmas for approximately 150 families. At the Thanksgiving food giveaway, names are collected for a Christmas gift giveaway, and each parish collects gift cards that are given to families to shop for gifts. The St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry will be serving Tuesday through Friday, weekly.

As a thank you, Pastor Fr. Kevin Fausz, C.M., prepares a holiday meal for his annual Pastor’s Appreciation Dinner and Dance, which serves 200 volunteers from all three parishes.

“There are many families that are in need, and we do all that we can to show the love of God by serving them,” Fr. Kevin said. “The families and individuals are always grateful for what they receive.”

St. Joseph Parish in New Orleans prepares and distributes to the homebound Christmas baskets filled with homemade treats, collects gifts and presents them to residents of a temporary shelter for women and children and also to children at New Orleans Boys Town. Also, a Christmas lunch is offered for the homeless, at which guests receive socks, hats, and Christmas cards along with their meal.

“Isn’t Christmas a celebration which invites us to all look more closely not only to our own lives,” said Pastor Fr. Tom Stehlik, C.M., “but also to our brothers and sisters and see the goodness of God in them and share together our hope and joy of the presence of the Lord?”

Photo cutline: Volunteers and church staff come together to run Christmas programs for the poor in Vincentian parishes.