Dear Parishioners of Blessed John Henry Newman,
I thought it would be nice in this Holy Season of Lent to tell you a little more about our three conferences and the work we have been doing:
At BJHN Parish we have three churches and each church has an active St. Vincent de Paul Society Conference. These are Corpus Christi, St. Gregory the Great and St. Theresa's. At a different geographical location in our community the conferences differ in the type of work they are engaged in, the beneficiaries they support and their financial situation. However, there are also many similarities too. We all have elderly and housebound friends to visit and this is the heart of our work. Between the three conferences we visit eight residential homes in the area and numerous people in their own homes.
St. Theresa's Conference
We currently have 6 members:
We meet each Monday in the church quiet room at 8.00pm and usually make our visits beforehand although these are sometimes made during the week and on a Sunday. We have twelve friends we visit and they are mainly elderly housebound people. We visit six of our friends on a weekly basis and other friends every few weeks or as and when needed. Our visits are to residential homes and homes in the parish. Some of our visits now take us to the far side of Leeds (Headingley), Kippax and Harrogate as some of our friends have moved out of the parish.
Corpus Christi Conference
befriending people in need is at the heart of what we do
We currently have 6 members:
We meet each Monday in the Newman Centre at 7.00pm and usually make our visits beforehand although these are sometimes made during the week and on a Sunday. Our Client list is about twenty friends. Many of these friends require weekly support and others we keep in touch with on a monthly basis. Our client list is very varied. Many of our friends are single parent families and many are single people from early thirties to the elderly. Many of our friends have financial difficulties and need financial assistance and support as well as weekly food parcels and help with utility bills. We also have many families who have the same needs as the above groups but also need support with practical tasks, furniture and clothes, financial management and childcare. We also have two Refugee families we support and a number of individuals with mental health problems. We are assisted by the Franciscan Sisters who are resident at our church.
St. Gregory's Conference
We currently have 8 members:
We meet every other Monday in the Presbytery at 7.00am. Visits are made beforehand and sometimes are made during the week. We have ten friends we visit and they are mainly elderly housebound people. We visit on a weekly basis to most of our friends and other friends every few weeks or as and when needed. Our visits are to residential homes and homes in the parish.
All three conferences work closely together and work on many projects and parish events. The President of each conference meets every month and every three months all conferences have a quarterly meeting and social event. We support all SVP events at local and national level such as sponsored walks, festival meetings, conferences and Spiritual Retreats and organised masses for the sick.
BJNN parish is part of the South Leeds District Conference and the presidents of each conference attend quarterly meeting at District Level and we are a part of Leeds Central Council and attend these quarterly meetings too.
Some of the work all conferences are involved with is outlined below:
Many of our beneficiaries have needs and difficulties outside the area of our expertise and experience. We constantly make referrals to the St. Vincent de Paul Support Centre on York Road. The centre are able to help with a whole host of services such as debt counselling, welfare rights, IT support, ESOL lessons and translations and employment and many other support groups. We also work closely with other agencies such as Leeds City Council, NHS and Adult Social Services and local Councillors for the benefit of our clients.
We support the annual Children's camp by selling raffle tickets (£800 averaged each year thanks to the generosity of our parishioners) and send young people from our parish to the holiday in August. In 2018 we bought new sleeping bags and wellington boots for the camp as they did not have the funds to do this. During school holidays we provide families with vouchers for places of interest including bowling, cinema, and swimming and provide travel documents too. At Christmas we give food and gift vouchers to families in need and during the year when requested.
Some of our members are involved in WYDAN and many volunteered at the recent Night Shelter held at the Newman Centre. We continue to attend meetings and support other churches when they are hosting a Night Shelter. We support PAFROS in Harehills (assisting our SVP conference St. Augustine's) volunteering our time when we can and donating food and clothing. We support Leeds Asylum Seekers' Support Network who in return supports our conferences with the families we are supporting. We ensure some members attend the Night Fever held at the Cathedral every few months.
Members attend Safeguarding and Health and Safety workshops and courses regularly, as well as Dementia training. We communicate with Growing Old Grace-fully and use their very useful â€˜Welcoming Older People' publication as guidance. We have recently invited this Diocesan group to a meeting of ours to run a workshop.
Some of our members are involved with TIME TO TALK a parish listening service for the lonely, anxious and people suffering with depression. Our members were trained by the Samaritans for this purpose.
Every week we have a food collection after each Sunday Mass and the food is taken to the SVSC and PAFROS.
We have SVP Twinnage towns in India (3 each conference); we correspond with each one as well as pay a yearly subscription to the Central Council Twinnage Department who ensure aid and alms to the needy areas. We recently made a donation to the Su- dan and Kerala appeal.
We have a Mini Vinnie group at St. Theresa's and Corpus Christi and work with them during the year. They donate their Harvest Festival Food to the SVSC and are involved year round in many of our projects.
We have a noticeboard in each of our churches and we update the parish with regard to various events and have a regular feature in the Parish Magazine where we encourage people to join the conference. We have excellent support from our parish office and Parish Priest to which we are very grateful.
We are always trying to recruit new members (age 18 upward) and are always happy to hear about people and families who would like a regular or occasional visit or how the Society can be of help in any way at all. Please consider both of the above. You can contact the Parish Office and will be referred to an SVP member for more information.
As one of our directives suggests and to deepen our Vincentian commitment we are:
"to seek and find those who are forgotten and to bring love to the suffering or deprived
and all in need and to be generous with our time".
And one of our prayers with which we end our meeting :
"We thank you Lord for the many blessings we receive from those we visit. Help us to love and respect them, to understand their deeper needs and to share their burdens and joys as true friends".
Thank you and we wish you a Happy and Holy Easter.
St. Vincent de Paul Society, Blessed John Henry Newman Parish