September 4, 2020

How to start a parish or multi-parish St. Vincent de Paul Society

By Natalie Hoefer

Pat Jerrell, a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Indianapolis Archdiocesan Council coordinating the organization’s expansion efforts, offers the following tips for starting a parish or multi-parish SVdP conference:

Find three or four interested members, then approach the parish’s (or parishes’) pastor or parish life coordinator (PLC). “It is more impactful to go as a group—it shows more interest.” Some priests or PLCs might also seek parish pastoral council approval.

  • To start a conference, “Ideally it takes four officers, a spiritual adviser and six to eight people willing to be active volunteers.”
  • For smaller parishes, “It can be helpful to have multiple parishes for a conference to help with numbers in terms of members and volunteers. Pooling resources can really make a difference in their communities.”
  • If the decision is made for a parish or parishes to create a conference, the priest, PLC or other appointed representative should contact Jerrell. (See below.) He and his extension committee will meet with them (virtually, until further notice) “to explain the structure, scope and operation details for SVdP parish conferences and support parish leaders in the discernment process.”
  • New members will participate in a 5-and-a-half-hour training session.
  • St. Vincent de Paul Society by-laws require two conference meetings a month.
  • “We recommend, with the pastor’s or pastors’ approval—having a St. Vincent de Paul collection on the fifth Sunday of the month” to support the ministry.

Those with general questions on starting an SVdP conference may contact Pat Jerrell at or 317-457-1001. †


Related story: St. Vincent de Paul seeks new conferences to ‘serve people with the love of God’

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