Working under the Society of St Vincent de Paul’s principle that ‘No work of charity is foreign to the Society’ gives a tremendous range of activities into which their members can become involved.
These works of charity, initially, are usually at a local level where the brothers and sisters of the local conference attend with ‘hands on’ assistance to try and alleviate any hardship. Further afield the conference will give support to the local Group Council, the Diocesan Council and the National Council if at all possible when required, quite a lot of which is to help bring relief after natural disasters.
As part of the Society’s remit is ‘to be fully concerned with the complete development of mankind, whose primary need is respect of his dignity’ a twinnage programme was initiated so that conferences, groups and councils could take on a struggling Parish abroad and support it through prayer and especially financially. On the ground, these twinned S.V.D.P. conferences would assess the immediate needs in their own local area and help as required.
The Twinnage programme itself can be found in several countries around the world including Africa, South America and, maybe surprisingly, Malta. In 1965, St Columba’s in Dundee was matched with its first twin, a Parish in the Kerala state of India, and due to continued support the St Thomas conference in the Kottayam district, became sett-sufficient in 1994. St. Columba’s then adopted a second twin from Kerala; this time St. George’s Parish in the Arthinkal district.
Due to continued support from the parishioners of St Columba’s, who contribute so generously to our black boxes, a good deal of poverty has been relieved. Houses have been built, people have been fed, and clothed,dignity has been restored and, although miles apart, part of the Gospel has been ‘lived out’.
This, of course, is not unique to St Columba’s. Across the globe many Parishes mirror this effect in the twinning project bringing relief and hope to the poor and needy – bringing relief and hope due to the kindness and generosity of many loyal parishioners who with their donations continue to ‘do unto others’.