Catholic Church Kilsyth

The Society of Saint Vincent De Paul in St Patrick's Kilsyth

History of the Society in Kilsyth - How to Join - History of the Society in the Archdiocese - How to Help Us - Biography of St Vincent De Paul - Litany of Loretto

SVDP - a History in Kilsyth

Since the foundation of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in our parish of St Patrick’s Kilsyth, over 130 years ago on the 1st January 1879, it has been traditional for the Pass Keepers to hold a collection box as the congregation leave the church after each Sunday Mass. This collection from the charity of the parishioners is used to help those most in need, within and outwith our parish. This tradition as far as we can see from records, is a practice which has persisted from the foundation of the Society in Kilsyth. This weekly act of charity has always been the mainstay of funds for the local SVDP together with one off fund raising events, gifts from the Parish Priest from Parish funds and donations from individuals.

Like many other Societies in Scotland, the St Patrick’s Kilsyth Conference was for many years in it’s history concerned with the alleviation of acute poverty in the local community and the surrounding villages of Banton, Croy, Twechar and Banknock, both Catholic and Protestant regardless of background, in the face of need. The fact that the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Kilsyth was the 3rd Conference established in Scotland outside of the City of Edinburgh speaks to the need of the local population in Kilsyth for charitable assistance at that time. The SVDP in Kilsyth was founded on 1st January 1879 and aggregated into the national organisation on the 28th November 1932.

Another important aspect of the activity of the Society was burying the dead where there were no family present or whether the family could not afford the cost of a funeral. The Parish archives in Kilsyth have dozens and dozens of Title Deeds to lairs in Kilsyth Cemetery taken out in the name of the Society of St Vincent De Paul – evidence of extreme poverty locally where families could not afford to bury their dead and which was a real concern right up until the 1950’s.

With the coming of the Welfare State in the post World War 2 years, which sought to provide benefits for those in poverty and which made provision for burying of the dead where circumstances required it, the work of the Society changed. Despite the provision of the State for the ‘poor’ since then, there is still much work to be done. The activities of the SVDP in St Patrick’s Kilsyth are based very much upon the Corporal acts of Mercy in keeping with the ethos of the Society.

• To feed the hungry
• To give drink to the thirsty
• To clothe the naked
• To shelter the homeless
• To visit the sick
• To free the captive
• To bury the dead

Today there are still occasions where the SVDP will act as the mourners for the funerals of those who have no family present at the time of their death, however the main activity of the Society is to act as the charitable presence of the Catholic Community in Kilsyth to whoever is in need in our midst. Often people find themselves homeless suddenly, through no fault of their own, after a long illness in hospital or the breakup of a family or perhaps to escape abuse. At these times practical help and support can make all the difference and the Society gives what assistance it can on a person to person basis.

There are all kinds of poverty, not just necessarily that which is caused by a lack of money. Loneliness is poverty, lack of friendship is poverty, lack of employment is poverty, a lack of spirituality is poverty – poverty has many faces and the Society seeks to do what it can in a practical way when a need becomes clear.

The SVDP in Kilsyth attacks poverty through visiting the needy in their homes, hospitals or care homes providing practical help, furniture and household goods to those who have nothing, Christmas and Easter Cards and gifts and summer caravan holidays for those who cannot have a summer break.

In keeping with the Rule of the Society of St Vincent De Paul the members of the society have always worked quietly and confidentially. Indeed with the exception of auditable accounts for the funds gifted to the Society and records of how this money is used in charitable works, there are very few records in keeping with the ethos of confidentiality. So there are no minutes or membership lists going back into history that would allow us to see the works of the society over time. The good works of past members go with them.

The Conference of the Society of St Vincent de Paul here at St Patrick’s Kilsyth is part of the Stirlingshire Group Council of the SVDP in Scotland. Although we are essentially a lay society, the Society of St Vincent de Paul has always been truly faithful to the Church and has been her most ardent disciple and helper. The Society in Scotland has been blessed throughout the years since 1845 with the kindest of relationships with the clergy and hierarchy of Scotland and here too in St Patrick’s Kilsyth, the SVDP has operated closely with the various Parish Priests from whom we have received great local support right back to the Very Rev John Canon Murphy in the 1870’s.

God BlessYou!