Who We Are
Established in 2008, St. Vincent de Paul Cabrini Conference is a locally operated and funded Catholic lay organization – the mission of which is to provide basic human needs services in the Wausau area. We collaborate with United Way’s 2-1-1 help line, Catholic Charities and the Marathon County Basic Needs Interagency Group to help individuals and families in need. We also operate a successful thrift store that helps fund our mission and supplies the bulk of our “in kind” giving. In addition, the store also offers great opportunities to do meaningful and enjoyable volunteer work. Annually, we distribute about $90,000 in financial support, food, transportation, clothing and household goods to those in need. All our help is local.
How We Operate ("The Home Visit")
St. Vincent’s unique contribution to charity is the “Home Visit”. When we receive a call for help, we schedule a home visit, send in two of our members to meet with the “friends in need”. During a home visit we often identify additional needs that have not been previously communicated by the person or family. For instance: no stove to cook on, no beds to sleep in, broken windows, an empty pantry. We get many requests that are out of the ordinary such as repairing frozen pipes, paying for a car repair, helping people to move, paying for classes at NTC and many others.
Our mission’s efforts are intended to “empower” rather than to “enable” those we serve, to be a “hand up” rather than a “hand out”. The financial aid we typically provide is $50 – $300 and sometimes more. Monetary assistance is always paid to the verified provider, i.e. the landlord, the electric company or the auto repair shop and never directly to the friend in need.
A Brief History
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was organized in Paris, France in 1833 during a turbulent time, the aftermath of the French Revolution. During a college discussion session a group of Catholic students were challenged by their peers who accused them and the Catholic Church of not practicing what they preached, that they were not adequately addressing the needs of society’s poor. Prompted by this challenge, and inspired by the Gospel values, the group, led by the young law student Fredric Ozanam, dedicated themselves to the precept of putting their faith in action by serving the poor and the needy of their day. Inspired by a well-known Saint from the 17th century, a beloved man who lived to serve the poor, a man so revered by all Frenchmen that his respect transcended class or opposing political viewpoints the new organization was named “The Society of St. Vincent de Paul”.
The Four Saints
St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), was founder of the Congregation of the Mission, Daughters of Charity, Confraternities of Charity, and Ladies of Charity. A man of deep faith, keen intellect, and enormous creativity, he has become known as the “The Apostle of Charity” and “Father of the Poor.” His contributions to the training of priests and organizing parish missions and other services for the poor shaped our Church’s role in the modern world.
St. Louise de Marillac (1591 – 1660), a contemporary of St. Vincent, was inspired and directed by Vincent’s spiritual leadership. She was Vincent’s collaborator in founding the Daughters of Charity and organizing hospitals for the sick poor, asylums for the orphaned, workshops for the unemployed, championing literacy for the uneducated, and establishing standards for local charities. Louise was a wife, mother, teacher, nurse, social worker and religious foundress.
Blessed Frederic Ozanam (1813 – 1853), was founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Frederic was a husband and father, professor and servant of the poor. He founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as a young student with others of the Sorbonne in Paris. Sister Rosalie Rendu, a Daughter of Charity, is considered a mentor of Frederic and of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as she taught the first members the art of helping the poor and the sick. Frederic’s writings on social justice anticipated the first social encyclical of our modern times, Rerum Novarum.
Blessed Rosalie Rendu, DC (1786 – 1856), was a Daughter of Charity who served for 54 years in the Mouffetard area, the most impoverished district of Paris. Emmanuel Bailly, the President of the Society, sent the founding members of the Society to Sister Rosalie for guidance and direction. Sending them on home visits, she formed them in the spirit of St. Vincent, teaching them how to serve the poor with respect and compassion.