Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Mary Queen Parish Vincentians continue the mission

the Inland Register

(From the March 17, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

Shortly after Mary Queen Parish was established at its current location in east Spokane in 1957, parishioners wanting to live out their faith actively formed a St. Vincent de Paul conference. Well familiar with the often-desperate needs of their neighbors, the newly minted Vincentians knew exactly what they had to do.

“The primary reason a St. Vincent conference was established in this parish was to provide food to families in the area who need help,” said Susan Stout, current president of the of the Mary Queen conference. “And that remains our primary mission today, though we now provide a variety of other help as well.”

Since its founding in 1833 in Paris, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has made the home visit its defining feature. With it, Vincentians assure those they help that they are more than just statistics: They are people who matter and are cared about.

Mary Queen Vincentians embody the home visit. With each one, they bring exactly the sort of care the Society’s founders envisioned. Along with food and household supplies, the Vincentians of Mary Queen bring smiles, encouragement, and, perhaps most important, prayers for those being visited. In 2015, the 32 members of the conference did 184 home visits to neighbors in and around the parish. They also did 100 hospital visits and an equal number of visits to elderly and shut-in people.

The conference’s primary mission takes on a fun character as Christmas approaches and the Vincentians prepare breakfasts and dinners for the big day.

“We start our planning in October,” said Stout. “We begin by gathering information on the families we serve, then plan the menus, make our shopping list, and calculate the costs. Around Thanksgiving we start asking our parishioners to donate frozen turkeys to put in the Christmas dinners. We continue our work until we deliver the boxes to about 30 to 35 families on the Saturday before Christmas.”

While providing food delivered on home visits has always been the conference’s bread and butter, its services have expanded due to both demand and Mary Queen’s location. Because the Mary Queen conference is the only St. Vincent de Paul presence on the east side of Spokane, its members are called upon by a large and diverse population.

“Over the years, requests for assistance from families and individuals as well as referrals from other local social service providers have increased,” Stout said. “We now assist families who are having problems paying their rent, power, or water bills. We also assist formerly homeless families obtain furniture and other essentials to make a home.”

Stout points out that the conference often does its work in cooperation with the Spokane District Council of the Society and other conferences, as well as other social service programs. Each year, for instance, Gonzaga Prep shares a part of its Thanksgiving food drive with the conference.

Teamwork is nothing new, as the Mary Queen Vincentians have embraced a collaborative model from the beginning. Early on, the men of the conference managed the inventory and handled the home visits, while the women handled the fundraising. Natural entrepreneurs, the women took to catering wedding and funeral receptions held at the parish. They charged $100 for 100 people, with all the proceeds going to the conference. Bake sales were organized to complement fund-raising meals the Knights of Columbus hosted at the parish.

The conference continues to bring innovation to its fundraising. Though much of its income is generated though a collection taken up at Masses once a month, and food is gathered in donation boxes in the church, this year the conference is trying something new. On Palm Sunday, March 20, the conference will conduct a silent auction in conjunction with the parish’s annual breakfast.

“Breakfast will be served from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., during which time prospective bidders may examine the auction’s offerings,” said Stout. Among items to be auctioned are a variety of themed baskets, including a power outage survival kit, plus Easter, wine and cheese, and Avista prize baskets, as well as a luncheon for four and other great items. Bidding for the auction closes at 12:30 p.m. and one need not be present to win.

“The breakfast will be very tasty and the auction a lot of fun,” promised Stout. “We hope to see you there!”

(For more information about the work of the Vincentians, contact parish St. Vincent de Paul conferences, or email Spokane District Council president Paul Machtolf: Donations can be made directly to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Spokane District Council, P.O. Box 2906, Spokane, WA 99220, or to the individual parish Conferences. Additional information is available on the web site:

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