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‘Person to person’ is St. Vincent de Paul Society pledge

04 YAretreat.jpeg PAGEEASY DOES IT: Young adults, young adult leaders, and youth ministers took part in a Work/Life Balance Retreat Nov. 4 at St. Cecilia Parish, San Francisco. “We had 28 youth ministers, young adult leaders, and young adults from throughout the archdiocese in attendance,” said Amanda George, director of young adult ministry for the archdiocese. “Sessions turned to some familiar biblical figures to learn how to balance the demands of faith, work, and life.” (Courtesy photo)

December 14, 2017
Tom Burke

When I first started to know the St. Vincent de Paul Society as a chancery rookie, any writing I’d do on the group founded in 1833 would include its “more than 150 years” of helping the poor. Now, near 35 years later, the good work has moved into “almost 200 years” status. The St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco has long been a part of that tradition.

04 Shari P. Wooldridge THUMB“Our mission is to offer hope and service on a direct person-to-person basis, working to break the cycles of homelessness and domestic violence,” Shari P. Wooldridge, executive director, told me via email.

The person-to-person dimension of SVdP’s ministry is one that dates back to founder Frederic Ozanam in 19th century Paris and a facet that all connected with SVdP hold close to their hearts. Based in parish conferences more than 250 Vincentians seek out the city’s poor. More than 1,000 volunteers assist.

SVdP helps people of all ages including “adults in San Francisco experiencing homelessness and women and children survivors of domestic violence,” Shari told me. SVdP domestic violence programs served more than 3000 people last year and its multi-service center sheltered more than 3,000 adults and almost 900 children, Shari said.

SVDP-SF operates the largest single-adult homeless shelter in Northern California providing beds, meals, services and case management for 340 men and women daily, as well as a 24-hour Drop-In Center for an additional 70 people, Shari said.

The facilities “provide safe havens from inclement weather, noise and congestion, and from the risks pervasive to living on the streets,” Shari said. “Having a place to sleep at night and rest during the day, and receiving help in accessing resources and services, allows people the opportunity to begin the healing process that can lead to long term recovery from the trauma of being homeless, permanent housing, and self-sufficiency.”

Children’s Services at SVdP’s Riley Center “are integral to our mission to stop the generational cycle of domestic violence and homelessness,” Shari said. “Our children’s services address the long-term emotional health of children and help prevent them from growing up to perpetuate the cycle of violence in their own lives.”

Ways to help in the work include financial contributions and volunteering. SVdP’s Adopt-a-Family program helps provide toys and gifts for clients especially at Christmas. https://svdp-sf.org/.


04 Riordan72 PAGEREUNION: Members of the Archbishop Riordan High School Class of 1972 gathered for a 45th reunion Oct. 14 at Bechelli’s Flower Mart Restaurant in San Francisco. “A great time had by all,” said classmate Jeff Holl in a note to this column. (Courtesy photo)


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: It is cake all around for the Sisters of Mercy as they celebrate the birthdays of Sister Edith Hurley, 97 years old Nov. 15, and Sister Suzanne Toolan, 90 years old, Oct. 24.

04 Sister Edith Hurley, RSM THUMBSister Edith served more than 50 years as teacher and administrator in schools including San Francisco’s Holy Name, St. Stephen, St. Gabriel and St. Peter. She enjoyed service in Australia just a few years ago. Sister Edith entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1939 and has been in the community 78 years, the longest of any sister in the Burlingame Community.

04 Sister Suzanne Toolan, RSM THUMBSister Suzanne is the beloved music director and teacher to hundreds maybe thousands of young women at the sisters’ high schools in San Francisco and Burlingame. Everyone knows Sister Suzanne too from her compositions sung for half a century at Masses many weeks of the year including “I Am the Bread of Life.” Sister Suzanne entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1950 and has been in the community 67 years. Just to get it off my chest, I miss Sister Suzanne’s “Great is the Lord,” a super song and once a significant staple of the hymnals.


TILL THEN: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us here at Catholic San Francisco. Next CSF is Jan. 11.


Email items and electronic pictures – hi-res jpegs - to burket@sfarch.org or mail to Street, One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco 94109. Include a follow-up phone number. Street is toll-free. Reach me at (415) 614-5634; email burket@sfarch.org.

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