The Madison St. Vincent de Paul Youth Service Council (YSC), a high school group that lives out its charism of service, spirituality, and friendship under the auspices of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison, has had a busy fall season. This fall, Youth Service Council members have had three exciting opportunities to live out the spirit of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul: to serve, to pray and to grow in friendship.
This year, the Youth Service Council’s theme revolves around a quote from St. Vincent de Paul, “Charity is the cement which binds communities to God and to each other.” For a shorter slogan, the quote displayed on the group’s t-shirts reads: Love Will Hold Us Together.
Gayle Westfahl, advisor to the Youth Service Council, is familiar with the Matt Maher song by the same name and noted that there would be an upcoming concert in Waukesha by Maher himself. Matt Maher is an internationally known Catholic contemporary artist who has performed for three popes, a nine-time GRAMMY nominated artist and is a three-time GMA Dove Award winner. Westfahl waded through the artist’s management team to inquire if Maher would be willing to meet with the group.
“Matt was gracious enough to agree to meet with us, and even provided tickets for the concert at a greatly reduced price,” Westfahl recalled. “He spent about 15 minutes with us.”
During their meeting with Maher, Youth Service Council members gave him one of their t-shirts with the words of his song emblazoned across the front. He encouraged them in their service.
“Faith cannot be lived metaphorically,” Maher said. “We have to live it physically… Service manifests the presence of Christ.”
During the concert, Maher referred to his meeting with the group.
As an introduction to his song, “Love Will Hold Us Together,” he proclaimed,
“Love – it’s like cement. It holds everything together.”
Two Youth Service Council members attended the national meeting of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul this year in St. Louis. While there, they visited with Bishop Hying, former National Episcopal Advisor for the National Council of the U.S., Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Bishop Hying said he would love to come to one of the group’s meetings back in Madison.
On Monday, December 4th, Bishop Hying not only attended a Youth Service Council meeting, but presided at a private mass for the group at St. Vincent de Paul — Madison’s Middlecamp Center for Vincentian Charity. He stayed to share dinner with the group and listen to their plans. Members shared with him why they enjoy being in the Youth Service Council. Many of them commented that the service they do is not only valuable to their community, but it is valuable to them.
“When you help others, you get a good look at yourself,” Laura, a high school member, said. “It’s important to listen and be there for people.”
Another member commented that volunteering, giving back and thinking about other people in her community who might be struggling allows her to give a sincere gift of self. She explained that she likes helping people not to make herself look good but because it’s what’s needed.
It was Society of St. Vincent de Paul primary founder (now Blessed) Frédéric Ozanam’s desire that “all young people with both head and heart to assemble for some charitable work.”
One of the group’s fall initiatives was a Stuffed Sock Drive. They collected warm socks filled with hygiene products for those in need during the chilly winter months. Members conducted drives at their local parishes and returned baskets and bags overflowing with warm socks, mittens, shampoo, body wash, razors, deodorant, lotion, toothpaste and toothbrushes. They sorted the items for distribution through Vinny’s Lockers, the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry and other channels in the coming weeks.
The St. Vincent de Paul — Madison Youth Service Council is open to high school students who have a desire to grow in service, spirituality, and friendship. Meetings occur one to two times per month during the academic year with events as scheduled by the group. Members serve as representatives for their parish or school and join through an application process. If you or someone you know are interested in joining the YSC, applications open for next academic year in February. Visit svdpmadison.org/join-us and select “Members” to learn about their current work and for the application link.
Signup for our Newsletter: