St. Vincent de Paul Members Prepare For Rockford-Area Training Program
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
August 8, 2019
ROCKFORD—Several Vincentians — members of St. Vincent de Paul conferences — gathered at St. Rita Church on July 31 to test-drive and finish organizing a newly-local training program for area  SVdP conferences.
The Ozanam Orientation Central District Training Team — named for  SVdP founder Blessed Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam — is being formed to serve the nine conferences of the Central District, which includes the four relatively-new conferences in Rockford (St. Rita, Holy Family, St. Bridget and St. James).
Organized locally, Vincentians witness God’s love by embracing all works of charity and justice. The Society collaborates with other people of good will in relieving need and addressing its causes, making no distinction in those served. Vincentians serve “friends and neighbors in need” with the goal of seeing the face of Christ in them and being the face of Christ for them, says Laura Ortiz. “We’re looking to assist and walk their path with them, not just giving them something,” 
Deacon Steven Pulkrabek further explains. “We get to know them as persons.”
Vincentian home visitors pray with the friends they serve if they are open to it, Ortiz says, adding that the “primary” need is (for them to know) that somebody cares (about them and what) they deal with every day. We’re looking for ways to give them traction — a hand up.” 
That often includes assistance with budgeting. 
The Vincentians also have a list of community resources to help with the friends’ current and ongoing needs. Ortiz notes that in Rockford, the four conferences are “now viewed as a community partner” by many resource agencies. Whether it is a matter of someone working low income jobs or of a catastrophic event such as a fire, Vincentians “can be creative” in how they help, she says.
Last year’s statistics said that 7% of Rockford Public School children are homeless and 51% of those school families live in poverty, Ortiz says. Last year, the four Rockford-area conferences provided $105,500 and helped 529 individuals. The  numbers so far this year are higher than at this point last year. 
The required training for all new  SVdP members includes formation in  SVdP spirituality and training in practical skills needed for its “charity in action” work.
Bill Wenzloff, a member of the Northeast District in the Diocese of Rockford (which has 15 conferences in McHenry and northern Kane counties), is responsible for that district’s  SVdP Ozanam Orientation training, and he has been a mentor to the Central District also. He attended the July 31 meeting to help the Central District prepare its own training team.
People beginning a new conference or who join an existing conference attend Ozanam Orientation training within their first year. Ongoing training is required at least every three years, although opportunities for more training are provided. 
“There are multiple ways people can be involved,” Ortiz says. Although home visits are the core of the SVdP mission, other ministries and outreach are available through SVdP, she says, noting a brand new connection between SVdP and the Rockford area jail ministry.
Info: national —; diocesan — Susan Wiland, president of the  SVdP Rockford Council, which includes 44 conferences,