Book Benefits SVdP Society, Among Others
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
September 2, 2021
Kim-Doan Katrina Nguyen, MD, is Vietnamese by heritage and Catholic since childhood.
She is also a big fan of the St. Vincent de Paul Society as evidenced by her book signing in early August with SVdP as the recipient of $9 per $15 book sold.
“I was able to donate $600,” she says of that event, noting that the money was divided between the four Rockford parish conferences: St. Rita, St. James, Cathedral of St. Peter and Holy Family.
She became active with the Holy Family conference of the SVdP Society in late 2016 and serves on the conference’s fundraising team. Her family’s experiences as refugees and the support they received along the way, are part of her attraction to the society and its spirit, she says.
Helpers to the Poor 
DIOCESE—A 1940 edition of The Observer describes the St. Vincent de Paul Society as the “backbone of the National Conference of Catholic Charities.”
It explains that the first SVdP conference in the U.S. was in St. Louis, established in 1845. “It was here that many of the early pioneers on their jorney (sic) to the West found solace and aid through the ministrations of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.”
That U.S. beginning was 12 years after the Society was founded on April 23, 1833, by 20-year-old Antoine Frédéric Ozanam, a student at the Sorbonne in France. He had been challenged by a student who could not see what good the Catholic Church was doing in France.
Ozanam invited five other students in founding the first Conference of Charity to help the poor and increase their own holiness. They named themselves the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Ozanam is now a “Blessed” in the Church and his cause continues, as does the cause of Blessed Rosalie Rendu, a Daughter of Charity who served for 54 years in the poorest district of Paris. She guided the SVdP Society in the spirit of St. Vincent, sending them on home visits and teaching them to serve the poor with respect and compassion.
Today, the SVdP Society works in 4,428 conferences across the U.S. The face-to-face home visits take prominence, and Vincentians visit the homes of those who are served to identify immediate and long-term needs — from emergency assistance with rent, utilities, food and clothing, to assisting the friends with budgeting knowledge.
— Amanda Hudson, news editor
“It is not a handout, but a hand up,” she says, adding that she has empathy for what the friends (the term used by SVdP for those they serve) are going through. Her involvement, she adds, is “a way of giving back.”
Dr. Nguyen’s book, “Live to Give,” is a straightforward account of her life, beginning with her family’s flight from Vietnam on her father’s small fishing boat at the time of the collapse of Saigon. She was 14 months old. 
They went from Vietnam to the Philippines, Guam, New Orleans and finally California where most of her family still lives.
The idea of writing the book came in part from people who thought her family’s memories and stories should be written down. She wrote for a short time in 2008, then picked it up again in 2013, the year she and her physician husband moved to Rockford and joined Holy Family Parish. 
Her faith, she says, is “kind of the thread” holding the book together.
That “thread” was greatly impacted by a Light of the World retreat she attended in 2014 at Holy Family.
She was a faithful, church-attending Catholic beforehand, with Catholic roots going back at least through her grandparents, she says, noting that her parents’ faith helped them through the difficulties inherent to an uprooted life.
But this pediatric gastroenterologist had room to grow in faith. The Light of the World retreat, she says, “allowed me to (put) God at the center of my life, my career, and my decisions.”
As a result, her compartmentalized life, where vacation was vacation, work was work and her marriage was her marriage, changed. Now she incorporates faith into all aspects of her life. 
“In the past, my career guided my decisions. Now it’s God who guides my decisions,” Dr. Nguyen says. “In the end, I want to inspire (others) to be more giving ... to sit back in faith and ask, ‘How can I make a difference in other people’s lives?’”
In addition to using her book to benefit SVdP, Dr. Nguyen has signed books to benefit “Blue 815,” which supports the families of fallen police officers. She’s open to other causes as well and can be reached with suggestions and invitations via email (
The Nguyen family story is an interesting story for all ages. The author has been most thrilled to hear from readers in their 20s, 30s and 40s who are “not necessarily Catholic or even Christian,” she says. 
Some have told her that “the faith component (in the book) has inspired them to revisit the faith in their life (and) how God intervenes” even in difficult times.
Her publisher noted to her how the tone of both her book and her life is positive. She would agree and says simply, “That’s what I want to share — always something positive.”


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