WelCom June/July 2022
Pā Phil Cody sm
For several years Gerry Stevens, parishioner of Pukekaraka and Kapi Mana Area President for St Vincent de Paul, dreamed of developing a Vincentian Centre to ‘care for people, enhance their dignity, and help them in themselves by giving them a step up’.
The dream was realised at the opening of a new Vincentian Centre at Prouse St Levin, on Sunday May 15.
The centre accords with SVdP’s core values – generosity, integrity, compassion, empathy, responsiveness, advocacy, respect, innovations and courage – which will be expressed in the new building. People can come in, feel at home, have a ‘cuppa’, share with one another, and be supported by services.
Margaret Hannan, a long-time Vincentian, hopes to set up space for craft work, an exercise group and a speaking group.
People can get clothes and furniture but, most importantly, the role of this centre is to enhance people’s dignity.
At the opening, Levin Mayor Bernie Wanden said, ‘This is a wonderful venture for our community. We have probably the lowest rating for household income in New Zealand. Providing a real presence and help for our social needs is so needed.’
National SVdP President Terry Jordan said, ‘We are standing on the shoulders of our past Vincentians who showed care for one another. We can achieve this here in Levin too.’
Pā Alan Roberts, local Pukekaraka Chaplain and National Chaplain for St Vincent de Paul, invited the 40 people present through the building and as he blessed it, and to place their own blessings onto the walls and rooms.
‘Bless this building and all the guests and work that will be done here. May we learn from the example of the carpenter’s son to transform the work of our hands into a blessing building up God’s creation and enhancing the dignity of each person’.
Everyone joined in prayer for unity, ‘that all who come will feel blessed, that this place will be an oasis in life for many’.
Karen Holland of Catholic Social Services said CSS will support the centre with expertise, such as counsellors, and strengthen hospitality and training when needed.
The complex has a Vinnies Shop to support its wider work. There is a space for sharing and enjoying hospitality as well as meeting facilities and an office.
It will be place for community activities, advocacy, working with other local community agencies and a drop-in centre.
Bernard Hanaray, Vincentian Conference President, noted the Levin SVdP Conference was established 20 years ago with small numbers and few resources.
‘They have provided the base for today’s wider community to give practical and effective personal support to those in need.
‘In our current times we see many devolving into deeper hardship and need, brought about by prohibitive costs of living – food, warmth, housing, travel – with few if not non-existent solutions evident. It is hoped our centre will go some way to meet these needs.’
The centre – which has a three-year lease at the new site – has the wider support of St Vincent de Paul groups from Tawa to Levin.