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Society of St Vincent de Paul
St James Cathedral-Bl Rosalie Rendu Conference

We must lay a bold hand on the core of poverty.”
Blessed Frédéric Ozanam (1813-1853)
principal founder of the Society of St Vincent de Paul

Never have I prayed so well as in the streets.”
Blessed Rosalie Rendu (1786-1856)
mentor to the founders of the Society of St Vincent de Paul

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVdP) is a world-wide, independent, Catholic charitable organization.  SVdP has maintained an active ministry in Seattle since 1920 and at St James Cathedral since 1921. 
Guided by the principles of its founders and the teachings of its patron, St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), SVdP volunteers (called Vincentians) seek personal spiritual growth through service to the poor.  We promote the dignity of every person and strive to help alleviate poverty, including its causes and consequences.    
Our SVdP volunteer group at St James Cathedral is officially called the St James Cathedral-Bl Rosalie Rendu Conference of SVdP.  We are sometimes referred to as Cathedral Vincentians.  We engage in two primary activities year-round:  visits and conference meetings.
Visits:  Through our visits, we provide emergency financial assistance to residents of St James parish.  Although we cannot help everyone, we are usually able to provide at least some help to most residents of our parish who contact the Seattle/King County SVdP Helpline to ask for help. When we can help, two Cathedral Vincentians visit individuals or families requesting help. In normal times, we do visits in person in the homes of those we seek to help, but during the COVID-19 pandemic we visit by phone. Our purpose in visiting is to better understand the situation and give what help we can, including financial aid and spiritual support. 
Conference meetings:  Our conference meets twice a month on the 2nd & 4th Tuesdays of the month, from 6:30 to 8:00pm. In normal times, we meet in person at St. James, but during the COVID-19 pandemic we meet virtually. We pray together, share a spiritual reflection, consider current situations involving people we are trying to help and discuss related business.  
Spirituality:  For more information on the spiritual aspect of being a Cathedral Vincentian, please see  “Walking in the Footsteps of St Vincent:  How our Cathedral Vincentians grow spiritually through service to the Poor,” published on pages 8 & 9 of the December 2017 issue of In Your Midst.
Statistics:  In 2020, our SVdP conference at St James Cathedral helped 875 people through nearly 500 visits. Over 99% of our total expense goes to direct aid to people in need, primarily to help people pay rent so they can avoid eviction. We also try to give referrals to additional possible sources of help, including more help for rent, plus help for food, clothes, furniture, utilities and other necessities.
To request SVdP help in Seattle/King County:  Call the Seattle/King County SVdP Helpline at 206-767-6449 – 8am to 3pm Monday to Friday. Submit a request for help online at www.svdpseattle.org (on the homepage, click on "Get Help" near the top of the screen). 
To volunteer with or obtain more info on our conference at St James:  We seek volunteers (age 18 and older) who are passionate about serving people on the margins, who can attend our twice-monthly meetings (about 90 minutes each) and who can do visits with us 1-3 times per month (allowing about 3 hours each time).  To volunteer or request more information about SVdP generally or about our conference at St James, please contact any of the conference officers listed below. 
To donate money to SVdP at St James Cathedral:  The best way to make financial donations to us is to donate to SVdP online via the St James website: Go to the “Contribute” page and select “make a gift online.”  Then, next to “Please use this gift for,” select “Other” and, in the empty box below, type in “SVdP” or “St Vincent.”  If you prefer to write a check, please make your check payable to and deliver it to St James Cathedral – be sure to write “SVdP” or “St Vincent” on the memo/for line.  Bequests, memorial funds and matching gifts from employers are all welcome.
To donate clothing, household items, books, toys, etc:  Donated items are sold in SVdP’s 5 local thrift stores, located in North Seattle, Burien, Kenmore, Kent and Renton.  The #1 need is gently used clothing, most of which is sold in those stores but some of which is given out at the local SVdP food & clothing bank on Fourth Avenue South in the Georgetown neighborhood.  For more information on the SVdP stores and the food & clothing bank, please see http://svdpseattle.org/  Also, at least once a year, our conference sponsors an SVdP “Stuff the Truck” event at St James Cathedral to collect donated goods.  Please watch the St James Sunday bulletin and website for dates, times and details.   
For more information or to volunteer, please contact any of these conference officers:

  • Pauline Smetka (president), 206-697-2411

  • Susan Picht (vice president), 206-724-8768

  • Blake Steller (secretary), 907-244-6683

  • Jo Ann Wiesner (treasurer), 206-291-4012

To help you spot some of our Cathedral Vincentians when you are at St James, here is a photo of a few of our members: (left to right) Tammy Bendix, Spiritual Director; Susan Picht, VP; Blake Steller, Secretary; Pauline Smetka, President; Jo Ann Wiesner, Treasurer.



Return to St. James Cathedral Parish Website

804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303