By Anita Boniface
On Tuesday 11th June Westminster Cathedral was filled with the vibrant spirit of 800 ‘Mini Vinnie’ children when the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) held a celebratory mass to give thanks and celebrate the Mini Vinnies’ talents and voluntary work.
Mini Vinnies programme is the youngest of the Young Vincentian Programmes which are run in schools and in parishes around the country. Children, aged 7 to 11, are encouraged to ‘see, think, do’ something about any issue around them in their school, church or community. The apostolates allow young people a practical way of expressing their faith, and their concern for their communities.
Mini Vinnies travelled from all corners of the country to meet one another, pray together, and worship in the spirit of the Patron Saint of the SVP, St Vincent de Paul. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Paul McAleenan and the Spiritual Advisor for the SVP Youth Committee, Fr Ged Walsh. The children were involved in the readings, bidding prayers, offertory, altar serving and banner procession. The Mass brought together chaplains, adult volunteer coordinators and members of the SVP staff team. Chelle Roca, a sign language interpreter from Westminster Caritas Deaf Service was present.
Programme Manager Moira Dawe said, ‘We are delighted that this Mass to mark and give thanks for our Mini Vinnies took place. It offered a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the faith and contribution of our children to their communities, and also to give thanks to the adult volunteers who are so vital to that work too. As St Oscar Romero said, it is about planting and watering seeds, knowing, “That they hold future promise.”’
Bishop Paul said, ‘It was an honour for us at Westminster Cathedral to host the young Mini Vinnies who are following in the footsteps of St Vincent de Paul.
‘It was an opportunity to thank them and to acknowledge all they are doing in their own communities. I hope that this gathering and celebration inspired and encouraged the Mini Vinnies to continue to love God and to serve all God’s people, especially those who are most in need.’
Fr Ged said, ‘In the light of Easter and the dawning of Pentecost, it was an absolute joy to celebrate the faith in action of our Mini Vinnies. May the Holy Spirit continue to work through them to bring the light of the Risen Christ to those in most need through good works.’
If you are interested in setting up a Young Vincentian programme in your school, parish or college, please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about the SVP at www.svp.org.uk or telephone 02077033030.