byChristopher S. Pineo
BOSTON -- Since 2008, local conferences and councils of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul have sponsored a Friends of the Poor Walk to raise awareness and support their local efforts. For the first time this year, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Mission Church Conference at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is joining their ranks.
The Mission Church Conference is calling their Sept. 28 event "Walk a mile in my shoes."
"Part of the goal of the walk is to bring an awareness around the issue of poverty in our communities, and to let people know that there is a society there. There are people here willing to help, and that is a big part of it also," said Rose A. Brayboy, president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Mission Church Conference.
The 2.5 mile walk begins at 8:00 a.m. leaving from the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Tremont Street and ending at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End.
Each walk is organized and run by a local SVdP conference or council that directs funds raised to local assistance, so all proceeds raised will directly benefit people in Boston neighborhoods.
Proceeds go to assist people living in poverty, through housing assistance, disaster relief, job training and placement, food pantries and dining halls, clothing, transportation and utility costs, care for the elderly and medicine.
Redemptorist Father Philip Dabney, a parochial vicar at the church who is helping organize the event, said the call to help the poor in such a public outreach falls in line with recent statements by Pope Francis -- including those made at World Youth Day in Brazil last month.
"His message since he has been pope has been predominantly that we have to be a Church that walks outside its doors and reaches out, especially to the poor," Father Dabney said.
In 2012 the walks were held at more than 220 locations around the country, attracted more than 19,000 participants and raised more than $1.8 million.
"I would say it is very much in the Gospel, and it is very much rooted in the Gospel," he said.
Walkers are encouraged to make a personal monetary donation and collect pledges from supporters.
Father Dabney said the call to help the poor in this public expression of Catholic community shows commitment to the corporal works of mercy.
"We are never meant to do anything by ourselves. A voice is heard because it is done as a community, not by a single individual," Father Dabney said.
For information on the Friends of the Poor Walk program and a list of local walk event locations, visit www.svdpusa.net/fop/.