By Matthew Mallio, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – The St. Vincent de Paul Society, an international Catholic charity group staffed by volunteers, has set up another office – or “conference” – in Marlborough. This one will operate out of St. Matthias Church.
The charity has had a presence in Marlborough since last year, according to Dale Dolesh, president of the St. Matthias Conference, when Immaculate Conception Church reactivated their once-dormant conference. Now, he explained, they have help available to the whole community.
“Between Immaculate Conception (Church) and ourselves, we will have all of Marlborough covered for St. Vincent de Paul,” he said.
Dolesh, a Michigan transplant who used to live outside of Detroit, said that he got involved out of a sense of his own good fortune.
“Both my wife and I have just felt like we’re very blessed and lucky,” Dolesh said. Now that he’s retired, he said he had the time to give back to a good cause or organization and St. Vincent de Paul is “very worthwhile.”
“We just want to help make things happen for people that need it,” he said.
According to Dolesh and the St. Vincent de Paul website, society members are called “Vincentians” and are all volunteers who undergo training.
“The mission statement is actually to increase our spirituality…to really get closer to God by helping the needy, by showing them the face of God,” Dolesh said.
Dolesh wrote in a parish bulletin item that someone who contacts the St. Vincent de Paul Society for help is referred to as a “friend.” And when that friend calls the conference for help, two volunteers will visit them to learn how to help them. Usually, he said, and hopefully, the needs are largely temporary.
“…We want them to feel that they are true (children) of God,” Dolesh said. “And we want to show them they have value, they have worth and they’ll get through it. And that if we can help them at all we will.”
Some of the needs may be straightforward such as aid with rent or bills. Sometimes it can be more difficult, needing help accessing their social security or pension. In that case, the Vincentian will work with the person to get the matter straightened out.
If they cannot help, Dolesh said, they can find someone who can. He said they have plenty of resource guides to find out where they can go for help.
Dolesh said he got involved in the idea about a year or a year-and-a-half ago. He said he is also part of the Knights of Columbus and the idea for a new conference came up at a meeting with Father Fran O’Brien of St. Matthias and Father Marc Bishop of the Immaculate Conception.
“We were asking, ‘what do you really need? What’s really lacking here in the two churches?’” Dolesh said. “And really both of them said St. Vincent de Paul.”
One important matter Dolesh wanted people to understand about the society is that St. Vincent de Paul Conferences are based out of churches and with the pastor’s blessing, and they work in connection with parish staff. But, he said, they are independent of the church and have their own phone and checking account.
“Everything we do is independent,” he explained.
Another thing he wanted people to know is that “with St. Vincent de Paul, the expenses are very low.” Because all society members are volunteers, expenses do not go to salaries or any real overhead. The money goes straight to where it’s needed.
Dolesh said that the response from the parish has been positive. He said St. Matthias was “relatively small” but still 23 people expressed interest in helping out with the new conference.
Now that the conference is set up, Dolesh said that he and his fellow Vincentians are working with their counterparts at Immaculate Conception as well as members of Our Lady of Fatima in Sudbury, because of their proximity to the town.
Another step is fundraising. Now, the church is hosting some “Simple Suppers” with all the proceeds going to St. Vincent de Paul. Also, on Friday, April 28, a St. Matthias parish member and pianist will be performing selections by Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Scriabin, Schubert and Debussy to raise funds.
For anyone interested in becoming a society member or in need of aid, Dolesh said he can be contacted through St. Matthias Parish website, stmattpar.org, where there is a tab for the St. Vincent de Paul society under “Outreach.”
“We’re in it to help the community,” Dolesh said.