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The work of ‘Vinnies’ questions and activities

Michele Frankeni  |  06 August 2020

An organisation named after a 17th-century saint continues to have a positive effect on people’s lives today. Read Monsieur Vincent’s home among the poor and Supporting Australian communities in unprecedented times in the Winter 2020 of Australian Catholics and take part in the following questions and activities.


  • What was it about St Vincent de Paul that inspired Frederick Ozanam to establish a society in his name?
  • St Vincent didn’t begin his religious life with the aim of helping the poor. Why did that change? Have there been times when you’ve seen, or experienced, transformative change?
  • Why is an organisation such as St Vincent de Paul well placed to help communities in crisis?
  • What are the challenges facing individuals and communities because of the bushfires at the beginning of the year and now the coronavirus pandemic.


Action: Check out the Vinnies website to see some of the ways that Vinnies is supporting those affected by COVID-19. How might you and your classmates raise money to support families in need with food, power bills and other essentials? One idea might be to do a virtual walkathon, with students getting friends and family to sponsor them for every kilometre walked around their suburb. Consider setting a kilometre goal – e.g. a ‘Walk from Australia to NZ’ – with each kilometre walked contributing towards that goal.

Action: Is there other support you can offer for those who are isolated due to the pandemic? See ‘Students make real-life connections online’ for one possible idea. Another idea might be to offer online peer-to-peer online tutoring for students who are struggling at your school.

Research. What was life like in France in the 17th century? Select an aspect of St Vincent’s life and research it. For example, who are galley slaves? What was their lives like? Or, what was court life like? Or the lives of the poor. Imagine that you are one of these poor people in France, and you encountered St Vincent de Paul. Write a creative piece about your encounter with St Vincent – Where does your encounter take place? What are you doing? What does he say to you? How do his words resonate with you? Does anything change for you after your encounter?


Read or summarise Monsieur Vincent’s home among the poor in the Winter 2020 of Australian Catholics and talk with the students about how St Vincent cared for the poor and those marginalised in his community, then take part in the following activity.

Can you tell how I care?

The objective is to help the children to show charity to others whenever they have an opportunity in their daily lives.

  • Have the children work in partners to think of and pantomime an everyday activity in which they are practising the virtue of charity – it might be comforting someone who is crying; helping a friend with schoolwork; helping with housework or gardening.
  • When all are ready, invite pairs of children to take turns acting out their situation while the rest of the children try to guess what they are doing to show charity toward another.
  • If the group is unable to guess, give or allow the children to give one verbal clue at a time until the group guesses.




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