As Christians, we are all called to serve the poor in our own communities. For many throughout the Diocese of Tyler, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is one way volunteers help those in need.

Originally founded in the 1830s in Paris, France, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is now a ministry found all over the world. The society is named after its patron, St. Vincent de Paul, who is known as the “Father of the Poor.”

Vincentian volunteers work in local, parish-based groups called conferences. In the Diocese of Tyler, there are 10 conferences with about 350 Vincentian volunteers. St. Patrick Parish in Lufkin recently started the newest conference in East Texas.

“Our mission is to grow members in holiness,” Linda Kindel, the council president for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of East Texas, said. Kindel has been involved with the St. Vincent de Paul Society for more than 20 years in Dallas and in the Diocese of Tyler. She is also the founder of the St. Vincent de Paul conference at her home parish of St. Edward’s in Athens.

“We truly are a path to holiness,” Kindel continued. “Being a Vincentian changes who you are. It changes the way you think and the way you see the world. Prayer becomes very important in everything you do because you truly do see the face of Christ in those you serve.”

“There’s really nothing that we can’t help,” Kindel pointed out. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul helps those in need by providing food and clothing. They also help with rent and sometimes mortgage payments, utility bills, gas, and medical and dental bills. 

One thing that makes the work of the Vincentian volunteers stand out is the importance of home visits to those in need. “We’re big on home visits,” Kindel said. “People call us on day one and we usually visit them on day one.”

“We teach that we need to always remember that the people we serve are broken, abandoned, homeless; sometimes, if we didn’t help, they would be heading towards homelessness,” Kindel explained. Kindel even helped one gentleman get his GED certificate so he could continue his education. 

In the past year, the St. Vincent de Paul Society helped almost 15,000 people in need in various capacities and visited 3,200 homes right here in East Texas. They were also able to bring a pharmacy program to East Texas to help individuals without health insurance to get medications. 

Each conference serves their parish in different ways. The conferences in Tyler, Palestine, and Texarkana, for example, have thrift stores that help raise funds to support the poor in their communities. “That money we make at the thrift store is turned around for people in need,” Kindel said. Several conferences in the diocese have food pantries or food distribution services.

Kindel said most of the people they serve are not Catholic, giving them a chance to evangelize. “We help in various ways. Not only financially, but we start with a prayer,” she said. “We pray with them and usually they are very grateful once we say the prayers. And sometimes they want to pray after we have, and they want to pray for us.”

For more information about the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in East Texas or to get involved as a volunteer, visit, or contact a St. Vincent de Paul conference at a parish near you.

Parishes with St. Vincent de Paul Society 

conferences in the Diocese of Tyler:

• Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Tyler

• Immaculate Conception Parish, Jefferson

• Our Lady of Victory Parish, Paris

• Sacred Heart Parish, Palestine

• Sacred Heart Parish, Texarkana

• Holy Family Parish, Lindale

• St. Mary’s Parish, Longview

• St. Matthew Parish, Longview

• St. Edward’s Parish, Athens

• St. Patrick Parish, Lufkin