St Vincent’s takes to heart the admonition of Pope Paul VI: …it belongs to the laity, without waiting passively for orders or directives, to take the initiatives freely and to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws and structures of the community in which they live. Let each one examine himself, to see what he has done up to now, and what he ought to do. It is not enough to recall principles, state intentions, point to crying injustice and utter prophetic denunciations; these words will lack real weight unless they are accompanied for each individual by a livelier awareness of personal responsibility and by effective action. (Octogesima Adveniens, Apostolic Letter of Pope Paul VI, 1971)
Our Social Action Committee is the umbrella committee for the varied justice and service commitments our community undertakes. Its primary subcommittee, Peace and Justice, has been active since 1983. Members witness and advocate for social justice issues and peaceful resolution of domestic and international tensions, promote interfaith dialogue, educate and advocate for environmental stewardship and human rights issues, and have historically supported sister parishes in Nicaragua and Lithuania.
St. Vincent’s is a part of Jonestown, Baltimore’s oldest neighborhoods. Many of our neighbors are poor. Most parishioners do not live here. We come from all over the City and surrounding counties, but choose this church and accept a responsibility for its neighborhood. Over the years, the Council has represented the voice of the neighborhood in projects ranging from the completion of the Jones Falls expressway to the creation of the subway and establishment of Shot Tower Park. Our proudest achievement was the demolition of nearby high-rise public housing projects and replacement with a mixed-income development of Baltimore rowhouses where rich, middle-class and poor live side-by-side.
While St. Vincent’s no longer has a school on parish property, we support St. Frances Academy an independent Catholic high school with African American and Hispanic roots, and City Springs Elementary Middle School, an inner city school on the edge of our parish boundaries in Jonestown. Our parishioners donate their prayers, time, effort, and money for the success and thriving of these students.
We provide Emergency Neighborhood Services in the form of a Monday Food Pantry and 2nd & 4th Tuesday Men’s Clothing Program. In collaboration with Our Lady of the Fields Catholic parish in Millersville, we open our facility every Friday evening to serve a hot meal to those who are hungry in the neighborhood.
Our justice commitment extends to the entire Baltimore metropolitan region. We support inclusionary housing, workforce development, equitable education, and accessible public transportation. Our former Pastor, Fr. Richard Lawrence, was a founding organizer of the Archdiocesan program, Beyond the Boundaries, to address these issues. St. Vincent’s is also a member of the Baltimore Regional Initiative to Develop Genuine Equality (BRIDGE), the church coalition through which we advocate.
We have a passionate Racial Equity Group that has a separate web page under “Justice and Service” with recordings of our monthly meetings sharing our journey to learn and work against racial injustice.
St. Vincent’s maintains a commitment that is balanced between advocacy and direct service, an involvement of both head and heart to keep in mind the faces and needs of the people we are called, as sisters and brothers, to serve.