1. The Society of St. Vincent of Paul is very widespread; its object is to seek out the destitute and afford them spiritual and temporal relief.
The work of the active members of this society is to visit the poor in their own dwellings, to assist them with money and the necessaries of life, and to make use of every means to ameliorate their moral and spiritual condition. They also collect voluntary donations and subscriptions from those who are interested in the work. Conferences of the members are held every week, as a rule, for consultation respecting the most necessitous cases and the most necessary works of mercy. For visiting the poor, for every alms distributed to them, as well as for everything that is done in their service, a large indulgence is granted. This society was started in Paris in 1830 by eight students, after imploring the help and guidance of St. Vincent of Paul, whose remains rest in the Church of St. Lazare. It has spread with astonishing rapidity throughout all the countries of Europe, and it is impossible to estimate the amount of good effected by its means.
2. Mention may also be made of the Society of St. Boniface, the object of which is to preserve German Catholics living in Protestant surroundings from losing their faith, by providing them with priests of their own nation, and establishing schools for the education of their children.
3. The Society of St. Raphael, instituted for the purpose of affording counsel and protection to German subjects emigrating to America.
It is not intended to encourage and promote emigration; on the contrary, many persons are deterred from it, and the intending emigrant is warned of the dangers awaiting him in a strange land. He is exhorted to go to his religious duties before starting on the voyage, and on his arrival in the United States he is provided with suitable shelter, and often employment is found for him.
4. The Catholic Society for Friendless Youths.
This proposes as its object to lead young workingmen to follow a religious and upright life, to encourage a spirit of industry and brotherly kindness among them. A priest presides over this society; the youths are assembled of an evening for innocent entertainment, reading, and religious instruction. They are assisted in sickness or poverty, and every endeavor is made to render them useful members of society.
5. The Workingman’s Guild.
This association, as well as the one spoken of above, was originated in Germany by Adolf Kolping, the so-called “apostle of the working-classes,” who began life as a shoemaker’s apprentice, and through diligent study and pious perseverance, fitted himself for the office of the priesthood. A great number of friendly societies and charitable works for the improvement of the laboring classes, and for the promotion of kindly feeling between employers and employed, owe their establishment to him.
Various societies suited to the needs of the people.
It would be difficult to enumerate the various associations, suited to the exigencies of the day in different countries, and corresponding to the special needs of the different classes of men and women, which the charity of Catholics has instituted. The Catholic Truth Society has for its object to supply instructive and useful literature at a low price; its work is rapidly extending, and is productive of most satis factory results. “In the present day,” as one of our bishops remarks, “the need is strongly felt for combination and centralization in all great undertakings in the field of politics, commerce and finance. Let us then, who are Catholics, unite to form a healthy body, powerful to promote and maintain the spirit of Christianity in our families. The striving after union, now so, strongly marked in every department of social life, surely ought to play a no less prominent part in our religious life.”
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