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  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul Houston

What is the Society of St. Vincents de Paul's Annual Black Bag Collection?

Updated: Jul 3, 2020

Every year since 1970, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston schedules a second collection the second weekend in July known as the Black Bag Collection. The funds collected during this single weekend plays a crucial role in the Society’s ability to fund the programs that feed, clothe, provide dignified living, and help people find their way to self-sufficiency.  The funds support the Food Ministry, Voucher Ministry, Home Visits, and more. Our network includes over 1,800 volunteers situated in one of our 59 Society Conferences (or chapters) spread throughout the ten counties making up the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Purpose of Black Bag Collection

Despite being closely tied to the Archdiocese, we do not receive funding from the Diocesan Service Funds (DSF) like some of our sister organizations. The collection is our largest, single-year fundraiser.

Why do we call it the Black Bag Collection?

In 1833 Frederic Ozanam- age 19 (founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul) along with 6 friends from his University heard God calling them to serve the poor.  They met with Blessed Sr. Rosalie Rendu who taught them how to visit the poor in their homes – this to help them fully experience the pain and suffering these people were experiencing.

After visiting the poor, the group decided they needed money to continue this work.  They decided to pool their resources together; however, so as not to embarrass each other as to how much each could afford to give they decided to take a secret collection using a common black bag.  Using the Black Bag today enables everyone to give what they can afford without being judged by their neighbor.

The Spirituality of the Black Bag

Just as the spirit of charity moves among us all, the passing of the Black Bag in parishes, companies and neighborhoods is passed from hand to hand. As we act, one in the spirit of giving, the lowly cloth bag is transformed into something beautiful and deeply spiritual among friends. Yes, there is a spirituality of the Black Bag. We should all be aware of the joy in giving to the Lord.

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