The St. Rita Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society is comprised of a small group of volunteers from the parish who are dedicated to helping those in need in the parish and the community. The volunteers provide aid in the form of food, clothing, help with rent and utilities as well as help with other basic needs. The financial support for the efforts of these volunteers comes primarily from the generosity of parishioners and also from fundraisers and small grants. The conference helped well over 300 people in 2011, primarily families, who needed a boost to get back on their feet. Most of them came to the conference by referral through the St. Vincent de Paul office in San Rafael or self-referral to our telephone in the parish.
St. Rita's is the headquarters for the Marin County Guatemala Mission Program. The Program started in 2001 with a visit by two of our parish members to Guatemala. The program is made up of a group of parishes and church communities around Marin county and elsewhere who have joined together to assist the poor Mayan children of Guatemala. This group is joined by a sister group from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. St. Rita's participation over that period has resulted in the construction of two churches; the rebuilding of a convent; the rebuilding of a rectory; the construction of a carpenter school; the construction of a primary and secondary school; the construction of a pre-school; assisting in the construction of a major hospital; and the construction of a multi-purpose building at our school site.
During these years our parish has shipped over 13 containers to our mission sites containing school supplies, children's chewable vitamins, shoes, clothing, various household items, and carpenter school supplies. All of these items have greatly helped the poor of our mission area.
Each year during Lent the various members of our community have collected children's chewable vitamins which are distributed by doctors of our sister group in Dallas/Fort Worth. They also sent medical groups to our mission areas 5 to 6 times per year, providing medical assistance to thousands of people in our area.
Each year during Advent we have a shoe collection which brings in hundreds of new and slightly used shoes which go to the very poor who have no shoes or anything else. Our contributions have greatly advanced the health and economic conditions in our mission area.
To measure the success of our program, a school test was given to our students as well as students from hundreds of other schools. Our students came in first in every subject tested.
Click below to see some pictures of the Guatemala Project.