At St. Benedict, the St. Vincent de Paul Society visits the homes of those who need special help with their everyday needs

1908 was a year of great hardship in Milwaukee. Unemployment was high and so too were the numbers of poor people who lacked the basic needs of life. Responding to the hardship of the time, St. Francis Parish and the Capuchins tried to answer the needs of the poor. Every day, hundreds of people came to the monastery door, asking for food, clothing and other necessities. Br. Didacus was famous for his ministry as porter at the monastery door. From January 11th until February 18th, the monastery and parish provided meals for over 10,000 people. Fr. Ignatius, the Capuchin pastor at the time, decided to introduce the St. Vincent de Paul Society to the parish and make services to the poor more organized.

Archbishop Messmer was delighted that the parish and the Capuchins were doing this. He said, “The St. Vincent de Paul Society should have been introduced in the city long ago.” On January 28th, the first conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society was established at St. Francis. Initially open only to men, the women of the parish organized their own auxiliary the next month which provided the sewing of clothes for the needy and the mending of donated clothing items.