Depaul France had the great honor of welcoming Fr Tomaž Mavrič, CM, last Tuesday, March 12. Volunteers representing the different branches of the Vincentian Family and service users joined together for this visit which allowed Fr Tomaž to better understand the realities of life on the streets in Paris and the services provided by Depaul France. The Accueil Périchaux day centre which is based in a house of the Daughters of Charity in the 15th arrondissement recently celebrated its three and a half year anniversary. In this time, 456 different people have been welcomed. They have been able to use the health and hygiene services available as well as enjoy the warm welcome and support which helps them move away from the street.
Fr Tomaž was accompanied by Fr Marcio Pena, Chair of Depaul France. He was greeted at the door by Tomaž, a service user of the charity who has been living on the street since his arrival in France three years ago. Tomaž was one of the four service users who carried the heart of St Vincent de Paul in procession during its pilgrimage last year for the 400th anniversary year of the Vincentian charism.
After a guided tour of the day centre, Fr Tomaž shared a few words. Recognizing the impressive collaboration that has taken place at the day centre, he encouraged us further in our collaboration together, each branch bringing its own distinctive ‘color;’ and he invited us to discern in our service to others, whatever our status as volunteer or service users, our own path and our mission in life.
For Martha who has been a volunteer with Depaul for five months, Fr Tomaž ’ visit was a moment of ‘grace.’ And for Ibrahim, a service user who has just been given leave to remain in France which will enable him to find a job and move away from the street, the visit was something out of the ordinary, ‘it put some joy back in my life!’ Thank you Fr Tomaž !