Gil Lescher was one of City Conferences longest serving members. A Vincentian since the 1950’s, we remember Gil and her contribution to her community through her words of reflection before passing in late 2018.
“I originally joined the St Vincent de Paul in the 1950’s, when I was a student. I wanted to get more involved in my parish, in a practical way, and this seemed the best group for me at the time.
Over many years our conference has been very fortunate to have a member of the clergy as spiritual director at our meetings. We met in our parish hall at St Mary of the Angels.
Our membership has always been very varied – men and women of many different backgrounds, ages, abilities and interests. Most of us with work and family commitments, but all of us wanting to do something for St Vincent de Paul. We chose times that fitted in with our own particular circumstances – some mostly acted on their own, others sometimes together.
Our work also varied and was mostly low-key. For example, home visits, hospital and rest home visits, offering support at funerals, maybe responding to a particular request for a visit or for some personal help. Sometimes it was just one visit, often more if wanted.
I was lucky to have a car, and was able to give lifts to other members so we could work together at times. I remember about three of us, plus my old vacuum cleaner, arriving with great enthusiasm to spring-clean someone’s flat. The results are probably best forgotten and forgiven, but we meant well! We also gave lifts to those with various needs – such as to visit relatives in hospital, go on an outing, get to medical appointments or even so they could avoid difficult circumstances for a while. Sometimes we delivered food to people, and Christmas presents to families.
I remember times when our conference took a special interest in refugees from some difficult countries, sponsoring, finding accommodation, work (if possible), helping financially and supporting in many different ways.
I think the challenges the Society faced then and those it faces now are all much the same, and a key word in facing them is flexibility. It is good that we remain sensitive to the needs of those we help as well as the differing circumstances of our members. It is important that we enjoy our work and that those in need enjoy our help.
Of course we must always remember the spiritual side of our work – the two go together.
When I think back now on it all, the many wonderful people I have met (including our St Vincent de Paul members), I have no regrets at all. Sometimes it wasn’t easy but it has been all so worthwhile.”