History Print


St. Peter’s SVDP conference was begun more than fifty years ago when Bishop Flanagan was pastor at St. Peter’s.   During these years, the conference has  served the hungry and the needy of our parish, and has partnered with other conferences to meet emergencies impacting  the wider community.

1952: National Conference accredited the Conference of St. Vincent de Paul at St Peter Prince of the Apostles Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas.  Early active members included: Albert Scharmann, first conference president, Clem and Bud Holshauser,  
Larry Pytel, Jim Butler, Dave Smiley

Early efforts centered on distribution of food. 

The pastor (now Bishop) Thomas Flanagan started the Ozanam School of Theology with the following members in attendance: Dave Berger, Joe Savoy, John Spitzer, Clem and Bud Holshauser.  The Ozanam School of Theology, still led by Bishop Flanagan, continues today as an Archdiocesan annual event designed to orient new SVDP officers toward the spirit of the Society.


1960's and 1970's : Members began meeting weekly in the cafeteria. Father Hubertus led the group in prayer. Members defined the conference's relations with Central Council  and focused  on works of good faith, including  visits to hospitals and rest homes,  delivery of groceries to homes, and  monthly visits by the entire group to the State Mental Hospital . The society dispersed about $700 in goods and services monthly. 
     During this time, the following members, led by Liz Davies and Jules Caelli, began a soup kitchen called
Friendship House, and worked their every Sunday morning until 1982.  Friendship House was located at the southwest tip of San Pedro Park on the corner of Flores and Grayson.. Each Sunday morning for nearly twenty years, the following individuals served breakfast and distributed bus tokens to homeless persons who came to Friendship House until its assimilation into the San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries in 1982:  
Reno Bradicich, Ted Comeau, Jules Capelli, Dom Chiminello, Liz Davies , Bill Martin, Joe Savoy, John Spitzer , and Arthur Uhl

Besides the Friendship House ministry, the following members continued distributing food and bus tokens, and visiting the sick and homebound:  Val Beyer, Leo Dominicali, Fidel Flores, Bob Fotch, Dick Meskill, Randy Perkins, Tony Steinkruger


In 1982, Tom Haack from Central Council was in charge of the SVDP dining room at the newly formed San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries' SAMM Shelter. They obtained the stoves, and other equipment from Friendship House,  and the St. Peter’s members then started helping on a regular basis at the new SAMM Shelter's dining room.

The San Antonio Food Bank was in its infancy and St. Peter's Vincentians put in long hours there.  They  were able to transfer food to the SAMM Dining Room which was in need of provision, and also to the emergency food pantry at St. Peter's. Our conference members continued helping at the Food Bank until inmates of the Bexar County Jail took over. Work crews included Dug and Emmy Douville, Bill Beck, Keith Dubouis and Arthur Uhl.

During this decade, our present offices were constructed

The National Convention of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was held in San Antonio  in 1995.  Deacon John Spitzer   chaired Enrollment and Housing.  Arthur Uhl worked with Father Tom Flanagan to work on the event's liturgy, which included a Mass of exceptional beauty. Support was given by conference membership including George Parker, president, Maudie Flanagan, and Jane Vivian.

2000’s:    In  2002, A group of St. Peter's Vincentians worked with Catholic Charities to help settle and acclimate a refugee family from Afghanistan.  In 2003, Arthur Uhl and John Spitzer gathered data for this history of St. Peter’s conference which is the oldest conference in the San Antonio area.    In 2004, Fran Shinski initiated a home visitation program.  Membership during this time included  Bill Astelford, Bill Beck, Val Beyer, Jean Craig, Danny and Deborah Deffenbaugh, Josefina Dong, Keith Dubois, Maudie Flanigan,  Joyce Hobbins, Peter Mako, Mike and Patience McGuire, Ethel Monroe, Kreg Palko, Cathy Peltier, Arthur Pena, Irene Prescott, ,Fran Shinski, John Soliz, Tony Seinkruger, John Spitzer, Connie Trevarrow, Arthur Uhl, Marcel Ulmer, Bill Vick, Jane Vivian, Karen White, Dorothy Watts

Today: At present, increasing  numbers of families and individuals come to our offices for help with food and for aid in emergency situations.  Although financial aid in general is restricted to parishioners, we occasionally combine resources with conferences in other parishes to meet serious needs.  No one who comes to the window for food is denied.

We have five core teams.  Teams 1, 2, and 3 are  the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday teams who serve in the SVDP office which is open from 10:00 to 12:00.  Members of these teams interview and keep records on clients, distribute food packages, call agencies and other conferences as needed, and keep the office and surrounding area in order.

 Team 4 is the UIW division, which has a student president and is directed by one of our conference members.

 Team 5 is the  new the SVDP Awareness Outreach.  This team  will continue to invite parishioners to participate in the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.  

 If we had twice the number of members that we do,  these teams could be larger and rotate their duties.  If we had three times our present membership, we could engage in additional works., including  follow-up calls and visits to clients who have received aid.

We are grateful for  parish entities with whom we network regularly –St. Peter’s School which provides invaluable support in stocking the food pantry, the Boy Scouts, the office staff.  We look forward to continuing these important connections, and to extending  our outreach efforts.