Parish of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh, a Charity registered in Scotland—number SC008540
The Sacred Heart conference was "aggregated" to the "National" SVP on 16th June 1946. The conference was probably in existence before then, but we have no records before October 1955, that would tell us when the first meeting took place.
Our research shows that brothers Joe Scanlan, Tom McMahon, Willie Gillespie, Ned McLaughlin and McDermott Snr. were members at aggregation, while brothers McDermott, Alford, Allison, Hibbs, McGovern, McGrory, O'Doherty, Byrne, Sproul, Joe Scanlan Jnr. and Richardson were members at some time before and after 1955. Brothers Allison and O'Doherty, who were members in October 1955, may have been aggregation members too.
There were seven brothers in the conference in February 1956, being, Scanlan, McMahon, Gillespie, Ned McLaughlin, Alford, Allison, and O'Doherty. Brother McDermott died in 1955 and brother Alford joined in 1955.
The conference gave financial help in kind, clothes, food, coal, transport, etc. besides the normal work of visitation. The brothers also collected the boxes for Drygrange, the Archdiocesan Seminary, at that time.
When the town was split into two parishes, in the sixties, the Sacred Heart conference continued uninterrupted, with brothers, McMahon, Gillespie, Ned McLaughlin, and O'Doherty, at least, remaining of the previous membership. There are no records from 1963 to 1980, but we know that Brother Jack Scott, who is now a member of St Francis Xavier Conference, was the only addition to the conference until Hugh Rodgers joined the conference in the early seventies. Since then brothers P Costello, D Donnelly, D Sinclair, A Shirley, J Sweeney, M Henery, H Donnelly, D O'Donnell, J Sloan, and T Gouldson have been members then left or died. Pat Costello joined from St Michael’s conference, Linlithgow, where he had been a member for many years; he was probably a member of the SVP for about fifty years. J Sweeney left our conference and joined St Bernadette’s conference when he moved to Airth.
History was made on 16th February 1986 when B Dignon and M Sweeney became the first ladies to become members of the Sacred Heart Conference. Since then sisters M Tierney, J Docherty, B Dollard, J Elliot, C Murdoch and H Manley have become members. Today's, (12 03 06), conference membership consists of two sisters, M Tierney, and H Manley, and two brothers T Noonan and H Rodgers.
The Society’s main work is to help wherever there is a need. The SVP does not discriminate in whom it helps and does not do so to proselytise or influence the needy. We are privileged to help the needy. No work is foreign to the Society.
In the Sacred Heart parish the major work is visitation of the house bound or ill, at home, in nursing homes or in hospital. Help is given, as food, clothing, furniture, transport, etc, as and when required. It is unusual that money is asked for, except by the occasional "traveller". The members usually manage at least one visit a week.
Three times a year we provide a week's holiday at a SVP caravan at Port Seton or Pettycur Bay. We transport the family to and from the caravan.
For the first time in 2001 we organised the Sacred Heart parishioners for the combined Bus Trip to Largs with CTK SVP conference.
We have distributed parcels supplied by the pupils of St. Mungo's High School for many years and since Christmas, 2000, the presents from the parish "Toy Sunday".
At Christmas the conference disburses all its money, mainly to the needy and elderly of the parish. Some money is given to suitable charities such as Strathcarron Hospice and the Carmelites Nuns in Falkirk. A smaller disbursement takes place at Easter.
Other conferences may visit prisons, run second hand clothes shops, run handicap children clubs, help the homeless with soup kitchens, clothes, furniture, household goods, transport people to church, church functions, from ships, (we have done this regularly in the past and occasionally now), help political asylum people, etc etc etc.
Like the vast majority of conferences in Scotland, we only have a twin conference in India, St Sebastian, in Kerala. Others have twin conferences in South Africa and a few have conferences in both countries. We send St Sebastian's £120 per annum through our National Council. We write and receive a couple of letters a year plus a Christmas card and Easter card. Our conference was one of the few that hosted the three SVP visitors from India when they visited our Archdiocesan Groups in October 2001.
We sponsor a Technical Student and a Vocational Student, at £35 for three years and £20 for one year respectively.
Our funds come from the parishioners who put money in the boxes we hold after Mass on Sunday. On a rare occasion someone leaves money to the SVP in his or her will; this has only happened once to our conference. Members put money in a Secret Collection during our weekly meeting. These are the only sources of funding we have. We always get enough to meet the needs of the parish and we believe we will get more if we need more. Our conference is unique in that we collect our small change at our meeting and use the money to have a Mass said for parishioners who die and to support the student priests fund.
Conference members attend the quarterly meetings of the Stirlingshire Group of the SVP. The Group meeting is held in the different parishes. One of our members is the Archdiocesan Council Twinnage Representative; he is also the National Project Officer.
The above is about the Sacred Heart conference and does not begin to tell all there is to know about the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.