For as long as I can remember, my dad has been an active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVdP) at the parish where I grew up. For decades he has participated in, and at times directed, that organization’s efforts, on the local level, to provide food and financial help to people living in poverty.
So it was a thrill for me to be able to interview Sheila Gilbert, SVdP’s current president in the United States. She also happens to be its first ever female president. (When I was a kid, only men could join St. Vincent de Paul. That changed over 25 years ago.) My interview happened in preparation for a profile of her that I prepared for U.S. Catholic.
One of the most notable things about Sheila’s work is that she is intent on expanding SVdP’s scope beyond its traditional charitable relief efforts into additional efforts to address the systemic causes of poverty. In others words, she wants to do more than help people survive poverty (important and essential as that is); she would like to see SVdeP help people work their way out of poverty. And she’s giving up what she expected to be her quiet retirement years to do it.
My profile of Sheila Gilbert, called “A Dangerous Woman,” appears in the April issue of U.S. Catholic. It’s not available online (though some other articles from the issue are, here), but the magazine has kindly provided a .pdf of the article as it appeared in the issue and given me permission to attach it here. Click here to open it: Sheila Gilbert profile, U.S. Catholic