An Interview with Vincentian and Donor Justin Luzar
As an annual donor to the Society of SVdP, Justin Luzar is, in a lot of ways, your typical Vincentian. Justin, who lives with his wife and two children in Scott Township, is a member of St. Raphael the Archangel parish. He learned about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul when the church’s organizations had a ‘get to know us’ session after Mass one Sunday. But he liked the idea of the work done by the SVdP people because they were “directly involved” with those they served. As he put it, they were “down in the trenches” dealing with the needs of people.
Prior to that day, however, Justin was inspired by the biblical verse “those to whom much has been given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). That made him think about all the blessings that he has, some of which he feels he earned, but many, he realized, were the result of circumstances into which he was born which were inherently much better than many others.
After that Sunday about 15 years ago, he ventured into the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and began contributing to our work. Since then, two particular cases have left a lasting impression on him.
One, had to do with a poor single woman who said she needed some furniture. When he went to do the home visit with her, he found that she lived within a world that he could never imagine or relate to. A world surrounded by extreme hardship and violence that saw her son killed in a shooting and others in her family suffering the same or similar horrors. It opened his eyes to just how terrible and hopeless the world of poverty is, even beyond the obvious lack of money.
The other case was, some would say, milder, albeit also potentially devastating. He visited a young couple who had all the niceties that he and his wife enjoyed in the suburbs – their own home, good jobs, and two cars. What was jarring in this case was that when the husband’s mother took ill, he lost considerable income having to work less in order to tend to her. Then his wife got laid off, and before they knew it their world was hanging on tenterhooks. It jarred him that these friends in need “were just like me in many respects”. He learned that hardship can strike at any time.
And, as with most Vincentians and conferences, Justin and his conference struggle with the dilemma of how to allocate limited funds. Not all needs are equal and not all friends in need can be helped by a conference. That is one reason that Justin believes that ‘twinning’ between conferences is such a great idea. The greater good, he feels, is the ultimate goal in the Society’s mission.
Unlike many Vincentians, Justin is not retired and yet he devotes whatever valuable time he can to the work of SVdP. He also does not keep the light of his service to God under a basket, but instead he and his wife share the work that he does, along with their other charity efforts, with their children. In doing so they hope that their children will be inspired to do the same kinds of things when they grow up.
To those considering whether to join in and become a member of a SVdP conference within their church, he urges folks to simply take the first step and go from there. It may be resources that can be offered, or it may be time that can be shared. But simply thinking about it alone, he says, won’t make it happen. In the end, it’s the few, in this world, who end up doing what accomplishes so much!