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Jill Pioter

Contemplation: A Union of Hearts

Contemplation: A Union of Hearts 940 788 SVDP USA

Subsidiarity, Pope Pius XI taught, is a “most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy”. [Quadregesimo Anno, 79]  Indeed, more than ninety years later, it remains one of the four core principles of Catholic Social Doctrine. [CSDC, 160] Given Blessed Frédéric’’s influence on the Church’s social teachings, it should come as no surprise that subsidiarity is and has always been a core principle of the Society, also.

Our Catechism explains that subsidiarity means that “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order” leaving most decisions to the smallest associations, beginning with the family. Subsidiarity, it further clarifies, “aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies.” [CCC, 1883-1885]

For the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, this means that most of the decisions are made by Conferences, which are “as close as possible to the area of activity” and that in this way, “the Society promotes local initiatives within its spirit.” [Rule, Part I, 3.9]

This principle has been recognized since the Society’s earliest days. When Léonce Curnier was starting a new Conference in Nîmes in 1834, he wrote to Frédéric, seeking guidelines that the Paris Conference had followed. In his reply, Frédéric cautioned his friends against tying themselves down with “rules and formulas”, and instead being guided by Providence through the circumstances around them. After all, he explained, “the end that we set ourselves in Paris is not completely the same as that you set yourselves, I think, in the province.” [Letter 82, to Curnier, 1834]

In an 1841 Circular Letter written when he was serving as our first President-General, Emmanuel Bailly reflected on the formation of Councils during the Society’s rapid growth, explaining that Councils are “rather a link than a power” because from each Conference to the Council General and back, “there is neither authority nor obedience; there may be deference and advice; there is certainly, above all, charity; there is the same end, there are the same good works; there is a union of hearts in Jesus Christ, our Lord.” [Circ. Ltr. 14 Jul 1841]

In our social teachings, subsidiarity affirms “priority of the family over society and over the State” as the “first natural society”. [CSDC, 209, 214] Our Society was born as a single Conference. The principle of subsidiarity reserves to each Conference great freedom to act according local circumstances, conditions, and considerations It equally imposes a responsibility to be faithful the Scripture, to our Rule, and to our worldwide network of friends in this One Society.


Faithful to the spirit of the founders, how can I use “creative imagination” to better serve the neighbor?

Recommended Reading

Mystic of Charity

Nuestra Diversidad Refleja Nuestra Fortaleza

Nuestra Diversidad Refleja Nuestra Fortaleza 715 531 SVDP USA

La Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl es estupenda porque está formada por personas de muchas culturas y razas. Venimos de diferentes caminos de la vida y muchos puntos de vista. Nuestra diversidad, como la de la nación, refleja nuestra fortaleza. Incluso nuestra fe católica nos manda acoger la diversidad  porque la misma palabra “católico” significa “universal.”

Si bien tratar de comunicarse a través de estas muchas diferencias puede ser un desafío, la recompensa es una organización más fuerte y resistente. Los Vicentinos vemos el rostro de Cristo en cada uno de nosotros tanto como lo vemos a Él en aquellos a quienes servimos.

Le invitamos a poner su fe en acción y servicio con la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl. Envíenos un correo electrónico si desea obtener más información sobre cómo asociarse con la Sociedad al servicio de su comunidad.


Pam Matambanadzo
Encargada del Comité Nacional Multicultural y de Diversidad
Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl

Espiritualidad, Amistad, y Servicio con la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paul

Espiritualidad, Amistad, y Servicio con la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paul 900 900 SVDP USA

Fundada en París en 1833 por un grupo de estudiantes universitarios que fueron desafiados a poner su fe en acción, la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl es una de las organizaciones caritativas más antiguas del mundo.

Casi 200 años después, honramos su legado a través de nuestros valores esénciales  de Espiritualidad, Amistad, y Servicio.

Le invitamos a unirse a nuestro movimiento. Si está interesado en obtener más información, envíenos un correo electrónico y le compartiremos cómo puede poner su fe en acción con la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl.

Pam Matambanadzo
Encargada del Comité Nacional Multicultural y de Diversidad
Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl

¡Fue un placer verlos en Raíces y Alas!! 

¡Fue un placer verlos en Raíces y Alas!!  900 900 SVDP USA

Fue un placer conectarnos con usted en Raíces y Alas, celebrando juntos nuestra alegría y fe católica.

Vicentinos con la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl ponemos nuestra fe en acción, siguiendo a Cristo a través del servicio a las personas necesitadas y dando testimonio de Su amor

Somos una red de amigos, inspirados en los valores del Evangelio, creciendo en santidad y construyendo un mundo más justo a través de relaciones personales con y el servicio a las personas necesitadas.

Al igual que el buen samaritano, estamos listos para ayudar a todos, independientemente de su religión, edad u origen.

¿Listo para aprender más sobre cómo puede apoyar nuestra misión? Visite nuestro sitio web y pronto estaremos en contacto.

Dios le bendiga,

Pam Matambanadzo
Presidente del Comité Nacional Multicultural y de Diversidad

Raices y Alas: Roots and Wings

Raices y Alas: Roots and Wings 900 900 SVDP USA

Last week, a delegation of Vincentians met with other Catholics from across the country for the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry’s (NCCHM) in Washington DC for the 6th National Catholic Congress Raíces y Alas. This year’s theme, Prophetic Voices: Being Bridges for a New Era, focused on pastoral responses and initiatives to the ministerial priorities of family, Hispanic youth, social justice, and pastoral formation.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was a proud sponsor of the event, the first time the NCCHM had gathered in person in two years. With about 400 Catholics in attendance, the event was so highly anticipated that registration had to close early, and not all those interested in attending could be accommodated. The National Council blessed to send a delegation of 11 Vincentians, plus CEO Dave Barringer, to represent the Society and also grow and learn at the event.

Their time in Washington DC was busy, including joining with other Catholics from their home states for a day of advocacy visiting lawmakers at the Capitol.

Vincentians were present for a special Mass at the National Basilica, where they were able to visit the Frédéric Ozanam mosaic. Vincentian Rosie Silva exclaimed, “Mass at the Basilica was magnificent! The procession of all religious leaders joining us was humbling to witness.”

There was also time for sharing with other attendees about the Society’s essential elements of spirituality, friendship, and service. National Secretary Guadalupe Sosa shared remarks about the Society in a special address. “As I talked to participants at Raices y Alas, many of them knew about our Society and commented on the great work we do in our communities. When speaking to Raices’s participants and when I speak to others around the country, there is no doubt our Society is highly regarded and respected,” she noted.

Our delegates were also able to explore our nation’s capital, and brought Frédéric Ozanam with them for the journey!

Says Pam Matambanadzo, Chair of the National Multicultural & Diversity Committee, “The whole congress was extremely energizing — I generally do not get the opportunity to meet and interact with young Vincentians as much as I did at Raices y Alas. It was extremely rewarding. My greatest takeaway from the congress was that we need to do better at listening to another, especially the younger generation. We should not be afraid that they will replace us, but rather create a space where we can learn from each other: Raices y Alas — we are the roots and they are our wings.”

Thank you to our delegates for their wonderful work as representatives of the Society, and for sharing your experiences and blessings with the rest of our Vincentian family!

Contemplation: The Best Way to Give Help

Contemplation: The Best Way to Give Help 940 788 SVDP USA

A central principle of Catholic social teaching, necessary for respect of human dignity and a properly ordered social life, is subsidiarity. [CSDC, 185-186] Naturally, the organization, governance, and traditions of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul reflect this important principle, too. [Rule, Part I, 3.9] How does subsidiarity guide the practice of our Vincentian works of charity?

Councils, the Rule explains, “exist to serve all the Conferences they coordinate.” [Rule, Part I, 3.6] In turn, the work of directly serving the neighbor, remains with the people closest to those served: the Conferences. Yet it is not the entire Conference, or only the officers, that go on home visits, it is the Members, in pairs, on home visit teams.

Placing responsibility for the Home Visit with the National Council obviously would not be better for the neighbor, not only because that Council is remote, but because, as the Catechism explains, certain organizations “correspond more directly to the nature of man”. [CCC, 1882] Personally connecting with our neighbors, forming “relationships based on trust and friendship”, makes us more responsive to their needs, and better able to serve them. [Rule, Part I, 1.9]

For the Conference, subsidiarity in service of the neighbor is expressed not only by the organization of home visit teams, but by our assumption that the Members who made the Home Visit have “special insight into the best way to give help.” [Manual, 24] We don’t seek to replace that insight with arbitrary, pre-set guidelines. In other words, subsidiarity calls us to give ourselves up to “the inspirations of the heart rather than the calculations of the mindnot [tying ourselves] down with rules and formulas.” [Letter 82, to Curnier, 1834]

The Catechism explains that subsidiarity means “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it…” [Catechism, 1883] In respect of this, we often illustrate the Society’s hierarchy by flipping it over, with the International Council General on the bottom, with other Councils, then Conferences, then members above, and the neighbor at the very top of our “org chart.”

The neighbor then, the least among us, is the “lowest order” of the Society’s organization, yet also is for us Christ himself. The principle of subsidiarity is our constant reminder that the last shall be first.


How does humility help me to respect subsidiarity – and vice versa?

Recommended Reading

The Manual, especially Bl. Giuseppe Toniolo, pp 90-91

Serving in Hope Recognizes Divine Mercy Sunday

Serving in Hope Recognizes Divine Mercy Sunday 2130 2761 SVDP USA

Our latest issue of Serving in Hope is out now!

This new quarterly newsletter dedicated to sharing inspiring stories of the ways the Society is making a difference in the lives of those we serve. Whether you’re a donor, friend, or Vincentian, you further the charitable mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul with your prayers and generosity.

In our latest issue, we’re celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday. Celebrated the Sunday after Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday gives special focus to the gifts of love and mercy given that we receive through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

Vincentians are no strangers to the concept of mercy, sharing it — and receiving it — every day in our relationships with those we serve. You can read stories of Vincentians’ relationship with mercy in our newest issue of Serving in Hope, out now.

St. Vincent de Paul Detroit Announces New CEO

St. Vincent de Paul Detroit Announces New CEO 900 900 SVDP USA

St. Vincent de Paul Detroit (SVdP Detroit) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mary Lynn Faunda Donovan, CFA, as the organization’s new CEO, beginning March 21, 2022.

Donovan is an established nonprofit leader with more than 15 years of experience guiding organizations and boards, managing complex teams, and balancing the needs of diverse stakeholders. Most recently, she held the position of President for the Michigan Breast Cancer Coalition (MiBCC). Prior to her position at MiBCC, Donovan was the executive director at several cancer charities and direct social service agencies across the country, including Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance, and VOYCE, a St. Louis-based organization that advocates for quality long-term care. She also served as the executive director at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure South Carolina Mountains to Midlands Affiliate. Prior to her transition to the non-profit arena, she served as managing director in investment banking at a regional brokerage firm and in a variety of investment positions at Prudential Financial, Inc.

“I am deeply honored by this opportunity to work with the board, staff and volunteers to advocate for and empower at-risk populations at critical points in their journey to enable them to maintain self-sufficiency and find stability,” said Donovan.

As CEO at SVdP Detroit, she will lead the development of the organization’s strategic plan and focus on expanding revenue opportunities through corporate and new high-level donors.

“Our Detroit SVdP Council looks forward to working with Mary Lynn Donovan in the service of helping our neighbors in need,” said SVdPD Board President Nancy Szlezyngier. “She brings to this role a passion for serving a most vulnerable population and a commitment to the growth and vitality of our organization.”

Last year, Detroit Vincentians members fulfilled their mission by making 20,663 virtual and in-person visits, employing no-contact food, meal, and clothing delivery, helped families avoid homelessness with $1 million in rent assistance, and helped 5,471 families with their utility bills, ultimately serving more than 100,000 low-income individuals.

Donovan received an MBA in finance and marketing from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business after receiving a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Northwestern University. She is a licensed Chartered Financial Analyst and holds NYSE Series 7 and Series 63 licenses. In 2016, Donovan was recognized as a Ladue News Charity Finalist and has received numerous industry awards for her public policy accomplishments throughout her career.

SVdP Phoenix Launches Four New Podcast Series

SVdP Phoenix Launches Four New Podcast Series 900 900 SVDP USA

With nearly 100,000 members across the United States, serving in more than 4,400 parishes across the country, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is sometimes called “the best kept secret of the Catholic Church.” One Diocesan Council in Arizona aims to change that, by launching four new podcast series that will share just some of their work serving neighbors in need.

The SVdP Phoenix Diocesan Council has over 3,000 active and associate Vincentian members, and more than 6,000 volunteers. Together, they serve thousands of neighbors in need throughout Phoenix and the larger central and northern Arizona communities via 15 flagship service programs.

One such program is the Virginia G. Piper Dental Clinic, led for 23 years by Dr. Ken Snyder, a beloved member of the SVdP community. Dr. Ken is spearheading the new podcast venture to help raising awareness for the work being done by the Society. The four new titles include:

  • Ryan, Coop and the Doc Talk Sports and Teeth. With new episodes every Tuesday, this podcast features longtime Phoenix Channel 12 sportscaster Bruce Cooper, Chief Strategy Officer Ryan Corry, and Dr. Ken himself.
  • The Chronicles of Betty. This podcast, with new episodes released every Thursday, follows the journey of Betty Contreras, who came to the U. S. on her own at just 11 years old. She’s been a Dental Assistant at at the Virginia G. Piper Dental Clinic for 20 years and has been studying and learning the entire time. Betty now needs one more class and she can apply to Dental School. 
  •  Betzy’s Journal. Dr. Betzy Leyva, who came to the Dental Clinic out of high school, where she trained as a Dental Assistant. After 11 years, taking courses while working full time, she was accepted into the Midwestern School of Dentistry. When she graduated, the faculty awarded her the “Golden Hands Award” out of 140 students. Betzy now works at at the Phoenix SVdP Dental Clinic two days a week and in private practice three days a week. New episodes will post every other Wednesday.
  • The Happiness Factor. With new episodes every Friday, Dr. Ken will  explore the God Given gifts of Humor, Laughter, and Play and how we can use them in our professional and personal lives to be happier, healthier, and more productive.

All of the podcasts invite listeners to join the Virginia G. Piper Dental Clinic’s mission of providing quality and comprehensive dental care to underserved men, women, and children.

All podcasts are currently available on Dr. Ken’s YouTube page.


SVdP Director of Formation Published in Vincentian Heritage Journal

SVdP Director of Formation Published in Vincentian Heritage Journal 1200 628 SVDP USA

National Director of Formation Tim Williams is a featured author in the latest e-book edition of Vincentian Heritage.

Titled “2020 and Beyond: DePaul University’s Community Responds to Crises,” the edition focuses on the watershed issues faced by the United States in 2020, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and a highly divisive presidential campaign.

The issue features 14 perspectives on the Vincentian response to the crises that enveloped us in 2020, whose effects can still be felt today. Tim’s piece, titled “Learning Not to Despair of Our Own Age”: The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in This Time of Pandemic”, tells of how the Society used 2020 as a time of reflection and re-imagination, looking back on the Society’s past to inspire its future.

Article Abstract

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul marked the 175th anniversary of its founding in the United States. The Society’s usual works are described. Timothy Williams explains how the organization adapted to continue them during the pandemic, and particularly how it substituted for the home visits that have been the Society’s signature work since its founding. The Vincentian Family and the Society were created in times of political strife, widespread illness, and economic catastrophe, so the words and actions of their founders can inspire and comfort us now. The Society took special action in response to George Floyd’s murder. As Williams writes, “Our response began with self-examination, grounded in our spirituality and in our obligations to each other as Christians. To understand the faults we perceive in society, we must have the humility to examine and accept our own faults.” A webinar series allowed members to share their stories related to social issues, such as economic discrimination, crime, and violence. After the webinars, paired groups of members of different races shared more of their experiences. This strengthened their understanding of each other and equipped them to better serve their neighbors.

Read the Article

Click here to read Tim’s article, or click here to find the entire issue of Vincentian Heritage.

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