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Jill Pioter

11-17-22 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

11-17-22 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 900 900 SVDP USA

Television watchers are used to mid-season breaks, long gaps between seasons, and mid-season replacements that all make it difficult to get into a viewing routine for their favorite shows. I’m not sure if the DVR was the answer, or part of the cause, for this programming chaos! Add in a pandemic that severely affected production schedules, and it’s no wonder that the Society’s very own TV show got delayed for its second season. But we are back!

When Season Two of “Our Faith In Action: Today’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul” (or as we lovingly refer to it, OFIA) finally airs this month on the EWTN cable network, it will have been more than three years since our last broadcast. Our Society’s production team of the Orlando Council’s Trace Trylko, independent videographers and hosts, and National staff couldn’t travel during the pandemic, and local services schedules were also thrown out of whack. Fortunately as the show illustrates, the Vincentian services continued during the entire period, even with sometimes significant COVID adaptations.

Set your DVRs or watch live during the week of November 28, daily Monday through Friday at 5:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 PM Central to see five new episodes of OFIA on EWTN. (With as always, programming subject to change.) Another five episodes will air later; at this time we expect this in February. That’s correct, we will air during the week of Giving Tuesday and for some people, the start of the holiday volunteer and giving season. We thank EWTN for this special opportunity – we can’t ask for funds during the broadcasts, but we really appreciate the exposure of our works nationwide to the EWTN viewers, potential material and financial donors, members, and volunteers!

Each episode features SVdP works in at least three different U.S. cities, told from the perspective of our members, their work and commitment, and how they see the Face of Christ in the people they serve. We will feature Home Visits, food pantries, systemic change classes, health programs, workforce development, and so much more that is testament to the variety of Society work as it is most needed in each local community. We also feature local clergy who extoll the works of the Society in their neighborhoods. We could not get to every community, but while you may not see your Council, you will more than likely see your work! Overall for Season Two we travelled to more than 30 locations.

You might also see a sampler of work that your Council or Conference might consider as a new practice, or best practice, for the future. Being creative unto infinity, our Conferences tweak program elements to fit their local needs, so there is always a different approach we can learn from each other.

Please consider watching the 30-minute shows as a Conference, either “live” or recorded. Have a viewing party! Consider using the shows, or parts of them, in your local promotional efforts. Our National office can help you get the clips you need, and the shows will all be on our website for sharing once EWTN airs them twice. The Society owns all of the content except for the EWTN commercials, so everything you see on the show is available to you!

Please help us to advertise the broadcasts this month. Include OFIA mentions in your parish bulletins and other Church and community communications. The National Council will have a broad social media presence to highlight the shows, but please help us to share the postings where you can. We want this great display of Vincentian services to be in front of as many viewers as possible – we are humble, yet proud of what we do for our friends in need. Also, one can’t help but want to join us when you see the hearts of our Vincentians in their work with neighbors. As the Society rebuilds our membership post-pandemic, the OFIA shows can be a great tool to introduce the Society’s charism and works to potential members in the comfort of their living rooms.

As Thanksgiving approaches just before the OFIA airings, I’m thankful as the show’s executive producer for the opportunity to work with so many in our Society to have this second season finally get on the air. Our Vincentian story is so big and so very beneficial that it deserves this broadcast spotlight. I’m thankful for all the Councils and Conferences that took part in our production for sharing their works and their heartfelt experiences of what it means to be a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. None of what you will see on the shows is scripted. In these days of often fake reality television, the “Our Faith In Action” experiences may be the more genuine human experiences as Vincentians demonstrate God’s love on camera. I pray that you will view these special programs and share them with others.

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

Our Faith in Action Returns for Second Season

Our Faith in Action Returns for Second Season 1080 1080 SVDP USA

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is excited to announce the premiere of season 2 of “Our Faith in Action: Today’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul” with a special one-week event on EWTN Global Catholic Network beginning on November 28 at 5:30 PM Eastern/4:30 PM Central. Five episodes will air over five nights.

The series follows SVdP members, known as Vincentians, on their spiritual growth journey through service to people and families in need. From the Society’s traditional Home Visits (where we bring friendship and aid to neighbors in need), food pantries, and assistance with rent and utilities, to innovative health care, financial and mentoring programs, Vincentians see the face of Christ in those we serve.

In this series, Vincentians volunteer across the country to bring effective, personalized help to people in poverty and share their stories of Christ’s love along the way.

“We are very excited for the premiere of season 2 of Our Faith in Action. Creating this show has been a labor of love and collaboration between the National Council and our Councils and Conferences across the country,” said SVdP National President Ralph Middlecamp. “We hope that in seeing the work being done by their Vincentian brothers and sisters, individuals will find inspiration to put their own faith into action and join the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in their communities.”

The one-week event of Our Faith in Action: Today’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul will air daily on EWTN cable channels from November 28 – December 2 at 5:30 PM Eastern/4:30 PM Central. Click here to find the EWTN channel in your zip code. Click here to view the program schedule.

Episode Descriptions

  • Episode 11: Finding New Beginnings
    In this episode, join Vincentians as they prepare kids for the upcoming school year, offer returning citizens a new career path, and work to shrink barriers for friends in need through the Bridges to HOPE program. Tune in to learn how Vincentians put their faith in action every day across the country.
    (Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit)
  • Episode 12: Feeding Minds and Bellies
    In this episode, join Vincentians as they tutor children in need, help feed their neighbors in need at a food pantry, and offer scholarships and mentorship to promising high school students. Tune in to learn how Vincentians put their faith in action every day across the country.
    (Orlando, Madison, Phoenix)
  • Episode 13: Homelessness and Home Visits
    In this episode, learn how thrift store shoppers can find affordable hidden treasures, and join Vincentians as they take on homelessness in one of the country’s biggest cities and visit with a neighbor in need. Tune in to learn how Vincentians put their faith in action every day across the country.
    (St. Louis, Los Angeles, Huntsville)
  • Episode 14: Helping Friends in Need Find Success
    In this episode, Vincentians offer bilingual services to help friends in need build a new life, a Family Success Center supports struggling families, and those targeted by predatory lending are helped by the Society. Tune in to learn how Vincentians put their faith in action every day across the country.
    (Seattle, Louisville, Austin)
  • Episode 15: Building Faith in People of All Ages
    In this episode, Vincentians put their woodworking skills to good use to help neighbors in need, while others make sure no food goes to waste, and Vincentians build a home for the homeless youth in their community. Tune in to learn how Vincentians put their faith in action every day across the country.
    (Fort Wayne, Atlanta, Lane County)

Five additional episodes of Our Faith in Action: Today’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul will air on EWTN in early 2023. Stay tuned for airtimes and dates! In the meantime, catch up on Season 1 here.

Click here to download bulletin announcements, for use in your parish bulletin or Conference Facebook page.

Contemplation: Falling Forward

Contemplation: Falling Forward 940 788 SVDP USA

There is a commonly used exercise in corporate training events called a “trust fall.” In it, one person stands with his back to the others, with arms crossed and eyes closed, then simply falls backward from a platform, trusting his team members to catch him. The point is not to overcome a fear of falling, but to build trust that you will be caught before crashing to the floor.

In a similar way, St. Vincent teaches us to “abandon all that we love to Him by abandoning ourselves to all that He wishes, with perfect confidence that everything will turn out for the best.” [CCD VIII:298] To abandon all that we love seems to be a very demanding call, but it is the same one to which Christ calls us.

As Vincentians, we are called to abandon ourselves to His will by hearing the cry of the poor whose calls often interrupt us, demanding that we abandon our plans for that evening, or our precious free day, or an activity we enjoy, in order to serve Christ in their persons.

Indeed, we are called to share not only our time, but our talents, our possessions, and ourselves. [Rule, Part I, 2.5.1] You might even say that we are called to share, to abandon, “all that we love” to God in the person of His poor. Sometimes, we pat ourselves on the back too quickly when we pay the bill, and sometimes we wallow in regret too deeply when our whole Conference treasury is not enough.

But the Home Visit is not a math problem – it is an encounter with Christ, and an opportunity to imitate Christ. We don’t know, before the visit, whether we have the means to meet the material needs that will be presented to us. All that we know is that Christ is calling, and we must answer – it is the call, and the will, of God. So, if we begin our works of charity with the understanding that we are doing God’s will, then we must accept that the outcome of those works also will be His will.

We serve not with resentment for what we have given up, nor with regret that we haven’t been given enough, but with the joy of knowing that we are serving Christ exactly as he asked us to do, with exactly the gifts we have been given to share.

We serve in hope not that the light bill will be paid, but in the hope of eternal union with Christ and with the neighbor, trusting that the gifts we have been given are enough. We serve in hope, we serve in faith, and we serve in love.

We don’t fall backward, but forward, our hearts and our eyes open, and our arms spread wide. Our whole vocation is a “trust exercise” – trust in Providence.


Do I sometimes place more trust in myself than in Divine Providence?

Recommended Reading

Faces of Holiness

A Week in Prayers: September 26 – 30

A Week in Prayers: September 26 – 30 940 788 SVDP USA

Monday, September 26

Lord, I thank You
For the gifts You have given me
For all that I have
And all that I am
Given to be shared

Tuesday, September 27

Pray for us, St Vincent de Paul
That we may love God as You did
With the strength of our arms
And the sweat of our brows
Never hesitating to do the hard work

Pray for us, St Vincent de Paul
That we may always be gentle
With the neighbors we serve
Offering our smiles and good cheer
For in them we see and serve Christ

Pray for us, St Vincent de Paul

Wednesday, September 28

Lord Jesus, lead me
Away from worldly distractions
That tug at my sleeve
Or stand in my way,
Diverting my attention
From the kingdom.
Lead me, Lord Jesus,
I seek to follow.

Thursday, September 29

Lord, in Your name
I will seek out and find
The poor and the suffering
Lord, for Your sake
I will give my time, my talents,
My possessions, and myself
Lord, by Your grace
I will be a humble servant
And cheerful giver
Lord, with Your love
I will be filled
Even as I share it

Friday, September 30

Thank You, Lord,
For all that I am,
For the gifts I do not deserve,
Given by You
To be shared with all.
I will empty myself,
My Lord,
To be filled with Your light
And Your love,
Only to share that, too.
Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

Disaster Services Update on Hurricane Ian

Disaster Services Update on Hurricane Ian 1640 924 SVDP USA

Disaster Services Corporation is actively monitoring Hurricane Ian and its anticipated impact on the state of Florida. We are coordinating with SVdP Council and Conference leadership as well as with the National Council. DSC has sent Rapid Response Grant applications to Council leadership pre-landfall to ensure that funding is available immediately.

As the storm makes landfall, we ask the Vincentian community to keep those in its path in their thoughts and prayers.

We have received several inquiries on how the Vincentian community can help; as soon as we have more information on needs and opportunities to assist, we will post those updates on our website and our social media accounts. We are on calls with FEMA and are monitoring the potential impact of Hurricane Ian.

Bishop Gregory L. Parkes of St. Petersburg invited all in the dioceses throughout to pray to God “for the protection of life and property as we face this serious threat. As Hurricane Ian approaches our area, as we make our final preparations, and as we begin to feel the effects of the storm, I invite you to pray with me.”

As of this morning, the National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will make landfall as a Hurricane 4, slightly weakening as it makes its way across the state. Hurricane Ian is a slow-moving system, which increases the damage and devastation to the communities in its path, producing severe floods and tornado outbreaks.

As we know, storms have the potential to increase and change course. For those being affected by this storm we remind you to seek shelter and await guidance from local officials before making any further action.

Survivors with internet access can contact DSC directly at their website, or via Facebook.

09-29-22 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

09-29-22 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 720 720 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

It is the time of the year when hurricanes make headlines as they leave suffering and damage in their wake. I ask you, your Conference, and your Council to consider contributing generously this month to our National Council Annual Disaster Appeal. This is the best and most effective way to get disaster aid to our members working in the United States in cooperation with our Disaster Services Corporation and to provide disaster relief throughout the world through our international structure. This appeal allows us to respond quickly to requests. It also provides funds for disasters that may not make the headlines in your local media. Our Conferences in those areas often need our help just as much as those located where a major hurricane strikes.

Once again, this month in Puerto Rico, such a hurricane struck. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul will be working through our members there to provide assistance to their neighbors in need. We are just starting to get communications from our members in Puerto Rico and are waiting to hear how we can help.

But, as I was writing this, another hurricane was headed toward Florida — with unknown consequences. This illustrates the reason why we have one annual collection that can then be used as we learn the actual needs our Vincentians identify after disasters.

The Society’s Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) gives us excellent capacity to serve after a disaster. The DSC constitutes a knowledgeable team to provide training for our members and to secure private and governmental grants that greatly expand the ability of the Society to serve in these situations. The support the National Council provides for the DSC’s efforts is largely funded by this Annual Disaster Appeal.

In the past year, the DSC has helped Councils in every region of the country respond to floods, tornadoes, wildfires, and hurricanes. The success of this appeal last year meant that we did not have to keep sending out fundraising requests for every one of these efforts. I suspect you would become annoyed with the National Office if we did that.

This appeal will also support the international relief provided by the Society through the Commission for International Aid and Development (CIAD). My position as a vice president on the International Board of Directors is responsible for these grants, and I can assure you that this assistance is very much needed to support the work of our members throughout the world. I also can assure you that the use of the funds is monitored closely, with appropriate reports for accountability.

Again, a single appeal allows us to fund response to many disasters you will never hear about. The single appeal also avoids funds being designated to a country without the capacity of members there to use donations that well-meaning councils might otherwise send.

Before committing funds to a particular disaster, it is important to be certain the local Councils have the people and capacity to put our donations to work. Days before Hurricane Fiona stuck Puerto Rico, a Southeast Region team — led by John Berry, Isabel Darcy and Pam Matambanadzo — were on the island working with our members to strengthen our presence there. While they were in Puerto Rico, they observed that people still have not recovered from Hurricane Maria five years ago.

When major disasters strike, the need for assistance can last for many years. Long after the reporters have left, our Vincentians will be there helping their neighbors.

Please be generous in supporting this campaign. Frédéric Ozanam saw the Society as a network of charity. The network he envisioned has come to embrace the world. It is at its strongest and most caring when we support the work of Councils and Conferences of our Vincentian sisters and brothers faced with relieving the unforeseen suffering of a natural disaster. Finally, let us all be committed to praying regularly for the safety and emotional health of all those who are suffering from the results of these storms and those who are dedicated to bringing them aid.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

Contemplation: Our Inheritance and Legacy

Contemplation: Our Inheritance and Legacy 940 788 SVDP USA

In studying our own genealogy, we first catalog the names and dates and places of our ancestors. Our understanding and our love for them truly comes alive, though, when we find photographs, objects they owned, and best of all, words that they wrote. In a similar way, the portraits, relics, and words of our Vincentian saints and blessed help us to understand and fulfill our place in our shared Vincentian Family.

A treasure trove of St. Vincent’s words is contained within the fourteen(+) volume Correspondence, Conferences, and Documents, from the mundane, such a real estate transactions, to the personal, revealed in letters that were intended originally only for one recipient, to the conferences in which he gave spiritual lessons to his followers. While Vincent himself did not want his conferences recorded, designated note-takers recorded them surreptitiously anyway, realizing that the words of this holy man would feed generations who succeeded them.

Coincidentally, we also see Christ admonishing people more than once in the gospels not to tell anybody of some of His particular words or works – yet there they are, written in the gospels.

Bl. Frédéric Ozanam’s words are collected for us (in English) in a volume called A Life in Letters, with translation of more of his work currently underway. It was Frédéric who said that we owe to our patron “a two-fold devotion… imitation and invocation.” He argued that we could escape our personal imperfections “appropriating the thoughts and virtues of the saint”. [Letter 175, to Lallier, 1838]

How, after all, do we truly imitate Vincent’s example without his words, his teaching, his very personality that is visible to us in the collections of his words? Vincent’s insights were meant not only for 17th Century France, but are, as Frédéric put it, “for all lands and for all time.” [Baunard, 275]

It has often been observed that the third generation of a wealthy family is the one that tends to squander that wealth; no longer appreciating the work that it took their ancestors to earn it, they no longer are inclined to work themselves.

“The poor,” St. Vincent taught, “are our inheritance.” [Gallican Church, Vol.2, 8] Through the words preserved for us, we receive from his spiritual estate our way of seeing, serving, and loving them, so that we will be better able to pass this along to future generations of our Vincentian Family.


How often do I pause to study the words of our Vincentian saints and blessed?

Recommended Reading

Frédéric Ozanam, A Life in Letters Letter 90

Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions 150 150 SVDP USA

Mobile Messaging Terms and Conditions

Last updated: September 13, 2022

The National Council of the U.S., Society of St. Vincent de Paul® operates an SMS program subject to these SMS Terms and Conditions. The SMS program and our collection and use of your personal information is also subject to our Privacy Policy. By enrolling, signing up, or otherwise agreeing to participate in the SMS program, you accept and agree to these SMS Terms and our Privacy Policy.

  1. Program Description: We may send promotional and transactional mobile messages in various formats through the SMS program. Promotional messages advertise and promote our products and services and may include promotions, specials, other marketing offers, and abandoned checkout reminders. Transactional messages relate to an existing or ongoing transaction and may include order notifications and updates, appointment reminders, and other transaction-related information. Mobile messages may be sent using an automated technology, including an autodialer, automated system, or automatic telephone dialing system. Message frequency will vary, but will not exceed 10 messages per month. You agree that we, our affiliates, and any third-party service providers may send you messages regarding the foregoing topics or any topic and that such messages and/or calls may be made or placed using different telephone numbers or short codes. We do not charge for mobile messages sent through the SMS program, but you are responsible for any message and data rates imposed by your mobile provider, as standard data and message rates may apply for SMS and MMS alerts.
  2. User Opt-In: By providing your mobile phone number to us, you are voluntarily opting in to the SMS program and you agree to receive recurring mobile messages from us at the mobile phone number associated with your opt-in, even if such number is registered on any state or federal “Do Not Call” list. You agree that any mobile phone number you provide to us is a valid mobile phone number of which you are the owner or authorized user. If you change your mobile phone number or are no longer the owner or authorized user of the mobile phone number, you agree to promptly notify us at (314) 576-3993. Your participation in the SMS program is not required to make any purchase from us and your participation in the SMS program is completely voluntary.
  3. User Opt-Out and Support: You may opt-out of the SMS program at any time. If you wish to optout of the SMS program and stop receiving mobile messages from us, or you no longer agree to these Mobile Messaging Terms, reply STOP, QUIT, CANCEL, OPT-OUT, and/or UNSUBSCRIBE to any mobile message from us. You may continue to receive text messages for a short period while we process your request and you may receive a one-time opt-out confirmation message. You understand and agree that the foregoing is the only reasonable method of opting out. For support, reply HELP to any mobile message from us. Our mobile messaging platform may not recognize requests that modify the foregoing commands, and you agree that we and our service providers will not be liable for failing to honor requests that do not comply with the requirements in these Mobile Messaging Terms. We may also change the telephone number or short code we use to operate the SMS program and we will notify you of any such change. You acknowledge that any requests sent to a telephone number or short code that has been changed may not be received by us and we will not be responsible for failing to honor a request sent to a telephone number or short code that has been changed.
  4. Disclaimer of Warranty and Liability: The SMS program is offered on an “as-is” basis and may not be available in all areas, at all times, or on all mobile providers. You agree that neither we nor our service providers will be liable for any failed, delayed, or misdirected delivery of any mobile message or information sent through the SMS program.
  5. Modifications: We may modify or cancel the SMS program or any of its features at any time, with or without notice. To the extent permitted by applicable law, we may also modify these Mobile Messaging Terms at any time. Any such modification will take effect when it is posted to our website. You agree to review these Mobile Messaging Terms periodically to ensure that you are aware of any modifications. Your continued participation in the Program will constitute your acceptance of those modifications.

SVdP National Foundation Honors Bishop John Quinn With Founder’s Award

SVdP National Foundation Honors Bishop John Quinn With Founder’s Award 1694 1125 SVDP USA

At the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s recent National Assembly in Baltimore, the SVdP National Foundation honored recently retired Bishop John Quinn with its Inaugural Founder’s Award.

The award recognizes Bishop Quinn’s exceptional service and outstanding contributions to the National Council of the United States, Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Bishop Quinn was enthusiastically chosen as the inaugural recipient of the award, which will be given by the National Foundation annually going forward.

“Like the Society’s original founders, Frédéric Ozanam and his friends, Bishop Quinn’s contributions have had a lasting impact on SVdP, and he has left a legacy of faith and service,” said Chief Advancement Officer Ryan Carney.

Bishop Quinn served the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as its National Episcopal Advisor for 12 years, helping to advance the Society and champion its mission to his brother Bishops. A beloved figure within the Society, he also spiritually fed and guided the Society’s leaders and Vincentian volunteers during that time.

More recently, he has served as Spiritual Advisor to the National Foundation, which works to support the work of the National Council and strengthens the Vincentian network of charity through financial support and other endeavors.

Bishop Quinn recently retired as Bishop of Winona-Rochester, but will continue to advise and support the work of the National Foundation.

Congratulations, Bishop Quinn! We thank you for your service and devotion to the Society.

Celebrating International SSVP Women’s Day

Celebrating International SSVP Women’s Day 1200 628 SVDP USA

On August 14, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul celebrates International SSVP Women’s Day. The date was chosen in honor of Amelie Ozanam’s birthday, and has been expanded to reflect the history and heritage of women who have served in the Society across the world.

The first recorded “Women’s Society of St Vincent de Paul” was founded in Italy in 1856. The Women’s Society followed the same Rule and operated for more than 200 years, until 1968, when women were formally accepted into the Society as full Active members. At that time, there remained women-only and men-only Conferences. But new Conferences were encouraged to invite Members of both sexes.

Categories of Membership included Active (same as it is today), Subscriber (essentially “Contributing Members”), and Honorary. The Honorary category was a bit vague in its definitions, but sometimes women were accepted as Honorary Members, and allowed to go on Home Visits and participate in other works. It should be noted that this was not the purpose of Honorary Membership, and that Conferences were advised that they should not do this.

Though women could not formally become Active members, their work with the Society was essential, because early editions of the Rule advised that men were not allowed to go visit young women for reasons of propriety:

“Young women, particularly if they live by themselves, should not be visited
by the members on any account, their wants had better be referred to one or
more charitable women, if no female, charitable or benevolent society exist. [Rule, 1906]

Prior to the Women’s Society of St Vincent de Paul, there were some locally established “Ladies Auxiliaries” formed, possibly as early as the 1830s. Women who served in the Auxiliaries (or as Honorary members) enabled Conferences to assist more people if there was no other local organization to whom they could refer women for assistance.

Here, we share two articles enlightening articles on the subject of women in the Society. The first article is from The Manual, 1980 edition:

Membership of Women

The admission of women into Vincentian ranks came as a somewhat recent historical development. When the Society was first established in 1833 at Paris by college students, membership was restricted to males. Considering the prevailing culture, this outcome could hardly have been otherwise. At the University of Paris in 1833, there were no coeds. In 1833, woman’s education and employment, as well as her opportunities to participate in social, cultural or political life, were extremely limited.

But Vincentian men have always worked with women. Religious women helped start the Society. “Let us go to the poor” was the good resolve of the young University men. But where are the poor? How does one “go” to honor and not to humiliate? The Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul gave both the addresses and entree. Paris’ apostle among the poor, Sister Rosalie, gave Vincentians invaluable advice and also their first bread and meat tickets.

In the early years of the Society, women participated by their prayers, inspirations, and encouragement. So that a husband member might make his visits to the poor, the wife sacrificed her own hours of companionship with him.

In 1856, the need of plague victims gave birth to them Women’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul, headquartered at Bologna, Italy. Until 1960, this women’s Society, with its own Council General, was entirely distinct from the men’s Society, although both followed exactly the same Rule. This feminine Society became strongest in Italy, Portugal and Canada.

The actual working together of men and women within the SVDP Society – and indeed within the Catholic Church – gradually evolved. The Magna Carta of Christian women in our day dates to October 21, 1945, when Pope Pius XII gave his comprehensive address on “Women’s Duties in Social and Political Life.” In it he emphasized the vast field of activity which now lies open to women, “‘in education” and in “direct participation” and “effective collaboration in social and political activity.” He said: “Associated with men in civil institutions she will apply herself especially to those matters which call for tact, delicacy and maternal instinct.” To the questions and problems that “call for study and action on the part of governments and legislators, he said, “only a woman will know how to temper certain legislation with kindness, without detriment to its efficacy.”

The Society too reflected the change in outlook that was taking place in the world and within the Church. At the Plenary Meeting of the Society in 1960, adopted resolutions sanctioned enlargement of the Society through mixed (male/female) Conferences. At the 1963 international SVDP sessions, the process of gradually integrating the women’s conferences that had been admitted through Bologna into the parent SVDP structure at Paris was approved. Within a few years a single Society – embracing Conferences of men only, women only and mixed groups – emerged.

In the United States the original response to the reception of women as members tended to be cautious, rather than positive and enthusiastic. In 1969, however, the national trustees at their annual meeting in Houston, Texas elected T. Raber Taylor of Denver, who had for a number of years championed the cause of women in the Society. From that time, the door was opened wide and a number of women began to enroll as active members.

This progression, however, was uneven, depending upon local SVDP leadership and circumstances. In 1976 to overcome any reluctance and inertia on the part of USA Vincentians and to augment the participation of women in the Society, a committee of women was formed as a subcommittee of the National Extension Committee. Its basic purpose has been to encourage the recruitment of women. The committee is called Women in the Society or briefly WIS. It is composed of eight Regional Representatives, four women advisors, and a chairperson. Each Regional Representative has been committed to forming her own Regional WIS committee among the Dioceses listed in her Region. She teams with the Regional Extension Chairman.

Today’s newly organized parish Conferences usually aim from the outset to recruit both men and women as members. It would be unusual for new parish SVDP groups to take a different tack, considering how important it is that women become fully involved as members and leaders in the life of the Church and parish.

Although some women may by temperament and insight be more comfortable and skilled in working with female clients, there appears to be little inclination on the part of Vincentian units to prejudge roles and assignments for women members. Women members. like their male counterparts, can be very much at home with any kind of family problem

The Catholic Historical Review

The below is an excerpt from The Catholic Historical Review , Jan., 1922 by Charles L. Souvay, CM, DD:

But what I have in view is, that in the visitation and relief of the poor in their homes, there are many things that men cannot do; there are conditions that they never know, because either it takes a woman’s keen eye to detect them, or else they are confided only to the doctor or to a female confidante. Shall this vast portion of the work remain undone, for the reason that women cannot become either active or honorary members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul? If it were so, then we should say that Catholic charity has lost her clearsightedness and has “fallen away.” But it is not so. All Conference men are agreed that the help of the gentler sex is a necessity: if ladies are debarred from membership in the Society, they can be subscribers and benefactresses; they can be friendly visitors, and in this capacity render most valuable assistance. The desire has been strongly voiced that there should be a Ladies’ Auxiliary wherever there is a Conference, and much has been done already to promote the institution of such Auxiliaries. May I suggest that the type of these Ladies’ Auxiliaries has been realized for upwards of three hundred years in the Confraternities of the Ladies of Charity? 18 Inaugurated by St. Vincent de Paul at Châtillon-les-Dombes in August, 1617, they were established, some twenty years later, in every parish of Paris and its suburbs, and in many other places throughout the kingdom, even at the court itself. This is not the place to expatiate upon the services rendered by them in visiting the poor sick in their homes, or in the Paris Hôtel-Dieu, in looking after foundlings and-we almost seem to speak here of our own times, not of the seventeenth century in rehabilitating the war-devastated regions of Lorraine, Picardy and Champagne, caring for their plague and famine-stricken populations, distributing among them immense stores of clothing, securing homes for the war orphans, and employment for young girls driven out of their deserted homes. I briefly mention this much merely to emphasize the analogy between the works of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and those of the Ladies of Charity. From this analogy naturally flows the conclusion, which the resemblance of their Rules would render yet more forcible, that in a cooperation of these two institutions, which both claim the name and patronage of the same “Father of the Poor,” we Catholics have a matchless agency of reconstruction. Women cannot be aggregated to the Conferences; men have no place in the Confraternities of Charity. So be it. But who will say that an entente cordiale is impossible between these two institutions? Such an entente has been effected in various places, to the entire satisfaction of all concerned, and, first of all, of the poor. Ab actu ad posse valet consecutio.

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