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Michelle Boyer

Contemplation – Do Not Grow Old With The World

Contemplation – Do Not Grow Old With The World 940 788 SVDP USA

Both the Society and the church celebrate our long traditions and ancient texts; both the Gospels and the Rule govern our actions; we seek models in the Saints and Blesseds of our church and of our Vincentian family. But should this mean we must be set in all of our ways?

The question arises from time to time, as new servant leaders or new members suggest special works that our Councils and Conferences have never tried before. Certainly, new approaches or programs must remain within the limits set by our Rule, but often, we greet new ideas with resistance, for no other reason than that they are new.

Frédéric, who saw the Society grow from seven members to hundreds of Conferences around the world, celebrated the many innovations, especially those that served the particular needs of their localities. “I then favor innovations,” he wrote, explaining that “in human affairs, success is possible only by continual development, and that not to go forward is to fall back.” [Letter 80, to Pessonneaux, 1834]

Home visits will always remain the core work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. These visits are a spiritual practice before all else; serving Christ in the person of His poor, and offering them Christ’s love and hope. The home visit, along with the Conference meeting, is the rock on which we are built; our foundation, but not our limit. After all, “the Society constantly strives for renewal, adapting to changing world conditions.” [Rule, Part I, 1.6]

Even in the earliest days of the Society, special works such as apprenticeship programs and schools were established to help people move out of poverty, to address needs that were observed in the course of the friendships developed on home visits. The Society collaborated with other organizations in order to accomplish even more.

Among the many reasons to welcome new members is that they are often a source of new ideas, their “more ardent zeal, new ideas, and original insights prevent routine from setting in and the primitive fervor dying.” Conferences, Frédéric observed, have seasons, too, for “there is change in all human things.” [Letter 141 to Ballofet, 1837] His hope was that the Society, whose very foundation was unforeseen, would continue to prosper, and to be guided by providence.

The Society, like the church, is changing and unchanged, ever young; we are built on a rock, not set in stone. We don’t change for the sake of change alone, but to better fulfill God’s will, to love our neighbor, and to grow in holiness through our works.

“The religion of your forefathers,” Blessed Frédéric reminds us, “does not grow old with the world. Ever renewing itself, it keeps pace with progress, and it alone can lead to perfection.” [Baunard, 20]

Contemplate

Am I open to discerning God’s will, even when it means change from the familiar?

Recommended Reading

A New Century Dawns

10-21-21 News Roundup

10-21-21 News Roundup 1200 1200 SVDP USA

With 100,000 Vincentians across the United States and nearly 800,000 around the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL:

NATIONAL:

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

10-21-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

10-21-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 240 300 SVDP USA

A beautiful gift of Vincentian Spirituality is our experience of Divine Providence, which is also one of the hardest concepts to understand. All of us totally understand God the Father, the Creator, Abba, the image of God as the loving Father. The second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus, we have the Gospels to really give us a true understanding of the gift of Jesus, the Healer, the Savior. And then we have the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells His disciples at the Last Supper that He will be sending the Holy Spirit and we know that happens at Pentecost.

How do we experience the Holy Spirit in our lives? Well, look for the “nudge.”

You know, the “nudge.” That feeling deep within that says, “You should do something.” Notice the Urge to Do Good on the Earth! This is one of the things we encourage people to look for – the N.U.D.G.E  The Holy Spirit is with us always and moves our hearts to respond to others by this small “voice” from within that reminds us to do good. The other way to recognize the Holy Spirit or Divine Providence in your lives is to look for “coincidence.” You know when you couldn’t possibly explain how something happened for your good or the good of another, but it definitely happened! The other thing you will often see in the work of the Holy Spirit is that it seems to happen just in the nick of time.

When we invite people to consider if God is inviting them to join the Society to grow in holiness as we serve the poor, invite them to be in touch with the nudge. You will be left in awe at how many people discover the work of the Holy Spirit when you encourage them to sense the n.u.d.g.e. This very simple explanation allows them to identify the work of God in their lives. It is not a coincidence that your invitation to others to join the Society found fertile ground when you encouraged them to be open to the Spirit. We know that Divine Providence is well ahead of us in all things  St. Louise de Marillac said it this way:

“I must perseveringly await the coming of the Holy Spirit although I do not know when that will be. I must accept this uncertainty, as well as my inability clearly to perceive at this time the path which God wishes me to follow in His service. I must abandon myself entirely to His Providence so as to be completely His.”

Bask in the uncertainty and trust that the Holy Spirit will lead you as you “see the Face of Christ in the poor.”

Marge McGinley
National Formation Chairperson

Contemplation – There is Always Much Love Where There is Much Faith

Contemplation – There is Always Much Love Where There is Much Faith 940 788 SVDP USA

Given that our Rule [Part I, 2.2] reminds us that our “ideal is to help relieve suffering for love alone,” it seems fair to say that the heart of our Vincentian vocation lies in … our hearts. How can our human hearts be filled with enough love? The answer perhaps begins with the Greatest Commandment, which calls us first to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart…”

Our hearts lead us very powerfully, filled with our hopes and our dreams, our joys and our fears. Left to their own devices, our hearts can become distracted, our worries can keep us from serving God fully, even when we truly believe we are serving His will. It is because of this that we must first “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely.”

As important as acts of virtue are, they are not complete unless they are both interior and exterior. In other words, if we seek to act “for the love of God,” [Catechism, 1822] we must seek first the love of God within us. This means letting go of the troubles of the day, giving them all to God, in order to make room for His love.

In his letters to St. Louise, who often struggled with anxieties, St. Vincent urged her to find peace in her heart, reminding her that “He will reign in you if your heart is at peace. So, be at peace, Mademoiselle, and you will honor in a sovereign way the God of peace and love.” [CCD I:111]

In this he echoed St. Augustine, who taught that “our hearts are restless, until they rest in You.”

We are taught to love, to trust, and to rest our hearts in the Lord! He assures us that “when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me…” What better way could there be to prepare to serve our neighbor than by giving our hearts first to God; by allowing His peace and His love to replace our desires and anxieties?

If we love God first and fully, if we love Him with all our hearts, they will be filled to overflowing with His love, and we will become His instruments to serve our neighbors in need.

“That is because,” Bl. Frédéric wrote, “the human heart easily allows itself to be captured by love and there is always much love where there is much faith.” [Letter 145, to Velay, 1837]

Contemplate

Do I sometimes let my own anxieties push God to the side?

Recommended Reading

Praying with Vincent de Paul

10-14-2021 News Roundup

10-14-2021 News Roundup 1200 1200 SVDP USA

With 100,000 Vincentians across the United States and nearly 800,000 around the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL:

NATIONAL:

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

Disaster Services Update

Disaster Services Update 2000 1600 SVDP USA

Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) has been incredibly busy this year, responding to the devastating winter storms, wildfires, floods, tornados, and hurricanes which have compounded the suffering of Americans who are dealing with the second year of a deadly pandemic.

DSC, while having a modest team, has had a major impact in Vincentian communities nationwide. More than ever, DSC has focused their relief efforts on supporting SVdP Councils and Conferences, providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash cards, tarpaulins, tents, generators, hygiene kits, hotel stays, food commodities, and disaster case work.

Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, Chief Executive Officer, recently visited the Council of Nashville, Tennessee to tour the devastation from the catastrophic fall floods in Waverly, TN and worked with the Nashville Council, local government officials, and partners on standing up DSC’s national recognized recovery program, House in the Box.

Two months ago, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States hit Louisiana and then traveled from LA to PA, NY, NJ, and other eastern states. Hurricane Ida killed 115 people. Kevin Peach, Chief Operating Officer, visited Louisiana to answer the call for support from the Archdiocesan Council of New Orleans and the Council of Houma-Thibodaux. He visited several key locations, met with FEMA and state leadership, and joined partners in recovery planning for the region. Currently, Vincentians across the Southeast and North Central Regions have come to the aid of their fellow Vincentians in manning four Parish Recovery Assistance Centers (PRACs) across Louisiana. They are providing cash cards, handing out tarpaulins, and registering survivors for FEMA assistance.

Anthony Pluchino, Chief Program Officer, continues to lead the State of Oregon with the Disaster Case Management Program (DCMP). He visited Oregon and met with the ODHS management, state sponsored DCMs, Catholic Charites DCMs, Glide Revitalization DCMs, and Santiam Service Integration team. In addition, he met with leaders of the community and LTRGs to discuss programs and special projects that can help the survivors recover in the community. Anthony shared his experience on the devastation that he witnessed from the wildfires. At some of the sites he visited, there was nothing left standing except for a stone fireplace or chimney. Acres of trees burnt from the fire have been cut down and trucked away. Since the trees have been cut down, there is growing concern of potential mudslides. At times, Anthony reports that it was hard to breathe because of the smoke still hanging over the mountains. The total Value of Services provided to date is in excess of $ 250,000. Our partners are working very closely with the LTRGs to obtain much needed resources for the survivors.

Eastern Region

  • NJ Hurricane Ida
  • PA Hurricane Ida
  • WV Floods

Mideast Region

  • KY Floods

Southeastern Region

  • TN Floods
  • FL Hurricane Ida
  • GA Hurricane Ida
  • LA Hurricane Ida

South Central

  • TX Winter Storm

Western Region

  • CA Wild Fires
  • NV Wild Fires

Please keep all of the disaster survivors across the nation, as well as DSC’s staff and volunteers in your prayers.

SVdP National Council Mourns Loss of Former National Council President

SVdP National Council Mourns Loss of Former National Council President 422 602 SVDP USA

The National Council of the United States, Society of St. Vincent de Paul is saddened by the recent loss of former National Council President, Joe Mueller. He passed away on Saturday, October 9 peacefully surrounded by family.

Joe is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Nancy; his children, James (Angela) Mueller, Chris Mueller, Greg (Lisa) Mueller, and Anne (Matthew) Mueller Nichols; as well as his adoring grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

Joe “grew up a Vincentian.” Born in Richmond Heights, MO on March 19, 1935, he was introduced to the Society when his father took him on Home Visits with him when he was a child. Joe’s father was President of the Little Flower Conference in St. Louis.

Joe joined the Little Flower Conference when he was just 21. In 1976, he and his wife Nancy helped reactivate the Mary Queen of Peace Conference in Webster Groves.

“SVdP is one of the few organizations that goes out and has direct contact with people in need. Nancy and I just feel that the Lord has blessed us, and we must share it with others,” Joe once said about his work as a Vincentian.

“For me, Joe Mueller was the model of a dedicated Vincentian and a Servant Leader.  The renewal of our National Council began under his leadership. In his term as National President, the first National Stores Committee was formed and I was privileged to be appointed as a regional representative. Attending National Assemblies, I knew the Society was in good hands with a president who was articulate and had a warm sense of humor. The memory of Joe I most cherish however, is not his years at the helm of our Society but the humble dedication to serving our neighbors in need that I witnessed,” said current SVdP National President, Ralph Middlecamp.

“When in St. Louis, I often went across the Mississippi River to East St. Louis where my friend Joe Hubbard managed to keep our Society alive serving one of the poorest communities in America. On one of those visits I stepped into the back room of the store and there I saw Joe and his wife Nancy sorting clothing. After he was our president, Joe Mueller came there often to work in the store and serve lunch. We greeted each other as friends but in this chance meeting he and Nancy gave me the gift of witnessing what it means to be a servant leader in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. I already miss Joe but his example of servant leadership will continue to live in my heart.”

Joe spent his career as a practicing attorney. Beyond his Conference membership, he has served the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as National President (1993-1999) and International First Vice President (1999-2005).

Visitation and Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, October 16 at Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church located at 676 W. Lockwood Rd., St. Louis, MO. Visitation at 8:30 AM with Mass to follow at 10 AM. Internment at Resurrection Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please donate memorials to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Louis Council at www.svdpstl.org

Joe and his Vincentian heart of service will be greatly missed. Our prayers go out to Nancy, his family, and all those whose lives he touched. Rest in Peace, Joe.

To read Joe’s official obituary, click here.

10-14-2021 A Letter From Your Servant Leaders

10-14-2021 A Letter From Your Servant Leaders 1367 1520 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

At our National Business meeting held during National Assembly in Houston, I was asked to provide our local leaders with more information on the current Disaster fundraising campaign and how such funds are utilized during the year. Our members have been very generous in funding disaster relief and recovery efforts for years, and especially so this year. Our National Council subsidiary Disaster Services Corporation – SVDP USA (DSC) is a central, but not the only, part of our disaster presence in the United States and internationally.

In the last fiscal year which closed on September 30, the National Council provided Rapid Response Grants and Long Term Response Grants to local Councils and Conferences to use for direct relief in their communities. These grants are requested and managed through DSC, and funded with monies raised by the National Council and deposited into a  donor restricted fund called the Domestic Disaster Fund (DDF). Over the past fiscal year, 16 such grants were provided totaling approximately $155,000. These grants provided local support in communities stricken by floods, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes.

Many Vincentians tell us that they know how such disasters can strike anywhere, how they feel blessed not to be one of the communities affected – at least this year – and how their Vincentians want to reach out to help these other members in these times of need. In fact, many of our donations come from Conferences and Councils that were victims of past disasters and understand the challenges!

The Domestic Disaster Fund also provided funds as directed by the National Council board of directors to provide administrative support to DSC. While DSC attracts major grants for its work, often these grants do not provide for the administrative needs during, and especially between, such large disasters. The disaster organization can’t re-start for each disaster; it needs as constant presence to be ready when the need arises. Our DSC volunteers and staff can also be on location for months after the initial event providing long-term recovery efforts, and some of these costs are not covered by FEMA and other grant funds. This past year, DSC was provided with an annualized allotment of $150,000 by the National Council for its administrative overhead support.

Finally for domestic operations, the National Council provides fundraising support for DSC. The annual campaign such as the one just completed on September 30 provides general operating support for DSC use. The campaign focuses on our own SVdP members. Last year this campaign raised $414,233, with $246,755 allocated to DSC. These funds were sent to DSC in installments, with $105,000 during the 19-20 FY and the balance of $141,755 was sent directly to DSC last fall for its use in addition to the funds discussed above.

When all the funds and supports are added up, last fiscal year the National Council through our generosity provided DSC with $453,625 to support its great work. Thank you!

None of these funds are related to the campaign just completed. I am happy to report to everyone that this year we raised $926,818 to be used for a variety of disaster-related purposes. The Disaster Services Corporation will receive $494,199 directly from the proceeds for general unrestricted use. The National Council Domestic Disaster Fund will receive $164,733 to provide local and national disaster support as outlined above for current and future needs. Again, we don’t wait for the disaster to occur to raise funds and otherwise be prepared; the DDF allows us to provide immediate support within hours of a disaster event.

We are a worldwide network of charity. Our efforts to fund disaster relief and recovery also extends to providing support to councils of our Society throughout the world. This process is organized and overseen through our international member committee called CIAD – Commission for International Assistance and Development. Bill Brazier and I are members on this Commission. In the campaign just completed, we have dedicated $219,644 for future international requests of disaster support around the world. Most member countries do not have the resources we have in the United States, so our shared blessings are appreciated greatly for these outstanding needs! All of these funds never leave Vincentian hands from our donors through the direct relief in far-away communities.

The campaign is largely conducted in-house utilizing our National Council development and accounting staff, with some outside resources for writing and tech support. We are proud to keep our fundraising and management expenses to only five percent of the collected proceeds that will provide disaster resources flowing around our country and around the world.

Serviens in Spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National President

Contemplation: Dove-like and Holy, Perfecting the Other Virtues

Contemplation: Dove-like and Holy, Perfecting the Other Virtues 940 788 SVDP USA

“Simplicity,” St. Vincent once said, “is the virtue I love most” [CCD I:265]  and our Rule lists it first among our five Essential Virtues. [Rule, Part I, 2.5.1] So what does the virtue of simplicity call upon us to do?

Simplicity, Vincent taught, is a virtue primarily concerned with God. In simplicity, we present ourselves, and our words, with absolutely no intent to mislead or evade; we are always straightforward. We do this, he said, for the love of God and for His greater glory, because God is Himself “pure act and a very simple being” and is “pleased with simple souls.” [CCD XII:246]

In serving the neighbor, it is especially important to act and to speak with simplicity. The world our neighbors must navigate has no shortage of false claims and promises, empty flattery and performative insults. As we seek to build relationships based on trust and friendship, then, we have to be very careful not to appear “wily, clever, [or] crafty.” [ibid]

There is something of a childlike nature in the virtue of simplicity. Indeed, St. Louise explained that it was Christ’s “simplicity and charity which led Him to come to us as a child so as to be more accessible to His creatures.” [Spiritual Writings, 718] Similarly, describing the childlike simplicity of one of his missioners, Vincent marveled that his “simplicity made him lovable and loved by everyone, but especially by God, who no doubt usually communicated with him in a special way, since cum simplicibus est sermocinatio ejus.(His discussion is with the simple.)” [CCD II:377]

Like all virtues, simplicity must be both external and internal. We seek, in our words and in our deeds, in our hearts and in our souls, the “simplicity of being” that Louise described, that allows God’s grace to act in us without obstacles. [Spiritual Writings, 818]

So, just as acting with simplicity means we do not deceive, and we do not exaggerate, it also means we must not be motivated by anything but the pure charity of our acts; we must do good only to do good, and because God wills it – never to simply make ourselves look good, or to gain favor.

Both Vincent and Louise used the image of a dove to describe the honesty, purity, and sincerity of the virtue of simplicity – the same symbol we use to represent the Holy Spirit. So perhaps when we open our Conference Meetings, asking the Holy Spirit to live within our lives, we might consider it a prayer for this virtue, that our simplicity may be like that of the missioner whom Vincent praised, “dove-like and holy, a simplicity that perfected his other virtues.” [CCD II:377]

Contemplate

Do I ever hide behind “it’s complicated” to explain away my failure to speak or to act directly?

Recommended Reading

‘Tis a Gift to be Simple

10-07-2021 News Roundup

10-07-2021 News Roundup 1200 1200 SVDP USA

With 100,000 Vincentians across the United States and nearly 800,000 around the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL:

NATIONAL

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

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