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Michelle Boyer

Contemplation — In the Vincentian Spirit

Contemplation — In the Vincentian Spirit 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Because it is the heart of our vocation, and our primary means of serving the neighbor, Conferences and Councils offer training for the Home Visit. As important as this training is, it really comes down to one thing. As our Rule puts it “visits to the poor are made in a Vincentian spirit.” [Rule, Part III, St. 8]

It is important to note that the statute quoted above doesn’t actually say “Home Visit,” it only says “visits to the poor,.” This is important to keep in mind, because as central and indispensable as the Home Visit remains, there always have been other Vincentian encounters. And just as the Home Visit is the source of all of our other works (systemic change, special works, advocacy, and more) the spirit, and spirituality of the Home Visit must be a part of every Vincentian encounter.

We cannot visit the homeless in a home, yet we bring the same humble, kind, patient deference to the encounter that we would when entering a neighbor’s home. When people visit our food pantries, we are not clerks in a store, but servants of Christ, who is hungry. When shoppers, rich or poor, patronize our Thrift Stores, we offer more than retail “best practices,” we offer our hearts.

While it may be only Active or Associate Members who go on Home Visits, volunteers and staff of the Society also encounter the neighbor in the course of our many works. They often are the only face of the Society some people will ever see. This is why we do not jealously hold onto the word “Vincentian” only for Active Members. All of us who do the work of the Society are serving Christ in serving the neighbor. All of us are Vincentians.

From the earliest days of the Vincentian Family, the priests of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity, and the Confraternities of Charity sought out the poor wherever they were – in hospitals, in the streets, rowing the galleys, or in prisons. To serve them, they enlisted help from others throughout society. Indeed, this was the origin of the Daughters of Charity, formed from poor farm girls who assisted the mostly upper-class Ladies of Charity.

Just as Members bring our Vincentian spirit to every Home Visit, our Vincentian spirit grows as a result of them. The Vincentian spirit animates everything we do, every encounter we have; it is meant to be shared not only with the neighbor, but with each other. Not all volunteers will become Members, not all employees will join Conferences, but then again, not all Members will become Popes or Saints… but John Paul II did.

Our Vincentian Pathway has many starting points, and many routes, but on each of them we will find Vincentian encounters, and all of them lead us to Christ.


Do I welcome volunteers and staff to prayer, reflection, and training with the Members?

Recommended Reading

A New Century Dawns

SVdP News Roundup September 16 – September 22

SVdP News Roundup September 16 – September 22 1080 1080 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:



A Week in Prayers September 18 – September 22

A Week in Prayers September 18 – September 22 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, September 18

I sit silently, Lord, in Your presence,
My mind and my spirit kept still.
Speak to my soul if You wish it.
I seek only to do Your will.

Tuesday, September 19

Unburden me, Lord, of my worries.
Free me, O Lord, from my cares.
Wash away all the sorrows,
And all of the pride,
That crowd You out from
My mind and heart.
Fill me, O Lord, with Your Spirit.
I am Yours.

Wednesday, September 20

Help me to see You, Lord,
In the shivering neighbor,
Created in Your image,
Created by Your hand.
Help me to give, O Lord,
My time, my possessions, myself;
Given to me to share, Lord,
Given from Your hand.

Thursday, September 21

Lord, in my heart,
Lord, in my mind,
Lord, in my soul I love You.
Lord, in my words,
Lord, in my thoughts,
Lord, in my acts I love You.
Lord, in my family,
Lord, in my friends,
Lord, in the neighbor I love You.

Friday, September 22

Help me to walk the narrow path, Lord,
My eyes upon Your kingdom.
Help me to walk in faith.
Ease my concerns and worries, Lord,
About all the things of this world.
Help me to see with hope.
Help me to make more room for You, Lord,
Fill my heart ‘til it overflows.
Help me to share Your love.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 438 314 SVDP USA

Written by Tai Jackson — SVdP Seattle

Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration lasting from September 15 thru October 15, but originally traced back to President Johnson, who first introduced Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. The week-long celebration was later changed to a month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. During this month-long event, we recognize and honor the cultural, historical, and societal contributions of our Hispanic and Latino communities.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to acknowledge the diversity within the Hispanic and Latino communities and their contributions historically in the United States. It’s important to remember the influence they had in shaping the nation’s history throughout various fields. The contributions of figures like Cesar Chavez in the labor movement and Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court highlight the lasting impact of Hispanic Americans in society.

Another aspect of Hispanic Heritage Month is to educate and raise awareness about the socio-economic, political, and educational challenges that are faced in the Hispanic and Latino communities; and the work needed towards addressing such disparities.

With this idea in mind, for the last 10 years, our St. Vincent de Paul Centro Rendu program has been dedicated to lifting spirits by partnering with families, churches, schools, government, and local businesses to create a community center that provides essential tools and resources needed for the Hispanic and Latino community to learn, live, work, and thrive.

Many celebrate by participating in festivals, parades, and cultural events that showcase the Hispanic and Latino traditions. This month is a time to celebrate, reflect upon, and honor the contributions of the Hispanic and Latino communities to the United States. It’s a moment to embrace diversity, learn from history, and work towards a more inclusive future.

09-21-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

09-21-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Just as Summer inevitably turns to Fall, our beloved Society’s leadership changes at the end of September each year with new local Council and Conference President elections at the end of respective three-year terms.

At the national level, the term of the National President and his/her Board is six years. The current National Council’s Board of Directors began their Board service in 2017. It concludes with that of the National President, when Ralph Middlecamp’s six-year term ends on September 30. Since 2017, well, what a ride! Allow me to share with you just some of the accomplishments made possible through policy development or direct actions taken by this Board.

  • They strengthened support of local Councils though enhancements of our Model Bylaws, Standards of Excellence, and a new Safeguarding policy.
  • They engaged more members in national service through regions, committees, and task forces.
  • They expanded recruitment, leadership inclusion, and Conference support for under-represented ethnic communities and young adults.
  • They shepherded six years of profitable National Council financial success and stability, including the policy formation of how to use restricted funds and operating reserves while simultaneously growing fundraising and operational support. Along the way, we increased financial and leadership support for the global Society, and supported three new national subsidiary organizations.
  • During the global pandemic, the Board went remote for three National meetings – and doubled our attendance! They also pivoted all of us first to remote activities and then back again to in-person services and gatherings. Along the way they supported growth from 20 to more than 100 national webinars annually.
  • The Board provided budgets and policies to rebuild our national public and member websites, and created oversight for better document management and online security systems.
  • Finally, this board sold our national office to buy a new building just a block away that doubled our staff workspace, added a larger, interactional boardroom and a beautiful Vincentian chapel. This was accomplished without asking for any membership dues assessments or even a capital campaign, a rare feat among nonprofits!

There is more, but you get the idea. This has been a high-functioning board of directors working on your behalf to support and strengthen the Society in the United States. We recognized the Board members at the closing banquet of our National Assembly, but a few words can’t express the gratitude they are owed for shepherding the National Council over the past six exciting years of the Society.

We also say goodbye, well sort of, to our National President Ralph Middlecamp as his term ends. The good news is that after six years of exceptional, Vincentian servant leadership to the Society in one country, we now share Ralph with the rest of the world. Upon the election and recent installation of the new Council General International President, Ralph has been appointed International First Vice President! This is great news for all of us, as the U.S. Council participates very actively in the work of the global Society. Ralph can keep us informed and up to date on spiritual, service, financial and other opportunities.

Every national Board builds upon the work of those who served previously. New National President John Berry and his newly-appointed Board of Directors will have their own initiatives and goals, with a strong National Council to continue to strengthen in service to you as its members. Finances and staff are strong, and we have relatively few urgent challenges. It’s a great time to re-assess our Society presence, culture and operations (more on this from John soon), and take time to listen, really listen, to our members and the world around us. Thank you, Ralph and our outgoing Board, and with John and our new Board, we can’t wait to get to work!

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

Contemplation — Let Us Open Our Hearts

Contemplation — Let Us Open Our Hearts 1080 1080 SVDP USA

When we think about the meaning of friendship, particularly as one of our three Essential Elements, we could hardly have a better role model than Blessed Frédéric Ozanam. Friendship was so central to his life, and to the founding of the Society, that two of his biographers chose to highlight this in the titles of their books: The Great Friend, by Albert Schimberg, and My Friend Ozanam, by Pere Lacordaire.

Shimberg says of Frédéric that he “had a genius for friendship, which was for him a communion of spirits, a meeting of minds. He poured out his heart in letters to his friends, was happy when they were happy, shared their disappointments and griefs, let them share his joys and sorrows, gave them counsel and asked for theirs. Above all, his friendship was an apostolate. He prayed with his friends; in life and after death he asked for their prayers.” [Shimberg, 313]

In Frédéric’s words and actions we see friendship’s intimate connection to both service and spirituality, and it is through this connection that it becomes essential – the essence of the Society. In addition to praying for and with one another, he wrote, “the strongest tie, the principle of a true friendship, is charity, and charity could not exist in the hearts of many without sweetening itself from outside. It is a fire that dies without being fed, and good works are the food of charity.” [Letter 82, to Curnier, 1834]

This particular character of friendship in the Society is the means by which we arrive at consensus in our decision-making. We trust one another enough to be honest – to speak with simplicity. Indeed, honest disagreement between friends can only strengthen the friendship. “Let us dare to contradict each other sometimes: truth and concord will end up by banishing strife,” Frédéric wrote to Auguste Materne. “Let us open our hearts and discuss things with wisdom. Our friendship will only become firmer.” [Letter 11 to Materne 1830]

And so it always should be in our Conference meetings. No member should ever feel unable to express disagreement, and no other member should take disagreement as an affront. We are joined together with the common purpose of growing in holiness by serving Christ in the neighbor. It is through the simplicity born of friendship that we reach consensus and alter our plans for the better. Without spirituality, our service is merely work. Without friendship, we won’t “journey together towards holiness…” [Rule, Part I, 2.2]

It was in all three essential elements that Frédéric wished us to grow. May we share in his hope that “as each of us grows older, may we also grow in friendship, piety, and zeal for good!” [Letter 157, to Le Taillandier, 1837]


Is having and being a friend always at the center of my Vincentian service and spirituality?

Recommended Reading

The Frédéric Ozanam Story

SVdP News Roundup September 9 – September 15

SVdP News Roundup September 9 – September 15 1080 1080 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:



A Week in Prayers September 11 – September 15

A Week in Prayers September 11 – September 15 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, September 11

Heavenly Father,
Your gifts to me are abundant:
Beauty enough to overwhelm my senses,
Joy enough to fill my heart,
Love enough to lead me to You.
All of this within the people,
Each made in Your image,
Who surround me every day.

Tuesday, September 12

Lord Jesus, joy in my suffering.
Christ Jesus, comfort in pain.
You sit on the throne of the kingdom,
The cross and the nails remain.
You suffered and died for my sins, Lord.
You arose and await me above.
No cross is too heavy, no nail too strong,
To bear for the sake of Your love.

Wednesday, September 13

For all that You have given me,
Lord, I am filled with gratitude.
For all that You have promised,
Lord, I am filled with hope.
In all my prayers and actions,
Lord, I offer You my heart.

Thursday, September 14

When storm winds arise,
Or when danger is near,
I am calmed by Your presence,
For, God, You are here.
In the face of the neighbor,
In sadness and cheer,
In daylight and darkness,
O God, you are here.
You whisper in silence
Your words in my ear.
You lift up my spirit.
My God, You are here.

Friday, September 15

In Your presence, in Your sight,
Seeking heaven’s holy light,
As I knock upon the door.
Seeing now Your face,
And the Father’s joyful grace,
When greeted by the poor.
To serve is but to start
The transformation of my heart
To live in You forevermore.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

09-14-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

09-14-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Every year in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an opportunity for new goals, leadership transitions, and reflection on our successes and challenges. At this year’s National Assembly in St, Louis, we did all this and more as we celebrated “Where It All Began” with a pandemic-delayed 175th (now 178th) anniversary.

The biggest set of changes is the transition from one National President and Board of Directors to a new set of national officers. John Berry, our National President as of next month, succeeds Ralph Middlecamp, who has led the Society faithfully and effectively through six years of pandemic, economic, and social uncertainties and what all of this has meant for the Society.  John has selected a new Board of Directors, which was ratified by the National Council at our annual Business Meeting held this week. We are now poised with talent for leading in the immediate future.

But what will that future bring? President-Elect John asked all of us to be part of a national listening process as we determine what the Society needs to be to remain true to our Mission and Three Essential Elements in a changing world. Much more to come on this, to be sure!

It is easy to forget that while around 750 Vincentians attended the National Assembly, more than 80,000 or so did not attend. They need to know a lot of what was discussed in St. Louis. Watch for videos of Ralph’s farewell address and recognition of his service at the closing banquet, John’s inaugural member address that lays out his hopes for his upcoming term, and other videos of our general sessions and workshops. These take some time to isolate, edit, and post, etc., so be patient as we release these in the coming weeks. They will each be announced in the e-Gazette as they become website links that you can share with your Council and Conference.

Three general sessions deserve your viewing. Bishop Donald Hying provided another seminal spiritual reflection for us in his last appearance as our National Episcopal Adviser. (He will be succeeded under President Berry’s term by Archbishop Andrew Bellisario from the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau. More on this soon!)  St. Louis Council’s Executive Director/CEO John Foppe delivered a powerful, personal, and inspiring talk to the Assembly based in part on his book, “So What’s Your Excuse?” and Vincentian Father John Rybolt, a foremost authority on the life of St. Vincent de Paul, provide insights on St. Vincent’s varied imagery through the years and thoughts on how Vincent would approach today’s challenges. Coming soon!

A new Ozanam Institute online learning program was launched during the week. More on this elsewhere in the e-Gazette – don’t miss it!

A highlight for many who attended was the Installation Mass for the new President and Board at the “New Cathedral” of St. Louis. While many had been to St. Louis previously, most had never seen the enormous basilica filled with beautiful mosaic tiles including images of our Society founders. And as St. Vincent de Paul is one of three of the city’s patron Saints, his image appears in both mosaic and statue in the Basilica. It was a beautiful and inspiring event!

The National Council enters the 2023-24 year with a profitable 2022-23, an annual budget passed this week, and money in the bank for new initiatives as determined by you and the new Board.  Our three subsidiaries – Disaster Services Corporation, SVDP National Stores and SVDP National Foundation – are healthy and poised for growth and success in their respective missions.  National committees are being re-formed under new and existing banners to reflect our Essential Elements and other priorities. National staff will add a second Stores Director to support new and existing local stores, and an HR professional to assist the National Council and its subsidiaries to manage employee benefits legally and effectively for employee satisfaction and retention.

Nearly a third of the Assembly’s participants were first-timers. Plan now to join them and hundreds of others at our next National Assembly in Phoenix, August 14-17, 2024.

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

Stores Corner — I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know

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Written By: Rick Bologna, Stores Director, Central Texas

Are you willing to take a hard and honest look at your store operations? Are you willing to say and admit – I DON’T KNOW WHAT I DON’T KNOW? I would like to share my firsthand experience with you in this article.

Have you ever wondered how you can make your store more profitable? How can you generate more income and move more product through your store more efficiently and faster? As store leaders, we no-doubt have asked these questions in our minds.

In October of 2020, our store in Austin reopened after being closed due to the pandemic. The store had annual sales of $200K and a warehouse stacked high to the rafters with clothes, housewares, donations, and junk, with more items coming in daily.

Through brute force, common sense, and a lot of trial and error, our team installed processes and workflows to push additional product to the floor and generate additional income.

Our customer-base loved the changes we were making in the store; however, our processes and workflows were not sustainable. The key to sales and income is through the back-room production. Please read that sentence again!

We were working extremely hard, but not very smart.

After the first fiscal year, we increased sales to $400K from $200K. Then we went to $610K in our second fiscal year. We had plateaued. This was as far as I could lead our team.

I was tapped out on my knowledge-base and experience in getting us to this level. This was an awful fact that I had to personally own and share with my team — I DON’T KNOW WHAT I DON’T KNOW!

I reached out to the Director of Stores Support in the National Office, Jeff Beamguard, for help. Jeff heads up the National Training Store in Phoenix, AZ and leads the National Stores Committee.

Jeff arrived in Austin in October of 2022, bringing 40 years of thrift store experience and completed a full assessment of our store.

Key components we learned from Jeff:

  • Initial sorting of product – Is it sellable, recyclable or trash? This will save you a ton of time on product selection for the floor.
  • Each product has an exit strategy from your store — the product will either sell during the color rotation cycle or it does not sell, and it comes off the floor for recycling or trash. IT IS REALLY THIS SIMPLE!
  • Initiated the 5-Week Color Rotation Cycle – If the product has not sold after five weeks on the shelves with various markdowns to .99 cents (in a thrift store) the market will tell you, they do not want the product. Put new products out on your shelves and turn over the shelf space more rapidly by selling more profitable items.

In conclusion, I must say, our Austin team has completely embraced what we are doing and where we are going. Without the team’s buy in, we would not achieve this success utilizing Jeff’s assessments, suggestions, and our implementations.

This fiscal year, our sales will be around $800K. Our workflows and processes are now sustainable, due to education. Our annual production in three years went from 109K pieces to 176K pieces, to about 300K pieces this fiscal year.

As a staff, we NOW KNOW WHAT WE KNOW! We are headed towards the million-dollar store benchmark because of education, proven methodologies, and continued support from the National Stores Committee and Jeff Beamguard. The National Stores Committee and Jeff are here to serve you.

How much money are you leaving on the table in your store without this education? Are you doing your store and Council a service or disservice by not running the store as efficiently as possible?

Please take advantage of this educational opportunity for your store and get into the KNOW!

Please encourage your store personnel to subscribe to the to the e-Gazette, by emailing

If you have a topic that you would like addressed in a future Stores Corner article, please e-mail our Director of Stores Support-Jeff Beamguard at


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