05-12-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

05-12-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1368 1387 SVDP USA

Every week, it seems we Catholics are asked for our positions of the social crisis of the day. For a religion that is so often ridiculed or ignored by the media, they sure do ask often for our opinions!

It fascinates me that our brothers and sisters in different faiths are rarely asked how they feel as a religion about the issues of the day. No, the Catholics are the standard. I choose that word intentionally.

We know that Catholics disagree with each other – just attend any Conference meeting! We also know that some Catholics are at odds with the Church on various issues including life, immigration and borders, climate, and others. We overlook sometimes that our faith is somewhat unique in that it has actual positions, derived over years – sometimes hundreds and even thousands – and that these positions are written down for everyone to see. When a Pope even suggests a departure through imprecise words from these positions, it makes worldwide news.

When some disagree strongly, they may face a crisis of conscience leading even to a departure from the Catholic faith, although many would tell you that they disagree only with the Church and not with the faith. They still believe in Christ and how He died for our sins. They just disagree with the “politics” of the Church. Which is also interesting in that using political yardstick measures, the Church is liberal in some regards and conservative in others. This is not inconsistency; in fact, the Church is remarkably consistent. Maintaining clear and consistent values can lead the Church to the right for some individual issues and to the left for others.

As a Vincentian and as a Catholic, you may be asked for your opinion of the Society’s position on the topic of the day. The Rule provides us with guiding elements to help us. The first is in Part III, Statute 29 on our Relationship with Civil Society. The Society does not identify with any political party, we are nonviolent, we bring Christian values to political matters, and those holding political offices are asked not to hold any “mission of representation” within the Society while in office. That alone covers a lot of ground these days!

The second relevant element is in the Rule, Part I, 5.3, in which the Society recognizes the right and duty of the diocesan bishop to confirm that the Society acts in accordance with Catholic faith and morals. In other words, while we are officially autonomous of the Church (see I.5.2), we maintain a close relationship with the church hierarchy and its values. Many of the political battles and policy decisions we face come down to moral decisions, don’t they?

The third relevant element is not in the Rule but in the Manual of the National Council of the United States, in Section 2.1: Speaking for the Society. It’s one simple sentence: “Only the National President may ‘speak for the Society’ on national issues. For local issues, this is delegated to the Council President.”

It is tempting, when asked for your opinion, to give it! As Americans, we enjoy freedom of speech. This freedom, however, does not extend to us speaking on behalf of most organizations to which we belong, including the Society. It can be challenging to hold one’s tongue when the issue is important and we have such brilliant commentary, but please do resist when asked about “your take” on any Society position.

Allow me to offer two alternatives. When asked for my opinion “as a Catholic” I can often respond by directing the inquirer to the local bishop or to the USCCB. When asked by media for my view as a Vincentian, I let them know that even as the national CEO I don’t speak for the Society, but often I will add a question of my own. “What are the consequences of this issue, intentional and perhaps unintentional, for the poor? Please consider them in forming your story.”

Catholics, through the formal Church and its many informed and cause-related organizations, have a voice, even if this voice is sometimes ridiculed or ignored. The poor, however, often have no voice at all. It seems that every social issue affects them more than everyone else, and usually negatively. As Vincentians we can work to free their own voice, or if not possible, work to speak on their behalf.

As noted above, the Catholic viewpoint is often used as a standard. Let our Vincentian actions speak as standards of love and care for our neighbors, humility, and everyday work to make our world a better place for all. Our own lives are testament to our Catholic faith and values. By our lives we can be the standard for Good.

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

04-07-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leader

04-07-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leader 1363 1363 SVDP USA

The establishment of the U.S. Census by our nation’s founders was a genius move. While originally designed to help apportion members of the National Congress, later Census tallies helped us all to know more about our growing country’s population, its shifts from one region to another, its ethnicities, and its economics over time. A lot can happen in the ten years between the full Census counts!

We are now at a time when such a Census of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s membership is vital to understanding our capacity to serve. We have all heard about decaying Church membership – our “member prospect universe” – and the anxieties over whether or not some of the U.S. Catholic membership can rebound or is lost forever. A national pandemic that shut down Mass attendance along with so many other faith-based activities certainly did not help.

Within the Society, we are proud that during the pandemic, we kept going. It was for us a simple matter: people were still poor, so we kept serving them. We adjusted with virtual Home Visits and Conference meetings where we could, though we missed seeing the Face of Christ in person. What, though, has been the lasting impact on our membership numbers? Recruiting was more difficult when we could not meet with anyone interested in joining us, and many of the informal service opportunities that attract future Vincentians were suspended for weeks or months at a time.

Conversations among some of the Society’s English-speaking National Councils uncovered a disturbing recognition that up to 70 percent of their membership has not returned to serve. Some died, some moved away and others changed their contact information, and this happens all the time. The disturbing big change was that the habit of Vincentian service was so severely disrupted that some members “dropped out” either to express their faith in different ways, to retire from active Society services, or to fade away from the Society and perhaps from the Church itself.

For years now we have maintained a membership of approximately 100,000 Society members in the United States, serving in nearly 4,500 Conferences and other locations. For the first time, I’m not very confident that these numbers are accurate. You likewise should not assume that your local numbers, names, and contact data are the same as they were just three years ago.

We aren’t structured to perform a national Society Census; we are a grassroots organization at our core. I ask you to please be intentional in seeking out everyone you believe are your members, see if they are still willing to serve, and if you have all the membership data you need to operate your Councils and Conferences. We can’t assume this data any longer; we need to verify it to see where we truly are and then plan, likely much more vigorously, for member and Conference growth. While we pray that we have not lost 70 percent of our members, we should not be surprised that some loss has occurred at least temporarily.

A Society member census can be performed not just to count, but to re-engage our members. Consider the counting as a series of wellness checks on where our members are, and also what they need to come back into Vincentian service and regular meetings. Let’s work together to re-count, re-engage, and re-inspire our members toward their own spirituality through Society membership and service to others. And by the way, if you encounter potential new members along the way, invite them in!

We will only know where we are nationally with our membership numbers after we start to know more locally. In your counting process, please take the time to send the information up the line toward your local Council and the National Council with updated database input, improved Annual Report completion, and subscriptions to this e-Gazette. All this has benefit for your members to stay informed and to stay connected with all levels of the Society nationally.

With today’s inflationary pressures, which always affect the poorest the most harshly, we are needed in our neighborhoods more than ever. We don’t intend to be “small but mighty” to do our works. We prefer the “many hands make light work” approach! No matter our membership size, can’t we always welcome, or welcome back, someone else who desires to be closer to God?

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

3-31-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

3-31-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1367 1520 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

For the past four and a half years, I have been privileged to serve as your National Council president. Now the process for identifying the candidates to be your next president begins. You will find the details of that process provided in next week’s edition of the e-Gazette. I have a year and a half left to continue in my leadership role. During that time, I plan to focus on advancing our Strategic Plan and strengthening the capacity of our network of charity to serve our neighbors in need.

An important element of a strong organization is a careful transition of leadership. The process for selecting the next president is established by National Council Resolution 131. The National Council Board has approved a committee chaired by Raymond Sickinger to oversee the process. Other trusted Vincentian members of the committee are Sr. Kieran Kneaves, Michael Syslo, Marie Wicks, and Gladys Hoerner, with David Barringer and me included as non-voting members. Please pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be with us throughout the process.

If you or someone you know is interested in being nominated for the position of president, please carefully read the documents provided. I encourage any Vincentian considering this service to then have a conversation with me, Dave Barringer, or past National Council President Sheila Gilbert. This is a servant leader position that is complicated and time-consuming but also richly rewarding.

Four and a half years have passed quickly, and we still have some important work to do together. It has been a challenge to navigate the changing environment, but thanks to the work of the National Council’s board, committees, and staff, we have adapted to the restrictions of the past few years and have created many resources to advance the mission of our Society. I hope all members of our National Council leadership find ways to share these tools, which were highlighted at our recent Midyear Meeting in St. Louis. These presentations were recorded and can be accessed by clicking here.

To meet the challenges of the future, we must return to the basics of our organization. Belonging to our Society is a vocation. Right now, we must actively invite others to join us, but we must be certain that we are living the vocation we wish to pass on.

We need to be meeting in person to maintain our spiritual grounding and the friendships that bind us together. If caution has prevented us from visiting our neighbors in their homes, we need to return to that practice whenever possible. Sending a check to a landlord after having a phone call with the neighbor in need cannot replace our Home Visit. Helping a family with groceries should be more personally engaging than putting a bag in the trunk of their car. The Vincentian vocation is to develop personal relationships with those we are privileged to serve.

I hope each of you commits to renewing our Society to build a network with increased capacity to serve those in need. That is what I will be focusing on in the months ahead, and I will be looking for Society leadership at every level to join me in that endeavor.

Developing dedicated and trained leadership is crucially important at all levels of our organization, not just the National Council. I encourage each of you to discern how you might be called to a servant leadership role. To ensure our Society will remain viable, we especially need to encourage greater diversity among those who serve as officers at every level of the organization. The National Council presidents and National Council Board members of the future need to be called and encouraged to become presidents of our Conferences and Councils this year.

Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to aid us in finding the servant leaders that Blessed Frederic Ozanam described when our founders looked for the successor to our Society’s first president, Emmanuel Bailly. Frederic suggested that our leaders must have the habit of devotion, the spirit of true fraternity, and the experience of good works. Our Society’s leaders, he observed, must join the zeal that founds with the prudence that preserves, and they must be able to maintain the Society in the paths of simplicity and prudent liberty along which God has led it.

Let those called to lead today continue to guide us along those paths.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

3-24-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

3-24-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1363 1363 SVDP USA

More than 200 Society leaders attended the first live Midyear meeting since 2019 last week in St. Louis. It was great to see so many of us in one place!  A few National Council Members (usually the Council Presidents) attended only the Business Meeting by Zoom, and this was good as well to participate. Here are a few highlights from our time together.

President Ralph Middlecamp opened the gathering with a discussion on Capacity. He specifically discussed the situation in Ukraine and surrounding countries, and how the global Society of St. Vincent de Paul is structured to help refugees and other impacted by the current violence. (Please see a separate article in this eGazette on how your Council/Conference can participate beyond what has already been collected in our annual Disaster appeal.) This process is also used for natural and manmade disasters that occur anytime during a year.

National Formation Director Tim Williams provided the spiritual retreat, engaging the audience to see the various faces of Christ in our work. This is recorded for your viewing and sharing!

Father Patrick McDevitt, C.M., the Provincial Superior for the Vincentians Western Province, gave an insightful keynote address on Vincentian Synodality. This address is also available as a video.

Much of the Midyear time was spent in National Committee meetings, National Region meetings, and National Subsidiary meetings that produce so many products and services to our members through out the year. The Business Meeting featured reports/presentations from many of these groups, which are all available to you as individual videos (see accompanying article on Midyear videos).

The Business Meeting was unique in that there was no new business to vote on this time! However, it was full of information from the committees, included a recognition of new National Council Members, reviewed our very positive National Council financials, and provided the process and schedule for the election of the next National President. The Call for Nominations opens on April 1!

We closed the Midyear with a Vincentian Mass led by Father Jim Cormack and a Recommitment Ceremony, both at the Old Cathedral where our first U.S. meeting of the Society was held in 1845.

We are thankful for the many sponsors and partners who help make a Midyear possible with their meal sponsorships, and their exhibits that are so helpful to our leaders in finding resources for Council operations.

Perhaps the greatest value of a Midyear meeting is not in the activities outlined above but what happens between these activities. Vincentians take full advantage to learn and share in the hallways, meals and free time. Coming out of a challenging pandemic environment, and with so few live meetings in the past two years, this opportunity to be with each other and express our Essential Element of Friendship together is worth the trip!

We are already deep into planning our next big meeting, the National Assembly to be held in Baltimore on August 31 – September 3, 2022. We expect more than 800 members to be with us at the Marriott Inner Harbor – will you please join us?

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

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.

03-03-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

03-03-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1367 1520 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

Right now, you should be reading a Lenten message from Bishop Hying, our National Episcopal Advisor. The events in Ukraine, however, have gripped all of us, and many have asked if our Society has been preparing to provide aid to refugees and other victims of the war. Please look for the bishop’s message next week, and allow me to tell you what I know about the Society’s response to the situation in and around Ukraine.

It may seem inadequate, but let’s not forget to pray for peace and the people of Ukraine. The Vincentian Family had a worldwide prayer call yesterday. You can still view that call here: youtube.com/watch?v=_fNGEm8ZGQM&t=168s.

As Vice President for Solidarity and Special Projects for the Council General International, I am engaged in our international twinning relationships and our disaster relief efforts through the Society’s Commission for International Aid and Development (CIAD). We are currently making inquiries of the Councils in the countries receiving thousands of refugees. There is clearly an immediate need in the countries that border Ukraine. What I can tell you is that the Society does not have a strong presence in this area of Europe. At the end of this letter, I have shared some detailed information about the Society in some of the countries near Ukraine.

Please do not plan to make donations until we have a clear purpose for your contributions. You may recall that when we made our annual disaster appeal last summer, a portion of those contributions were designated for international use. Our Councils and Conferences were very generous then, and we will therefore be able to provide help as soon as we receive more information. If we need more assistance, we will certainly let you know. I remind you that our Councils and Conferences cannot donate to any organization outside the Vincentian Family.

We are investigating our options for providing help, and those may include directing assistance through other member organizations of the Vincentian Family. We have funds from the U.S. already in place at our CIAD office in Paris; we just need to have appropriate proposals from the countries closest to the situation. Designated funds provided without plans for their appropriate use have left literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in accounts that can remain unused for many years. We must be sure we have the capacity to deliver the aid in the areas with the need. We also must be able to ensure accountability for the proper use of any funds sent.

Allow me to share some observations about our ability to help people suffering in these situations. First, I see that our members are very generous. If we lack an active presence and the mobilization capacity to put a generous response to work, however, our Society is not able to serve those in need. In the future we must also devote resources to building the Society’s presence throughout our country and throughout the world. Building the network of charity Frederic Ozanam envisioned is still a work in progress. There is no national Council in the world that is more generous in providing disaster relief than our U.S. National Council. We can do better, however, in our Twinning efforts to provide effective support for new and struggling Conferences in countries with limited resources. Let’s renew those efforts.

Even here in the United States, where the Society is strong, we have realized a need to strengthen our capacity to respond to disasters. That is why we have formed and supported our Disaster Services Corporation, which brings excellent know-how to our Councils when they are called upon to respond to unpredictable events that strike their communities. We are fortunate here to be able to draw upon DSC expertise.

I also observe how we tend to be moved to help people whose stories are part of major events covered for multiple days in the news. In my role, I see how our Society helps many suffering in the aftermath of disasters that may barely make world news. In the last several months, we provided assistance to our members in Brazil, where there was a major landslide that killed several hundred people. In the last few months, we have aided victims of disasters you probably don’t remember or maybe never heard about. With funds we provided through the Society’s office in Paris, we have helped address disaster-induced suffering in the Philippines, Madagascar, Tonga, Burundi, Malawi, and Mozambique.

As with all disasters, the need coming out of Ukraine will go on for many years. In Ukraine, we have a small Vincentian presence of just three Conferences. Last I had heard, we have not had any communication from them. Let us continue to pray for them and for all those suffering in and near Ukraine, as well as for those in our country and throughout the world coping with disaster and conflict. Let us pray for peace.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

P.S. Here is some of specific information that has been shared with me:
Poland – The Society has only a handful of Conferences here. As far as I know, there is no structured National Council and little tradition of lay Catholic organizations in Poland. This is probably the place most in need of our assistance, but information on the location and activity of Polish Conferences is lacking.

Romania – The Society does have a properly constituted National Council here. That Council’s twinning officer is in constant communication with Society twinning partners in England and Wales. The report is that Conferences from Turt and Oradea are working with refugees in Sighet, near the border with Ukraine in northwest Romania. At Traian in northeast Romania, members are providing food and clothing at a retreat center that has turned itself into accommodations for refugees. Within the Society, Romania also has twinning links with Italian South Tyrol & Austria and has received donations from Germany.

Hungary — There is a small National Council in Hungary, twinned with Scotland. Hungary has only a relatively short border with Ukraine.

Slovakia — There is a National Council here, but I have no detail about Slovakian members’ capacity to assist.

Moldova – Although there is no national structure here, a group from Romania did go to Chisinau (Moldova’s capital) and set up at least one Conference a few years ago.

Meet Us in St. Louis for the 2022 Midyear Meeting!

Meet Us in St. Louis for the 2022 Midyear Meeting! 750 450 SVDP USA

Meet us in St. Louis the for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s 2022 Midyear Business Meeting, March 16 – 19, 2022 at the Hilton at the Ballpark in St. Louis, Missouri! The agenda is packed with education, spirituality, and informative information about the Society and helping those in need.

Highlights include: Spiritual Retreat, Committee Meetings, Regional Meetings, and our Midyear Business Meeting. We look forward to seeing you in St. Louis!

Registration Information

  • Registration Fee: $300 per person thru March 1
  • Late Registration Fee: $325 after March 1
  • One Day Attendance (Regional, Formation, Stores, etc.): $150 per person, per day
  • Spouse/Guest Attendee: $150 per person (includes meals & social functions)
  • Register Now

Hotel Information

Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark

The Hilton Ballpark room rate for Midyear is $147.00. Room rate cut-off date is February 21, 2022.

Reserve Now. If you need assistance, please contact Michele Schurk

Meeting Agenda

Wednesday, March 16
  • 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM          Morning Mass Available Daily at Old Cathedral (On Your Own)
  • 3:15 PM – 5:15 PM             Governance Committee Meeting
  • 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM           Afternoon Hospitality – Exhibitor Showcase
  • 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM          Registration & Exhibitor Tables Open – Grand/Archview Foyer
Thursday, March 17
  • 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM          Registration & Exhibitor Tables Open
  • 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    • National Board of Directors Meeting
    • Stores Committee Meeting with Executive Directors
    • Formation Committee Meeting
    • Hispanic Latino Task Force
    • Housing Task Force
    • Reentry Task Force
  • 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM          Vincentian Group Lunch
  • 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM              Opening Session with President Ralph Middlecamp
  • 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM            Regional Meetings
  • 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM
    • Growth & Revitalization Committee
    • Voice of the Poor Committee
    • Executive Directors Meeting
  • 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM            Welcome Reception (Cash Bar) – Grand Foyer
Friday, March 18
  • 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM           Registration & Exhibitor Tables Open – Grand/Archview Foyer
  • 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM         Spiritual Retreat – Tim Williams
  • 10:15 AM – 11:15 AM          Keynote Address – Grand Ballroom
  • 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
    • Vincentian Group Lunch
    • Youth Committee (Working Lunch)
  • 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM             National Business Meeting (Part I) – Grand Ballroom
  • 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM             Vincentian Mass & Recommitment Ceremony – Old Cathedral
  • 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM            Enjoy dinner on your own (Opportunity for Regional Dinners)
Saturday, March 19
  • 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM           National Business Meeting (Part II) – Grand Ballroom
  • 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM            Vincentian Group Lunch – Archview Ballroom
  • 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM             Vigil Mass Available at Old Cathedral (On Your Own)

Daily Mass

Daily Mass will be offered at the Old Cathedral at 7:00 AM
Additional Information

A Letter From Our Servant Leaders – 2-17-2022

A Letter From Our Servant Leaders – 2-17-2022 1368 1387 SVDP USA

As Vincentians we follow Christ’s example whenever possible in matters of our faith and love of the poor, each other and God. Why then do we resist another example He provides, of presence?

Would our Catholic faith be different if there was improved technology in Christ’s time? Without mass publishing, phones, and emails, Christ and later the Apostles used their feet. Christ was in person to recruit each Apostle, not relying on a temple poster. He spoke to the masses on the Mount rather than sending out a newsletter or Instagram post. And (Bible spoiler alert!) He came back from the dead and appeared in person to his Apostles. He didn’t send a text or a YouTube video. Even within those earlier times, He didn’t send an angel or messenger on His behalf. Some things you just gotta do in person.

I’d like to think that all this didn’t happen as described only because modern technology didn’t exist. Remember, God once provided simultaneous translation so that everyone heard the Word in their own language – without wires and earpieces! If He so desired, I’m sure he could have had us invent technology earlier and provide cellphones or whatever. No, I think He has always appreciated the singular value of being there in person.

It’s been nearly two years now since it seemed that everything shut down. Business, restaurant, and school closures. No in-person meetings.  Weeks of absolute quarantine. Not even what we assumed would always be with us, the Sunday Mass. In our Vincentian work, no Home Visits and no Conference meetings, the core strategies of our mission together.  It’s as if COVID was a virus that not only killed people, but also our institutions.

We slowly return now to normal, but with new tools, new systems, and perhaps, for good or bad, new strategies and habits. We have gotten used to doing our work and living our lives increasingly through the phone and the Internet. But just because we can doesn’t always mean we should.

Some people have immunology issues or are simply afraid of contracting the virus, and we need to recognize their situations and adapt as we can. For most of us though, it’s time to return to Christ’s example and get back out there, safely but in person. Technology was a necessary and welcome, saving fix to our challenges. In many ways it is best that we now view that fix as temporary.

From our beginnings, Conference meetings have been in person. Granted, we barely had phones when we started! But while tech has changed since 1833, the benefits of members experiencing our three Essential Elements of Spirituality, Friendship, and Service have outweighed the meeting technology conveniences.

The Home Visit has long set us apart from the many social service agencies and even other good Catholic groups seeking to serve the poor. We, and the person being served, see the Face of Christ only in person.

Our Council, regional, and national meetings are coming back on line as well. I hear from so many that they have missed their friends and the opportunity to share with each other, enhanced when in person relative to emails and phone calls. Breaking bread together is more than a meal; it’s a treasured relationship. I expect next month’s Midyear meeting hallways to be full of good cheer!

Sure, we have tools that can make our tasks faster, less expensive, and more efficient. Serving the poor, though, has never been an efficient undertaking. Increasing our spirituality, our core mission, has never had a shortcut!

As we follow Christ, let’s look to his engagement strategies. He never “mailed it in” to a gathering or a sermon. He sent disciples, often with no more than the clothes on their backs, to strange towns where they knew not a soul to spread the Word in person. At the very core of our faith, He presented Himself to be tortured and crucified. Only through these examples of personal presence could He then return and save all of us.

We have been forced to take cover, physically and often spiritually, for two years. The least we can do now in Christ’s name is to attend our meetings in person, ask friends and family to join and support us with personal invitations, and visit with neighbors in need where they live. Let’s return intentionally to Christ, not only in our prayers but through our lives of renewed presence.

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

SVdP National Council Welcomes New Director of National Fundraising Programs

SVdP National Council Welcomes New Director of National Fundraising Programs 414 424 SVDP USA

The National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul is excited to welcome the new Director of National Fundraising Programs, Alyssa Bergman.

Alyssa will focus on growing revenue through all direct mail channels, mid-level donors and the monthly giving program.

Alyssa was born and raised in the St. Louis area. She attended the University of Tulsa where she graduated with a degree in Communications. Alyssa has a variety of experience in the nonprofit industry including event planning, volunteer coordination, fundraising campaign development, and donor management. She has always been passionate about service to others and is looking forward to sharing the mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

She currently lives in St. Louis with her husband, Josh and they are overjoyed to be welcoming their first child in March.

If you would like to contact Alyssa, she can be reached at (314) 576-3993 ext. 218 or by email at abergman@svdpusa.org.

2-10-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

2-10-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1119 630 SVDP USA


We are pleased to announce that this year’s Circular Letter, written by the President General International, has been published. The work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, still marked by the pandemic, has not been hindered; instead, it has become a real challenge, as it was for the founders of the Conferences, who endured similar situations in their times.

The President General states that “inequality and deprivation have increased, among nations and within them” and that “God expects much of us, the members, now more than ever, as the consequences of the pandemic, as well as so many tragic deaths, are disastrous for the whole mankind.”

In this regard, Renato Lima elaborates on the myriad of initiatives undertaken by the Council General International in these times, which is clear evidence that we can keep on serving in hope, despite all the hardships, and reach out to the most vulnerable.

The President General also addresses the importance of education to alleviate poverty, the care and respect of the environment, the Vincentian behavior, and the good practices in the management of charitable works and at the Councils.

Furthermore, the President General makes some recommendations for members: Observing the SSVP’s Rule, body and soul; working in harmony with the precepts of the Church; and always being charitable towards our companions on this Vincentian path, so that Conferences may truly be a “place of holiness”.

Like in previous Circular Letters written by our dear President, he kindly requests each and every Vincentian to nurture the “moral duty to care for the Vincentian Family, as a priority in our strategy” wherever Conferences are present and take care, with the same zeal, of younger Vincentian members, while giving unlimited support, organizing projects and programs especially for them, seeking creative ways for training them, investing in their future and opening up more spaces for them to take decisions within the SSVP at a national level.

Moreover, upcoming presidential elections at the Council General are therein addressed, and ideal conditions thereof are put forward by Renato Lima. The candidate, among other attributes, should lead a Vincentian life, be charismatic and kind, have managerial skills, and speak several languages.

Finally, it is worth highlighting the commitment made by the President General and his team, who are working hard so that the Church can declare Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam,  our main founder, a saint, and the initiatives launched by this Presidency to make the history and origins of our institution known, like the themed years dedicated to each of the co-founders of the SSVP (2022 is devoted to Le Taillandier).

In his final message, the President General stresses that, with God’s help, the Society has expanded and grown throughout its history, always with a defined goal: “the holiness of its members and standing beside those who suffer on a path of charity”.

The Circular Letter is recommended reading during meetings at the Conferences and Councils. Due to its length, it should be read out piecemeal for deeper reflection.

Click on this link to read the President General’s full Circular Letter.


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