04-03-24 VisionSVdP Update

04-03-24 VisionSVdP Update 8335 2555 SVDP USA

Dear Fellow Vincentians,

Now that the Midyear Meeting, where we rolled out VisionSVdP, is over, I want to give you a report on how things went at the meeting and let you know about the next steps in this important ongoing national initiative.

You will be hearing much about VisionSVdP over the next two plus years; this is one of the most important and impactful things we have undertaken as a Society in the last 25 years. And it will take the commitment, dedication, and full participation of every Vincentian at every level of the Society to make sure that the work we do will enable us to adapt to a changing world and ensure that our work and our relevance in supporting His people in need and growing in our own holiness and spirituality will continue for generations to come.

The launch of VisionSVdP at the Midyear Meeting was exciting and powerful! Almost 250 people, attendees and staff, participated in five separate listening sessions. Was there some nervousness? Some confusion? Some desire for structure and specific questions to answer? Of course there was! If there was not, I would have been very concerned. This is new ground we are breaking. This is quite easy for some people and exceedingly difficult for others.

These listening sessions require that we not only listen to each other, but that we listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to us and through us. They require that we be candid and open and honest and free thinking. If we gave you a bunch of questions and asked you to answer them, what we would get is — a bunch of answers to questions we asked. What we would NOT get is the things in your heart and in your soul that matter deeply and passionately to you. We would not get the voice crying out in the wilderness with the idea that might make all the difference in the world.

So going forward, if you are looking for a lot of structured conversations in VisionSVdP you might be disappointed, because you are not going to get that — at least not in this phase. But if you come to this process with an open heart and an open mind then I think any disappointment will turn to excitement and joy as you journey together, you and your fellow Vincentians on this path to adapting to a changing world. What this synodal process will provide you is an opportunity for open dialogue; listening sessions that are freeform and unstructured with thinking that is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

So, what is next? 

Now we are going into the Regional Meeting phase. We will hold listening sessions at every Regional Meeting over the next few months. I will be at many Regional Meetings to help facilitate; but since I have not yet figured out how to be cloned, I cannot get to them all. So, Dave Barringer will be at the ones I cannot attend, and the RVPs all participated in the launch at Midyear, so they are familiar with the process. There will be a video from our National Spiritual Advisor, Archbishop Andrew, to kick off each session and help center us on the task ahead.

After the Regional Meetings we are asking all Councils, Conferences, and Special Works to hold VisionSVdP Listening Sessions, preferably before the National Assembly. And I want to make a key point here. When I say we want all Vincentians to participate in VisionSVdP, I mean all Vincentians; Full Members, Associate Members, Staff, and Volunteers. And at some point, we will also determine how we can engage with the people we serve, our neighbors in need, to get their views on the Society and how we need to adapt to a changing world to best serve them.

All the comments from all the sessions will be gathered into a national database where we can all look at it. And when I say we, I mean we — you, me, and every Vincentian — because every voice matters, today and tomorrow. In Phase II, we will all begin to ask ourselves: What does all this mean? Then we will start to determine patterns, similarities, trends, commonalities, and areas where we want to focus. But we will also be looking for that voice in the wilderness.

There will be further updates as we continue the process. Thanks for your continued participation and support.

Peace and God’s blessings,

John Berry
National President

The VisionSVdP Prayer

The VisionSVdP Prayer 8335 2555 SVDP USA

The VisionSVdP Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, open our eyes, our hearts, and our imaginations to Your inspiration as we embark on our VisionSVdP journey and seek to discern the Father’s holy will for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and how it will adapt to a changing world.

Come, Holy Spirit, transform our doubts, ignite our zeal. Help us discern new and innovative ways to bring more people into the joy of service in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Come, Holy Spirit, grant us the simplicity to share honestly with each other, the humility to serve a mission greater than ourselves, and the gentleness to listen to each other without judgment.


Oración de la VisiónSVdP

Ven, Espíritu Santo, abre nuestros ojos, nuestros corazones y nuestra imaginación a Tu inspiración Divina mientras nos embarcamos en nuestro viaje hacia la VisiónSVdP y lograr discernir en la santa voluntad del Padre, en cómo se adaptará la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl a un mundo cambiante.

Ven, Espíritu Santo, transforma nuestras dudas, ilumina nuestro fervor.  Ayúdanos a discernir con formas nuevas e innovadoras de llevar a más personas a la alegría del servicio en la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl.

Ven, Espíritu Santo, concédenos la sencillez de compartir honestamente los unos con los otros; la humildad para servir a una misión más grande que nosotros mismos; y la gracia de escucharnos unos a otros sin juzgarnos.


Update on Haiti

Update on Haiti 421 421 SVDP USA
By Pam Matambanadzo,
International Territorial Vice President – America 1

We have been receiving calls seeking some guidance on the situation in Haiti. Vincentians want to know if they can send funds to help. It is difficult to answer this without first giving some background to fully understand the magnitude of the reality on the ground.

Earthquakes and Hurricanes

Haiti has a tragic history of devastating earthquakes and hurricanes. The 2010 earthquake, in particular, left thousands dead, injured, and displaced. The country’s infrastructure was severely damaged, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities.

Hurricanes, such as Hurricane Matthew in 2016, have repeatedly battered Haiti, causing loss of life, destruction of homes, and disruptions to essential services.

Cholera Epidemic

In 2010, shortly after the earthquake, Haiti faced a cholera outbreak. The disease spread rapidly due to inadequate sanitation and limited access to clean water. Thousands lost their lives, and the healthcare system struggled to cope.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Like the rest of the world, Haiti grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. The fragile healthcare infrastructure faced immense challenges in testing, treatment, and containment.

The pandemic exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, impacting livelihoods, education, and overall well-being.

Gang Violence: The Current Crisis

While natural disasters and epidemics have caused immense suffering, the gang-related issues in Haiti pose a unique and immediate threat.

Gangs control neighborhoods, extort businesses, and perpetrate violence. They hinder humanitarian aid distribution, making it difficult for organizations like SVdP USA to reach those in need. Violent gangs roam the streets, perpetuating fear and violence. They control local resources, including food distribution points. Civilians face danger while trying to secure basic necessities.

Unlike natural disasters, which eventually subside, gang violence persists, creating an ongoing cycle of fear, instability, and suffering. Residents fear for their lives, so they are forced to stay at home. Schools and businesses are closing.

Absence of Government

Haiti’s political instability has led to an ineffective government. The absence of governance has resulted in chaos, impacting essential services. Food distribution, security, and public safety are compromised. And this in turn led the US Embassy in Haiti to take precautionary measures, urging citizens to leave the island due to safety concerns. This closure disrupts communication channels and assistance for organizations like ours.

Haiti’s banking system faces uncertainty. SVdP must navigate this challenging financial landscape to manage funds transparently and ensure donations reach those in need. We need to reassure donors that we are fully considering the volatile situation. There is the uncomfortable reality that when we send aid to Haiti, it is unclear whether the funds are reaching those in need or whether have gangs infiltrated there (as they have done everything else).

We are asking for not only your patience as we try to find ways to work for the poor through these challenging times — but more importantly your prayers. We have had various twinning opportunities that have afforded us the ability to help where we can through all those natural disasters and the pandemic. Through these opportunities we have faced many challenges, but none has been more heartbreaking than watching from afar as we are having to do now. It is not watching in vain. Our team at the National Council office are working diligently to find solutions within extremely volatile conditions.

In summary, while Haiti has endured significant historical suffering due to natural calamities and health crises, the current gang-related situation presents a more dangerous and persistent challenge. Addressing gang violence is crucial for restoring safety, stability, and hope in this resilient nation.

Notes from Our Friends in Haiti

“Thank you for always being there on our side and for accompanying and encouraging us; it does us good. Yes, the situation in Haiti is very tense like never before… this period is really distressing for the poor who already have a precarious life and for us who must give them courage in proximity. In Tabarre – Fleuriot, the school has been closed for two weeks, and in Gonaïves, it has been closed since January 2024. The closure of daily activities and street movement is paralyzed due to insecurity and violence. It’s also sad because there is looting of big stores, and we can hardly find essential products. People who live day by day really face great difficulty, increasing misery and life’s movements. This is the picture I can give today of Haiti. For us believers who believe in the presence of God rich in grace and kindness, we hope that this situation will change. God, our strength, and grace, help us overcome this time of injustice with the peace of Christ our Savior, whom we will celebrate on Easter day. Thank you for your constant presence and support. Have a blessed Holy Week. Fraternally, Sr. Matilde fdlc”

– Sister Mathilde, who oversees two schools in Haiti, and her translated message was as follows

“Good morning! I apologize for the fact that it is you who is asking me about the chaotic situation that Haiti has been going through for years and is now worsening. It is very concerning now, and that’s why I didn’t have time to inform you about this situation of poverty and insecurity. What is the problem?

After the fall of the Duvaliers, the victims of the regime came with the uprooting of the Tonton Makout (supporters of the Duvalier regime), which consisted of freeing Haiti from this group. Since then, there has always been conflict between the people and the leaders. It is difficult for a president and his government to finish their term; there is always a coup or the president is forced to resign until in July 2021 President Jovenel was assassinated. It is total instability. All the country’s institutions are weakened. Criminal gangs are growing like rain. They evict the people, kidnap, and kill in the face of the government and the police. The people are left alone with no one to watch over them or defend them. The country has been like this for 2 years and 8 months, and now the criminal gangs are federating and are looking for those who will arm them and provide them with ammunition to oppress the people. This movement totally paralyzes all activities in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.

All schools are closed. Those that can offer virtual classes are functioning, and those that cannot are waiting for everything to calm down to continue. Adelia Felix School is one of those waiting without knowing when, but we are in communication with our students. Dialoguing with them, it is evident that they have many problems because they cannot go to school, but a more serious problem arises which is “not being able to eat,” and later there will be more hunger in the country. That’s why I ask the donors of Adelia Felix School that if there are no possibilities to help our students with food. So, after this storm, we can relocate them for the reopening of classes.

 Today, it is true that there are economic problems everywhere, but in Port-au-Prince, it is worse because the people do not have the right to go out, meaning they are prisoners in their homes. Therefore, food assistance would greatly benefit our students and their parents. The school relies on you! God will reward you!”

– Raphael Verlux

03-07-25 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

03-07-25 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1200 1200 SVDP USA

This is the last in a series of three Servant Leader columns before next week’s Midyear Meeting that address VisionSVdP.  Today I’d like to explain a little more about how the process will work over the next year, and talk a bit about how you can get involved.

We will formally ‘kick off’ VisionSVdP at the Midyear Meeting in St. Louis with five Listening Sessions. All Midyear attendees will be randomly assigned to one of five groups and will meet for approximately 1 ½ hours. This will occur following a session by me on the process, and after a Keynote Address by the National Council President of Australia, who will speak about the process there, and a Spiritual Retreat by Archbishop Andrew Bellisario, CM, our National Episcopal Advisor.

At the Listening Sessions, Midyear attendees will have a free-flowing discussion about the Society. They will all begin with the same question: What does the Rule, Part 1, 1.6: “Adaptation to a Changing World” mean to you?

From there, they will discuss anything and everything that they want to. Someone at each table will capture everyone’s comments — because every voice matters. Two moderators per room (typically Regional VPs) will then attempt to capture the essence of the discussions; when the entire group reconvenes, we’ll have a conversation about the process. The goal is not to highlight any comments as more important than any other, but to debrief how people felt. Were their voices heard? Did they learn anything? Did anything ‘click’ from the conversation?

This process will repeat itself at the Regional meetings.

So, you ask: What about me? I’m not going to Midyear or the Regional Meeting. How do I get involved??

GOOD QUESTION!  You get involved because we want every Conference and every Council and every Special Work to do this as well. AND WE WILL HELP YOU!

Now, let’s be very open and very, very honest here. We will face many naysayers and people who just want to keep on doing things the way we always have, either because it’s easier, or because they fear change. Then we’ll have the inevitable organizational inertia that will never find the time to schedule the sessions — we’re too busy, we’re too important doing other “real Vincentian work,” etc, etc. They will all resist doing these sessions. WE CANNOT LET THAT HAPPEN.

Engage with the VisionSVdP process at your Conference and in your Council and Region. Become a Champion for the effort! Contact your Regional VP, contact your Council President, contact me. Make sure the process gets to you and is carried out. Because your voice matters.

After all these sessions are held in 2024 (including at the National Assembly in Phoenix), we will start a National Conversation process in 2025 about what we have heard and what it means for how we adapt and change.

Peace and God’s blessings,

John Berry
National President

VisionSVdP: Because Every Voice Matters

VisionSVdP: Because Every Voice Matters 8335 2555 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Family,

Over the last six months you have likely heard and read about the launch of VisionSVdP, our “family conversation” that will occur over the next two years as we answer the call in our Rule to “Adapt to a Changing World.”

I first spoke about this in my remarks after my Installation as National President last year in St. Louis, and I have written about it often in the e-Gazette Servant Leader column and other places. Well, VisionSVdP will officially kick off at the Midyear Meeting in St. Louis March 13 – 16, so I wanted to provide some information and detail on what is ahead. There will also be more in next week’s e-Gazette.

The question that is probably first in many people’s minds is “What is VisionSVdP?”

Let me start by telling you what it is NOT. It’s not a program, it’s not a strategic plan process, it’s not a reorganization, it’s not a fundraising campaign, it’s not a make-work effort for already burdened Vincentians trying to serve people in need.

Well then… what IS IT, you ask? Well, it’s a conversation. That’s right, it’s a conversation. A Synodal (from the Greek for Journeying Together) conversation about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. What’s good about it? What’s not so good about it? What are we doing right? What might we be doing better? What are we doing that we don’t need to be? What aren’t we doing that we should be doing? What’s enriching your spiritual life as a Vincentian? What’s stressing your spiritual life as a Vincentian? Why are we getting older and greyer even though we are trying to bring young people into our membership? Why can’t we move the needle on increasing diversity despite years of trying? Why are we still using pen and paper to complete casework forms when our grandkids are using tablets to do their homework in first grade??

Get it? This will be a conversation guided by, blessed by, and driven by God through the Holy Spirit.

The next question on your mind is probably “Why are we doing this?” There are a lot of reasons!

As I mentioned above, The Rule, written in 1836, call us to periodically “Adapt to a Changing World.” In Part I, 1.6 The Rule says: “Faithful to the spirit of its founders, the Society constantly strives for renewal, adapting to changing world conditions. It seeks to be aware of the changes that occur in human society and the new types of poverty that may be identified or anticipated. It gives priority to the poorest of the poor and to those who are most rejected by society.”

The last few decades in the United States (and in the world) have brought changing conditions that demand we look at how we must adapt and renew. Those changes were accelerated and exacerbated by the pandemic and the economic challenges faced here and abroad. We must look at the Society in the light of the reality of today and tomorrow — and we must change where change is called for.

Finally, how are we going to do this? We’re going to do it by talking, listening, respecting every person’s views, and then planning how we move forward. We are going to talk for a long time. We are going to talk for at least a year at every level in the Society — because EVERY VOICE MATTERS.

At the Midyear Meeting, we will hold Listening Breakout sessions. These are exactly what they are called — LISTENING Sessions. We are going to all listen to each other, because EVERY VOICE MATTERS. At the Regional Meeting we are going to hold Listening Sessions — because EVERY VOICE MATTERS. And then every Council and every Conference and every Thrift Store and every Food Pantry and every Special Work in the Society is going to hold Listening Sessions — because EVERY VOICE MATTERS.

And then we’re going to assimilate it and talk about it. But that’s next year’s work. This year we’re gonna talk — a lot!


Peace and God’s Blessings,

John Berry
National President

New Issue of Serving in Hope Out Now

New Issue of Serving in Hope Out Now 830 830 SVDP USA

The latest edition of SVdP’s Serving in Hope Newsletter is now available!

Highlighting stories of how Vincentians are serving neighbors in need and changing lives across the country, Serving in Hope is published quarterly and sent to all donors of the National Council.  This issue’s cover story features Rita, a single mother who was able to find permanent housing and keep her family together thanks to the generosity of our donors and the support of local Vincentians. We’re also sharing a photo essay spotlighting some of the ways Vincentians brought help and hope to the poorest among us over the Christmas season.

If you haven’t received your copy yet, click here to read Serving in Hope.

National Council Announces New Friends of the Poor Grant Recipients

National Council Announces New Friends of the Poor Grant Recipients 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Grant awards for this round total $100,000. We received 150 grant applications totaling $741,855. Available FOP funding is normally limited to the amount raised and/or approved by the National Council budget process.

SVdP Conferences and District Councils can apply for up to $5,000 from the National Council’s Friends of the Poor Fund. Individual grant award amounts may vary from the application amount, but will not exceed $5,000. Grants are targeted to specific areas of need, above and beyond available Conference resources: assistance for rent/housing, utilities, food, clothing, medical, transportation, and baby/children needs.

St. Vincent de Paul Continues to Serve 2021 Tornado Survivors

St. Vincent de Paul Continues to Serve 2021 Tornado Survivors 2554 2560 SVDP USA

On November 11, St. Vincent de Paul of Western Kentucky hosted 50 families who survived the 2021 tornadoes with a pre-Thanksgiving celebration in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Many survivors expressed their gratitude for St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services Corporation’s national House in a Box™ program. One survivor, Tommy Jackson, singled out SVdP Community Liaison, Vicki Duncan: “Miss Vicki was so helpful through it all. When I didn’t know where to go or what to do, she gave me direction. She is truly a blessing.” When he left, Jackson shared with Miss Vicki a handmade afghan and several scripture quotes that are dear to him.

Survivors had a chance to visit with SVdP Diocesan Council Board Members: President Nancy Harris and Vice President Harry Bellew. Harris reflected, “Journeying with the survivors in their recovery is essential so they know they’re not forgotten. We as Vincentians are the long-term recovery people. When everyone else is gone, we’re still here to help. Western Kentucky is our home.”

She continued, “I was humbled by their gratitude — their stories made it so real for me. It was also a great opportunity for us to visit with our special Mayfield Vincentians, they are our local boots on the ground.” The St. Joseph Conference from Mayfield provided the survivor families with fellowship and wonderful hospitality, including delicious food and refreshments.

The community still faces many unmet needs. SVdP Diocesan Council CEO Richard B. Remp-Morris says, “We are thankful for the resources to continue to help tornado survivors. We have seen such generosity from our donors, especially St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services Corporation and the American Red Cross. However, the need is still so great. It has been a privilege — and at the same time personally rewarding — to be able to serve the western Kentucky tornado survivors.”

As families left the event, they were gifted a new microwave, a tin of holiday cookies, and a $50 gift card towards their Thanksgiving meal. All children received a small bag of candy.

SVdP News Roundup October 14 – October 20

SVdP News Roundup October 14 – October 20 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:



SVdP News Roundup October 7 – October 13

SVdP News Roundup October 7 – October 13 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:



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