Vincentians

Legislative Action: Get Ready to act on the Child Tax Credit

Legislative Action: Get Ready to act on the Child Tax Credit 900 900 SVDP USA

With the mid-term election over, Congress is back in Washington beginning to wrap-up their 2022 legislative session. Congress is expected to take up a corporate tax bill. While reducing taxes for corporations is very popular and usually passes, it will take 60 votes to pass in the U.S. Senate. We need your senators to agree that the Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansion should be part of that broader tax package.

Before we send an action alert, we wanted to share some facts and show why this issue is critical to our mission.

Here are some facts about the Child Tax Credit:

  • The American Rescue Plan Act expanded the 2021 Child Tax Credit (CTC) to almost 90% of children in the U.S.
  • The CTC cut child poverty by 46 percent last year.
  • The CTC monthly payments helped parents afford necessities such as rent, food, gas, utilities, childcare, and clothes for their kids.
  • The CTC monthly payments lifted more than 3 million children from poverty each month they went out.
  • The CTC expansion in the American Rescue plan has expired.
  • Without the expansion of the CTC, child poverty is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels

Are Vincentians in this alone?

No, we and other faith and anti-poverty organizations are in this fight together. That said, advocacy is a team sport. We are more effective when everyone plays a role. Nobody should sit on the sidelines.

What can you do now?

Sign up to be an advocate! Go to our Advocacy website and go to the top right part of the page where it says Sign up for alerts and add your email address and zip code.  You will be notified when we send out the action alert for you to send to your U.S. Senators in the coming weeks.

Also, add this website to your favorites. We will need your help to contact your legislators during key issues!

If you are interested in learning more about the Child Tax Credit and it’s effect on Childhood Poverty, tune in to an informational webinar on Thursday, December 15 at 2:00 PM CENTRAL. Register here

12-1-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leader

12-1-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leader 900 900 SVDP USA

Many of us have tried out a store or restaurant because of great and appealing advertising, only to have an unsatisfactory user experience once we arrived. Maybe it’s a price we didn’t expect, unfriendly or even rude personnel, or simply a feeling that the reality just didn’t live up to the expectation. Perhaps it is even worse when we walk into a favorite establishment to find it isn’t what we remember, but now only some shadow of its former glory and our former fondness.

As we think about inviting a friend or fellow parishioner to join the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, are we unknowingly guilty of the same bait-and-switch between how we sell the Society to others and what they experience when they come to our meetings or otherwise encounter us? In marketing terms, we often think of promotion first to attract new members, when perhaps we need first to review and change the product. We may need to change who and what we are – not the Rule but our behaviors – before we can promote ourselves.

Do we only meet during the day, making it nearly impossible for working people to join our meetings and become an Active member? Could we meet once a month during the day, and another time at night or on the weekend to allow for more people to join based on their comfort and other commitments?

Likewise, do we conduct Home Visits only when convenient for us, but not for others who would like to help, or even for the friends in need who may not have our flexibility?

Are our meetings full of Conference business (Service), and don’t offer much if anything in the Society’s other Essential Elements of Friendship or Spirituality? Do we take the time to pray and reflect? Do we even take the time to enjoy each other’s company and make new or better friends among fellow members?

Is everyone invited to participate, or is it often the case that just 2-3 leaders or salty old vets dominate the conversations, planning and meetings? Do we follow term limits, and create leadership posts that don’t require experience, just interest and dedication?

When someone new attends, how do we treat them? Do we give them an opportunity to serve? Do we give them a Member Handbook and then review it with them? Or do we shunt them to the sidelines, don’t let them speak, and don’t follow up after the meeting to gauge their interests or ideas?

Do we quickly train and engage prospective members in our Home Visits, food pantry, or other works? Do they learn how these works are Vincentian faith in action, or are they just another service project?

How quickly do we begin Formation activities from introductions to Ozanam Orientations to Conference use of Vincentian Reflections? Is this a coordinated Conference priority, or is it left to individuals to figure out on their own?

Are young adults and people of color invited, and made to feel welcome? Or do we focus our recruiting and our meetings only on those who look like those already in our ranks? Does our membership reflect the parish demographics? The community’s?

All considered, are we who we say we are? Are we even who we think we are ourselves?

Between fall recruiting season for parish ministries and the added activities many Conferences take on during the holidays, it’s a good time to step back and assess the “product” of our local Society’s offering to prospective members. There may also be good value in asking someone from the outside to attend and tell us what they think of the Society from that experience. We might be surprised to learn how we have drifted toward certain behaviors and habits that make our Society less attractive, even less accurate, than who we say we are. Before we spend resources of time and money to advertise our product, let’s be sure it’s the product that we want to be and indeed, God calls us to be!

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer
CEO

Contemplation — My God, I Give You My Heart

Contemplation — My God, I Give You My Heart 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Our Rule repeatedly emphasizes the importance of prayer to our vocation. We pray often, the Rule reminds us. We live “a life of prayer and reflection, both at the individual and community level,” [Rule, Part I, 2.2] Prayer is central to our lives and to our vocation. So, as in all things, we must ask: what does St. Vincent teach us about our life of prayer?

In a general audience in November 2020, Pope Francis expressed four characteristics of prayer, given to us through Christ’s example. [General Audience, 4 Nov 2020] The first of these is the primacy of prayer; prayer is “the first desire of the day.” We listen, we encounter God from our first moment of consciousness.

Similarly, St. Vincent de Paul urged that we should “always do whatever you can so that, prayer being your first occupation, your mind may be filled with God for the rest of the day.” [CCD IX:29] Vincent himself began each day with “mental prayer,” interiorly seeking God’s guidance. The Common Rules of the Congregation of the Mission would later incorporate this practice for all the priests and brothers of the mission.

We are only human, and it is easy to seek coffee first – to try to physically jolt ourselves into the energy we need to get up and to get going. But how full are our hearts when we open them instead, first thing each day, to God? Caffeine may well make our hearts beat faster, but prayer will make them beat more insistently, more persistently, more patiently, and more purposefully.

Coffee doesn’t give us the empathy to understand the neighbor as we would a brother or sister. Coffee doesn’t help us to form relationships based on trust and friendship. [Rule, Part I, 1.9] Coffee is indeed a joyful way to help us greet the day, but coffee is only physical. It warms us from the outside in.

Prayer fills us from the inside out, from where God touches us most deeply so that His love may take root and grow to where we can share Him and His love with all those we encounter. But first, and to start each and every day, we must open our innermost hearts to Him.

On awaking, his biographer Joseph Guichard said, St. Vincent would begin each day by crossing himself and saying, “My God, I give You my heart.” May we follow his example, not only in our words, but in our devotion, our practice of prayer, and in our hearts – every day.

Contemplate

As a Vincentian, a Catholic, a Christian, how do I greet each day?

Recommended Reading

500 Little Prayers for Vincentians

A Week in Prayers November 21 – November 25

A Week in Prayers November 21 – November 25 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, November 21

Lord Jesus,
Help me to give of my time and myself,
To serve the neighbor in need;
To give from my poverty or from my wealth,
My two small coins, my second coat,
And the love of the Lord above.
Amen

Tuesday, November 22

Jesus, Son of Man,
Whose chose not power,
But poverty for Yourself,
Loving and serving the poor,
Help me to follow Your Way
In faith.

Jesus, Son of God,
You followed the Will
Of the Father,
Even unto death.
Help me see the Truth
With hope.

Jesus, Lord and Savior,
Whose love is everlasting!
Through the cross
And resurrection,
You lead me to new Life
In love.
Amen

Wednesday, November 23

Father, forgive me,
Show me Your mercy,
Send me Your spirit of love.
Your grace makes me whole,
And with all of creation,
I rejoice like the angels above.
Amen

Thursday, November 24

In the quiet of the morning, Lord,
As day slips out of night,
Your blessings fall upon me
Like the slowly growing light.

I thank you for my talents, Lord,
I thank you for my faults,
For all I thought I should have had
But am better off without

More gifts you’ve given me, O Lord,
Than one alone could bear,
But all that I’ve received, O Lord,
You’ve given me to share.
Amen

Friday, November 25

In Your name, O Lord,
I offer prayers of thanks.
For all that I am, all that I have,
And all I will ever be.
I am humbled
By Your great love for me,
That brings such peace
To my heart.
Amen

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

SVdP News Roundup November 19 – November 25

SVdP News Roundup November 19 – November 25 3600 3600 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

Disaster Services Update 11-23-2022

Disaster Services Update 11-23-2022 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, CEO of Disaster Services Corporation, journeyed across Florida this past week to assess the widespread devastation left behind by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

The groundwork has been laid to provide both Rapid Response and Long-Term Recovery Grants to the affected Councils that have established a plan for the next phase of recovery. The state is still active in debris removal and continuing to stabilize the infrastructure in many areas. There has been a significant loss of homes, businesses, and jobs in each of these hard hit communities. The Fort Myers area has been one of the most drastically affected communities.

Elizabeth met with Diane Clarke, the SVdP Southeast Regional Disaster Chair who has been working tirelessly to help organize and lead disaster relief efforts throughout the state and who is a survivor as well. Diane is supporting long-term recovery work and has been working at the Sarasota Emergency Operations Command. Elizabeth stated, “Diane and I were at Ft. Myers Beach today and the destruction was overwhelming, especially as we witnessed the height of the storm surge as it was made evident how serious and dangerous the conditions were.” She went on to say that, “This will be a long recovery, and I am proud of the amazing work that our Vincentians have done to date. FEMA and the American Red Cross team have expressed their gratitude for the Vincentian’s efforts, singing their praises as they have managed to complete over 1,000 intake forms as they met with survivors in Ft. Myers within the FEMA led Multi-Agency Resource Center.” Elizabeth mentioned, “I want to personally thank Diane Clark for her outstanding leadership, as she is working 24/7 to support the Councils that have been impacted by these hurricanes, in addition to all the work she does for her Conference. I don’t know how she does it all!”

A special thanks and recognition is also extended to Trace Tryklo, Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul of Orlando, for all he is doing to support Hurricane Ian survivors in the Diocese of Orlando. Vincentians, Jim Reagan and Susan Pellicciotti, from Diocese of Venice, along with many other volunteers, who helped at the Multi Agency Resource Center. Elizabeth ended with, “I was so moved by the Vincentian spirit of caring during my time in Florida, they are truly amazing.”

11-23-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

11-23-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

Almost 40 years ago, I was part of a group that started a free community meal program. In the beginning, many of our guests were homeless and living on the streets. On one occasion, one of my fellow organizers pulled a man aside to address some behavior issues and concluded by telling the guest, “You only have one job here and that is to be grateful, and you are not doing that very well.”

As the years passed, this friend and I realized that the pithy comment we once thought was on-target no longer matched our hoped-for relationships with meal program guests. How different that comment is from what our Rule tells us in the section titled “Gratitude to those we visit.” This is where we read, “Vincentians never forget the many blessings they receive from those they visit. They recognize that the fruit of their labors springs, not from themselves, but especially from God and from the poor they serve.”

Often, we think of being grateful for material things – the stuff we have. That’s maybe why we often expect those we serve to be grateful; we are providing “stuff” for free. We eventually learn, however, that what we are most grateful for are the relationships we have with family, friends, and those we serve, and – most importantly – with our God. I am grateful for my daily bread, for a warm place to live, for meaningful work and for beautiful sunsets. I think all of these blessings are more meaningful, however, when I have someone with whom I can share them.

Giving thanks is not just for a once-a-year holiday. It is something we should do always and everywhere. Those are words we hear at Mass to begin the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayers. “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right and just. It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks.” What are we thanking God for? Is it for food, clothing, or the beauty of the earth? No, the Eucharistic text goes on to tell us that we give thanks for Jesus, who was sent to us to restore our relationship with God, and that we should be grateful for this always and everywhere.

This Thanksgiving week I hope you give thanks not only for the material blessings we enjoy but also for the relationships that enrich our lives. I appreciate the gifts I have received from everyone I have met this year, and I am grateful for you and the relationship we have in the network of charity that we have inherited from our founders.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

 

Contemplation — Our Long-Term Vision

Contemplation — Our Long-Term Vision 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Our Manual explains that Vincentians “trust in Providence” in our works and in our lives. [Manual, p. 63] We understand this to mean, as Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount, that we should not worry about tomorrow, that we should let the day’s own troubles be enough. [Matthew 6:25-34] But how do we live this belief in our Conferences?

In one sense, it would seem that trust in Providence is a call to passivity – just sit back and let God take care of it! Yet neither Jesus, St. Vincent, nor Bl. Frédéric suggest anything of the kind. While assuring us that God knows of our needs and will provide, Jesus reminds us to “seek first the Kingdom”, which he contrasts to the flowers God cares for, though “they do not work nor spin.” [Ibid]

St. Vincent was a man of action, who famously called his followers to love God with the strength of their arms and the sweat of their brows! [CCD XI:32] We begin with discerning the will of God, then acting upon it, trusting in Him to provide us with what we need. We already know that serving the poor is the direct, expressed will of Jesus Christ. Waiting to act on that, when you think about it is, at least to a degree, a failure of trust.

Similarly, writing extensive and detailed assistance guidelines meant to cover all circumstances is an example of “treading on the heels of Providence” to use one of Vincent’s often-used phrases. Rather, we should be guided by Frédéric’s teaching, that in works of charity “it is necessary to give yourself up to the inspirations of the heart rather than the calculations of the mind. Providence gives its own counsel through the circumstances around you, and the ideas it bestows on you. I believe you would do well to follow them freely and not tie yourselves down with rules and formulas.” [Letter 82, to Curnier, 1834]

Trusting in Providence means trusting that when we seek to do God’s will, the outcome of our works also will be His will. God provides, but he also knows what we need, even when we do not. We can and should plan ahead – fundraising is part of that – but God calls us first to provide for the neighbor before us, for the troubles of their day, not for our treasury balance tomorrow.

Trust in Providence presents us with one of the ironies of our vocation. Letting today’s troubles suffice, without a thought to tomorrow, would seem to be very short-sighted. Yet by doing this, we fulfill God’s will, seeking His eternal kingdom, which is the longest-term vision we can possibly have.

Contemplate

Do I sometimes let my worries for the future drown out the cry of the poor today?

Recommended Reading

Vincentian Meditations II

SVdP News Roundup November 12 – November 18

SVdP News Roundup November 12 – November 18 3600 3600 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

A Week in Prayers November 14 – November 18

A Week in Prayers November 14 – November 18 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, November 14

Lord Jesus,
You are the light of the world.
Lead me from darkness,
Fill me with the light of Your love
Let it shine forth from me
In all that I do in Your name.
Amen

Tuesday, November 15

Light of the World, fall upon me,
Awaken me from my slumber.
As sure as the flowers
Unfold in the sun
My heart is turned toward You
Amen

Wednesday, November 16

O Lord these gifts You have given me,
My time, my talents, myself,
And even my worldly possessions,
Remain mine and even grow
Only as I give them away,
In Your name and for Your sake.
Amen

Thursday, November 17

O God, Creator of all,
I seek to do Your will.
Speak to me, Lord,
Through the people I meet,
Through events before me,
Through a tiny whisper in the storm.
Your servant is listening
With an open heart.
Amen

Friday, November 18

How will I love the neighbor, Lord?
With the same love I give to You.
From the depths of my soul,
With all of my heart,
And with all the work that I do.
Amen

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

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