Vincentians

Contemplation – The Soul of Liberty

Contemplation – The Soul of Liberty 940 788 SVDP USA

As a young man, Bl. Frédéric Ozanam considered himself, like his father, to be a monarchist, seeing government on earth as an expression of the divine principle of authority. He was inspired especially by the example of St. Louis, King of France, whose monarchy represented “the sacrifice of a single person for the good of all… which I revere with love.” [Letter 77, to Falconnet, 1834]

Following the restoration of the French monarchy in 1813, the Ozanam family returned to France from Italy, where Frédéric had been born. Yet the church, now restored to legality in France, had not fully regained the confidence and trust of the people. Indeed, as further revolutions continued to develop, social philosophies that rejected the church became more popular – not least the philosophy of Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon, whose “technocratic” vision relied on a belief not in spiritual power, but in industry and science.

It was a group of young Saint-Simonians who would challenge Frédéric and his Catholic friends to “show the good of the church” in 1833. In answer to the challenge, they would choose to serve the poor as Christ did – with love and friendship; “not only as an equal, but as a superior.” [O’Meara, 229]

This continuing work pointed Frédéric towards the best alternative to Saint-Simonianism and its more revolutionary successors. He saw how important it was “to make equality as operative as is possible among men; to make voluntary community replace imposition and brute force...” [Letter 136, to Lallier, 1836]

For Frédéric, liberty was much more than a political slogan, it was a gift from God. Indeed, as he wrote to a political ally who was an unbeliever, “I believe [our] cause to be more ancient and, therefore, more sacred” Liberty, equality, and fraternity, he explained, did not come from the revolution of 1789, but from Calvary. [Baunard, 301]

As our church teaches, “Man can turn to good only in freedom, which God has given to him as one of the highest signs of his image.” [CSDC, 135]

Because it was best able to preserve equality and liberty, Frédéric concluded that “democracy is the natural final stage of the development of political progress, and that God leads the world thither.” Therefore, he asked, “are not the men of the Church and the men of the people to be found side by side at the foot of the tree of liberty?” [Baunard, 281]

Liberty is both a gift from God, and a pathway to His truth, and so, as Frédéric said, “Christianity will be the soul of Liberty.” [Baunard, 290]

Contemplate

Do I celebrate liberty as a gift from God, for me and for all?

Recommended Reading

Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam

Daily Prayers June 27 – July 1

Daily Prayers June 27 – July 1 940 788 SVDP USA

Monday, June 20:

Lord, Your words of love,
Not shouted once,
but whispered constantly,
Settle within my open heart.
They strengthen and comfort me.
Help me to serve You.
Help me to share You.
Amen

Tuesday, June 21:

Lord Jesus, the calm in the storm
Lord Jesus, the peace in my heart
In crashing storms
Through times of trial
The one set of footprints
For difficult miles
Lord Jesus, the calm in the storm
Lord Jesus, the peace in my heart
Amen

Wednesday, June 22:

Lord Jesus, Your word within me
And I, a brick in Your church
Help me beckon Your children
Through living my faith
In mind, in body, in soul
And in service for love alone
Amen

Thursday, June 23:

Whatever ails my body, Lord,
Illness, injury, pain, weariness,
Matters not to me
If You will but forgive me
And heal my soul
Amen

Friday, June 24:

Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening
Yours is the word of life.
My eyes are cast towards the heavens
To seek the eternal light.
For the kingdom, the power, the glory,
And I are Yours with which to make
A labor of love unceasing,
In Your name and for Your sake.
Amen

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

News Roundup June 25 – July 1

News Roundup June 25 – July 1 1200 1200 SVDP USA

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

INTERNATIONAL

NATIONAL

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

Disaster Services Update

Disaster Services Update 940 788 SVDP USA

Besides responding to natural and manmade disasters, the role of Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) is to educate SVdP Councils and Conferences about different types of severe weather. Per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high temperatures kill hundreds of people every year. Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet more than 700 people die from extreme heat every year in the United States and more than 7,000 are hospitalized due to heat-related illnesses.

Those who are at highest risk include, people 65 and older, children younger than two, and people with chronic diseases or mental illness.

Closely monitor people who depend on you for their care and ask these questions:

  • Are they drinking enough water?
  • Do they have access to air conditioning?
  • Do they need help keeping cool?

People at greatest risk for heat-related illness can take the following protective actions to prevent illness or death:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as you can. Air-conditioning is the number one way to protect yourself against heat-related illness and death. If your home is not air-conditioned, reduce your risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned and using air conditioning in vehicles. Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
  • Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling device during an extreme heat event.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.

Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather:

  • Limit your outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Pace your activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.

Is your Council or Conference looking to assist families that have been impacted by a Hurricane? Contact us and see how you can help.

Please follow us at:
www.svdpdisaster.org
Twitter @svdpusadisaster
Facebook @DisasterServicesCorp.

 

SVdP Heads to USCCB’s Journeying Together

SVdP Heads to USCCB’s Journeying Together 2016 1512 SVDP USA

Last week, a delegation of Vincentians from across the country traveled to Chicago, IL. to participate in the Journeying Together national gathering. The theme of this year’s event was “Alive in Christ: Young, Diverse, Prophetic Voices Journeying Together.”

SVdP’s participation in this event was the culmination of a recent push to target new and diverse groups of people and encourage them to become a part of the Society.

“This was a great opportunity to introduce SVdP to Young Adults and older Catholics involved with youth and YA ministries across the U.S,” said Bertha de Alegria, Western Region VOP Representative and delegate at Journeying Together.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was proud to be a sponsor of the event. We had an exhibit table with lots of SVdP goodies to give away and even had SVdP cornhole for visitors to take turns playing! One lucky table visitor will even get a special treat! They will get to keep Cornhole!

National Board Member and MCD Chair Pam Matambanadzo gave a heartfelt invitation to others who may be interested in joining the Society. “We like to say that we see the face of Christ in those we serve. Visiting with them in their homes allows us to share in their humanity, bringing hope and friendship where things might have previously felt hopeless. Our vocation is to follow Christ through service to people in need and bear witness to His love.”  

Journeying Together offered attendees a special opportunity to experience the beautiful diversity of the Catholic Church in the U.S.

“There was a spirituality reawakening and the passion of both young and old coming together and sharing personal journeys of faith,” said Pam Hudson, National Director of Governance and Membership Services. “I spoke with a wonderful young man from Alaska, Waylon, who was very open and sharing his spirituality and challenges within his village of poverty and drug infestation. Sad but hopeful.”

“Archbishop Nelson Perez spoke about how when we are invited to people’s homes, we seldom see the kitchen. We see the dining room table — set with beautiful china and cutlery. We sit down to a delicious meal. Seldom are we invited into the kitchen,” said Matambanadzo. “It’s the kitchen where all this beauty is created, but is generally messy and only the close family goes into the kitchen. He said our time at the event was like being in the kitchen with family. It was messy, but a lot of good will come out of it. I found that to be profound and comforting. Life is journey — some parts of the road will be smooth and others will need us to rely on the GPS (our faith) or maybe stop at the gas station for confirmation (our community).”

Our SVdP delegates left feeling refreshed in their faith and the mission of SVdP. We are so excited to welcome new members to the Society who learned about our work through our involvement in recent gatherings including Raices y Alas, Young Catholic Professionals Conference, and Journeying Together!

 

06-30-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

06-30-2022 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1363 1363 SVDP USA

The Society has survived, and even in some cases remarkably thrived, during the pandemic period. Yet we have not been immune to the several major trends that affect our ability to grow or even maintain our membership.

It is worse than we thought.

Let’s look briefly at what we already know, the reasons why we are in this predicament. First, we primarily draw Society members from the Catholic Church, and the Church has suffered over decades now from eroding family memberships and departures from our faith. Add in a series of abuse scandals and other pre-pandemic issues, and we can clearly see that our universe of potential Catholic members has been shrinking.

Across the country, one Diocese at a time, we see massive parish consolidations. The Church has neither the dollars nor the number of clergy available to afford so many parishes, especially with declining enrollments and subsequent reductions in Sunday collections and other revenues. Society Conferences in these closed or consolidated parishes have merged when possible, but others have closed after struggling to stay viable with an aging Vincentian membership.

Then add to this a pandemic that closed down our very ability to go to Mass, to see each other and to serve. Local Society Conferences often lost their home base because the parish properties were closed. While we adapted mightily to these conditions to serve, it was certainly harmful to our membership efforts when we physically could not be together for many months. Fellowship was the first casualty.

Our just-completed annual national reporting from every Council and Conference shows a continued membership erosion, even considering some growth in associate members and in some ethnic minority volunteer numbers. I believe that these numbers still assume and perhaps inflate our actual membership numbers. It is easy to simply use the numbers from last year rather than take a new census of everyone to see if they are still active. We instead assume this participation. This is dangerous!

I asked our National Council Members at the Midyear meeting to consider a membership census, checking individually with each member to make sure they are still active and available to serve even if we need to help them adapt to changing parish and Conference membership. Now that the annual reporting is complete, let’s renew this effort to be in touch with every single one of our active and associate members. Businesspeople tell us that your best future customer is the one you already have, and it is easier and less expensive to maintain a customer than to grow a new one.  While our members are far more than customers, the adage still works.

Let’s assure that every Vincentian is accounted for and has the ability to continue to grow in holiness with us. This may mean Conference mergers. Alternatively it might mean new Conferences, designed for language/ethnic groups or for younger cohorts. Every Vincentian deserves a home with us to be closer with the Lord.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers about what to do about parish closures and mergers, Conference transitions and other community dynamics that negatively impact our membership. We all need to work together on this and share effective strategies. Let’s first agree, however, on a few principles to guide our work. One, every Vincentian is of value and deserves our communication, respect and best efforts to keep them active. Second, while we can’t control parish futures we will be nimble in adapting and designing Conferences to give everyone a Vincentian home. Some Conferences may serve multiple parish communities, while some parishes may now host multiple Conferences! Third, we will not assume Vincentian membership and services, but actively work to keep everyone we have and increase our efforts to find new members.

The people we serve continue to be with us, and their numbers are not shrinking! With today’s economic challenges, short and long term we may have more demands on our time and financial resources.

The Church is still with us as well, even though it is at times battered and bruised. Our Bishops and priests still appreciate our work as an “outsource solution” to serve the neighborhood poor amid dwindling clergy and parish resources to do so. The Church also deeply appreciates our work to help anyone, especially Catholics, to grow in holiness.

Most importantly, Christ is still with us. We know this because we see His face every time we serve.

Hang in there, dust ourselves off after so many challenges, and let’s get to work to re-establish our membership and our faith in action. Too many depend on us to do anything less.

Dave Barringer
CEO

Stores Corner: Getting Store Donations – It’s All About Convenience

Stores Corner: Getting Store Donations – It’s All About Convenience 738 416 SVDP USA

Have You Heard?! SVdP Stores has a webpage on the National Website! The webpage offers tons of great information regarding all things stores!? 

The National Stores Committee is a group of SVdP stores folks that represent each SVdP Region and are committed to sharing best practices in support of SVdP Thrift Stores for success across the nation. Find great topical articles from the Region Reps here in the Stores Corner of the e-Gazette on the last Thursday of each month.

Getting Store Donations – It’s All About Convenience

By: Donald Schiffgens
Project manager /CFO
Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, Port Saint Lucie, FL

Our Thrift Store, located in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, is relatively small with about $275,000 in annual sales. The store employs five people in key positions and has about two dozen volunteers. The store relies on customer donations brought into the store as well as free truck pick-up service. We do not currently have collection bins and so, just recently, we got permission from the pastor of one of our five parish-based Conferences to collect home goods and clothing from parishioners on two consecutive weekends following each mass.

The collection effort was very successful as donors had the opportunity to clean out their closets and bring their donations as they attended weekend masses. In this collection effort St. Vincent de Paul became more visible in our parish and many people inquired about our mission and the location of our Thrift Store. It was a win-win for all! Watch your donations grow when your store offers donor convenience and if you advertise don’t forget to advertise for donations.

Connect with a Region Rep to learn more about what is happening in your area – the list of committee members can be found under the Resources drop down here

Contemplation – Ambitious Dreams

Contemplation – Ambitious Dreams 940 788 SVDP USA

Our Vincentian vocation, the Rule of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul reminds us, is “a vocation for every moment of our lives”. [Rule, Part I, 2.6] Our call to serve is more than a call to serve the neighbor, more than a call to attend meetings, but a call to live our faith fully in our family lives, our professional lives, and our participation in our communities.

This was the vocation modeled for us by our founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam. Throughout his life, Frédéric continued his own Home Visits as a member of the Society, but also became a widely known advocate for the poor, whose L’ere nouvelle newspaper influenced public discussions. He served in the National Guard in 1848 and ran for public office (unsuccessfully) that same year, all in addition to his professorship and his vocation as husband and father.

But for Frédéric, these roles were not separate from his Catholic faith; they were the full expression of a faithful life. His was a vision of “a community of faith and works erasing little by little the old divisions of political parties” through lives of witness by people in “science, the arts, and industry, into administration, the judiciary, the bar” – our whole lives. [Letter 290, to Amélie, 1841]

In this, he foresaw the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, recognizing that the same friendship that unites us as communities of faith in our Conferences, unites us also with the neighbors we serve, and with all the Conferences in our One Society. But it is not “exhausted in relationships between individuals but spreads into the network formed by these relationships, which is precisely the social and political community; it intervenes in this context seeking the greatest good for the community in its entirety.” [CSDC, 208]

Charity is love; the love of God for his own sake, and the love of our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. [CCC, 1822] This is the love we mean we say we serve “for love alone” and it is the love we mean in our “vision of the civilization of love”. [Rule, Part I, 2.2 & 7.2]

Frédéric envisioned a “network of charity and social justice encircling the world” [Rule, Part I, 2.4] – a network formed by those resolved “to become better themselves in order to make others happier.” His vision calls us, each of us and all of us, to give ourselves fully to God and the neighbor.

These,” he said, “Are ambitious dreams…” [Letter 290, to Amélie, 1841]

Contemplate

How can I personally live my faith more fully in every part of my life?

Recommended Reading

A New Century Dawns

News Roundup June 18 – June 24

News Roundup June 18 – June 24 1200 1200 SVDP USA

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

INTERNATIONAL

NATIONAL

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

Daily Prayers June 20 – June 24

Daily Prayers June 20 – June 24 940 788 SVDP USA

Monday, June 20:

Lord, You alone know my whole story.
In Your great mercy, forgive me
Help me to serve the neighbor
Without judgment
As an instrument of Your mercy
Amen

Tuesday, June 21:

Lead me, Lord, down the narrow path
Help me to grow in faith
Show me, Lord, the narrow gate
Help me to live in hope
Guide me, Lord, in serving
Help me to share Your love
Amen

Wednesday, June 22:

Holy Spirit, live within me!
Enkindle the light of Your love
So that it shines forth
In my thoughts and in my words
And in actions that bear
All the fruits of the Spirit
Amen

Thursday, June 23:

Father in Heaven
Who sent Your Son to earth
To set the Holy Spirit upon us
Help us burn with the Spirit
Imitate Your Son on earth
And be united with You in Heaven
Amen

Friday, June 24:

Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
You seek me when I wander,
You welcome me home.
I will not be afraid,
For You are with me.
Amen

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