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!
Because EVERY VOICE MATTERS!
Peace and God’s Blessings,