Dear Vincentian Friends,
September 30th is a long way away. That is when my six-year term as National Council President ends and someone else steps into the office. Last Friday we learned who that will be. The National Council Election Committee counted the 107 ballots submitted by your Council representatives and informed the Board of Directors that on October 1st, John Berry will become the 14th President of the National Council of the United States.
The election process began last summer with the nomination of four highly qualified candidates. In September at our National Assembly, the field was narrowed to Brian Burgess and John Berry. For the past several months, all members of the Society had the opportunity to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice. Just as our founders did when they chose Jules Gossin to succeed Emmanuel Bailly, we prayed during those months that the Holy Spirit would direct our discernment. We trust that God’s providence has supplied the leadership we need for the future of our Society in the United States.
An eight-month transition period may seem long, but there’s much to accomplish during this time. In the months to come, I will be working with our current Board to continue the work we have been doing for the past five years, while John will have time to evaluate the organization’s needs and recruit new officers and board and committee members. It is important for him to have this time to put together a new team of servant leaders that is diverse, talented, and representative of the members of our Councils and Conferences across the country.
In 1844, after the Society’s first President, Emmanuel Bailly, resigned, Frederic Ozanam described the qualities he thought the next President should have. Frederic wrote: “He must have the habit of devotion, the spirit of true fraternity, the experience of good works; he must join the zeal which founds with the prudence which preserves; he must be able to maintain the Society in the paths of simplicity and prudent liberty along which God has led it.”
I have known John Berry for many years, and I am confident that you will find him to be that servant leader Frederic Ozanam described. Please join me in asking the Holy Spirit to guide John as he prepares to take office.
Serviens in spe,
National Council President