Ralph Middlecamp

03-18-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

03-18-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders 600 685 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

Two weeks ago, I saw a couple hundred of you on my computer screen as I sat at my desk. We were at our National Council Midyear Meeting, and it was good to see the faces of so many friends. Thank you to all our National Council staff and the many presenters who made this a successful virtual gathering.

Once again, we made the best of the situation. The workshops were great, and our Board and National Council met, passed resolutions and started the process of creating our next strategic plan. Many who participated appreciated the opportunity to attend the meeting without having to travel, while many others felt the loss of personal contact. As we move back to holding our meetings in person, I hope that we can continue to find ways to maintain this element of virtual attendance.

It was great to have more than 250 people attend our meeting. I am very aware, however, that as the months pass, our Zoom calls reveal more and more faces I have never met. I find I may not know your interests – or what motivates and excites you. I also may not know what bothers or worries you. We can get our business done virtually, but a network of friends requires fuller presence.

I am very hopeful that soon we can start meeting again in person. Likewise, I look forward to a return to in-person mode for our Home Visits. In my talks at the Midyear Meeting, I strongly encouraged us to begin to prepare for this reopening. If you haven’t already begun to do so, I urge you to start planning for how to revitalize your Conferences. We need new members, and we need to attract people with diverse backgrounds. Talk with pastors and bishops to let them know that we have been active during the past year but that we need their support to renew the Society in the months ahead.

At the National Council we are beginning to develop our next strategic plan, and revitalization will be an important element of it. During coming weeks, you may see a survey requesting your input for our plan. Please respond. Especially after this period of isolation, we need to take the temperature of the organization to help figure out what can happen next.

As I work with the Society on the international level, I recognize how fortunate we are in the United States to have COVID-19 vaccines available to so many of us. Some of the International Board members with whom I serve have no vaccines available in their country and do not expect them for many months.  These countries and their councils of the Society are struggling, and I appreciate those of you who have accepted my encouragement to begin Twinning with our Conferences around the world.

In Wisconsin we had a week of nice, warm weather, but it snowed again yesterday. Spring is close, but it is not here. That reminds me that we cannot assume we are finished with this pandemic. So please be patient, and continue to be cautious and safe. I want to see you in the months and years ahead.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
SVdP National President

A Medallion in the Mosiac

A Medallion in the Mosiac 200 258 SVDP USA

On a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland to the United States in the fall of 1845, a Vincentian priest, John Timon, carried with him a copy of the Rule of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Having met members of this young Catholic lay organization during his travels, he was so impressed with their works and zeal that he wished to share this book with friends back home in St. Louis.

Within weeks of his return, a group of some of the most prominent men in the frontier city of St Louis gathered at the church now known as the Old Cathedral, and held the first meeting of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in the United States on November 20, 1845.

In celebration of the 175th Anniversary of this event, the National Council has published a book, and commissioned a commemorative coin.

Meticulously researched by Raymond Sickinger, Professor Emeritus of History at Providence College, this book includes stories of key people, places, and events in the growth and development of the Society in the United States.

Sickinger, also a biographer of Frédéric Ozanam, tells us about Thomas Mulry, who was instrumental in drawing together the seven Superior Councils into a single National Council, and was elected its first president. His life was a model of Christian charity, and of lay Catholic devotion to inspire us.

From Thomas Mulry through Ralph Middlecamp, the book shares insights about all of our National Council Presidents, their priorities, and the accomplishments of the National Council under their leadership.

The book’s title is taken from another anniversary of the Society, its 100th, when our leadership assessed our history to that point, finding the Society to be ”a medallion in the mosaic of Vincentian works.”

Take some time to be inspired by reading these stories, and add the book and coin to your shelf in celebration of these remarkable 175 years, and in dedication to building the next 175!

2021 Midyear Meeting

Don’t Miss the 2021 Virtual Midyear & Business Meeting!

Don’t Miss the 2021 Virtual Midyear & Business Meeting! 1060 1401 SVDP USA

Don’t miss the 2021 Virtual Midyear & Business Meeting

March 3 – 6, 2021

It’s not too late to register for our 2021 Midyear and Business Meeting! The virtual program begins Wednesday, March 3 and ends Saturday, March 6. You’re also invited to join us Sunday, March 7 for a special presentation showcasing the Vincentian Heritage Tour. We hope you’ll join us! To register, click here.

Agenda Highlights

Wednesday, March 3
  • Disaster Services Training
    The continuing pandemic taught us that we must be prepared for all types of disasters. Learn how your Council can effectively prepare and respond during a Disaster. Disaster Services Corporation’s CEO Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, COO Kevin Peach, and Chief Program Officer Anthony Pluchino will provide an innovative webinar with a tabletop exercise. All attendees will receive a Certificate of Completion for their attendance.
  • Stores Program
    Introduction of Stores Committee, Opening a Thrift Store & Closing Policies, Using Drop Boxes for Revenue Generation, How to Drive Sales, and more.
  • Virtual Exhibitor Showcase
    One-on-One presentations with SVdP Vendors with Q&A Sessions (Separate registration required)
Thursday, March 4
  • Opening Session with President Ralph Middlecamp
  • History Presentation by Ray Sickinger
  • Regional Meetings (Eastern, South Central, Southeast Regions Only)
Friday, March 5
  • Morning Reflections/Spiritual Retreat
  • Public Policy Priorities From Our Bishops – USCCB
  • Workshops: Finding Servant Leaders: Recruitment & Discernment; First Things First: Governance Priorities for New Leaders; Where Have We Been with Systemic Change
Saturday, March 6
  • National Business Meeting
  • Strategic Planning Session
  • Workshops: Monthly Growth & Revitalization Sharing Opportunities; SVdP Housing Survey Update & Homeless Housing in the Pandemic; Formation Plans for Conferences and Councils
  • Sponsored Presentation: Music by John Angotti
Sunday, March 7
  • The Footsteps of Our Founders and Patrons: Vincentian Heritage Tour Preview
    This online virtual tour of Paris will highlight the places that will be visited on the Heritage Pilgrimage, which is rescheduled for September 2021. Ralph Middlecamp will give an overview of Paris today and yesterday, visiting the places where Blessed Frederic Ozanam, St. Vincent de Paul, Blessed Rosalie Rendu, and St. Louise de Marillac lived, worked, and are now at rest. Even if you are not planning on traveling to Paris, you will enjoy spending this hour exploring the Paris roots of our Society and the Vincentian Family.
Registration

If you’ve never attended a Midyear Meeting before, there’s no better time! Visit our registration page to sign up today.

**All Sessions will take place in Central Time Zone. Zoom links will be emailed to you prior to the start of each program.

02-18-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

02-18-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders 600 685 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

The Collect, or opening prayer, for Ash Wednesday Mass reads, “Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.”

I have come to value the Collect, which is a prayer that begins every Liturgy of the Word. It is a prayer written to position us to understand the scripture of the day. Notice that this Ash Wednesday prayer, which liturgically opens Lent, calls this season a “campaign of Christian service.”

This Lent, I am not in the mood to do much fasting. It seems I have already gone out into the desert and have given up a lot. So what value is there to even more deprivation? But this prayer invites me to consider fasting that would strengthen me for a campaign of service. Our Vincentian commitment to a vocation of service certainly has been tested this past year. So maybe this Lent is an appropriate time to rethink and recommit to that vocation. Maybe a new focus on self-restraint and fasting will help me on that journey.

Several years ago, Pope Francis suggested Lenten fasts, even in this year of isolation and deprivation, may improve our ability to serve our neighbors and be credible witnesses to the Kingdom of God. Our Holy Father asked us to:

  • Fast from hurtful words and speak kind words.
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
  • Fast from worries and have trust in God.
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  • Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate.
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
    Pope Francis (Ash Wednesday 2017)

Let’s all use this blessed season to renew and strengthen our belief in redemption and resurrection, so that we may be signs of hope to those we are called to serve.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

01-28-21 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

01-28-21 Letter From Our Servant Leaders 600 685 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

I really was not looking for another way to spend my retirement days. Being your National
Council President is a privilege that is already fulfilling and time-consuming. When asked,
however, to join the Board of Directors of the Council General International as the Vice
President with responsibility for Solidarity and Special Projects, I accepted because I
understand the importance of working to strengthen that worldwide network of charity imagined
by our founder Blessed Frédéric Ozanam.

Building on the work of U.S. Council representatives Terry Wilson and Edward Keane, who
served under past Council General President, Michael Thio, our current President General,
Renato Lima de Oliveira, has also appointed other United States Vincentians to serve in the
Society’s international structure. Let me introduce them:

  • Michael Nizankiewicz – International Territorial Vice President for America 1
  • Frank Voehl – Zone 1 Coordinator for America 1
  • Kat Brissette – Youth Territorial Delegate America 1
  • Bill Brazier – Commission for International Aid and Development
  • Dave Barringer – Chair of International Logo Commission
  • Edward Keane – Chair of the United Nations Department
  • Patricia Hughes – Member on the United Nations Department
  • Donald Kany – International Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative

This participation by our United States Vincentians is very different from what I observed
during my early years in the Society. Our National Council President always had a position on
the International Executive Committee, and many Conferences did Twinning. Overall, however,
we U.S. Vincentians did not pay much attention to what happened beyond our borders. It
would also be fair to say the Society’s international structure until recently was very Europecentered and did not pay much attention to us either. We have much to learn from our
worldwide network, and we have some very good best practices that we are sharing as well.

Each of you can directly experience this global Vincentian network and make my new role a
little easier by having your conference participate in International Twinning. When you partner
with a Conference in another country, you will be in communication with brothers and sisters
working in their parishes and trying to meet needs in their communities. You will learn how
much we have in common and understand some of the challenges Vincentians elsewhere face
as they live out our common vocation. Sharing in an understanding of our Vincentian work
beyond our own national borders is a tradition that dates to the early years of our Society.

I encourage you to continue working with Elizabeth Martinez, our National Council Twinning
Coordinator, to partner with Conferences that have requested assistance through our Council
General Office in Paris. There are many Conferences waiting to be assigned to a partner.
Please do not send aid directly to any international project except through our National Council
Office. The international projects we support through the National Council have been
investigated and prioritized. Beyond the need to ensure accountability for use of the funds,
there are regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that we need to
follow.

Finally, and most importantly, please pray for our sister and brother Vincentians working in
difficult and sometimes dangerous places. I have been privileged to meet some of their leaders
and to hear their stories. To provide their members spiritual support and friendship, they hold
Conference meetings like we do. Just like us, they never have sufficient resources to serve
their neighbors in need fully. And they take the same Vincentian journey, pray the same
prayers and follow the same Rule we do. With them, we are “One Society,” serving in hope.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

Middlecamp Appointed International Territorial Vice President

Middlecamp Appointed International Territorial Vice President 600 685 SVDP USA

SVdP National Council President Ralph Middlecamp has been appointed as the new International Vice President for Solidarity and Special Projects to the Council General International of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

In his new role, Middlecamp will oversee the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s international efforts in the following areas:

  • Twinning, a program connecting Conferences and Councils in developed countries with Conferences and Councils in areas lacking the means to conduct their works of charity.
  • CIAD (the Commission for International Aid and Development), which provides financial assistance to member national Councils who have had a disaster and are providing relief to the victims. CIAD also prioritizes and funds projects submitted by member countries for financial support via resources from member countries with the means to provide assistance.
  • Special Projects.

Says Middlecamp of the honor, “The programs that our Society operates in the United States have been recognized by our international leadership as models of effective service to people living in poverty. I will be privileged to work with our members throughout the world to bring support to their efforts to relieve suffering in their communities.”

“The Society globally shares its resources among its more than 150 national Councils to get help where it is most needed for disasters and development projects,” says USA National Council CEO Dave Barringer. “Ralph has long been a global citizen in his concern and actions on behalf of the poor. He is a great choice to oversee these cost-effective and efficiently-delivered efforts.”

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