Dear Vincentian Friends,
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This sentence from the Gospel of Matthew was a touchstone that our founders used to remind themselves of the blessing of being together. You can find the phrase three times in letters written by Blessed Frederic Ozanam, and you have likely recited it in the opening prayer we frequently use for our Conference meetings. It is a remarkable statement of faith.
Meetings often have a bad reputation. Most of us would like them to be short and infrequent. Our founders met weekly, and apparently their friendship was graced enough for them to experience the presence of the Divine in their meetings. Two weeks ago, we held our annual Midyear Meeting, and I felt that grace as we gathered together. Reflecting back, what I remember most is that I enjoyed being with friends. Certainly, we had business to accomplish. There were listening sessions, resolutions, panel discussions, and the election of our next International President General.
Now, we are back home with our Councils and Conferences. We have follow-up work to do. This includes finalizing our work on the Standards of Excellence, growing our membership, and setting policies to safeguard the vulnerable neighbors we serve. At our meeting we listened to the questions and concerns your leaders shared about these initiatives, and I am very pleased with the progress we are making. These efforts will provide the strong foundation we need to have in place as we build the future of our Society, and I hope you get involved in making that happen.
I am very grateful for the work our national committees and task forces have done in the past five and a half years. At the Midyear Meeting, I moderated a panel discussion with five committee leaders; they highlighted what their groups have accomplished and what still needs to be done. To advance their efforts, the members of our committees have spent uncounted hours in meetings – many taking place through Zoom. The work of these committees, often meeting behind the scenes, continues to benefit all of us by addressing the challenges of strengthening and growing our organization in the service of our neighbors in need.
Almost all of the plans and resources created by National Council committees are developed to serve the needs of our local Councils and Conferences. These resources are designed to be helpful, but sometimes it may seem like we are just giving you more work to do. Sorry about the latter. Some of the things we do are necessary to maintain the health and reputation of our network of charity and are intended to head off future problems. Please keep in touch with your council leaders and support them as they work on behalf of all of us to maintain and renew the organization we love.
Serviens in spe,
National Council President