Of our beloved Society’s three Essential Elements, perhaps the one that suffered the most in the last pandemic year was Friendship. Fortunately, we continued with the Element of our Service with creativity and adaptation at all organizational levels. We also continued in Spirituality even when relying on online Masses and virtual Church and member gatherings in prayer and reflection.
Friendship, we discovered, is best served in person. We know from our own families that while phone calls, an occasional card or letter, and now video chats are all nice, nothing surpasses being together in person — usually over a good meal. And sorry, but there simply is no such thing as a virtual hug.
This is why I am so pleased to share with you that our 2021 National Assembly is planned as an in-person event! Our Society’s national family was last together two years ago in Denver, with a smaller gathering of around 300 of us to celebrate the new Frédéric Ozanam mosaic installation at the National Basilica in Washington, DC back in January 2020, though it seems even longer ago.
Excitement is building, and so is the agenda for a fantastic National Assembly to be held August 25-28 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown Houston, Texas. Both hotel and Event registrations open today! Here are just a few highlights from this year’s agenda:
- Keynote Presentations by Dr. Jaime Waters, Ph.D., a professor of Scripture, African American Catholic Women, and Catholic Studies at DePaul University and writer of a weekly scripture commentary for America magazine; and Dr. Dennis Holtschneider, CM, President of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and previously COO of Ascension Health and President of DePaul University.
- A spiritual retreat presented by our National Episcopal Adviser, Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison WI.
- Workshop tracks in Formation and Development, and individual workshops on a wide variety of Vincentian subjects — 25 in all!
- A Host City event on the Marriott’s rooftop pool — with a lazy river shaped like the state of Texas! — hosted by the SVdP Archdiocesan Council of Galveston-Houston.
- National Business Meeting, Board of Directors meeting, and lots of national committee and task force meetings.
- Wednesday pre-meeting workshops for Stores and Disaster Preparedness.
- Exhibitor Showcase — resources for many aspects of your Vincentian experience.
- A national Best Practices Poster Session — developed by you.
- Much, much more!
We all recognize that COVID restrictions for travel and meetings are changing daily. We are working with the hotel and city/state authorities to provide you with a safe National Assembly experience. It’s too early to announce any masking, distancing, or other requirements just yet. We can announce that our workshops and general sessions will be recorded for viewing soon after the Assembly, both for those who can’t attend and to share with others as you gather so many good ideas for action back home at your Council and Conference!
For more details on the 2021 SVDP National Assembly, here are the links:
Watch for updates in the e-Gazette. I look forward to seeing you again, and rekindling our so-essential Society friendships!
Yours in Christ,