Society of St. Vincent de Paul

06-10-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

06-10-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders 600 685 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

I am guessing many of you are in Conferences and Councils that are trying to decide when and how we can get back to normal. Please don’t expect me or the National Council to have the answer for what you should do. But I do encourage you to have thoughtful conversations that consider the hopes and concerns of Vincentians and those we serve.

I am vaccinated and am starting to travel and socialize, as are most Americans – and that is great! There are, however, some who either cannot be vaccinated or choose not to be. There are still others for whom the vaccinations may not be effective. How does this affect the way we move forward?

There are many policy questions to consider. When do we start in-person Conference and Council meetings? Do we still wear masks and socially distance at these meetings? When can we start in-person Home Visits? Must our home visitors be vaccinated? Do we wear masks in people’s homes, and do we ask those we visit to wear masks? May we ask people if they have been vaccinated? May we require our employees to be vaccinated, and when can they stop wearing masks?

There are very few pandemic-related governmental prohibitions at this point. So the decisions are yours to make, depending on the circumstances in your community and the risk factors that pertain to your members and those you serve. That will still vary greatly across our nation and even within your community.

As you have discussions about these matters, I urge you to check your facts. There are many misconceptions about privacy laws and HIPAA rules. I am not a lawyer, but if you simply do a web search for “can you ask if someone is vaccinated?” or “can I require employees to be vaccinated?” you will be directed to a lot of good information. You will likely find that there are fewer restrictions than you might have expected, but there are some cautions to observe.  If you are setting policy for employees, you will probably want to check what you find on the web with your attorney.

Recognizing that information and understanding about the vaccines have varied greatly, dozens of Catholic organizations have formed the Catholic Cares Coalition. The coalition’s aim is to promote the common good and amplify the teachings of Pope Francis and the U.S. Catholic Bishops on accepting vaccination as it becomes available, as well as on promoting equitable vaccine distribution. Our Society’s U.S. Council is not part of this group at this point, but the coalition’s website at www.catholiccares.com  provides good information that may be useful to share.

Personal contact is such an important element of who we are as Vincentians. I am eager for our return to being present to one another and to those we serve, but we also want to continue to protect the health of everyone. Just today, I learned that two of my friends on the Board of Directors of our Society’s International Council are in the hospital with serious cases of COVID-19. I am praying for their recovery. This reminds me that the vaccines have not been readily available to much of the world — and that this pandemic is not over.

As you decide what course to take, I suggest that you do not need to make all the changes at once. You can take a few steps and see how it goes. You can revisit the topic a little later and make more operational changes as they seem sensible. Most importantly, be kind and listen. There may be fellow Vincentians who have well-founded fears about unmasking and gathering. They may have vulnerable family members or personal health issues of which you are unaware. So please assume good intentions, and follow our principle of decision-making by consensus. As we carefully move forward, we need to be sure to care for our network of friends.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
SVdP National President

Contemplation – Filled With God for the Day

Contemplation – Filled With God for the Day 940 788 SVDP USA

Vincentians are people of prayer. Together as Conferences, we pray to open and close each meeting, retreat, and reflection; we attend Mass together on our Vincentian feast days; we ask God’s blessings upon each other and upon the neighbors we serve. We are, as Blessed Frédéric often said, “united in works and prayers.” [Letter 135 to Bailly,1836]

Our Vincentian vocation, though, is not limited to our Conference meetings or to our works, but is “a vocation for every moment of our lives.” [Rule, Part I, 2.6] Our call to prayer is an individual one. We hear this call repeated throughout our Rule: we “pray before personal encounters or visits” [Part I, 1.7]; we promote “a life of prayer and reflection;” and our “personal lives are characterized by prayer…” [Part I, 2.2]

Saint Vincent de Paul famously began each day with three hours of prayer. And what better way to start the day? Conversing with a God who loves us so much, St. Vincent taught, we will “rise promptly and joyously.” [CCD X:101] Beyond that, he advised, “prayer being your first occupation, your mind may be filled with God for the rest of the day.” [CCD IX:23]

We humble ourselves in prayer, but dwell “more on His strength than on [our] own weakness” in the hope that He will accomplish His good in us and through us. In prayer, we abandon ourselves to what Vincent called “His paternal embrace,” [CCD V:166] and what Frédéric called “the maternal guidance of Providence.” [Letter 310 to Amelie, 1841]

Finally, in our individual prayer, we remember not only to lay out our own needs before God, but the needs of our Vincentian friends. Frédéric once described this mutuality of prayerful intentions as the “one rendezvous where Christian souls are sure of meeting and conversing together.” [Letter 493 to Dufieux, 1843]

Vincentians are people of prayer. It is the basis of our friendship, of our meetings, and of our service. It is through our prayer that we daily recommit ourselves to our vocation, to each other, and to Divine Providence.

Amen!

Contemplate

Is prayer a part of my day — every day?

Recommended Reading

15 Days of Prayer With Blessed Fredric Ozanam

06-03-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

06-03-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 410 382 SVDP USA

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:
Registration Link
Hotel Link

Watch for updates in the e-Gazette. I look forward to seeing you again, and rekindling our so-essential Society friendships!

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer
CEO

06-03-21 News Roundup

06-03-21 News Roundup 1200 1200 SVDP USA

With 100,000 Vincentians across the United States and nearly 800,000 around the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL

NATIONAL

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

Contemplation – The Joy of Angels

Contemplation – The Joy of Angels 940 788 SVDP USA

To trust in Providence and to do God’s will are two sides of the same coin. After all, without trust in His Providence, doing His will would be merely a chore that would quickly become burdensome. Instead, it should be for us a source of joy!

Our Rule tells us that our Conference meetings are held in a spirit of “Christian joy.” [Rule, Part I, 3.4] How quickly that spirit of joy went missing in the early days of the Society, Blessed Frédéric recounted to his friend Léonce Curnier, when the Conference began “fulfilling [its] duties from habit,” and was “stricken with a general discouragement.” [Letter 90, 1835]

How could it be otherwise if we merely deliver bread and pay bills; if we let our works become … work?

Like our Patron, we seek to “love God with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brows,” [CCD XI:32]  That sounds an awful lot like work, but it is a labor, quite explicitly, of love! Knowing this, we soon see that however challenging it may be at times, “those very things that we thought would cause us pain, on the contrary give us joy.” [CCD X:50]

Charity itself is not work, but love – the love of God. That is why, as St. Vincent teaches, “God does not consider the outcome of the good work undertaken but the charity that accompanied it.” [CCD I:205] The outcome is never up to us, but when we seek to do His will, we can trust the outcome to His providence.

And so, through prayer, discernment, and reflection, individually and in our Conferences, we seek to know God’s will. As Vincentians, our ultimate goal is for God’s will to become our own, so that “it will be no longer [we] who love, but Christ who loves through [us]” [Rule, Part I, 2.1]

Benet of Canfield, a great influence on St Vincent, taught that God’s will is “all the whole spiritual life.” That is why, for Vincent, “the goodness of God, the Will of God, the pleasure of God, and the joy of God” were of one piece. [CCD X:86]

To do God’s will is not to labor in vain, but to serve in hope, and to rejoice in hope!

At the beginning of every Conference meeting, we say the Lord’s Prayer, asking that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. “Not as it is in Hell, where it is done of necessity,” Bl. Frédéric once explained, “nor among men, where it is often done with murmuring, but as it is in Heaven, with the love and the joy of angels.” [Baunard, 343]

Contemplate

When I feel that I am doing His will, do I open my heart to joy?

Recommended Reading

Instead of reading, watch this particularly joyful rendition of Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth.

Young Adult Vincentians Use Social Media Fame to Support Their Neighbors in Need

Young Adult Vincentians Use Social Media Fame to Support Their Neighbors in Need 1386 1364 SVDP USA

John Paul Brissette, a member of the SVdP National Youth Committee, and his brother, Francis Brissette, have Vincentian blood pulsing through their veins. Their mother, Renee, is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Council, and along with their siblings Kat and Peter, they are founding members of Rhode Island’s Youth and Young Adult Conference, called Next Gen

Over the past couple of years, John Paul and Francis have worked hard and become social media influencers. They publish family-friendly comedy content using various internet platforms like Twitch, TikTok, and YouTube.

“We grew from two brothers whose only follower was our mom, to a follower base of nearly two million in just over a year,” said John Paul.

Recently, the brothers decided it was time they returned to their Vincentian roots. They wanted to use their internet fame to help those in their community who were suffering. “We knew we were given a gift from God, and with having some of the best fans in the world, we knew we needed to give back.”

They hosted a 24-hour live stream on Twitch as a fundraiser for SVdP Rhode Island’s Necessities for Neighbors program. The live-stream offered the brothers an opportunity to teach people about SVdP and the work that Vincentians do to help neighbors in need. They also spent time playing games and making people laugh, something they are very good at. 

“We raised over $2,500 and counting, and promoted an Amazon wishlist for people to purchase toiletries and other items for Necessities for Neighbors,” said John Paul. “We also posted a video to YouTube promoting the stream, with ad revenue going directly to SVdP Rhode Island.”

The following weekend, they promoted and sponsored the first-ever Do Gud Day. It was an event which promoted youth volunteering in a fun and competitive way. Sixteen youth and young adults were split into two teams, who held a friendly competition of filling backpacks with toiletries and notes to give out to people in need in the community through SVdP Rhode Island’s Necessities for Neighbors program. Kat Brissette, their sister and SVdP National Board Member, designed the day by creating a program and resources that can be packaged and used in any location.  

“JP and I have been given a gift which every day feels like dumb luck. Our mantra is ‘you were put on this world to make a difference,'” said Francis. “And when you are just two kids from Rhode Island, or young people anywhere,  you tend to struggle with figuring out just how you can make a difference. With our internet fame, which we believe is a gift from God and something we have always dreamed about, and our work with the Society, we now feel like we’re finally making that difference in the world.”

To watch the video about Do Gud Day, click here.

If you are interested in following the Brissettes and their social media accounts, you can find all that information on their website: https://broskiesstudios.com/.

05-27-2021 News Roundup

05-27-2021 News Roundup 1200 1200 SVDP USA

Through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Vincentians across the United States and around the world are finding spiritual growth by providing person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL:

AUSTRALIA: Marathon Health’s Megan Callinan, Justine Summers, Ron Charlton doing Vinnies CEO Sleepout
IRELAND: Pandemic has imposed penury on many Irish people – now they need fellow citizens to dig deep
UNITED KINGDOM: SVP Launches Special Appeal As It Predicts A Wave Of Calls For Help
UNITED KINGDOM: St Vincent’s need support for increasing employment project

NATIONAL

DALLAS, TX: Dallas’ St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy expands its reach to even more people in need
EUGENE, OR: St. Vincent de Paul launches new McDonald Community Vision Fund
EXETER, NH: ‘She gives it her all’: Exeter woman, 80, dedicates retirement to helping others
LACONIA, MI: A bounty without enough takers
PASCO COUNTY, FL: Ozanam Village brings more affordable housing to Pasco County

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

05-27-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

05-27-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1920 2560 SVDP USA

In June 2008, I attended the 2008 Western Region Meeting in Boise, Idaho.  I was not alone.  There were 225 other Vincentians along with me. During the time I spent there, I met with many Vincentians and discussed a wide variety of topics.  I also put on a workshop and facilitated two open forums where anything and everything could be discussed.  One theme came up over and over again in those discussions.  This is also a theme which is continually asked today as well.  How do you get the Conferences and the members to adhere to or comply with the Rule?

This is a tough question. And it requires a tough answer. People, in general, have mixed feelings when it comes to rules and regulations. They usually will admit to the value of them. They usually will admit to the need for them. And they normally agree that compliance is necessary; that is, until they want to do something that does not really correspond to the rules. Then, it becomes harsh and too restrictive. They did not join the Society to follow the rules. They joined the Society to do some good and do not want to be bogged down with meaningless do’s and don’ts. We hear this stuff all the time!

I can go into a long, drawn out dissertation on why rules and regulations are important; but that will get us nowhere. I can take a military point of view and say that, if one soldier steps out of line, the war will be lost. Nobody is going to buy that. I can talk about unity of thought and action; but that cup only holds a limited amount of water.

It truly boils down to one thing. Ask yourself one question: Am I a Vincentian? To be a Vincentian, you have to make a commitment. Here is where the rub comes in.  Commitment! Being a Vincentian calls for a number of things to be accepted and come into play.

Being a Vincentian means accepting who we are, what we are about, what we do, and how we do it. Being a Vincentian means more than helping people in need: it means growing in holiness, striving to grow closer to God; it means growing closer to our fellow Vincentians; it means serving God through serving those in need; it means a blend of all of the above.

A number of years ago, when searching for the answer to a question, I was referred to John Simmons, former National President of the Society, the guru.  If you wanted to know anything about the Society, he was the man to go to. John said that, if you call yourself a Vincentian, you want to meet as often as possible with your fellow Vincentians, you want to learn about the Society, you want to understand what this is all about, and you want to help it grow. It is that simple.

If I want to do my own thing, follow my own rules or no rules at all, I can start my own special work or organization. Then, all I have to do is get other people who want to join me to follow my rules.

I am a Vincentian. I am committed to who we are, what we do, and the way we do it. Complying with the Rule not only makes sense, it is something I want to do.

Mike Syslo
Chair, National Governance Committee

 

Contemplation: A Voice That Speaks To Our Hearts

Contemplation: A Voice That Speaks To Our Hearts 940 788 SVDP USA

On his way to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus, feared Roman tormentor of the early Christians, was struck from his horse, temporarily blinded by a great bolt of lightning, and commanded by Christ Himself to cease his persecution. Soon after, he began to preach God’s word as Paul the Apostle.

For most of us, our moments of conversion are not so obvious. Instead, they require senses that are both open and willing to perceive a light, silent sound, a tiny whispering voice, a voice that speaks only to our hearts.

God speaks often enough to our heart,” St. Vincent assures us, “it’s up to us to be attentive to His voice…” [CCD X:128] It’s easy for a quiet voice to be lost in the moment; to be drowned out by our daily stresses. It’s easy to let those stresses harden our hearts.

As Vincentians, we are called to see Christ’s face in those we serve. We pray and prepare to see Him before every home visit. Shouldn’t we also seek to hear His voice?

The voice that says to us “I need your help,” also is whispering, quietly but insistently, “I am here.”

If we don’t understand Him immediately, that’s okay. God speaks outside of time; His voice is still there to be heard when we pause to reflect on our experiences, to discern what He is telling us. We do this through individual contemplation and prayer, but also through Apostolic Reflection within our Conferences, relying on what Father Hugh O’Donnell describes as St. Vincent’s “absolute conviction that ‘God is here!’”

Our hearts are converted in many small moments, calling us sometimes to leaps, but more often to smalls steps of faith, “content to see the stone on which we should step without wanting to discover all at once and completely the windings of the road.” [Letter 136. To François Lallier, 1836]

Like Saul walking in blindness down the road to Damascus, we take our first, stumbling steps, however small they are, knowing that “God is especially pleased to bless what is little and imperceptible: the tree in its seedling, man in his cradle, good works in the shyness of their beginnings.” [Letter 310, to Amelie, 1841]

Contemplate

Reflect on a recent Vincentian experience. Can you hear God’s voice?

Recommended Reading

Apostolic Reflection with Rosalie Rendu

SVdP Disaster Services Corporation Host P-RACs to Assist with Kentucky Flooding

SVdP Disaster Services Corporation Host P-RACs to Assist with Kentucky Flooding 940 788 SVDP USA

Kentucky experienced a record-breaking flooding event this past year. Heavy rains caused major flood events in Eastern Kentucky, a region that has suffered three floods in less than a 12-month period. There was a total of 49 counties that issued disaster declarations. The storm event produced 4-7 inches of rain across a wide stretch of the state that pushed the rivers to levels not witnessed in decades. The Red River overflowed from its banks and rose past 8.5 feet above the flood stage. The Kentucky river also overflowed over 11.5 feet above the flood stage. Fire and safety crews rescued hundreds of families across the hardest hit counties.

Residents say the flooding overwhelming their communities was the worst in almost 40 years. Many people were completely washed out of their homes and have not been able to return due to the damage caused by the flooding. A large percentage of the survivors are not physically able to do the labor needed to help them return to a safe and secure home. Some struggle to afford building supplies for the immense number of repairs.

But, Kentuckians are resilient. Disaster response and emergency management are not only the responsibility of government but also of every community. One organization in particular that has answered the call for action is the Disaster Service Corp Society of St. Vincent De Paul USA (DSC SVDP-USA). The DSC SVDP-USA is the perfect example of private sector leadership serving and leveraging the power of Americanism and faith to approach communities impacted by disaster with compassion and competence. The Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) is a Catholic lay organization that helps people in situational poverty as a result of natural and man-made disasters get their lives back in order.

About the Parish Recovery Assistance Center (P-RAC)

DSC is supporting local, state, and federal agency responses to recent flood events in the state and determined the best way to aid local efforts is to focus on immediate and emergent needs. Disaster Services Corporation is meeting those needs by working with survivors to apply for FEMA and State Disaster benefits and will have other resources available. One essential deployment team will be gathering in the state from Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. They will be operating in partnership with Catholic Charities, the Diocese of Lexington, and the Kentucky Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (KYVOAD).

Disaster survivors will need to bring an ID and can be assisted if they have suffered losses in one of the disaster-impacted counties.

Locations, Dates, and Hours of Operation

Location: Holy Family Parish, Booneville, KY.
Address: 1439 KY Highway 11S, Booneville, KY 41314
Dates: May 24 – 26
Hours: 9 AM – 4 PM on Mon and Tue; 9 AM – 3 PM on Wed

Location: St. Michael’s Parish, Paintsville, KY
Address: 720 Washington Ave., Paintsville, KY 41240
Dates: May 27 – 28
Hours: 9 AM – 4 PM on Thu; 9 AM – 4 PM on Fri

“Our Parish Recovery Assistance Centers will be providing person to person services, utilizing COVID-19 safety protocols, for Kentucky homeowners and renters who sustained losses from the severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides from Feb. 27 through March 14, 2021 in several counties in Southeastern Kentucky. Disaster Services Corp, Society of St. Vincent de Paul assists families in long term recovery by helping them navigate state and federal benefits, referrals and disaster resources. We are grateful for the support of the Catholic Diocese of Lexington, KY, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Lexington and Kentucky VOAD for collaborating with us on the P-RACs,” said Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, CEO DSC SVDP-USA.

The Disaster Services Corp., SVDP-USA is fueled by Vincentians from around the country, however we also rely on the kindness and giving from monetary donations. To support our efforts please visit our donations page and help us grow our impact in those communities most vulnerable. Our donation page can be found here: http://bit.ly/2Ml1lO4.

About the Society of St. Vincent de Paul

One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (www.svdpusa.org) is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of about 800,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 150 countries on five continents.

With the U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., membership in the United States totals nearly 100,000 in nearly 4,500 communities. SVdP offers a variety of programs and services, including home visits, housing assistance, disaster relief, education and mentoring, food pantries, dining halls, clothing, assistance with transportation, prescription medication, and rent and utility assistance. The Society also works to provide care for the sick, the incarcerated and the elderly. Over the past year, SVdP provided nearly $1.2 billion in tangible and in-kind services to those in need, made more than 2 million personal visits (homes, hospitals, prisons and eldercare facilities) and helped more than 5.2 million people regardless of race, religion or national origin.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul Disaster Services is a founding member of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and its Disaster Services Corporation provides relief and recovery to disaster survivors across the United States and American Territories.

 

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