Society of St. Vincent de Paul

12-2-2021 News Roundup

12-2-2021 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.

12-2-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

12-2-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1363 1363 SVDP USA

We are now firmly in the season of family and friends. This year feels extra special, as we may be with people who could not be with us for many pandemic months. Whether it is at a holiday party, family dinner or a large-group holiday service activity, we will all be asked first, did COVID affect us and our family? Secondly, we will be asked what’s new in our lives since the last time we have been together. That question, my friends, presents us with opportunities.

While many Vincentians simply did what was needed, often in extraordinary fashion, to keep serving our neighbors in need, we may have taken ourselves and our service a bit for granted. Certainly those served did not do so! As so many government and nonprofit services were delayed, shut down or otherwise hampered, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul remained active, visible, and welcomed in our communities.  Please don’t take your flexibility and innovation for granted. Rather, please share the experience with your friends and family. It’s quite a success story!

Vincentians are a humble lot, so it may feel awkward to talk about this. Nonetheless we need to remind others that their donations and prayers were put to work effectively despite the challenges. They need to know that some of those necessary innovations will even be used beyond the pandemic period to be new, lasting procedures that will provide services that are more effective, safer, and possibly more efficient – all while maintaining our relationships with people in poverty.

Then we get to Step Two. We are once again together in person, while the Christmas season brings an elevated care level for those who are less fortunate, and when your Vincentian innovation stories and downright stubbornness to maintain your charitable works have their attention. Now is the perfect time to invite others to join us.

It is also the time when we may need this recruiting more than ever. We simply don’t know yet how many Vincentians won’t return to serve after the pandemic. Some changed their volunteer habits, some decided perhaps to “retire” from Vincentian service, and some are unable or afraid to serve once more. Even without all this, the Society needs to replenish its membership constantly. This year, though, we need to devote extra attention to this endeavor.

If you can recall when you joined the Society, chances are that someone asked you personally to join. Most don’t join because of an article in the Parish bulletin! Now it’s our turn. Many in our Parish don’t know which parishioners are Vincentians, much less what we do. At this giving season, this is the time to be more visible. Some of this happens naturally with holiday meal and Christmas gift programs, but can we do more? Visibility can then lead to questions and invitations.

Let’s return to the family and friend gatherings, this year on a personal mission to ask someone to join us in our work to show and see the face of Christ in our Vincentian experiences with those in need. We have a receptive, somewhat captive audience around the dinner table. We know deep inside that our Vincentian work is needed and valued. We know that God has called us each to serve. Maybe He is calling us as well to ask others to serve alongside us.

Every Vincentian journey begins with an invitation. Who will you invite this holiday season to join us?

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer
CEO

Contemplation – The Soul of Our Souls

Contemplation – The Soul of Our Souls 940 788 SVDP USA

Bl. Frédéric’s wife Amelie once said that she had never seen him wake up or fall asleep without making the sign of the cross and praying. In fact, “he never did anything serious without praying.” [Manual, p.65] Following his example, Vincentians are people of prayer.

St. Vincent taught that prayer is a “lifting of the mind to God … to go to seek God in himself. It’s a conversation of the soul with God, a mutual communication in which God tells the soul interiorly what He wants it to know and do.” [CCD IX:329] But prayer is not a monolog. As much as we may feel we have to tell Him, or ask Him, prayer is also a time to listen.

Vincent explained that there are two forms of prayer: vocal and mental. Vincentians certainly pray aloud and together often: during the opening and closing prayers at meetings; prayers with the neighbor on Home Visits; and of course, while attending Mass together.

“In every Conference throughout the world and in their personal lives, Vincentians raise their prayers to God, united with the prayer of Christ, on behalf of one another and their masters the poor, whose suffering they wish to share.” [Rule, Part I, 2.3]

But we are also called to pray in the second form, mental prayer; silent meditation or contemplation. This mental prayer, St. Vincent explained, can take place in two ways. First, by listening to His word in scripture and seeking to understand its meaning and inspiration for us. Second, through contemplation, in which “the soul, in the presence of God, does nothing but receive what He gives… God himself inspires it with everything it may be seeking, and much more.” [CCD IX:330]

We are beggars before God, the Catechism teaches, but also reminds us that “prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours.” [CCC:2559-2560] God thirsts for us! He seeks us first and offers us in return the living water.

Through our “life of prayer and reflection,” then, we not only seek God, but He seeks us. He touches our hearts and feeds our souls, and just as our souls give life to our bodies, our prayers give life to our souls.

That is why St. Vincent said that “prayer is the soul of our souls.” [CCD IX:327]

Contemplate

Be silent, looks towards heaven, open your heart, and listen.

Recommended Reading

Praying with Vincent de Paul

11-24-2021 News Roundup

11-24-2021 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.

11-24-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leader

11-24-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leader 1367 1520 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

Last week I had the privilege of being with Vincentian leaders from all over the United States to attend the Invitation for Renewal leadership-formation program in St. Louis. One of the perennial highlights of this retreat-based program is a film called “Celebrate What’s Right with the World.” Focusing on what’s right and celebrating it presupposes an attitude of gratitude that Vincentians should live throughout the year, not just on this week’s Thanksgiving holiday.

In recent months and years, we have been surrounded by events and media coverage that reinforce what is not right with the world. Certainly, we need to recognize what needs to be changed in our world, in our country, in our Church and even in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The most effective way to create useful change, however, is to appreciate and build upon the many positive parts of everything that surrounds us.

Building upon assets is what we do with our neighbors in need who participate in our programs of mentoring or serving as allies to neighbors coping with poverty. Let’s take our own advice and appreciate the many blessings and gifts we enjoy in an admittedly broken world. Even our service to those who are poor is performed from a position of gratitude. The beginning of our Rule details the Vincentian wisdom about “Our Personal Encounters With the Poor;” it tells us that “Vincentians never forget the many blessings they receive from those they visit.”

I find that I best immerse myself in a mindset of gratitude when I do it in prayer. I create a “rosary of thankfulness” by creating five decades in which I name people, places or things for which I am grateful. If you try this, think of your community, church, workplace, family, conference, friends, favorite places or events. As I do, you can try praying “thank you Lord” for ten things in the categories you create.

You may be surprised how easy it is to find 50 things for which you are genuinely thankful – people, places, and events that have been a blessing or gift and have made you the person you are today. Conversely, I expect most people would find it difficult to identify 50 such things to complain about with similar conviction. We all have pain, sorrow and hurts, but with God’s providence even in these we find the seeds of new possibilities.

Simple expressions of thanks to those around us will make our families, churches, workplaces and communities better places to be. We also owe God our thankfulness. It is why the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass almost always begins, “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, creator of the world and source of all life.”

I hope you and your family have a blessed Advent as we prepare for the joy of Christmas.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National President

Contemplation – Trust to God for the Rest

Contemplation – Trust to God for the Rest 940 788 SVDP USA

If we truly trust in providence, truly abandon ourselves to the will of God, does that mean we are called to simply let things happen? On the contrary, Frédéric taught, our “detachment from the world must not be turned into discouragement about our duties… We must think as if we were to quit the earth tomorrow, and we must work as if we were never to leave it.” [Baunard, 423]

God expresses His will to us through His word in the Scriptures. For Vincentians, there are several specific teachings that stand out, not least of which is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In the story, Christ recounts the mercy shown by a passing Samaritan to the victim of a robbery and assault. Importantly, he concludes by telling us to “go and do likewise.”

He does not say “wait for my signal,” or “stay tuned for further instructions,” but “go and do likewise.”

Go. Act. Do.

Similarly, he tells us that our corporal works of mercy – feeding, clothing, and comforting those in need – will be judged as if done to Himself.

Feed. Clothe. Be merciful.

In neither instance does Christ demand that we achieve a particular earthly end. As St. Vincent said, “God does not consider the outcome of the good work undertaken but the charity that accompanied it.” [CCD I:205] And charity, the Catechism says, is to love our neighbor as ourselves not for the sake of paying the bill, or preparing the meal, but for the love of God. [CCC, 1822]

When Veronica wiped the face of Jesus, He still was nailed to the cross, in accordance with God’s will. But Veronica did all the good she could do, with mercy and with love.

Trust in providence, then, begins with doing God’s will as best we can discern it, and then trusting that the outcome also will be His will. In other words, we should not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. “The will of God,” Blessed Frédéric writes, “is fulfilled from day to day.” [Baunard, 81]

If we confined ourselves to doing only those things whose outcomes we can assure, how limited our charity would be! We would become quickly overwhelmed into inaction, realizing that the poor will always be with us. But Christ, too, is with us always! We are called to hear Him in the cry of the poor; in them, to see His suffering.

Let us, then, as Frédéric taught, “do all the good we can, and trust to God for the rest.” [Baunard, 81]

Contemplate

Have I ever hesitated to help, because “they’ll only need more help tomorrow?”

Recommended Reading

Serving in Hope II: Our Vincentian Spirituality

SVdP Disaster Services Volunteer Helps Hurricane Ida Survivors

SVdP Disaster Services Volunteer Helps Hurricane Ida Survivors 969 727 SVDP USA

Dave Brucker is the Council President for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Diocese of Tyler and has been a volunteer since 2017 with the Disaster Services Corporation SVdPUSA. He has deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, and several other locations. Dave is trained to run one of the programs of Disaster Services called Parish Recovery Assistance Centers. Parish Recovery Assistance Centers or P-RACs are a holistic, community-based, approach to helping families immediately after a disaster hits. Catholic organizations working together to deliver critical information and referral services along with immediate relief to the survivors of a given disaster. P-RACs are led by trained Rapid Response Teams, that will train others, to provide information on FEMA, SBA, ONA, state, and local disaster programs, and to provide assistance, supplies, registration, spiritual, and emotional care.

Below is a short narrative on Dave’s recent experience helping Hurricane Ida survivors in the Diocese of Houma Thibodaux.

“Thanks goes to the SVdP-DSC organization for the recent opportunity to assist those in need due to Hurricane Ida in South Louisiana. The primary purpose was, of course, to contribute to the eventual recovery of the physical needs and conditions of those affected. And in some small way, this was accomplished. But this deployment in particular, allowed the goodness of so many local residents to shine through. The Diocese responded with a most capable priest, Father Simon Peter, empowered to lead recovery efforts, recruit volunteers, and coordinate agencies. I saw Catholic Charities deeply involved and working side-by-side with SVdP. I saw an army of local Vincentians volunteering at the P-RACs – many full time over a couple of weeks. And many with damage of their own homes with which to contend.  Most impressive was the many volunteers from the parishes that served as hosts for the P-RACs. All so generous of their time. Disasters are never a good thing, but disasters can serve to bring out the best in people, and I was so happy to see this in the people I was fortunate to work with during my short deployment. God bless SVdP-DSC for facilitating the P-RACs, and also the volunteers, and the survivors all of whom came with stories of significant challenge.  May the recovery for South Louisiana be swift.”

Disaster Services is so grateful for all the support that Vincentians across the nation have provided to assist us with providing disaster recovery programs like the P-RACs. If you would like to volunteer at a Parish Recovery Assistance Center during a future disaster event, please go to www.svdpdisaster.org and click on the “Volunteer” button.

 

 

11-18-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

11-18-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1367 1520 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

Last week, with the help of our national office staff, I filed our National Council Annual Report with the Council General International in Paris. Yes, I have to file an annual report, just as our Councils and Conferences are required to do. I know we all like to complain about these reports, but — collected from every Conference and Council across the world – they paint the picture of the worldwide network of charity envisioned by Blessed Frederic Ozanam. It is important for us to make the effort to document and share our activity.

I have heard some say these reports should not be something their Conference needs to do. They say they just want to help people. From the very beginning of our Society, however, the founders saw the value of sharing this information. Emmanuel Bailly had our first written report presented to the pastor of St. Étienne in Paris at a meeting on Friday, June 27, 1834. You can read it online here.

Bailly, our Society’s first President, wanted to inform Fr. Faudet of the work of the Conference and receive his support. Pastors and bishops still like to receive our reports, and we still need their support.

As our Society spread, the unity of the members was maintained by regular correspondence and detailed reports. Only four years after our founding, in a letter dated March 1, 1837, the Society’s Secretary General, Francois Lallier, reminded members to provide reports. He wrote, “We hope to hear from you before those meetings, the dates whereof are fixed by our Rule. By informing us of the amounts you have received and disbursed, of the increase in the numbers of your members and in that of the poor you have visited you will often show the power of your charity to us who are weak; but we shall rejoice at it, for amongst brothers success increases mutual love and esteem.”

You can read a report Frederic Ozanam provided from Lyon to Emmanuel Bailly in a letter dated July 19, 1838. It is #180 in the collection of Ozanam’s letters. This report details the number of members and the new members added for the conferences in Lyon. Frederic’s report provided the amount spent on meat and bread and the number of families visited. In the library at our international office, there are two very large bookcases containing the bulletins of the Council General meetings and reports going back to these earliest days. In one 1847 report, I found the very first listing of information from the United States — simple amounts for income and expense. In that same report, however, each conference in France and many across Europe provided detailed descriptions of their membership, a financial report and a description of their works.

The submission of the annual report is required by Statute 23 of Part 3 of the Rule. It is not an option for Conferences or Councils to ignore this requirement if they want to be part of the Society. Please make the job of our leadership easier. Members can help by submitting their hours of service and mileage in a timely manner. To finish their own reports, Councils need to have all Conferences cooperate by completing theirs first, and all Conferences and Councils need to have completed their reports before the National Council can produce its final report.

I am grateful to all the presidents and secretaries who compile their reports in a timely manner. This information has many uses. Our bishops, pastors, donors, and community supporters deserve to have timely information about who we are and what services we provide. The information is also important to our internal committees that promote our efforts to grow and revitalize our membership and services.

At a national assembly of ours several years ago, a speaker from the Vatican communications office addressed us. He complimented us on the way in which our service humbly follows the Gospel admonition, “When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” He then reminded us, however, that the Gospel also instructs us to not put our light under a bushel.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National President

Contemplation – Our Participation In The Divine Light

Contemplation – Our Participation In The Divine Light 940 788 SVDP USA

It is perhaps the central irony of our Vincentian vocation that while our “ideal is to help relieve suffering for love alone, without thinking of any reward or advantage for [ourselves]” it is also true that we do this for ourselves, as a necessary step towards our growth in holiness. [Rule, Part I, 2.2] So how do we reconcile what seems to be both self-serving and selfless at the same time?

Saint Louise de Marillac offers some insights on charity and the mystery of the incarnation that may help us to understand how, in serving the neighbor, we serve our own souls.

God, Louise explains, chose to come into this world in a form that was not at all “consistent with His grandeur.” He didn’t even come as the greatest of men, but as a poor man. Everything he did as man, she writes, was beneath Him.

He came as humbly as can be imagined,” she tells us, “so that we might be more free to approach Him.” [Sp. Writings, 700]

God’s incarnation in Christ is an invitation! He wants to know us and wants us to know Him. The God of Moses was so great in His glory that nobody could see Him and live. The poor carpenter of Nazareth is our brother, our neighbor, our friend…and still our God.

As Louise often reflected, God created our souls only so that we may be joined with Him. Making it possible for us to know Him was a supreme act of humility. In serving the poor, then, we must exhibit this virtue of humility, commensurate with Christ’s own humility. They are, for us the sacred images of God, and “how shall we not love Him in [their] persons?” [Letter137, to Janmot, 1837]

How can we do anything then, but to offer our time, our talents, our possessions, and ourselves? [Rule, Part I, 2.5.1] How can we help but serve? Indeed, Louise teaches, “the person who does not love does not know God, for God is Charity. The cause of love is esteem for the good in the thing loved.” [Sp. Writing, 710]

In serving with humility and in selflessness, in serving for love alone, we not only do as God asked us to do, we do as Christ Himself did.

This practice of charity is so powerful that it gives us the knowledge of God… the greater our charity the greater our participation in this divine light which will inflame us with the fire of Holy Love for all eternity.” [Sp. Writing, 711]

Contemplate

How can I better seek to imitate Christ in my service?

Recommended Reading

Praying with Louise de Marillac

SVdP Named One of America’s Best Charities

SVdP Named One of America’s Best Charities 530 530 SVDP USA

Each year, the Chronicle of Philanthropy releases a list of America’s 100 Favorite Charities. Their ranking system is based primarily on cash-support received by cause-driven nonprofits. That means the total value of charitable contributions of money and stock.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is honored to be a part of the list this year. Coming in at number 57, SVdP is one of America’s Favorite Charities!

In 2020, the Society received $362,151,617 in cash support. That was an increase of nearly 10% from 2019.

To read more about this honor and see the complete list of America’s Favorite Charities, click here.

Thank you again to the Chronicle of Philanthropy for this honor and to you, our generous supporters for making this happen! God Bless! 

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

    Skip to content