SVdP Leadership

In Memoriam: Roger Playwin

In Memoriam: Roger Playwin 459 649 SVDP USA

Roger T. Playwin
1941 – 2024

Former National CEO, beloved friend, and dedicated Vincentian Roger Playwin passed away last week at the age of 83.

The model of servant leadership, Roger’s long history with nonprofit organizations led him to become Executive Director of the St. Vincent de Paul’s Detroit Archdiocesan Council in 1998. Roger was named Executive Director of the National Council in April 2003; five years later, he became its first Chief Executive Officer, in recognition of the expanded duties and responsibilities of his position.

As a Society leader, he structured the National Council to include all aspects of diversity and better compliance in areas of governance. He served on the National Board of Directors and when he retired in 2013, he remained active with the Society at various levels and roles, including serving as Treasurer for the National Foundation Board, and stepping in for a time as an Interim Executive Director for the Detroit ADCC.

Passionate about serving families impacted by disasters, Roger was on the first Board of the Disaster Services Corporation in 2017, and stayed active with the Board as Vice Chair until the end of 2022. He continued to serve on the DSC Governance Committee, lending his expertise in NGO policies. While serving as CEO of the National Council, Roger was instrumental in getting the Katrina Aid Today Contract, which served Katrina survivors in 17 Councils across the United States. This was the largest contract of its kind for the Society and helped to keep thousands of displaced Katrina survivors from becoming homeless across the nation.

National President John Berry remarked, “Roger was a beloved friend to many people both in and out of the Society. He lived the virtues of being a Vincentian through his service, his friendship, and his deep spirituality. Roger mentored many of us when we came into the Society, and he was always there supporting us when we needed him. When I was elected National President, Roger was a trusted advisor helping me navigate my new role. I will miss him very much.”

Roger is survived by his wife, Sue, three children, four grandchildren, and all of us who knew and loved him well.

“Roger was a tremendous support and mentor to me in the role of National CEO,” noted National CEO Dave Barringer. “He continued to be available at any time for any reason for so many local Executive Directors as a great friend and coach in his retirement. He will be greatly missed.”

A visitation will be held today, May 16, from 4 to 8 PM at Chas. Verheyden, Inc. Funeral Home in Grosse Pointe Park, MI. Funeral Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, May 17 at 10 AM at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe Park.

Roger’s family has asked that memorial contributions be made to the National Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at

Current SVdP Leaders Take Inspiration From the Past in Newly Published Articles

Current SVdP Leaders Take Inspiration From the Past in Newly Published Articles 1344 1792 SVDP USA

Two articles by current SVdP leaders look back at the Society’s roots, in the latest issue of De Paul University’s Vincentian Heritage Journal. National Director of Formation Tim Williams shares with us two new articles by Ray Sickinger, Ph.D., and Ralph Middlecamp.

François Lallier, Friend of Frédéric, Co-Founder of the Society

As a young law student at the Sorbonne, François Lallier noticed another student speaking out boldly in class, defending the Church against attacks on it by professors and fellow students. After class one day, he saw this young man outside, at the center of a group who were listening to him intently. Lallier took this opportunity to introduce himself to Frédéric Ozanam, and that, to paraphrase the closing line of Casablanca, was the start of a beautiful friendship.

Lallier, along with Ozanam, four other students, and Emmanuel Bailly, would together found the Society of St. Vincent de Paul just a few short years after this meeting, but their friendship would continue undimmed for the rest of Frédéric’s short life.

In an article published in the newest Vincentian Heritage Journal, Raymond Sickinger, Ph.D., National Council board member and Professor Emeritus of history at Providence College, tells the story of this founder using sources most Vincentians have not previously read, including Circular Letters Lallier wrote while serving as Secretary-General, his personal correspondence with his friend Ozanam, his speeches, and other documents.

Lawyer, judge, gentleman, and Vincentian, François Lallier’s story is an important part of our heritage.

Read François Lallier: One of the Pillars of the Building Started

Emmanuel Bailly, Mentor and Co-Founder of the Society

In the Ozanam Orientation, we learn that of the seven founders of the Society, there were six college students and one “older gentleman.” In 1833, Emmanuel Bailly was 39 years old.

National President Ralph Middlecamp, avid student of the Society’s heritage and history, shares in the latest issue of the Vincentian Heritage Journal the fascinating story of Père Bailly, whose offices hosted the first Conference.

Newspaper publisher, businessman, and college professor, Bailly was from a family with strong Vincentian roots, his father having been entrusted with some of Saint Vincent’s papers to safeguard during the French Revolution.

While his business ventures had varying degrees of success, his commitment to mentoring young men and defending the faith were unwavering. Bailly was truly a father figure to the young men who elected him as President of that first Conference, which earned him the nickname Père (father). He also served as Spiritual Advisor, and was discovered to have contributed generously to the secret collections at the early meetings.

It was Bailly’s deep knowledge of the Rule of the Congregation of the Mission that helped him, as co-author of the Society’s Rule in 1835, to guide its basic structure and outline.

Middlecamp’s article offers fascinating details of Bailly’s interesting life, family, and connections.

Read Emmanuel Bailly: The Advisor and Friend of Christian Youth

05-13-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

05-13-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 275 287 SVDP USA

Why should I care?

We all ask this at some point when we learn something new, and especially when it challenges our assumptions and what we think we believe. We want to stay in our comfort zone. We believe that we act as we always have, and may not realize that our views and knowledge change even when we don’t think about it. Little by little, it all then changes how we behave.

It feels that recently, we have all been asked to think more, and differently, about matters such as identity and race, health and safety, politics and citizenship, and rights and responsibilities. Even though we have been more isolated during a pandemic, media and new voices have brought us, or even forced us, together to see and perhaps to understand.

Why as Vincentians should we care about all this?

I suggest two reasons, both rooted in our mission. First, the way we accomplish our mission is through our relationships with, and service to people in need. Every time we hear of a new call for action, or a voice longing even simply to be heard, we should ask how this may be a part of our work with our neighbors. They don’t look the same, or come from the same cultural or personal backgrounds, even if they now live in the same neighborhood. What may be the impacts of personal identity, incarceration, citizenship, mental health, and so many other factors we hear in the news? If we learn more, won’t we be better able to communicate, have more empathy, and ultimately better serve others? We deepen our Vincentian relationships, and thus our ability to make real contributions to the lives of our neighbors, if we take the opportunities before us to understand.

Second, our Vincentian charism and mission call us to increase our own holiness. Sainthood is our goal. (To be clear, though, it isn’t a campaign!) In order to improve the lives of others, we need to better ourselves — in our knowledge, education, and then ultimately attitudes and personal actions. This set of improvements is not a one-time activity; it is lifelong learning. It leads to personal, spiritual evolution in our service to God and to others.

Today we often see any subject through one of two polarized lenses, especially in media and social media. I suggest we not choose just one, but try to absorb the topical points from multiple sources. As a college Journalism major, I was trained to read 6 – 7 newspapers (remember them?) daily, and was constantly surprised how the same story appeared so differently according to which paper reported on it. The media have changed today but the lenses remain the same. Yes, we could choose one that fits our current beliefs and remain comfortable. Or, we can seek out multiple, often contrasting views, and likely find the truth somewhere in the middle.

All those views out there may clash with each other, and with our existing view of the world in which we live. However, there is something stimulating about our ability to keep growing in our mindfulness and spirituality at any age. We can choose to hunker down in our mental caves, avoiding new discomforts. As Vincentians, however, we choose to listen and then discern, because we do indeed care.

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

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