SVdP News Roundup September 23 – September 29

SVdP News Roundup September 23 – September 29 1080 1080 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:



Contemplation — Our Universal Mission

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At the heart of Vincent’s charism was a deep passion for the universal mission of the church. It was, after all, his taking of the general confession of the old man at Gannes, followed by his homily at Folleville which marked the beginning of the Congregation of the Mission. That, and every mission that followed, was designed to feed both body and soul, to nourish both individuals and communities.

With the founding of the Confraternities of Charity, the missions also included the foundation of a new Confraternity in each town visited, involving the laity in both the initial, and more importantly, the ongoing corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The people, rich and poor, could live their faith through their actions, and to encounter Christ in each other.

Vincent’s zeal drew him to offer the priests of the Mission to the church’s service not only in France, but in far flung lands where Christ’s word was yet unknown. The Vincentians not only ministered to the slaves of the Barbary pirates in North Africa but ransomed the freedom of twelve hundred of them, all the while showing the church’s beauty through their humble prayers and actions.

Vincent’s special zeal for these foreign lands was partly driven by his fear that “that God might gradually do away with {the church] … because of our depraved morals, those new opinions’ which are spreading more and more, and the general state of affairs in another hundred years we may lose the Church entirely in Europe.” [CCD III:40-41]

Two hundred years later, young Frédéric Ozanam and his friends faced a world which, in his words, had “grown cold”, and it called “us Catholics to revive the vital beat to restore it, it is for us to begin over again the great work of regeneration…” [Letter 90, to Curnier, 1835]

This is the “good of the Church” that the founders were challenged to show, and their answer was not a debating response, not merely words, but actions, not merely actions but a way of living; of living their faith in every part of their lives, bearing witness to Christ’s love in their actions, and “by showing the vitality of their faith, affirm its truth.” [Baunard, 65]

This work was, and is, at the heart of the “new evangelization” Pope Saint John Paul II describes in Redmptoris Missio, reviving, as in Frédéric’s time, “a living sense of the faith.” Like the communities Vincent visited 400 hundred years ago, it is we who are first evangelized when we encounter Christ’s suffering in the neighbor. May they in turn see His love not in the bread we offer, but in its bringing; not in our works, but in our love; not in our presence alone, but in the presence of Him who is among us on each home visit, as He promised, when we gather in His name.


Will they know we are Christians by our love?

Recommended Reading

Praying with Vincent de Paul

Contemplation — In the Vincentian Spirit

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Because it is the heart of our vocation, and our primary means of serving the neighbor, Conferences and Councils offer training for the Home Visit. As important as this training is, it really comes down to one thing. As our Rule puts it “visits to the poor are made in a Vincentian spirit.” [Rule, Part III, St. 8]

It is important to note that the statute quoted above doesn’t actually say “Home Visit,” it only says “visits to the poor,.” This is important to keep in mind, because as central and indispensable as the Home Visit remains, there always have been other Vincentian encounters. And just as the Home Visit is the source of all of our other works (systemic change, special works, advocacy, and more) the spirit, and spirituality of the Home Visit must be a part of every Vincentian encounter.

We cannot visit the homeless in a home, yet we bring the same humble, kind, patient deference to the encounter that we would when entering a neighbor’s home. When people visit our food pantries, we are not clerks in a store, but servants of Christ, who is hungry. When shoppers, rich or poor, patronize our Thrift Stores, we offer more than retail “best practices,” we offer our hearts.

While it may be only Active or Associate Members who go on Home Visits, volunteers and staff of the Society also encounter the neighbor in the course of our many works. They often are the only face of the Society some people will ever see. This is why we do not jealously hold onto the word “Vincentian” only for Active Members. All of us who do the work of the Society are serving Christ in serving the neighbor. All of us are Vincentians.

From the earliest days of the Vincentian Family, the priests of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity, and the Confraternities of Charity sought out the poor wherever they were – in hospitals, in the streets, rowing the galleys, or in prisons. To serve them, they enlisted help from others throughout society. Indeed, this was the origin of the Daughters of Charity, formed from poor farm girls who assisted the mostly upper-class Ladies of Charity.

Just as Members bring our Vincentian spirit to every Home Visit, our Vincentian spirit grows as a result of them. The Vincentian spirit animates everything we do, every encounter we have; it is meant to be shared not only with the neighbor, but with each other. Not all volunteers will become Members, not all employees will join Conferences, but then again, not all Members will become Popes or Saints… but John Paul II did.

Our Vincentian Pathway has many starting points, and many routes, but on each of them we will find Vincentian encounters, and all of them lead us to Christ.


Do I welcome volunteers and staff to prayer, reflection, and training with the Members?

Recommended Reading

A New Century Dawns

SVdP News Roundup September 16 – September 22

SVdP News Roundup September 16 – September 22 1080 1080 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:



A Week in Prayers September 18 – September 22

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Monday, September 18

I sit silently, Lord, in Your presence,
My mind and my spirit kept still.
Speak to my soul if You wish it.
I seek only to do Your will.

Tuesday, September 19

Unburden me, Lord, of my worries.
Free me, O Lord, from my cares.
Wash away all the sorrows,
And all of the pride,
That crowd You out from
My mind and heart.
Fill me, O Lord, with Your Spirit.
I am Yours.

Wednesday, September 20

Help me to see You, Lord,
In the shivering neighbor,
Created in Your image,
Created by Your hand.
Help me to give, O Lord,
My time, my possessions, myself;
Given to me to share, Lord,
Given from Your hand.

Thursday, September 21

Lord, in my heart,
Lord, in my mind,
Lord, in my soul I love You.
Lord, in my words,
Lord, in my thoughts,
Lord, in my acts I love You.
Lord, in my family,
Lord, in my friends,
Lord, in the neighbor I love You.

Friday, September 22

Help me to walk the narrow path, Lord,
My eyes upon Your kingdom.
Help me to walk in faith.
Ease my concerns and worries, Lord,
About all the things of this world.
Help me to see with hope.
Help me to make more room for You, Lord,
Fill my heart ‘til it overflows.
Help me to share Your love.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 438 314 SVDP USA

Written by Tai Jackson — SVdP Seattle

Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration lasting from September 15 thru October 15, but originally traced back to President Johnson, who first introduced Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. The week-long celebration was later changed to a month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. During this month-long event, we recognize and honor the cultural, historical, and societal contributions of our Hispanic and Latino communities.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to acknowledge the diversity within the Hispanic and Latino communities and their contributions historically in the United States. It’s important to remember the influence they had in shaping the nation’s history throughout various fields. The contributions of figures like Cesar Chavez in the labor movement and Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court highlight the lasting impact of Hispanic Americans in society.

Another aspect of Hispanic Heritage Month is to educate and raise awareness about the socio-economic, political, and educational challenges that are faced in the Hispanic and Latino communities; and the work needed towards addressing such disparities.

With this idea in mind, for the last 10 years, our St. Vincent de Paul Centro Rendu program has been dedicated to lifting spirits by partnering with families, churches, schools, government, and local businesses to create a community center that provides essential tools and resources needed for the Hispanic and Latino community to learn, live, work, and thrive.

Many celebrate by participating in festivals, parades, and cultural events that showcase the Hispanic and Latino traditions. This month is a time to celebrate, reflect upon, and honor the contributions of the Hispanic and Latino communities to the United States. It’s a moment to embrace diversity, learn from history, and work towards a more inclusive future.

09-21-2023 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

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Just as Summer inevitably turns to Fall, our beloved Society’s leadership changes at the end of September each year with new local Council and Conference President elections at the end of respective three-year terms.

At the national level, the term of the National President and his/her Board is six years. The current National Council’s Board of Directors began their Board service in 2017. It concludes with that of the National President, when Ralph Middlecamp’s six-year term ends on September 30. Since 2017, well, what a ride! Allow me to share with you just some of the accomplishments made possible through policy development or direct actions taken by this Board.

  • They strengthened support of local Councils though enhancements of our Model Bylaws, Standards of Excellence, and a new Safeguarding policy.
  • They engaged more members in national service through regions, committees, and task forces.
  • They expanded recruitment, leadership inclusion, and Conference support for under-represented ethnic communities and young adults.
  • They shepherded six years of profitable National Council financial success and stability, including the policy formation of how to use restricted funds and operating reserves while simultaneously growing fundraising and operational support. Along the way, we increased financial and leadership support for the global Society, and supported three new national subsidiary organizations.
  • During the global pandemic, the Board went remote for three National meetings – and doubled our attendance! They also pivoted all of us first to remote activities and then back again to in-person services and gatherings. Along the way they supported growth from 20 to more than 100 national webinars annually.
  • The Board provided budgets and policies to rebuild our national public and member websites, and created oversight for better document management and online security systems.
  • Finally, this board sold our national office to buy a new building just a block away that doubled our staff workspace, added a larger, interactional boardroom and a beautiful Vincentian chapel. This was accomplished without asking for any membership dues assessments or even a capital campaign, a rare feat among nonprofits!

There is more, but you get the idea. This has been a high-functioning board of directors working on your behalf to support and strengthen the Society in the United States. We recognized the Board members at the closing banquet of our National Assembly, but a few words can’t express the gratitude they are owed for shepherding the National Council over the past six exciting years of the Society.

We also say goodbye, well sort of, to our National President Ralph Middlecamp as his term ends. The good news is that after six years of exceptional, Vincentian servant leadership to the Society in one country, we now share Ralph with the rest of the world. Upon the election and recent installation of the new Council General International President, Ralph has been appointed International First Vice President! This is great news for all of us, as the U.S. Council participates very actively in the work of the global Society. Ralph can keep us informed and up to date on spiritual, service, financial and other opportunities.

Every national Board builds upon the work of those who served previously. New National President John Berry and his newly-appointed Board of Directors will have their own initiatives and goals, with a strong National Council to continue to strengthen in service to you as its members. Finances and staff are strong, and we have relatively few urgent challenges. It’s a great time to re-assess our Society presence, culture and operations (more on this from John soon), and take time to listen, really listen, to our members and the world around us. Thank you, Ralph and our outgoing Board, and with John and our new Board, we can’t wait to get to work!

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

Contemplation — Let Us Open Our Hearts

Contemplation — Let Us Open Our Hearts 1080 1080 SVDP USA

When we think about the meaning of friendship, particularly as one of our three Essential Elements, we could hardly have a better role model than Blessed Frédéric Ozanam. Friendship was so central to his life, and to the founding of the Society, that two of his biographers chose to highlight this in the titles of their books: The Great Friend, by Albert Schimberg, and My Friend Ozanam, by Pere Lacordaire.

Shimberg says of Frédéric that he “had a genius for friendship, which was for him a communion of spirits, a meeting of minds. He poured out his heart in letters to his friends, was happy when they were happy, shared their disappointments and griefs, let them share his joys and sorrows, gave them counsel and asked for theirs. Above all, his friendship was an apostolate. He prayed with his friends; in life and after death he asked for their prayers.” [Shimberg, 313]

In Frédéric’s words and actions we see friendship’s intimate connection to both service and spirituality, and it is through this connection that it becomes essential – the essence of the Society. In addition to praying for and with one another, he wrote, “the strongest tie, the principle of a true friendship, is charity, and charity could not exist in the hearts of many without sweetening itself from outside. It is a fire that dies without being fed, and good works are the food of charity.” [Letter 82, to Curnier, 1834]

This particular character of friendship in the Society is the means by which we arrive at consensus in our decision-making. We trust one another enough to be honest – to speak with simplicity. Indeed, honest disagreement between friends can only strengthen the friendship. “Let us dare to contradict each other sometimes: truth and concord will end up by banishing strife,” Frédéric wrote to Auguste Materne. “Let us open our hearts and discuss things with wisdom. Our friendship will only become firmer.” [Letter 11 to Materne 1830]

And so it always should be in our Conference meetings. No member should ever feel unable to express disagreement, and no other member should take disagreement as an affront. We are joined together with the common purpose of growing in holiness by serving Christ in the neighbor. It is through the simplicity born of friendship that we reach consensus and alter our plans for the better. Without spirituality, our service is merely work. Without friendship, we won’t “journey together towards holiness…” [Rule, Part I, 2.2]

It was in all three essential elements that Frédéric wished us to grow. May we share in his hope that “as each of us grows older, may we also grow in friendship, piety, and zeal for good!” [Letter 157, to Le Taillandier, 1837]


Is having and being a friend always at the center of my Vincentian service and spirituality?

Recommended Reading

The Frédéric Ozanam Story

SVdP News Roundup September 9 – September 15

SVdP News Roundup September 9 – September 15 1080 1080 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:



A Week in Prayers September 11 – September 15

A Week in Prayers September 11 – September 15 1080 1080 SVDP USA

Monday, September 11

Heavenly Father,
Your gifts to me are abundant:
Beauty enough to overwhelm my senses,
Joy enough to fill my heart,
Love enough to lead me to You.
All of this within the people,
Each made in Your image,
Who surround me every day.

Tuesday, September 12

Lord Jesus, joy in my suffering.
Christ Jesus, comfort in pain.
You sit on the throne of the kingdom,
The cross and the nails remain.
You suffered and died for my sins, Lord.
You arose and await me above.
No cross is too heavy, no nail too strong,
To bear for the sake of Your love.

Wednesday, September 13

For all that You have given me,
Lord, I am filled with gratitude.
For all that You have promised,
Lord, I am filled with hope.
In all my prayers and actions,
Lord, I offer You my heart.

Thursday, September 14

When storm winds arise,
Or when danger is near,
I am calmed by Your presence,
For, God, You are here.
In the face of the neighbor,
In sadness and cheer,
In daylight and darkness,
O God, you are here.
You whisper in silence
Your words in my ear.
You lift up my spirit.
My God, You are here.

Friday, September 15

In Your presence, in Your sight,
Seeking heaven’s holy light,
As I knock upon the door.
Seeing now Your face,
And the Father’s joyful grace,
When greeted by the poor.
To serve is but to start
The transformation of my heart
To live in You forevermore.

Daily Prayers are written by Tim Williams, National Vincentian Formation Director.

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