01-28-21 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

01-28-21 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

01-28-21 Letter From Our Servant Leaders 600 685 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

I really was not looking for another way to spend my retirement days. Being your National
Council President is a privilege that is already fulfilling and time-consuming. When asked,
however, to join the Board of Directors of the Council General International as the Vice
President with responsibility for Solidarity and Special Projects, I accepted because I
understand the importance of working to strengthen that worldwide network of charity imagined
by our founder Blessed Frédéric Ozanam.

Building on the work of U.S. Council representatives Terry Wilson and Edward Keane, who
served under past Council General President, Michael Thio, our current President General,
Renato Lima de Oliveira, has also appointed other United States Vincentians to serve in the
Society’s international structure. Let me introduce them:

  • Michael Nizankiewicz – International Territorial Vice President for America 1
  • Frank Voehl – Zone 1 Coordinator for America 1
  • Kat Brissette – Youth Territorial Delegate America 1
  • Bill Brazier – Commission for International Aid and Development
  • Dave Barringer – Chair of International Logo Commission
  • Edward Keane – Chair of the United Nations Department
  • Patricia Hughes – Member on the United Nations Department
  • Donald Kany – International Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative

This participation by our United States Vincentians is very different from what I observed
during my early years in the Society. Our National Council President always had a position on
the International Executive Committee, and many Conferences did Twinning. Overall, however,
we U.S. Vincentians did not pay much attention to what happened beyond our borders. It
would also be fair to say the Society’s international structure until recently was very Europecentered and did not pay much attention to us either. We have much to learn from our
worldwide network, and we have some very good best practices that we are sharing as well.

Each of you can directly experience this global Vincentian network and make my new role a
little easier by having your conference participate in International Twinning. When you partner
with a Conference in another country, you will be in communication with brothers and sisters
working in their parishes and trying to meet needs in their communities. You will learn how
much we have in common and understand some of the challenges Vincentians elsewhere face
as they live out our common vocation. Sharing in an understanding of our Vincentian work
beyond our own national borders is a tradition that dates to the early years of our Society.

I encourage you to continue working with Elizabeth Martinez, our National Council Twinning
Coordinator, to partner with Conferences that have requested assistance through our Council
General Office in Paris. There are many Conferences waiting to be assigned to a partner.
Please do not send aid directly to any international project except through our National Council
Office. The international projects we support through the National Council have been
investigated and prioritized. Beyond the need to ensure accountability for use of the funds,
there are regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that we need to

Finally, and most importantly, please pray for our sister and brother Vincentians working in
difficult and sometimes dangerous places. I have been privileged to meet some of their leaders
and to hear their stories. To provide their members spiritual support and friendship, they hold
Conference meetings like we do. Just like us, they never have sufficient resources to serve
their neighbors in need fully. And they take the same Vincentian journey, pray the same
prayers and follow the same Rule we do. With them, we are “One Society,” serving in hope.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

  • Congratulations, Ralph

    I’m interested to see that the Society has a Haiti initiative and would be interested to know more about that. I went there four times on medical missions with Friends of Haiti from Green Bay, three times with Carolyn. It’s been several years. I know things are pretty bad there right now (again), but I would at least .like to keep informed

    • Thanks, Kelly. Things are switching gears a bit and I will have to check on the status of our efforts. It is a difficult environment. It seems as soon as we get our Vincentians organized and set something up there is another problem and it unravels.

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