03-28-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

03-28-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

03-28-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1200 1200 SVDP USA

Challenges of a Vincentian

In my 40 years as a Vincentian, I have made many mistakes. From my mistakes, hopefully, I will become a better person. My hope is you will learn from my mistakes. Here is my list of My Challenges:

  1. It’s about me. I call this the Santa Claus effect. When I first became a became a Vincentian, giving something to somebody made me feel good. I got to “help” someone, but it cost me nothing. Then I learned it was not about me, but the person I was helping. This was a very valuable lesson for me to learn as a Vincentian.
  2. Poverty is a lack of money. I thought this way in the beginning. As you help people, you realize poverty is a mindset. Improving the situation of a neighbor in need takes education, hope, culture, time, work, acceptance, and, yes, some money.
  3. Learning from fellow Vincentians. I had the idea that I could do this by myself. I did not need the support and encouragement of my fellow Vincentians. There is a reason we visit and talk to the poor in pairs. There is a reason we have Conferences with a group of Vincentians.
  4. Cynicism. I was cynical. The poor are only interested in money. I was lied to, used, and taken advantage of. These events were few and far between, but it does instill a cynical view. A Vincentian needs to take each person and interview as a fresh start for the person you are meeting and for you. I needed to get past the cynicism and realize Christ did not judge. We need to do the same.
  5. Why am I doing this? As a Vincentian working week after week, sometimes hearing from the same people week after week, a bit of “why am I doing this?” may set in. This is the most dangerous of all my mistakes. I am never going to solve all the social issues. I am never going “to fix it.”  Not me, not on my own. With prayer and help from my fellow Vincentians I may be able to help one person or one family at a time.
  6. Arrogance. Sometimes I would miss an opportunity to really meet someone. I would think the encounter with the poor is just a business transaction. I did not learn about the person, their situation or background. I would just take care of the monetary problem, but not see the person for who they are.
  7. Acceptance. This was very difficult for me. Sometimes a lack of funds — or a lack of a solution — makes the work very frustrating. This is one of the greatest challenges to a Vincentian. I must accept that I cannot solve everything. I may have some setbacks as a Vincentian, but with God’s Grace, I must acknowledge it is not defeat.
  8. Don’t lead, just follow. This mistake is one with its own limitation. I would not have experienced the next level of being a Vincentian if I never accepted a leadership position. MY positions of leadership have been extremely fulfilling. There are many opportunities in the Vincentian life — Conference President, VP, District President, Treasurer, Committee person.
  9. Evangelization. One of the things I did not do for many years was tell non-Vincentians about SVdP (Vincentian Friendship, Service, and Spirituality). Please go out and spread the word about our great organization. There are a lot of people looking for an organization like SVdP.

I am sure there are more, but we are limited in our space for these articles.

Yours in Christ,
Ed McCarthy
National Treasurer

  • Ed,

    Thanks. I can relate to your experiences, and in particulat 2 and 5. I am Diocesan Council of Charleston Treasurer.

    About a week ago at a Conference Meeting I mentioned what I felt was a need for us to develop some sort of an education program to help the needy. We slap a bandaid on the problem every week with financial help, but that only aleviates the pain for a week or month. I always think how the needy will not get out of the jam they are in at the momenet or will fall right back in.

    Regarding 5, I agree none of us are going to “fix it”. However, we can carry on the work that those before us started and hopefully pass on some more experience and ideas to help make things a little more palatable.

    – Frank

  • Excellent introspection. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for sharing.

  • Very good article. I have experienced the same things many times.

  • thank you Ed! I can relate to all of those challenges! The honesty is much appreciated.
    Kandi Johnson
    SVDP Redford Michigan

  • At first I focused on the scammers, Later on the children. We reopened our conference after this secret organization operated for 46 years. Our reopened conference after 15 years of serving the parish with many activities and bulletin articles was Rated as the number 1 organization of the parish….Working closely with other conferences gave us better understanding of our mission and additional resources….

  • A beautiful reflection with so many powerfull and convicting reminders. Thanks Ed

  • Eye opening……really made me think how I see myself in these.

  • 7 is very hard for me.

  • I loved this letter, I agree with every point made, in fact think I’ll start sharing copies…God Bless You Ed

  • It’s not the numbers we create in service but the person across from us that counts the most. I learned this from my pastor Father David Ryan, St. France de Sales LZ, IL. George Stewart

  • Thank You for your insight! Your letter is very honest and I believe many Vincentians can relate.

  • Ed,
    Thanks for sharing your broad spectrum of challenges over your 40 years; each is quite relevant to us, and chronicles the “life cycle” of a Vincentian. Kudos to you for becoming a Vincentian at such an early age! I would like to add “Spiritual Advisor” to your ways to lead in #8.
    God Bless.

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