04-18-2024 Letter from Servant Leaders

04-18-2024 Letter from Servant Leaders

04-18-2024 Letter from Servant Leaders 1200 1200 SVDP USA

By John Berry
National President

Over the last few months, as we’ve launched our VisionSVdP initiative and begun to conduct our ‘family conversations’ regarding how the Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA will adapt to a changing world, the feedback I have received from Vincentians across the country has been overwhelmingly positive and excited. People feel that this is the perfect time for us to have these conversations and in many cases, they feel the conversations are long overdue.

From the very first email that went out about VisionSVdP, people have been sending me their thoughts and ideas. Although the process is designed to take place in the Listening Sessions (which begin at Regional Meetings across the country this week), people felt so passionately about the things that they believe needed to be discussed, that they decided to send comments in via email.

Be assured that, if you were one of those people, your comments will be included in the process. But I hope that you will still actively participate in the Listening Session at your Conference, Council, or Region and make your views known. Because your voice matters. Every voice matters.

The number and variety of comments I’ve received have been very interesting. They range from the very specific to the very broad. And that’s fantastic because it is exactly what VisionSVdP is all about — to raise up all thoughts, opinions, and ideas on all aspects of the Society and how we can adapt to a changing world.

This week, the most important phase of VisionSVdP begins. Listening Sessions at Regional Meetings (the Southeast meeting starts Friday) will begin an all-out national network of Listening Sessions at EVERY Conference, Council, and Special Work in the country.

Within the next few weeks, a very simple process for conducting the Listening Session at your location will be sent out. The process is very easy. Some guide rails and guidelines for the sessions will be included. And most importantly, the process for getting the output from the session back to the National Office will be provided. A link to a video from Archbishop Bellisario and a link to a spiritual song and prayer to kick off the conversation will also be provided.

We are asking all Councils, Conferences, and Special Works to have their Listening Sessions completed by the National Assembly in August.

But not everyone is on board. Some people still have doubts about why we’re embarking on this effort. And some people don’t understand how it’s supposed to work. Some people are uncomfortable without strict process guidelines, and some people are uncomfortable sharing in a group.

I understand that. And I appreciate that we’re never going to get 100% buy-in to anything we try to do. No one does. That’s just life. Baskin-Robbins sells 31 flavors because not everyone likes chocolate, right?

But EVERY VOICE MATTERS. Even the ones who think theirs doesn’t — or those who don’t want to share theirs — or those who don’t understand why we want to hear it. But it matters. And we need to hear it. And you deserve to have it heard.

So please, put aside your doubts (should you have any), put aside your fears (should you have some), and put aside your hesitancies to participate (should you hold them) and let us know what you think.

Because every voice matters. Every. Single. One.

Peace and God’s Blessings,

  • Vincentian Brothers and Sisters, we do our best to see the face of Christ on our the neighbors in need , we do our best to hear His voice when He speaks to us about what we might be about doing today, we pray that we may ever grow in our minds , hearts , and spirit , may we never grow complacent , may we always welcome new thoughts and the sharing of others to help us do what we do and to be the best we can be for our neighbors in need.

  • My hope is that the result of any changes include less strict rules for helping those in need that call from an address outside of a Conference/Parish boundary. This is especially true when the area someone calls from is located in the Parish boundaries of a Parish, based mostly on the Pastor’s reluctance to have a Conference at his Parish, in need of assistance.
    The parishioners that are so generous are not aware of all the rules and guidelines. They are giving with only one thought in mind, to love their neighbor which may live only 1 block out of the Parish boundaries.
    It is beyond me to understand the reluctance by a Pastor to not what to help those in need in their Parish Boundaries or for a Pastor not to cross a street or two to help those suffering.
    A possible solution is to provide an escalation process to the District for both cases from a Conference with insufficient means or for calls for help from individuals outside the District Boundaries.

    • As the president of a district with 15 conferences I am aware there are only two with priests who are not open to collections at that parish to assist the conference in funding. I intend to make an appointment for a personal visit with the priest with each of those. It seems, often, lack of knowledge is the problem. With true understanding of “the format of home visits and assistance” I’m thinking there may be change of heart. It’s amazing how often lack of information causes these distresses.
      Martha Dacar

  • John,
    I have read your articles/letters to us about Vision SVDP, and how our Society “will adapt to a changing world”. I am in support of this initiative. The Church underwent Vatican II in the 1960’s; it was deemed necessary for the Church “to attain new vigor for its divine mission”. As a result, changes were made to adapt to a changing world. I look forward to participating in this process, and pray the outcome will strengthen SVDP, and recognize and accept new ways to follow Christ through service to those in need.

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