Dear Vincentian Friends,
In a few weeks many Vincentians will gather for the 2023 Assembly of the National Council of the United States. Our National Assembly theme will be “Where It All Began,” because we will gather in St. Louis within sight of the Old Cathedral, where the first Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the United States met in 1845. It is not too late to plan to attend. Coming to a National Assembly will draw you deeper into this vocation as a member of the Society. That is what happened to me when I attended my first national meeting.
At our Assembly we gather to look backward and remember our roots, but — more importantly — we look forward, as well. We will celebrate our 178-year history here in the United States, and we will also celebrate the past six years of working with our current leadership team. More significantly, we will plan for the future as we install a new National Council President and officers.
We have prepared a well-rounded program that will strengthen your Vincentian spirituality, friendship, and service. An excellent team of presenters will provide more than 40 workshops to advance our knowledge and understanding of the Society and its mission. Our Friday Morning of Reflection will again be led by Bishop Donald Hying, who has blessed us as our National Episcopal Advisor for the past six years. Our keynote speakers and daily celebrations of the Eucharist will nourish us on our journey together toward holiness.
Meetings such as this are important gatherings for our membership. It is easy to just coast, doing the same work, with the same resources and people. In St. Louis you will be exposed new ideas, presented by some of the best speakers in our Society. Coming back with just one or two good ideas can renew you and your Conference. We will be better helpers to those we serve if we are continually improving our knowledge and growing spiritually.
My term as your National Council President ends on September 30; so this will be my last National Council Assembly as your president. We have had excellent committees and task forces working in the background for the past six years. I am grateful to all who have served on these groups and to their leadership. I look forward to the opportunities we will have at this meeting to witness the fruits of what they have done. That work will be passed on to new leaders with new ideas and energy.
It has been a pleasure working with our national leadership team for the past six years. There is much that we have been able to accomplish together. What I have valued most is the Vincentian friendship I have found everywhere I have traveled. I look forward to continuing these friendships as we pass the responsibility of servant leadership to a new team.
John Berry has been a friend for many years, and I know we are in good hands with him as our next National Council President. I ask you to join me in praying for John and his team of officers as we continue our journey as Vincentians in the United States of America.
I hope to see many of you in St. Louis.
Serviens in spe,
SVdP National President