We are now firmly in the season of family and friends. This year feels extra special, as we may be with people who could not be with us for many pandemic months. Whether it is at a holiday party, family dinner or a large-group holiday service activity, we will all be asked first, did COVID affect us and our family? Secondly, we will be asked what’s new in our lives since the last time we have been together. That question, my friends, presents us with opportunities.
While many Vincentians simply did what was needed, often in extraordinary fashion, to keep serving our neighbors in need, we may have taken ourselves and our service a bit for granted. Certainly those served did not do so! As so many government and nonprofit services were delayed, shut down or otherwise hampered, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul remained active, visible, and welcomed in our communities. Please don’t take your flexibility and innovation for granted. Rather, please share the experience with your friends and family. It’s quite a success story!
Vincentians are a humble lot, so it may feel awkward to talk about this. Nonetheless we need to remind others that their donations and prayers were put to work effectively despite the challenges. They need to know that some of those necessary innovations will even be used beyond the pandemic period to be new, lasting procedures that will provide services that are more effective, safer, and possibly more efficient – all while maintaining our relationships with people in poverty.
Then we get to Step Two. We are once again together in person, while the Christmas season brings an elevated care level for those who are less fortunate, and when your Vincentian innovation stories and downright stubbornness to maintain your charitable works have their attention. Now is the perfect time to invite others to join us.
It is also the time when we may need this recruiting more than ever. We simply don’t know yet how many Vincentians won’t return to serve after the pandemic. Some changed their volunteer habits, some decided perhaps to “retire” from Vincentian service, and some are unable or afraid to serve once more. Even without all this, the Society needs to replenish its membership constantly. This year, though, we need to devote extra attention to this endeavor.
If you can recall when you joined the Society, chances are that someone asked you personally to join. Most don’t join because of an article in the Parish bulletin! Now it’s our turn. Many in our Parish don’t know which parishioners are Vincentians, much less what we do. At this giving season, this is the time to be more visible. Some of this happens naturally with holiday meal and Christmas gift programs, but can we do more? Visibility can then lead to questions and invitations.
Let’s return to the family and friend gatherings, this year on a personal mission to ask someone to join us in our work to show and see the face of Christ in our Vincentian experiences with those in need. We have a receptive, somewhat captive audience around the dinner table. We know deep inside that our Vincentian work is needed and valued. We know that God has called us each to serve. Maybe He is calling us as well to ask others to serve alongside us.
Every Vincentian journey begins with an invitation. Who will you invite this holiday season to join us?
Yours in Christ,