More than 200 Society leaders attended the first live Midyear meeting since 2019 last week in St. Louis. It was great to see so many of us in one place! A few National Council Members (usually the Council Presidents) attended only the Business Meeting by Zoom, and this was good as well to participate. Here are a few highlights from our time together.
President Ralph Middlecamp opened the gathering with a discussion on Capacity. He specifically discussed the situation in Ukraine and surrounding countries, and how the global Society of St. Vincent de Paul is structured to help refugees and other impacted by the current violence. (Please see a separate article in this eGazette on how your Council/Conference can participate beyond what has already been collected in our annual Disaster appeal.) This process is also used for natural and manmade disasters that occur anytime during a year.
National Formation Director Tim Williams provided the spiritual retreat, engaging the audience to see the various faces of Christ in our work. This is recorded for your viewing and sharing!
Father Patrick McDevitt, C.M., the Provincial Superior for the Vincentians Western Province, gave an insightful keynote address on Vincentian Synodality. This address is also available as a video.
Much of the Midyear time was spent in National Committee meetings, National Region meetings, and National Subsidiary meetings that produce so many products and services to our members through out the year. The Business Meeting featured reports/presentations from many of these groups, which are all available to you as individual videos (see accompanying article on Midyear videos).
The Business Meeting was unique in that there was no new business to vote on this time! However, it was full of information from the committees, included a recognition of new National Council Members, reviewed our very positive National Council financials, and provided the process and schedule for the election of the next National President. The Call for Nominations opens on April 1!
We closed the Midyear with a Vincentian Mass led by Father Jim Cormack and a Recommitment Ceremony, both at the Old Cathedral where our first U.S. meeting of the Society was held in 1845.
We are thankful for the many sponsors and partners who help make a Midyear possible with their meal sponsorships, and their exhibits that are so helpful to our leaders in finding resources for Council operations.
Perhaps the greatest value of a Midyear meeting is not in the activities outlined above but what happens between these activities. Vincentians take full advantage to learn and share in the hallways, meals and free time. Coming out of a challenging pandemic environment, and with so few live meetings in the past two years, this opportunity to be with each other and express our Essential Element of Friendship together is worth the trip!
We are already deep into planning our next big meeting, the National Assembly to be held in Baltimore on August 31 – September 3, 2022. We expect more than 800 members to be with us at the Marriott Inner Harbor – will you please join us?
Yours in Christ,