Contemplation: A Culture of Welcome

Contemplation: A Culture of Welcome

Contemplation: A Culture of Welcome 800 800 SVDP USA

By Timothy Williams
Senior Director of Formation & Leadership Development

Many of our Conferences struggle with finding – and keeping – new members. Often, when this happens, we begin to tell ourselves that perhaps we are asking too much of potential members; scaring them off with the notion of weekly or twice-monthly meetings and home visits. We look for ways to make the Society seem like something it is not so that we can ease people into it. In the end, this approach will not only fail to attract members, but it will diminish the Society itself.

Most current members will tell you that they first joined the Society seeking “to live their faith, loving and committing themselves to their neighbor in need.” [Rule, Part I, 3.1] Most of us wished, as our Patron Saint so memorably put it, to “love God…with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brows.” [CCD XI:32] Ours is a vocation, a calling, and whether it was in response to a pulpit talk, or a simple tug within our hearts, we all answered a call to serve.

It was only over time that we began to feel God’s presence growing in our hearts through serving His poor. We stay because we have felt and received God’s transformational grace. And if we are truly transformed, why would we keep this to ourselves? Don’t we want this for all of our friends?

This, after all, is the primary purpose of the Society! Our home visits, the heart of our vocation, have always been considered the means, not the end of our association. On the home visit, we see the face of Christ – we come to know Him. This is the universal vocation of all God’s people: to seek union with our Creator. [CCC: 1877] St. Vincent teaches us where to find Him – right over there, with His hands outstretched. He is the hungry one. He is the thirsty one. He is the stranger, the prisoner, the sick.

President-General Jules Gossin observed in 1851 that when “newcomers sit down unnoticed…without any words of welcome and encouragement…[they] are discouraged, become timid, stand apart, and if they do not leave the conference…they have less taste for it…” [Gossin, Circular letter, 1851] It remains true that when prospective members attend a meeting, we should never just let them sit there and observe. We should welcome them as the friends their presence has already proven them to be, and as quickly as possible accompany them, on a home visit, to see the Lord who called them there!

Just as we evangelize through our loving actions on every home visit, so we evangelize among ourselves and all prospective members by the example of “our fraternity, simplicity and Christian joy.” [Rule, Part I, 3.4] If our hearts are filled with Christ from our vocation, it is only so that we may better share Him. It is not our persuasive marketing pitch, but our joy in serving Christ that will call new members to this vocation, and it is our full friendship and welcome that will keep them in our Conferences.


Do I sometimes keep God’s transformational grace to myself?

Recommended Reading

Vincentian Meditations

  • Thank you so much the article! It really spoke to my heart! May God bless you!! 🙏🏻

  • CharlottebLamey May 2, 2024 at 10:52 am

    I have been a member of SVDP for 29 years. There are times when our clients are in such need, that we become very sad. But we need to remember that God says to help our sisters snd brothers in the needs. We pray for all of them everyday and especially when they come to us. We listen to them and sometime we cry with them! It is a wonderful feeling to know we can help them with food, and most of time we can assist them financially It also reminds us, at any given time we could be where they are, but by the grace God we are not. . Most of the time our clients have no family or friends to talk to. It brings great joy to us when the people we help recognize and say hello in stores. I get great joy to be able to talk and share with children og God. I will keep doing God’s work until i can not longer go.. We also share a very special bond in our bond in our group, we know we are doing God’s work . 🥰❤️🙏 Sacred Heart SVDP, Dilberville, Ms.

  • Your comment about JOY is so true! When you serve with joy, we show those we serve and coworkers, that Jesus is at the heart of our existence!
    What’s that saying “no joy know Jesus”!
    Is there any other way to serve than with joy?

  • The idea of transformational grace is beautiful and personal. While I don’t intend to keep it to myself, it’s not really something I openly share. I know how much I get from home visits and connecting with those in need in my community. I regularly invite folks from my church community to learn more about the Society and to experience that transformational grace. However, not many accept the offer. Perhaps my private nature keeps me from announcing the impact of this mission. I would love to have others experience it for themselves. I’m just not sure everyone wants to step out of their comfort zone to achieve that grace.

    • Timothy P. Williams May 13, 2024 at 2:56 pm

      God speaks to us through the people and events in our lives, which also means that He sometimes speaks to others through us. I am grateful to know that you share this invitation with others – whether they respond to it is up to God!

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

    Skip to content