05-23-24 Servant Leader: The Most Political Thing We Can Do as Vincentians

05-23-24 Servant Leader: The Most Political Thing We Can Do as Vincentians

05-23-24 Servant Leader: The Most Political Thing We Can Do as Vincentians 1200 1200 SVDP USA

Former National CEO and beloved friend and mentor to many, Roger Playwin passed away on May 10. Ever the servant leader, he submitted the letter below shortly before his death.  May we continue to draw inspiration from a man who taught us all so much.

Recently I read an article by Steven P. Millies, a professor of public theology and director of The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and professor at DePaul University in the same city.

He asks his students to consider that the truest meaning of the word “politics” does not convey a sense of partisanship or division, corruption or competition. He suggests that in its first and best and most useful sense, politics means “our shared life,” the life of the community. “When conflicts arise, politics means addressing them through discussion and law rather than division and violence. Politics means valuing our shared life together more than we value winning any argument-and bearing witness to that value in our commitment to dialogue with one another.”

Millies suggests that our homes, classroom, churches, place of work, and in our case, as members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, our Conferences are a place for discerning together. He identifies accurately that these are places where we can dialogue come to discernment and understanding because none of us comes to understanding alone, and because we value coming to a better understanding together, we also come to value our community of relationship.

In this sense, our Conferences are our ecclesia, the conference community that is called together to bear witness together to what we claim we believe. This may a seem strange and unfamiliar way to think about politics, but it just might hold some answers for us.

We need to find a way to recover the word “politics” from the ways that we as humans abuse it. The word really should mean something greater than division. It should be a word that has special meaning in our private and public lives. A word that calls us to hold each other in special reverence. It’s clear that the way we use the word today is not helpful and does not seem to be helping to improve our shared community’s. Time to try something different together so that as friends, we make the circle wider and more inclusive and more like the community He calls us to be.

Roger T. Playwin

  • All praise and thanksgiving to Our Lord and Savior for His gift of Roger Playwin to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and to us who remain to seek and find those who need our love, time and presence in the mission. Thanks to Roger for his continued presence in sharing this letter, full of wisdom, offering hope.
    May his faithful soul, through the mercy of God, rest eternally in peace.

  • Gerry Schweitzer in Margate, Fl May 23, 2024 at 5:06 pm

    roger was a dedicated vincentian very friendly , i. will never forget his smile. making SVDP Better in all aspects of the society including technology, outreach, working with other agencies to see how they might help our clients etc. Heaven has just welcomed its newest Angel. i knew Roger and I always called him Mr Grosse Pointe as I was born and raised in Grosse. Pointe where he lived. when I called him Mr Grosse Pointe, he would always say ,” I know who is calling my naame” . may he. rest in peace.

  • This timely essay came at a time when our conference is working on understanding the concept of discernment and its path to consensus. This wonderful Vincentian left us with a tutorial on how to work together, listen to each other and arrive at the best way to help our neighbors. May he rest in peace and may his family be comforted by the service his years as a Servant Leader have contributed to the Society and the neighbors we serve.

  • Raymond sickinger May 23, 2024 at 5:27 pm

    What a message of wisdom Roger left us. But I am not surprised. He was a wealth of that wisdom.
    He will be sorely missed, but fondly remembered.

  • He was a true Vincentian. His loss is heartbreaking. He will be missed! May God bless his family and friends as we grieve his loss. May perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

  • Joseph Roberts (Seattle) May 23, 2024 at 6:14 pm

    What a lovely essay. I remember Roger fondly and am saddened by this news. May he rest in peace, and I am grateful for all of his service to SVDP.

  • Roger lead us well. I am so grateful.

  • Roger thank you for your words and sharing your knowledge…I will truly will miss you…I have been blessed to have called you my FRIEND…Amen…

  • Margaret Quigley May 26, 2024 at 5:48 pm

    Three cheers for all those, Roger included and all political science majors , who use the word, politics, in its true form. Yes, often words are transformed into something other than what their root meanings are. It is with gratitude that we acknowledge Roger”s astute observations. It is our job as Vincentians to set the record straight and to be responsible. We must listen attentively to our neighbors and act in the best way to help them. Perhaps then we will be able to understand why we call our neighborhoods “communities”.

  • Dorian Bellinger May 29, 2024 at 9:11 am

    Very well stated, thank you Roger for everything you were to us and shared with us.
    Simplisticly, when we make it about Him (our Creator), He shows us how much He is about us., and in that we is where we find our me.
    Praise God
    Amen +

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

    Skip to content