Over 150 women from across the USA are gathering in New Orleans for their National Assembly 2015 . September 18 & 19, 2015 they are focusing on the theme “Vincentian Women Changing Communities with Joy and Hope”
They arrive in New Orleans 10 years after Katrina, 14 years after -9-11, and within the octave of Pope Francis arriving in the USA for his first visit. A time in our Nation’s history where the threat of terrorism makes peace is hard to envision.
Gathering for the 35th time since the founding of their National Association in 1960, they come to pray together, to reflect on our Vincentian Vocation as lay women, and to learn ways to alleviate poverty and keep our Associations focused on God’s love for the poor.
They will be inspired by Sr. Helen Prejean, enriched by the history of the Ladies of Charity as related by Sr. Fran Ryan, challenged by the experience of a poverty simulation.They hope to learn from various models of service for persons who are homeless, abused, and who care for caregivers, the elderly and those in prison.
There are great challenges to the dignity of human life and to the stability of family life. The gap between rich and poor is enormous and growing. This is a time when women are more likely to be poor, 1 out of 5 children are hungry. Nearly 15% of our seniors are living in poverty due to rising health care costs and many more lonely and isolated with inadequate care. Migrants and refugees are dying before our very eyes as they flee violence and dehumanizing conditions in their countries.
Gaudium et Spes , the document of Vatican II that is 50 years old this year and inspired our theme begins, “The Joys and Hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the men and women of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, sorrows and anxieties of the followers of Jesus Christ.” This line encapsulates the call to love our neighbor for all Christians and a call that is lived out faithfully by the Ladies of Charity of the as followers of Jesus and our patrons St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac for 398 years.
The Ladies of Charity have been serving persons living in poverty in this community with joy and hope since 1859!
“We will benefit from this great networking opportunity and from our communal prayer with the hope that the challenge of the Apostolic Constitution, the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes will be advanced at our Assembly and that our time together will animate us as Vincentian Women who will return to our homes to continue changing our communities with joy and hope.”