2016 – Vincentian opportunities to influence

by | Jan 15, 2016 | Formation, Reflections, Society of St. Vincent de Paul

dave-barringer-svdp-featured-facebook“If we consider [four events in January] not only as separate events but linked together, we see opportunities to influence, if not outright create, a better future for people in poverty and for the Society itself.”

In his weekly column for the Society of St. Vincent dePaul, CEO Dave Barringer, once again provides food for thought for the wider Vincentian family…

Four events during two weeks this month of January may point us to the future.

On Tuesday we heard the last State of the Union address from our current U.S. President. While issues of poverty, wages, prison reform and the economy were only touched upon, at least they were in the narrative. In Congress, in upcoming elections and in neighborhoods, perhaps these issues will finally be pushed to the forefront of public discourse toward lasting solutions. Let’s be there to help ensure this happens as we represent our friends in poverty and encourage them to have their own voices.

This Friday nearly 50 national Society leaders will gather in Orlando for a cultural transformation day of learning, sharing and recommending key beliefs, key results and associated metrics to the national board of directors meeting on Saturday. I’ll be writing much more about this in the coming months as we roll out regional meetings on the same subjects following our very successful conference last August in Providence.

The Society’s National Council board of directors meets on Saturday with some major resolutions to consider including, among others, the future of our disaster services program, solidifying the tax- exempt status of our member organizations, strengthening our donation/partner discernment process and adopting a new national position paper on immigration. The board will also adopt a timetable and path forward for the election of the Society’s next national president, who will be elected next January and be installed at the 2017 National Assembly to take office on October 1, 2017.

Finally this month, around 700 Catholic advocacy leaders will meet in Washington, D.C. for the annual Catholic Social Ministries Gathering (CSMG) and visit with U.S. Senators and Congressional reps in their Capitol Hill offices. The Society will be well represented in discussions on wages, prison re-entry and immigration. We will also have a Voice of the Poor meeting and sponsor the CSMG’s Youth Leaders Initiative reception of students from 25 colleges as part of our membership extension efforts to grow Society Conferences on or near college campuses. These potential young- adult members could be our future Society leaders!

If we consider all of the above not only as separate events but linked together, we see opportunities to influence, if not outright create, a better future for people in poverty and for the Society itself.

We don’t operate our Conferences in a vacuum after all; we are an essential part of our community and national social fabric.

As systemic change training has taught us, we create such futures by looking at ourselves, our organizations and our Society as interlinked systems that dictate our present and future states of being. I like to think that we have an additional advantage in all this, as we also have God’s will and favor! He has blessed us with many hands, great leaders, sufficient if not always generous financial resources, and the tools for enhanced spirituality that contribute to our desired transformations according to His will. If we pray, if we listen and learn, and then only if we act, we can become the person and the Society that God has always desired for us.

I for one can’t wait for the opportunities 2016 brings! The future starts anew every single day. The Lord didn’t put us only here to sit and watch, did He?

Yours in Christ,



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