Are there any of us not pulled in different directions? In his weekly letter to the members of the Vincent de Paul Society David Barringer speaks to members of the Society. But once again he touches on a theme that resonates within and across the various branches of the Vincentian Family… and for that matter in our personal lives.
As both Saint Vincent and Blessed Frederic exhibited, there are nearly limitless ways to serve and in doing so also build upon one’s faith. If we take the time to pull these options together, to share them and then to focus on those that best fit our times and our resources, we will make a true impact in our world.
How about us? Read his full reflection …
After a day at one of Orlando’s theme parks, I am convinced that the world would be a much better place if people simply watched where they were going. All too often someone would look in one direction while walking in another, with predictable and at times painful results.
Having just spent one day at a cultural transformation event with Society leaders and then a full board of directors meeting day, the parallels of the above were not lost on me.
Every once in a while it is a very good thing for an organization to pause and take a look at where it is going, and determine if this is indeed the desired direction or one resulting more from the conditions of the day. Some groups “chase the money” available from funders and find themselves far away from their original mission and results. Others flow with the public policy of the period or the strong voices that may change with each leadership or membership gathering, bouncing like a pinball from one priority or another.
The answer to this challenge for many nonprofits in the recent past has been to focus on strategic planning, usually over a five to ten year period in the future. The trend however has been to gradually shorten the length of each succeeding plan because of the pace of change brought on by a combination of evolving technology, communications, need or other factor. Are we running to get ahead or just to keep up with the rest of our world?
Over the next few weeks we will report elsewhere through the E-Gazette the Key Beliefs and Key Results developed by the National Council Board with input from nearly 200 Society leaders from around the country. We will integrate these beliefs and results within our existing mission and vision, and align them with our current national strategic plan. This plan, by the way, will be the focus of much of our collective efforts during its upcoming final two years.
If all of this gives you a headache and you are thinking, “Just leave me alone and let me do my home visits!” I hear you. Yet we have nearly 100,000 Vincentians, in 4,400 Conferences that could each go in their own direction – and there are many possible good ones – in attempts to serve the poor. And they may do so with varying degrees of spirituality, with or without systemic change program elements, and with or without proper governance, legal and Rule alignments. If this happens, we are no longer a Society; we instead become a collection of independent parish groups using a common name. But if we think and act together as one true Society, based on common beliefs and a common set of goals, we can achieve so much more!
As both Saint Vincent and Blessed Frederic exhibited, there are nearly limitless ways to serve and in doing so also build upon one’s faith. If we take the time to pull these options together, to share them and then to focus on those that best fit our times and our resources, we will make a true impact in our world. I pray you will be a part of this exploration, common understanding and decision making with us over the next few months, especially at the Conference and Council levels.
As I write this to you this week I am off to D.C. with President Sheila Gilbert and 50 other Vincentians for the Catholic Social Ministries Gathering and by most accounts over a foot of snow, which normally paralyzes the city. Maybe if we are all stuck somewhere together along with government leaders, we’ll slow down enough to listen to each other!
Yours in Christ,