Systemic Change Meeting Includes UN NGO Reps

by | Mar 24, 2016 | News, Systemic change, Vincentian Family at the U.N.

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At the Bronx Campus of Mount Saint Vincent College, on February 26, representatives of  several branches of the Vincentian Family met to discuss ways to more effectively work together to help people living in poverty improve their living conditions through Systemic Change. Participants at the meeting included, Teresa Kotturan SCN, Catherine Prendergast DC, Margaret O’Dwyer DC, Guillermo “ Memo” Campuzano CM, Edmund Keane, SVDP, all members of the United Nations Social Development Committee.  Other participants included Carol DeAngelo SCNY, Terry Moran Representative of SC-St. Elizabeth, Kati Hamm SC-Halifax, Julie Cutter DC- SC Federation, Jim Claffey SVDP Vin-Fam International Commission For Systemic Change, Pattie Hughes SVDP NY Archdiocese,  Mary Walz DC, and Deena Vazhaparampil, SCN.

Meeting Feb 2016 (1) (2)Topics of conversation included the Vincentian Family International Commission on Systemic Change emphasizing some of its activities. The commission is growing and getting better organized. It is developing strength and visibility utilizing training workshops, on-line tool-kits, and enhanced web facilities. New emphasis is also being given to identifying and putting in place national leaders and regional coordinators. It is also bringing in new members each year to support and fortify it. There is  insistence that all branches participate and collaborate by hosting meetings and training sessions related to Systemic Change. The most success is reported to be occurring in India, Philippines and Indonesia. It was noted that not all collaborative Vincentian Family projects are System Change projects. So it is important to review and evaluate collaborative projects keeping in mind that systemic change should be a motivating force when starting new projects.  A concern is that multiple themed projects may cause a distraction to Systemic Change principles.

It was noted that U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are consistent with Systemic Change, and the SDG is a universal agenda and not limited to the Vincentian Family, but must include all groups and organizations as well as the planet and the environment. We should challenge the “Silo Mentality” that exists in most if not all governments. The UN representatives serve as a bridge between SDG and membership in our branches. It was noted that Vincentian Charism develops organizations and congregations into “Charismatic Families” which also includes the laity, that is eager to understand Systemic Change.  A challenge is how to bring best practices of Systemic Change to the UN ?  It was pointed out the name Saint Vincent de Paul is one of strongest brands in the world. Additionally we have a membership of  approximately two million people so we have great potential. However there are still many grassroots people who do not identify with the Saint Vincent de Paul brand. One of our challenges is how can we utilize this great potential for more effective advocacy?

Suggestions include more education and training, including workshops, ie. “Bridges Out of Poverty”  and increase the number of  presentations and side-events at the UN. We must also educate our collaborators as well as engage young adults at colleges and universities about the priority of Systemic Change. Collect and share new stories of systemic change projects, and encourage Systemic Change activity by only posting Systemic Change projects on the Vincentian Family website. Keep alert for new ways of using Capwiz similar to how it was previously used concerning Immigration Reform. Greater efforts to achieve better relationships through better communications with other organizations with similar interests. It is not only important but vital to include people living in poverty to plan the next steps.  It is important to remember to be patient and realize that changes of  the mentality of people takes time. Finally we must pray to seek grace and Divine Assistance so our Vincentian Charism will continue to grow stronger as we go forward on our mission of charity.

Contributed by: Ed Keane, Society of St. Vincent de Paul

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