The Vincentian Family in India celebrated its 11th annual meeting of the major superiors of the Family on March 11 and 12 at the Niveditha Center for Faith and Fellowship in Kerala.
The first day was dedicated to formation, and the topic was systemic change (SC); the second day was devoted to their ongoing business issues and planning.
Representing the International Commission to Promote Systemic Change, we covered several topics: the Iligan story of SC from the Philippines, the basic notion of SC, Vincentian Spirituality, and the essential tools of SC. There were 42 participants including:
- 2 Vincentian bishops
- 5 members of the SSVP, including the national president acting as host
- Francis Puthenthayil, CM, India Family Coordinator
- Representatives from several congregations: CM, DC, SC of Nazaeth, SC of St Vincent de Paul.
Not only does the Family in India have great interest in SC, more importantly they have a concrete plan, regional coordinators, and formation modules in preparation. India is vast, its population huge, but our Vincentians there are moving forward on SC in significant ways.
Immediately following this special gathering, 18 Vincentians, all with social work degrees, participated in a two-day workshop on SC, facilitated by Sr. Roselyn Karakattu of the Sister of Charity of Nazareth and myself. Sister proved to be an invaluable partner for these presentations.
This was a workshop emphasizing the concrete and practical. Little theory, many examples and case studies. The topic “Transforming a good project into a SC project” generated great interest and participation. Advocacy, social analysis, and collaboration were also covered, each with a concrete story or a local case from India or Nepal for group reflection. Group work was lively, interest keen, and during the final evaluation, participants indicated a deeper understanding of and commitment to SC in their different fields of work.
Jim Claffey just retired from the St. Vincent de Paul Society on Long Island, where he served as Director of Formation and Programs. Jim currently serves as the executive secretary of the Vincentian Family’s International Commission to Promote Systemic Change.