From December 5-9, our fellow member Renato Lima de Oliveira, 16th President General, made an institutional visit to two European countries: Belgium (with 320 Vincentian Conferences) and the Netherlands (with 60 Conferences). In both countries, the President visited the Conferences and Special Works, besides meeting the Vincentians as well as representatives of the clergy and of the Vincentian Family of these countries.
The first country that he visited was Belgium, on December 5 & 6. The first activity was to attend the meeting of the National Council, in Brussels. On that occasion, the PGI made a presentation on the International General Council, in addition to providing information and facts about Brazil, his home country. Then the PGI visited the work “La Rosée,” which is a Vincentian school located in Brussels that provides cultural services to children in a much-needed neighbourhood.
In the evening of the same day, the PGI was in the town of Lessines, where he attended the holy mass (celebrated by Vincentian priests). There, he visited the local Conference and gave a small lecture during the dinner offered by the local Vincentians, where he answered the questions of those present, mainly on the General Council, Ozanam’s canonization, the young and other issues.
Next day, the PGI visited the “New horizons” project in the town of Antheit, which is a Vincentian special work run by twelve Conferences of the region. In the afternoon, the PGI was in Genk-Zutendaal, were he learned about the social work carried out by the local Conference. In all these activities, our dear fellow member Adrien de Vreese, President of the National Council of Belgium, accompanied the President Renato Lima.
Later, on December 7-9, the PGI was in the Netherlands where he fulfilled a crowded agenda, visiting the Conferences of Udenhout, Den Bosch, Arnhem and Nijmegen, with our fellow member Alfons Ten Velde (former National President and current International Vice-President for Management and Innovation at the CGI). There, he got to know the special works in operation, namely charity canteens and charity shops of second-hand products, whose articles are sold to people in need at very low prices, almost symbolic. Our PGI did one the activities he likes most: a home visit to a family in need of the town of Udenhout, in the company of the Vincentians of the region.
“I’m very happy with everything that I saw in Belgium and Holland. Congratulations! The Conferences are doing an excellent job in favour of the most deprived families, developing different initiatives, both on their own and in partnership with other civil and Christian organizations. Our works provide a great service and the Conferences act creatively to find solutions for a better service to the poor. I thank you for your generosity,” stressed the President Renato Lima.
The institutional journey of the PGI to Belgium and Holland is part of the CGI strategic Plan, which consists in bringing the General Council always closer to National Councils, working in unity. In 2017, our fellow member Renato Lima ends the year having visited 16 countries, totalling 60,000 km of journey. By 2018, God willing, there are planned trips to eleven countries, being seven of them to Africa.
The trip to Belgium and the Netherlands took place shortly after the meeting of the Board of CGI, which was held in Paris on December 3 & 4.