With all of the talk leading up to, during and after the State of the Union Address of the President of the United States the thought crossed my mind to ask what is the state of systemic change in Vincentian Family.
Certainly, I am in no position to answer that question in any authoritative way. But it did strike me as a question worth asking.
I must admit that over the years I have encountered a wide range of attitudes toward systemic change.
- Deeply committed to and actively engaged in fostering systemic change.
- Sympathetic to the thrust of the Vincentian Family but not actively engaged.
- Still trying to figure out what it is and how a systemic change mentality would affect “my ministry.”
- Puzzled why Vincentians are even talking about it.
- Turned off.
So I thought I would ask you to share what you think is the state of systematic change in the Vincentian Family.
This is not a scientific survey of the state of the Vincentian Family’s understanding and implementation of a systemic change thrust on behalf of those on the margins. It is simply an effort to surface what helps and hinders an approach called for by leaders of the Vincentian Family as well as St. John Paul II (1)
Hopefully, many of you will share your honest reactions to things such as:
- What makes sense to me in this thrust of the Vincentian Family?
- What experiences helped me understand the value of the approach?
- What experiences turned me off?
- What would help me shift my horizon to include a sensitivity in how I approach the way I could serve more effectively?
- Has this weekly series helped you grow in understanding and practice?
- And anything else you care to share.
It is time to talk about these things.
(1) Pope John Paul II never used the words but he challenged our family in 1986:
“Search out more than ever, with boldness, humility, and skill, the causes of poverty and encourage short and long term solutions ; adaptable and effective concrete solutions. By doing so, you will work for the credibility of the Gospel and of the Church.” (Osservatore Romano, English Edition, August 11, 1986, p. 12).
I still see a lot of sympathy for systemic change but a lack of interest in taking any real action. This could be attributed to a lack of knowledge or simply feeling they do not have the time. I think it ends up being the responsibility of our leaders to do more to both educate our membership and to take actions that can be used as examples of systemic change.
It does seem that a systemic change approach in the family calls for a systemic change within the family. That is why I was so impressed with past SVDPUSA President Sheila Gilbert’s lifting up that problem early on in her tenure.