Welcome to the first newsletter of the Famvin Homeless Alliance. This is an exciting moment for our new alliance. We have spent the past year laying the groundwork for this initiative within the global Vincentian movement: a movement inspired by a mission to serve our homeless neighbors – be they living in the world’s many slums; fleeing war or natural disaster as refugees or internally displaced people; or trying to survive in inadequate shelter or living on our streets.
Now it has reached the time for us to take this work to you, the Vincentian Family, and ask: will you join us? Will you help us make a real difference to our homeless brothers and sisters wherever we live?
I am always struck by St Vincent’s restlessness. He once said we must ‘seek out those who are poorest’. For me, Saint Vincent is saying we must be bold: we must push ourselves to do more for the marginalized of our world. We should not wait for them to come to us. We should not witness suffering or poverty and just stand by.
I know first-hand that the Vincentian Family is already answering this call. Across the globe, our Family does marvelous work for the homeless. The Famvin Homeless Alliance is not here to replace that. On the contrary, we are here to build on that, with the restlessness that St Vincent instructed us to show.
A restlessness Jesus too displayed, of course. In John 15, He famously tells the disciples to ‘love one another, as I have loved you’. This is a real challenge, one St Vincent understood. This passage is saying, I think, that we must be ambitious in our love, that we must aspire to Jesus’ standard of love and care for all people. Those of us working in the service of the poor must be ambitious to work for and with them.
The Famvin Homeless Alliance is there to support those with this ambition to love the homeless, whether you have been working in this field for decades or are completely new to it. Our 13 Houses Campaign invites Vincentians to build houses and develop projects for those without shelter or stability. It is in its pilot phase at the moment but using the learning from this we will take the Campaign to the whole Family in November. We want to house 10,000 people across the globe. Yes, this is ambitious. But, as Vincentians, we have to be!
Our Conference in November is bringing together experts from all over the world to reflect on how to best serve our homeless neighbors. If you want to network with other members of the Vincentian Family involved in homelessness or increase your knowledge and skills to help the homeless, do apply to attend in Rome through our website. I’d love to see you there. Also on our website, and social media platforms, we will be sharing stories, training resources and spiritual materials. We want you to help us develop this base of knowledge – have you got a story to share that others might learn from?
This theme of contribution and collaboration is what the Famvin Homeless Alliance is built on. Already, we have participants from across the world, but we want more. To be ambitious means to collaborate – finding people who will join you in your mission is vital. I have learnt this as the Chief Executive of Depaul International, a Vincentian homelessness charity working in seven countries helping 21,000 people each year. Only through the combined hard work and talent of hundreds of people (both professional staff and volunteers), are we able to serve our homeless neighbors.
So I want to thank you for your interest in the Famvin Homeless Alliance, and sincerely hope you join us in moving forward together. My prayers for your work and service.
Yours in St Vincent,
Famvin Homeless Alliance