During ten days in January, the President General of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP), Renato Lima de Oliveira, toured the United States visiting the Councils in Phoenix, St. Louis, and Philadelphia.
Accompanied on his journey by Mike Nizankiewicz (International Territorial Vice-president for America 1), Oliveira’s first stop was in Phoenix. There, they visited the Phoenix Council’s dining rooms, aquaponics farm, thrift stores and their food reclamation and sorting warehouse. The visitors attended various meetings including one with the Council staff and Vincentians at the SSVP head office (called “campus”), which houses a variety of different office that provide a multitude of services to those in need.
Renato also had the opportunity to meet with one of the Phoenix Council’s generous donors. While there, our President General was interviewed for an article in the Phoenix Diocesan Catholic newspaper (“The Catholic Sun”) and for their radio program (“The Bishop’s Hour”). The first segment of his trip was concluded with a reception/dinner hosted by the Phoenix Vincentians.
From Phoenix, Renato traveled to St. Louis where he was greeted with a major snowstorm! That, however, did not stop him from taking in the wonderful Vincentian history that is found in St. Louis. He was welcomed to St. Louis with a reception hosted by the St. Louis Council. The next day, Vincentians from the St. Louis Council took Renato to Perryville, Mo. to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
While in Saint Louise Renato was able to participate in the National Board Meeting able to spend time with members of the board and Vincentians from around the country who are responsible for various national committees. This offered a unique opportunity for the international president to see how the National Council operates. His final stops in St. Louis were the Cathedral Basilica (the New Cathedral) and the Old Cathedral in downtown St. Louis. The Old Cathedral is the location of the first ever SSVP Conference in the United States.
“It was a true blessing to have Renato with us to share our SSVP St. Louis history, meet St. Louis Council Vincentians and witness work they do for our neighbors in need”, said John Foppe, executive director of the St. Louis Council.
The final leg of his journey took Oliveira to Philadelphia where he participated in the meeting of Executive Committee of the Vincentian Family Office (VFEC). While there, he also attended meetings where he met with local Vincentians and discussed the work of the Society in Philadelphia. “Renato’s visit was extraordinary”, said Pat Walsh, president of the Philadelphia Council. “He touched my heart as he spoke about the importance of home visits and stated that our time with those we serve is far more important than the money we give them”.
From Philadelphia, Oliveira travelled to Panama City (Panama) to attend World Youth Day. It was a wonderful blessing to have the International President visit the United States and experience the inspirational work that Vincentians are doing to help their neighbors in need. We thank all those Councils that hosted Renato and especially thank those individuals who organized his visit.
Pictures: click here: PGI Renato Lima Visits USA 2019 Pictures
Text written by USA National Council.