Yes! There is so much to be done every day! It’s tempting to forgive inertia or procrastination about finding out about yet another thing!
‘If there is a patron saint of implementation, it is our own St. Vincent. Always suspicious of pure ideas untethered to concrete effects, he looks to the world of action to validate the ideas and follow through on their possibilities.’ (Tom McKenna CM)
Remembering too Victor Hugo’s desperate attempt to finish writing the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Our brains prefer instant rewards to long-term payoffs; this “akrasia” which Hugo forced himself to bypass by locking his clothes away until he finished the novel!
Translating “mortification” as self-discipline and “zeal” as “focused action” I can employ Aristotle’s “enkrateia” as an antidote to “akrasia”! Aristotle”s “power over oneself” which reduces the friction of implementing intentions, and taking simple, gentle and humble action to become fully informed and then act positively with this knowledge. I promise you – it works! Why not delve deeper into our Vincentian world?
One very concrete action you can take is to update yourself on Depaul International and the the inter-connecting Vincentian professional organisations which collaborate to alleviate the 3 conditions of local and global homelessness. You can then not only promote the cause, volunteer or influence others to produce the all important data needed to impact on policy and strategic planning.
Depaul International held its Annual Assembly in Dublin, Ireland this year. I was fortunate to represent AIC International, and enjoyed, learned and returned home with the call to action ringing! The history, theory and practice of how a small Vincentian organization begun in London, England 30 years ago is now influencing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to include the ending of street homelessness is a case study in “enkrateia”. Depaul gets things done!
Mark McGreevy, Group CEO, always collaborating– began small; so small, he and the Daughters of Charity in Carlisle Place, London carried chairs donated from the local, closing restaurant to allow the homeless to sit and enjoy a simple meal in The Passage of the Sisters’ basement.
Depaul International is now a global street homelessness charity based in the United Kingdom. Seven Countries: UK, Ireland, France, USA, Ukraine, Slovakia, Croatia are fortunate to be partner organizations, caring for over 19, 000 people each year; from young homeless people in the UK, to those fleeing conflict in Ukraine; from street drinkers in Ireland, to homeless university students in Chicago. Depaul International works through four pillars (Depaul International Report): (1) Emergency Response; (2) Supported and Permanent Housing; (3) Programmes and Daytime Support; (4) Advocacy.
Depaul provides over 600,000 safe bed nights and 720,000 meals a year.
Volunteers offer 124,000 hours of their time each year alongside dedicated staff. It is truly Vincentian knowing our charism is key to all who provide service to our vulnerable sisters and brothers, and accepting that staff, volunteers and service users can be of all faiths and none.
It harks straight back to Châtillon-les-Dombes and St Vincent de Paul in 1617 harnessing the Ladies of Charity volunteers by day to support the hospital patients, and employing staff at night. This amalgam of volunteer and employed people works wonderfully because we can utilize the professional expertise for the mandatory and statutory operational needs of the organization, while maintaining “accompaniment”, personal encounter that is the heart – the Vincentian core that we specialize in.
Now, such is the success of this model, and our heightened sense that the United Nations needs to intentionally work on street homelessness, we have been listened to! Thanks to our Vincentian NGOs team at the UN New York, Mark McGreevy and the IGH, this campaign has been taken to the heart of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Watch this space!
Actually, do more than that; research this subject and the Vincentians involved. When asked to help collect data-– you will then be informed, and appreciating the urgency and need of this, you will have the knowledge and be in a strong position to influence those locally, nationally and globally that we truly can change the world, and say as Depaul says.