Some conferences are in need of a real “Vincentianism shock;” if not, they run the serious risk of short circuit and eventual closing of their doors in a short time. How can their members still practice an antiquated form of charity, limited to the delivery of food? Is it that these members do not perceive that this modus operandi moves the aspiring members away and condemns the work of the Conference to failure?

This shock is welcome, even more within the new context of the “Systemic Change” Project, which seeks to help the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the other branches of the Vincentian Family to be more efficient in human development and reduction of poverty. How can those Conferences continue to act mechanically, when we have this beautiful proposal of “Systemic Change”?

It is regrettable to see that a routine has taken over some Conferences. It is sad to note that some of the members have settled in and do nothing now, beyond the usual delivery of food bags to the same families who were rescued five or ten years ago. And the worst: they still boast of “doing charity,” seeking to obtain a “good reputation” in the parish. But are you making a difference? Are the Conferences exceeding expectations? Are they using creativity?

If your Conference is stagnant, if the result of the voting is always “no,” if the collections are scarce, if new members do not enter, if there is a group of Vincentians “always against”… in short, if your group walks towards in closing, you have two options: go to another Conference (which solves your problem, but not the group’s problem) or stay in the Conference, while looking to renew it with new initiatives and ideas. You are primarily responsible for this new ardor that I have described as “Vicentianism shock.”

How can this shock come about? In my opinion, this movement takes four meetings. You invite more experienced Vincentians to visit your Conference to address various issues.

In the first meeting, the memory of our founders (Ozanam, Bailly and the rest of their fellow founders) and our inspirer (Saint Vincent de Paul) is brought up. In the second meeting, the theme would be the anthropology of the poor (the features that characterize their community) and how we, Vincentians, can understand and help them. The third meeting would be based on evangelical charity (Christ), and the last on a comparative study on the socioeconomic and regional situation in which the conference lives.

However, none of that will have value without prayer. Seek to have spirituality meetings, focused on the sanctification of the Conferences and their members. Ask your president of the Particular Council to promote a special Holy Hour for that purpose. Ask the spiritual advisor to be present at the most delicate moments of the group. You will see that this way things will change, because the work is not ours: it is from the Lord, who will not abandon us. But do your part. React!

Renato Lima de Oliveira
16th General President of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul


1 Comment

  1. Pegg

    This was invigorating – I will share it with my members – hoping it will shock them and bring them to think/see in a more positive futuristic outlook.
    In keeping the mind-set – ” but that’s the way we have always done it” – will chrush our existence