The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Canada held its Annual General Assembly (AGA) in Windsor, Ontario from June 19-22 of this year. I have enjoyed attending many of these annual gatherings over the past 20 years or so and continue to be inspired by the love and joy demonstrated by our members from across Canada. We are a very large nation in size but relatively small in population numbers when compared to other countries. However, we have accomplished a great deal when it comes to our charitable and social justice works.
While there are many challenges in growing the awareness of social justice issues and encouraging greater participation in this area, I was very pleased to see several workshops which addressed various justice issues. There is certainly a desire by many of our membership to do more and to learn how they can address the root causes of poverty while advocating for the needed changes in the structures that keep our neighbours in need living in poverty.
This year’s AGA saw the change in leadership of our national president. Jean Noel Cormier has served his term and Claude Bedard now begins his term as our national president. I truly appreciate the leadership that Jean Noel has demonstrated and his support of our social justice committee and actions. I look forward to staying on in my role as chair of the social justice committee under Claude Bedard’s presidency.
I believe the most important component of these gatherings is the opportunity to meet and talk with fellow Vincentians from across Canada. While we often confer with others via video or phone conferencing, it is always a pleasure to have the face to face time to chat at length about our work. This can happen during workshops, over a meal or just a few moments at the end of the formal agenda each day.
Our gatherings also give us time to pray, to share the Eucharistic celebration and to focus on how deeply and meaningful our Catholic faith is in our dedication to our mission and values as Vincentians. I am sure every Vincentian attending the AGA departed for home with a feeling of renewal and rejuvenation to continue their ministries.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.