The 3-year housing campaign of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Canada has identified 4 outcomes:
- Engage in broader and more meaningful Vincentian works,
- Deepen our Vincentian spirituality,
- Promote Vincentian activity, and
- Develop the Society and its members.
Item a. Vincentian work consists of charity and systemic change, so we can act on housing in various ways. These include listening to our neighbours in need, to learn from them, during our home visits and other engagements. We can also connect those we serve with existing programs and services that may help their housing needs and issues. Vincentians can navigate by walking with families as they make connections with outside resources in order to ensure they are able to be successful and benefit from these resources. We can advocate by working with those in need to encourage government and other service providers to create needed services or remove barriers they may face. Finally, Vincentians can create programs and services that fill identified gaps in current services. It is important to include those in need in the creation of any services and programs.
Item b. We cannot forget the power of prayer in any success this campaign may achieve. Prayer efforts related to housing and homelessness can be organized at the conference or even parish level. We can ask for support from our spiritual advisors, parish pastor, bishops and other interfaith alliances. Above all, we can reflect upon ways that Catholic social teachings can inspire this campaign. In particular, the teachings about the dignity of the human person, our rights and responsibilities toward one another, and the preferential option for the poor.
Item c. We can promote the campaign in our parishes and communities in order to raise awareness of our good work and in turn the issues of housing and homelessness. Vincentians can provide regular updates to their parish and community media outlets.
Item d. The campaign can also collaborate with other organizations and engage in work that may attract a variety of skill sets. We can improve the skills of current members as well as attract possible new members and volunteers.
This campaign has the potential of demonstrating to all Vincentians the need to act on social justice issues and how we can make a real difference in the lives of our neighbours in need.
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.