As we enter this fall season in Canada, we can look forward to the beauty of nature as leaves change their colour which can be spectacular to view. We see many species of birds leaving us as they migrate south to warmer climates. My wife and I enjoy birding so we shall miss our feathered friends until their return next spring. It is also a chance for many Canadians to see the northern lights, or aurora borealis. The other great returning event for many is national sporting pastime of ice hockey. Of course as the fall or autumn season ends we must face the fact that winter follows with its snow, ice and cold temperatures, all of which our northern neighbours in the USA also endure.
We have all been forced to continue our battles with Covid 19 across the world. Who has not been introduced to Zoom calls, facemasks and little jabs in our arms? As we see the changes nature provides to us, perhaps all Vincentians can take this time to examine how we might be open to some personal and organizational changes. Social justice is still something many of our members find foreign to their mindsets. I’m not sure why this is an issue when Catholic social teachings have been around for so many years. While I am certainly proud of the way many members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Canada have made adjustments in their charitable efforts to ensure persons in need are still getting the help they so desperately require, I also fear we have moved to a more transactional ministry in how we help.
Social justice requires us to look at the root causes of poverty and advocate for change while also looking at actions we can undertake to make systemic change a realization. The need for a relational ministry is one we can and should return to wherever possible. Relational ministry is certainly rooted in systemic change which requires the more holistic approach to how and why we address poverty. As we slowly return to a post Covid society, I cannot think of a better time to make a personal commitment than this time of year when nature undergoes so many beautiful changes.
As we prepare for the Advent season, why not prepare ourselves for change. As our clocks are turned back from daylight savings time, why not return to why Vincentians do what they do? There are so many important social justice issues that need our attention and action. If we can become the two faces of love, justice and charity, there is no limit to what we can achieve.
In closing, while we in Canada celebrated our Thanksgiving on October 11, I’d like to wish our American friends a blessed and happy Thanksgiving this November 25.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is a Canadian Vincentian. 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.