Another spring is upon us with all of its hopes for renewal, whether in our faiths, nature, sports, politics, or family. We have experienced another Easter season of hope and renewal. Here in Canada, where we get to enjoy the beautiful seasons, we are finally through another winter and look forward to what nature holds for us this spring, summer, and fall. We see bird migration underway, which my wife and I enjoy watching so much. My Toronto Blue Jays start a new baseball season with hope for great success and my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs begin another playoff, which at the time of this posting may be or may not be over.
Here in Ontario, Canada, our Society of Saint Vincent de Paul held its first in person general members meeting since before Covid started. While the turnout was below pre-Covid numbers, it was still a wonderful time for all and an opportunity to renew old friendships and make new ones with our Vincentian sisters and brothers. I was able meet several members I have only known via Zoom meetings and was able to share our stories and thoughts without the time constraints that online meetings present.
Along with the opportunity to meet in person once again comes the realization of issues that still exist for the Society and many other like-minded organizations. Our numbers continue to dwindle as we become older and at times unwilling to be as open to change and renewal as we must be to remain a positive force for charity and justice. Terms such as rejuvenation, recruitment and renewal are commonly used in our efforts to remain as a relevant part of charity and justice in Canada.
We often get “bogged down” in our own rules and statutes rather than being open to change and adapting to what is really needed. You can use Vincent as an example as he preferred to first address poverty before any formal structure was finalized for the Congregation of the Mission. The Society may actually deter new members from joining because of our process for new members and the various requirements. Social justice is a very wide and complex topic with so many injustices in our government and service systems that need change. Perhaps renewal of our own organization which emphasizes providing new recruits and volunteers with the opportunity to live their faith (whatever tradition that may be) and fulfill the simple desire to enable others to share and participate in the world we all love. If we follow Catholic social teachings and emphasize the common good of every human being, we can truly begin our own renewal.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is a Canadian Vincentian. 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.
I respectfully acknowledge the traditional, unceded territories of the Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit, on which lands we meet, work and live.