Dr. Michael Thio, President General, presents at the Permanent Section Meeting in Bangkok.

– 17 JUNE 2012
Dear Fellow Vincentians,

After some words of gratitude to various individuals  he continued…

Let us read our “Vision and Mission Statements”.(hand-out given)
The Motto of our Society. “Serviens in Spe” – “Service in Hope” – is the motto of our beloved Society.

It is simple, yet profound.

It encapsulates our activities that we do in serving Christ in the poor in our Vincentian apostolate and align with our vision and mission statement.

The motto has two aspects.

The 1st is – in serving the poor we give them Hope – a new life, a new beginning, a new future, a Hopeful life and the possibility of hopefully encountering Christ.

The 2nd aspect – in seeing in the suffering poor, we, Vincentians, see the suffering  Christ and it gives us the opportunity to serve Christ in the poor – and in that we  receive Christ in us and gives us a Hopeful life with God in our hearts. With God in you,
you experience God’s Love and it becomes so contagious that you want to share God’s Love with others. As Vincentians, we share and radiate Christian Love which is our Love for Christ transformed into loving service given to others and especially the poor you serve. God is Love. “The Love of Christ impels us” – 2Cor5:14

To be a true and committed Vincentian you must be deeply rooted in Christ – and this is primary. You must develop a strong Vincentian Spirituality and be One in Christ. To be a Vincentian is a calling, it is a vocation to serve Christ in the lay Vincentian  apostolate of Charity for the greater glory of God and not our glory. “You did not  choose me, I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures, and so the Father will give you whatever you ask of Him in My name” – as Jesus spoke to us in John 15:16.

We have a very fair and loving God. If he chooses you to do His will, He will not forsake you, He will be with you BUT you must go to Him and develop an intimate relationship  with the Lord and be sincere and true to your beliefs. Trust in the Lord.

Hence, Spiritual Formation and Development for each and everyone of us is key as Vincentians. This is the first and top priority of my 10 Strategic Goals which I shared  with the General Plenary Assembly when I was elected President General a year and a
half ago. It was conveyed to all the National/Superior Councils globally and they must  develop and promote programs for Vincentians in Spiritual Formation. There is no  alternative.

When you have God deeply rooted in you the rest of your Vincentian mission and vocation will fall into place. “Give me a man of prayer and he will be capable of everything” said St. Vincent.

Apart from this, there is also the need to conduct Leadership and members formation and training to equip ourselves with the necessary skills to manage the Society in order to serve the poor and needy better. As you have heard from Brian O’Reilly, VicePresident General and Marie Francoise Int’l VP for Formation and ITVP for Europe 1, CGI has initiated a training program that will be rolled out this year throughout the 11 Vincentian world regions. It is a model of “Train-a-Trainers” program or “Cascade  Training” program.

The poor and needy in this new millennium have different demands and wants in  different countries and culture and they hope to be satisfied. The challenges in this  area are tremendous, to feed the hungry, attend to the homeless, the oppressed, street
kids, education, social imbalance etc. Blessed Frederic envisaged this 180 years ago  when he founded the Society and he wrote; “Charity must never look into the past but  always to the future, because the number of it’s past work is still very small and the
present and future miseries that it must alleviate are infinite”. He is a visionary and God  gave him this vision.

We would encourage you to consider assistance programs beyond your normal/usual ones. We need to look ahead and take on new programs , be courageous and inventive and sometimes we require to think outside the box. We need to be relevant in
attending to the wants of the poor today and in the future. It is a challenge, let us take  up the challenge in the spirit of our early founders who Dare to Dream Dreams.

In our programs for the poor and needy we require to be innovative and constructive in  contributing to Systemic Change. Assist the poor to be independent wherever possible  and help them out of the poverty cycle so they beg no more and restore to them the
dignity of the human person and lead humane life. Give them a hand-up rather than a hand-out.

There have been numerous natural disasters and also political ones over the past few  years . SSVP is involved in many global disaster programs from emergency relief to rehabilitation programs. All this requires vast sum of funds and manpower resources. In
several disaster areas around the world the Society have embarked on collaborative programs with other international Catholic Charity organizations and we combine our  resources to achieve economies of scale and be more effective in our programs.

To name a few, in Haiti we team up with the DC and CM, in the Horn of Africa we are with  the DC, CM and Trocaire (the Irish Catholic Charity), in the Philippines we are with the  DC and the CM and so on in other countries. The Holy Father encouraged such
collaboration among the various international Catholic Charity groups in his recent  address to us at the meeting of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum in Rome. He reminded  us that when we serve the poor with God’s love in our hearts we are witnessing to  Christ and bring about conversion and evangelization. Through “conversion” there is a  change of heart and we bring lapse Catholics back to the Faith; through  “evangelization” by our witnessing to Christ we share the Good News and inspire
people to be touched and accept God and be new Christians. “We, who are involved in  the apostolate of Charity(Love), are powerful agents for Conversion and  Evangelization” said the Holy Father.

The Society received United Nations accreditation as an International UN-NGO with “Special Consultative Member status” of ECOSOC(the Economic and Social Council of the UN). We informed all National/Superior Councils on this. This recognition affirms  our Society’s standing as an international Charity organization of high repute. We join  the CM(Congregation of the Mission), DC(Daughters of Charity), the Sisters of Charity and AIC(Association of International Charities) as an enlarged Vincentian Family
representation in the UN. We shall be the collective voice of the poor and oppressed in  international UN Forums and conferences voicing our stand on human rights, social  justice, abuse of women and children, fair wages etc. and importantly advocating for  better UN programs for alleviation of the impoverished. The Society have moved up the  value chain in our mission.

Today we are active in 148 countries worldwide – the latest 148th country was  established last week in LAOS. Of the 148 countries only 22 countries are consideredaffluent and they are supporting the rest of the 126 non-affluent countries. Some
assistance are done through International Twinning programs and some through CGI Commission for International Aid and Development(CIAD) . Worldwide, we have a total of about 750,000 members with approximately 1.3m volunteers and serving over 30
million poor. The more countries we are in, more work there are for members of the  CGI Board, various Commissions and the International Structure in liaision and coordination effort with National/Superior Councils globally. Altogether there are more
than 60 Vincentians who serve in the CGI International Structure along with 8 staff. I  thank the National/Superior Councils for their support and co-operation with CGI and the International Structure for the mutual benefit and growth of the Society.

The Society is one of the most respected, well-known, flourishing and inspiring Catholic apostolate of Charity in the world. All of you are instrumental in maintaining the vibrancy and growth of the Society and you made it so and you should be proud of it.

Please keep up the good work and continue with your zeal and passion. Thank you for  your Vincentian efforts and commitment.
With Jesus in our hearts, Let us Dare to Dream Dreams that constancy, resilience and  fidelity are the attitudes that enable us to confront difficulties, failures,  misunderstandings and discouragements. Never give up especially when the odds are  heavily against you. God is on your side and you will prevail. Trust in the Lord and have  Faith. Faith sees the Invisible; Believes the Incredible and Receives the Impossible.

Let us want To Live … a fulfilling, loving, peaceful Christian life align with the Gospel  values.
Let us want to Contemplate …. To meditate and discern.
Let us want to Serve … CHRIST and mankind – and grow in our discipleship in Christ.

I was privileged to work with Blessed Mother Teresa and recalled the inspiring words  she personally imparted to me: “What you are is God’s gift to you; What you make of  yourself is your gift to God”.

So my dear fellow Vincentians, let us continue to Dream Dreams and heed the words  of Jesus in Matthew 5:16 – “Let you light shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to our Father in Heaven” .

United in prayer let us continue to journey together in our Vincentian mission and  vocation in our lay apostolate of FAITH, HOPE, LOVE and CHARITY.JESUS LOVES YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL. THANK YOU.Dr. Michael Thio
President General International Confederation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Paris, France.
17 June 2012

Source – http://www.ssvpglobal.org/archivo/doc_0800_en.pdf

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