Growing Together in Holiness

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Last weekend, I had the opportunity to be in Grand Rapids and view many inspirational and contemporary art pieces during the annual ARTPRIZE. There were so many outstanding and creative sculptures, paintings, and murals. Standing near their creations were the artists, and I had the chance to visit with some of them. What impressed me most was the deep spirituality from which they created their pieces, and their commitment in wanting to make a significant difference in how we live together on planet earth!

One artist used a huge piece of white silk, to paint multiple layers of acrylics in various shades of black, white and gray to give it depth and texture, including bumps and cracks. The finished piece was a beautiful image of what looked like a cinder block wall. Artist, Nolan Haan, named it “SOCIETY,” defining society as a group of similar, but unique, individuals that come together for a common purpose. Doesn’t that just help us know why our organization is called a Society? Artist Haan said, “I transform silk into cement!”

Speaking of transformation, this is also what is asked of us as Vincentians. Our ministry has the same possibilities for expressing the artistry of what God wants for all creatures, especially us humans made in the image and likeness of God. Vincentians are called to act from a deep spirituality that is grounded in Jesus, the human expression of God. We are called to friendship with like-minded individuals for a common purpose, responding in many “artistic” forms of service, making a significant difference in this world.

As a new Associate Spiritual Advisor, I have been encouraged to offer my assistance in helping our AOD SVDP Conferences develop and renew the role of Spiritual Advisor. From the Society’s beginnings every Conference was to have someone with the special charge of helping fellow Vincentians achieve the primary purpose of our Society: growing together in holiness. To help us renew this special role, I believe it will be best to do this with volunteers from conferences in various area groups where we can learn from one another and share best practices. For information or to schedule a Spiritual Advisor Workshop, please contact me, Sister Noreen at Noreenellison@ymail.com or Debbie Jackson at 313-393-3014.

From S. Noreen Ellison, SC

An Update from Therese

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Dear Fellow Vincentians,

Happy Feast Day! I am writing this article on the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul. Today, I reflect how St. Vincent de Paul has influenced and thus changed my life. Thinking about it over the past month, and after attending our National Assembly, I have been filled with the “Spirit” of the Society and have grown in my personal understanding of what God calls each of us to do. This year‘s theme was “One Society Serving In Hope” The National Meeting was held August 28th through September 2nd in San Diego. We were inspired by two wonderful Keynote speakers. Fr. Aiden Rooney from The Congregation of the Mission spoke on the topic of Embracing the World: What would Frederic Do? Aiden gave insight into how even in today’s world we are challenged as Frederic and his companions were years ago.

We also had a spiritual retreat by our National Spiritual Advisor, Most Reverend Donald Hying, Fourth Bishop, Diocese of Gary. In both addresses, we as Vincentians were told how valuable our mission is to our Church. During one of the reflections, we were asked to reflect on this question: “If you had no money to give, no furniture to provide, no food to share with our neighbors in need, would you still be a Vincentian?“ Yes, there is much more to our vocation as Vincentians in our Mission of Charity.
It is more than material things we bring to those we serve. We bring ourselves, we bring hope, we bring our presence and that is probably the greatest gift we can give to anyone.

The National Office provided various workshops and reports from many committees. In our Business Meeting we were asked to approve a National Strategic Plan. As we in our Council develop our own Strategic Plan, we will look to see if we can build on the vision that all Vincentians share. All materials from the National Meeting may be found on the National SVDPUSA.ORG website. I encourage each of you to view these valuable resources.

On September 18th, we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica . One hundred Vincentians came together for Mass, a commissioning of new presidents and our own recommitment to the Society. Fr. John Riccardo, our Archdiocesan Spiritual Advisor was scheduled to celebrate the Mass, but his mother’s funeral was on that same day. I ask each of you to keep Fr. Riccardo and his family in your prayers. A special thank you to The Shrine Conference for hosting, Fr. John Kopson for filling in for Fr. Riccardo and the Shrine Ladies Guild for providing a lovely reception following Mass.

I am finishing this article on September 30th, the day after a successful Friends of the Poor Walk. Yesterday, a thousand friends, neighbors and Vincentians met on Belle Isle to share fellowship and friendship while expressing solidarity with those it is our privilege to serve. Many thanks to all the staff and volunteers, sponsors and of course the walkers who made this a truly special event.

God Bless,