In the past few months, I’ve attended some of the District Council Meetings to learn about the various ways Vincentians help our Neighbors and the differences and similarities among Districts. My plan is to attend all of the District meetings in the first year of my position. As a Formator, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many new Vincentians at Ozanam Orientations.
First of all, I’ve encountered great hosts, with full course dinners, delicious lunches and bountiful breakfast treats along the way.
Secondly, and most importantly, I’ve met Vincentians who show deep commitment in their giving of time and service to others.
Such interaction with so many has cemented one significant concept – Vincentians are the core of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
One needs to look at the organizational structure so clearly delineated in Ozanam Orientation. It’s a structure unlike most organizations. Vincentians are at the top, with Central Office Detroit, Regional and National descending from there. It’s an upside/down structure in comparison to most organizations and one that leads to misunderstandings and differences in opinion. As a “membership” organization, it is quite unique among not for profit entities.
In your Conferences and Districts, you are working together in consensus to help your Neighbors in Need. In turn, Central Office works to assist Vincentians in the mission of serving the poor.
Although Vincentians could help their Neighbors without the existence of Central Office, they also rely on it for the operation of stores, fundraising, and help with significant issues that come to light in need of direction and support. Conferences pay solidarity which helps Central Office, and Districts receive turnaround monies for formation and training for servant leadership.
In conclusion, we need each other. It is the Conference’s responsibility to help our Neighbors. It is Central Office’s responsibility to support that work in whatever way possible. In the words of St. Vincent de Paul, “The poor suffer less from a lack of generosity than from a lack of organization”.
As Board President and Vincentian in my home conference St. Mary in Port Huron and Blessed Rosalie Conference in Detroit, I ask all of you to reflect on the concept of this organization as “One Society”.