From Sister Noreen – October 2020

From Sister Noreen – October 2020 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Summer’s growth and colors are slowly leaving, and our environment is shivering with the changing season. And though, what we see and feel from Mother Nature will be quite different in the coming months, we are thankful to have made the best of life and lived through the challenges of the Covid 19 Spring and Summer. Life is happening inside of each of us, and even, collectively, as Vincentians. New life will come! It will burst forth, but we wonder and await what the months ahead will deliver for us.

What will I/we know better and in a new way?

I wonder how I/we will live more intentionally trying to “love our neighbors as ourselves?”

One of the October changes I feel, is the loss of our lively and colorful Conference Support person, Debbie Jackson. I am so sorry she felt the need to leave her role of generous service from our central office. Debbie helped hundreds of us understand better our Vincentian commitment to grow spiritually and she created many opportunities for us to strengthen our Christian friendship with one another. Debbie knew that serving the members in over 100 Conferences by providing continuing formation opportunities, the Society would be strengthened and become more effective.  Debbie was the “go to” person when we needed materials, training, resources, information and assistance. The evenings spent with us in District meetings helped us feel better informed and connected to one another at the Conference and District levels.  Her gifts, including her joy and positivity, helped build relationships among us, affirming the holy energy and perseverance needed to keep serving our neighbors-in-need with mercy and love through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

So, I will finish by asking myself and you, the same questions:

  • What will I/we know better and in a new way?
  • How will I/we live more intentionally trying to love our neighbors as ourselves?
  • And who are my neighbors?

I encourage you to share this, especially the reflection questions in an upcoming meeting, even by Zoom. Then, listen carefully to each one’s response and conclude with a prayer of thanks and praise.

In prayer and reflection with you,
Sister Noreen Ellison, SC
Associate Spiritual Advisor

Conference Connection – Spiritual Connection

Conference Connection – Spiritual Connection 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

In a conversation with his pastor, a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society asked, “Father, where are the ‘good’ poor?” The pastor was shocked that a Vincentian would even ask this question, and I don’t know how the priest replied. But I believe that in our demanding work of serving those who suffer a complicated form of poverty, that question may be one that many of us have pondered: “Where are the deserving poor?”

This is precisely why Vincentians are called to attend to our own spiritual formation and growth, and to reflect at each meeting on a special aspect of gospel spirituality. Then we share our insights and prayer with one another and feel the special, strengthening grace in the Conference meeting to live our vocation to serve our neighbors in need even better!

It is a goal at every level where Vincentians gather, that there be a designated person to be the Spiritual Advisor, or I’d rather name that person, the spiritual animator or facilitator. This is a person who is committed to their own spiritual growth and who is willing to learn and prepare simple ways to assist the members in reflecting on the gospel, the Rule, and Vincentian resources available to us. Spiritual reflection and faith sharing helps us grow in our vocations as Vincentians as we practice our faith in action, loving our neighbors in joyful service.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Mt. 5:7

Vincentian Evangelization—A Best-kept Secret?

Vincentian Evangelization—A Best-kept Secret? 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Have you noticed, as I have, so many new programs in our churches that promise to help parishioners grow in faith and share faith more easily as we try to “Unleash the Gospel?”

Guess what? Dedicated Vincentians and effective SVDP Conferences are perhaps “the best” evangelizers the church can have! If we, Vincentians, take seriously the three primary tenets of our Society: to grow in holiness, to do this with a community of Vincentian friends, and then to reach out in service to our most vulnerable neighbors, we are evangelizing.

We, who are praying and learning better the ways of Jesus and the gospel of compassion, strive to accompany the most disenfranchised, the needy, the folks frightened in their burdens of poverty. We meet them, not as clients or consumers, but as valued neighbors as we strive to accompany them in situations that need our mercy and attention.

Just to listen, to try to understand and articulate what we think we are understanding is truly a Christ-like gift. To give our undivided attention and to be with people in the places where they live is truly a gift. Think of Jesus, He paid attention and usually responded with questions or parables that helped those who came to Him to understand or “see the light,” the answer. He didn’t give material help, but people were changed by His presence.

Vincentians need to let our neighbors know that we are with them because we are followers of Jesus and many other believers help us with their time, goods and donations so that we can give help in difficult situations when that is possible. We pray with them and invite them to pray with us for their needs and possible solutions that provide encouragement and hope. Even when our neighbors’ needs are very complex and God-sized, we want them to feel valued for having been with us as Jesus’ disciples, taking them into our hearts and into our prayer.

For ways to meet our spiritual and friendship challenges more effectively, try to participate in the various offerings that our Central Office and their volunteer formation teams provide: a renewed Ozanam Orientation, a Spiritual Advisor Workshop, the Annual Meeting, the Evening of Reflection, and others.

May the Spirit of Jesus lead us into a happy, growthful New Year 2019. I pray for this and for you.

Sister Noreen Ellison, SC

Lifting our Blessings – Sister Noreen

Lifting our Blessings – Sister Noreen 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

In this season as our nation celebrates a special time of Thanksgiving, let us, Vincentians, pray in thanksgiving for one another and for the time, talent and treasures so freely given.

Let us intentionally lift up all Vincentians who do the Mission and ministry of the SVDP Society. There is much written in our Rule about Servant Leadership. I am truly inspired by all of you who give wonderful evidence of what “servant leadership” truly is!

Our Rule 1.12 also tells us to” never forget the many blessings we receive from those we visit…remembering that the fruits of our labor spring not from ourselves, but from God and from the poor we serve.”

As we pray, let us remember to lift in prayer our own brokenness and need for God’s grace, seeking God’s glory and not our own, all the while having hearts full of thanksgiving.

Sister Noreen Ellison, SC
Associate Spiritual Advisor