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The Monthly update from our new National President, John Berry
November 29, 2023
Dear National Council Members:
I hope that this finds all of you well and that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. As promised, this is my monthly update to you on what has been happening at the National level. I encourage you to share this with the Vincentians in your area.
Even with the Thanksgiving week holiday, November was a very busy month for me and the National team. The staff worked tirelessly to prepare for Giving Tuesday (which was yesterday) and I am thrilled to share with you the late-breaking news that we blew away our Giving Tuesday goal and as of this afternoon raised over $110,000! Major kudo’s to Dave and his staff, especially Ryan Carney, Jill Poitier and Dennis Kempf.
Just before Thanksgiving I attended the International Executive Committee meeting of the SSVP Council General International (CGI) in Madrid. It was a good first meeting under newly elected President General International, Juan Manuel Gomez. There was a significant amount of conversation and discussion regarding the revision and strengthening of the governance framework for CGI. A lot of that is being driven by the very poor quality of the governance practices at the Rome General Assembly this past June. Additionally, there was and will continue to be much discussion on Twinning and support to conferences and councils in other countries. This discussion has very critical importance for the USA with our Homeland Security and banking regulations. A violation of these rules and regulations could result in extremely severe penalties to the Society nationally and internationally. This is a very serious issue which we on the Board will be discussing and which I will report to you on at Midyear.
Earlier in November I attended and spoke at the 75th Anniversary Gala for the SVdP Long Island Council and then hopped across Long Island Sound to Providence, RI to participate in their 175th Anniversary Mass and Gala. Congratulations to these wonderful Councils for their amazing work supporting our neighbors in need. Please let me know as you schedule events in your Councils so I can try and attend.
Work by the National Vice Presidents on our Committee structure going forward continues. We are on track to roll out the new committee alignments immediately following the February Board meeting.
‘Vision SVdP – Our Family Conversation ’will kick off at Midyear and each Regional meeting following Midyear. We are in the process of engaging a consulting organization that will support and guide us in this effort. This will be a two year effort that will guide us as we journey together to adapt to a changing world.
Yesterday I had a meeting in Washington, DC with the new President of Catholic Charities USA, Kerry Robinson. Some of you may recall that Kerry was a keynote speaker at the SVdP USA National Assembly in Baltimore. Kerry and I had a great conversation. We share a passion and commitment to aligning and rebuilding our respective organizations for the future and we agreed that the SVdP and CCUSA bond and collaboration can be, and must be, stronger and more focused. A lot to come on that!
I think I’ve covered most of the highlights. I’m writing this from the plane from Washington, DC to St. Louis to participate in Invitation for Renewal. I was in the February IFR class in 2007, so I’m excited to see the changes that have been made to this incredible program (if you haven’t gone you really, really need to!)
Have a Blessed and Holy Advent, Christmas, and New Year!
Peace and God’s blessings,
Thanksgiving Blessings from Saint Vincent dePaul, Saint Eleanor Parishioners & “GWAC”!
Local Families Receive Thanksgiving Blessings from Saint Vincent dePaul Ministry and Saint Eleanor Parishioners
In the spirit of gratitude and giving, over 50 struggling local families are set to experience a bountiful Thanksgiving, all thanks to the vigilant efforts of the Saint Vincent dePaul Ministry and the extraordinary generosity of Saint Eleanor Parishioners.
The heartwarming initiative conducted this past Saturday, November 18, 2023, saw the collaboration of multiple entities, with the Saint Vincent dePaul Ministry leading the charge. Their unwavering dedication to supporting the community in times of need has been a beacon of hope for many. However, this Thanksgiving, their efforts were amplified by the invaluable assistance of the vibrant 5th grade GWAC (Girls With A Cause) club from Holy Cross Regional Catholic School.
These young philanthropists from Holy Cross Catholic School’s GWAC club have been actively involved in various community service projects. Their enthusiasm and energy injected an extra dose of joy into the proceedings. The girls took charge of much of the legwork, orchestrating deliveries from Kateri Hall to ensure that large turkeys and scrip gift cards reached local neighbors in need.
The collaboration between the Saint Vincent dePaul Ministry and the GWAC club exemplifies the power of our “All-in” Church Community unifying in charity and compassion. Their tireless efforts epitomize the essence of Thanksgiving, where the act of giving is as enriching for the giver as it is for the recipient.
Permanent Deacon John Hasson (pictured) was even on hand to bless the Thanksgiving goodies before their distribution.
Reflecting on the success of the initiative, a representative from the Saint Vincent dePaul Ministry expressed gratitude, stating, “We thank the Lord for our strong community and for the ever-present working hands that deliver much-needed charity to those in the greatest need.”
The immense impact of this collective effort resonates deeply within the community, showcasing the unwavering spirit of kindness and support during challenging times. As Thanksgiving approaches, the hearts of these families, now blessed with abundance, are filled with gratitude towards the Saint Vincent dePaul Ministry, the Saint Eleanor Parishioners, and the dedicated members of the GWAC club.
This heartening display of solidarity reaffirms the importance of coming together to support one another, especially during occasions meant for celebrating gratitude and generosity. As the Thanksgiving season unfolds, let us carry forward the spirit of giving, recognizing the immense power of community-driven initiatives in uplifting those in need.
Warm wishes and heartfelt gratitude echo throughout the community, as the hard work and dedication of these remarkable individuals promise a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving for all.
Great work, team, and Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Friends of the Poor Walk
“We are Friends of the Poor and we walked in the rain!”
On September 23, 2023, Friends of the Poor Walk was held by St. Maria Goretti
The Friends of the Poor Walk is a nationwide signature event of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
This event raises awareness and funds supporting local Conference/Council services to neighbors in
A couple of weeks before Christmas, we partnered with Families Forward Philadelphia on their 2021 Christmas Marketplace. A facility for about 60, where families are able to be sheltered together, Families Forward Philadelphia provides the Marketplace for parents to pick out specific gifts for their children. While all donations are appreciated, and people mean well, it makes the holiday even more special when parents can pick up the exact gifts that are on their children’s wish lists. With a company generously donating toys on the children’s wish lists, we were able to not only donate other wish list items, but also provide the shelter with our “In a Box” program, including necessities such as blow-up beds, sheet sets and towels. President Pat Walsh and Vincentian Paul Martin (thank you Paul for connecting us to this group) joined with Families Forward Philadelphia’s Chief Development Officer, Kathy Mack, to assist with the teen Marketplace Day.
National Assembly Presentation
At last month’s National Assembly, Executive Director Toni Downey presented the Slow Cooker Project from St. Maria Goretti of Hatfield, in cooperation with Pottstown Family Services “Parents as Teachers”.
St. Maria Goretti SVdP Slow Cooker Project Updates
Exciting updates from the St. Maria Goretti SVdP Slow Cooker Project.
Their third cooking session will be on July 24, featuring pulled pork. The participating families have been meeting every other week via zoom with Ada Sykes of the Pottstown Family Center, who assists with translation. A different family is featured each time, presenting a recipe from their country of origin and the participants follow along and make the meals in their slow cooker.
Additionally, community gardens are being grown! Pictured are two young gardeners in their family’s garden – one of two that SVdP purchased in a community lot. An additional four families also have small plots in their yards.
Kristin Miller says that the project has served as a great way to encourage cooking and healthy eating as well as some positive family time, and has been a wonderful way to connect with their Hispanic neighbors.
St. Maria Goretti SVdP Slow Cooker Project
Members of St. Maria Goretti launched a slow cooker project, in partnership with Pottstown Family Center’s ‘Parents as Teachers’ program. Each participant receives a slow cooker and the ingredients for a meal. In four sessions (due to the pandemic, currently via Zoom), the meals are explained along with nutritional information provided by one of the members, Kristen Miller, who is a visiting nurse. The program started in March with chicken tortilla soup. In May, the meal was vegetarian lasagna. For July, the plan is to feature beef or pork and in September, they are hoping to have a potluck celebration with everyone bringing something they made in their slow cooker to share at a local park. Food costs are covered by the conference members and caseworkers from Pottstown Family center distribute the slow cookers and food, as well as provide translation for Spanish-speaking participants. Kristen feels that the success of their program has centered on aligning with a recognized social service program who could incorporate the project into their existing efforts with the families, establishing necessary buy-in and continuity.