On Saturday 23th of September the members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Slovakia celebrated the founding of the very first conference in Bratislava 150 years ago. At the same time, the members were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the beatification of Frederic Ozanam.
The celebration took place in the town of Levice where the rebirth of the society in Slovakia took place in 1991. During the times of communism (1946-1990) the society was forbidden.
The day started with a Holy Mass performed by the Archbishop of Trnava, Monseigneur Ján Orosch. Then the members met in a school nearby, where Libusa Miháliková, President of the National Board of the SSVP Slovakia welcomed them. Lectures were given about the history of the society in the country and about the life of Frederic Ozanam (by Magdaléna Boledovicová, former and first president of the national board after the rebirth in 1991). Different conferences presented the work and special projects that are carried out for the poor in Slovakia.
At the meeting, all the conferences in Slovakia were represented, as well as other branches of the Vincentian Family, such as the Daughters of Charity and the Congregation of the Mission who played an important role in the rebirth of the society.
The SSVP in Slovakia is twinned with the society of the Netherlands. Brother Alfons ten Velde represented the SSVP Netherlands at the meeting and also spoke some words to the Vincentian brothers and sisters.
Were also present Dieter Monitzer and his wife from the SSVP in Vienna (Austria). The Vincentians in Vienna support the conferences in Bratislava (which is only 50 km away from Vienna) for the last five years.
As a representant of the International General Council (CGI), the International Vice-President for Europe Group II, Erwin Tigla, attended the meeting. He congratulated the society in Slovakia on behalf of the CGI. He told the members that the society in Slovakia is one of the strongest branches among the Eastern-European countries that used to be under the communistic influence of Russia.
The society in Slovakia exists of 25 conferences throughout the country. Next to the basic Vincentian work, the SSVP runs some special works, like holiday camps for children, day care centres for elderly and housing of homeless people, people with alcoholic problems and former prisoners.
The SSVP in Slovakia is flourishing and has a promising future. The celebration of 150 years of SSVP in Slovakia and the 20th anniversary of the beatification of Frederic Ozanam was a successful meeting which gave the attendants new courage and spirit to continue there work in the footsteps of Frederic Ozanam.