Date of publication: 01/05/2024

180th anniversary of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Ireland

Council General International

“Times change, compassion remains.”

The first Conference in Ireland, St. Michan’s, was established in Dublin in 1844, and from there began its development in Ireland, which today reaches all the counties of the country with more than 11,500 active members.

Since its founding, it has helped people in need during a famine, a civil war, a war of independence, two world wars and several economic recessions. It is one of the best known and most widely supported social action and social activity organizations in Ireland.

The 180th anniversary event, to which the president general and board members were invited, was held on Saturday, April 20, at the Dublin Convention Center, where there was a small representation of the 230 charity stores, as well as various commemorative events in the main auditorium, attended by more than 800 people.

Father Michael McCullagh CM opened the proceedings with a moving and vibrant speech and was warmly applauded by those present. After the prayers, the President of the Republic, Mr. Michael D. Higgins, was greeted by the President of the Republic, Mr. Michael D. Higgins. Then, Rose McGowan, National President of the SSVP Ireland, gave a brief historical review of the Conferences during all these years and thanked the members, volunteers and benefactors for the social work carried out.

Also noteworthy was the interesting and committed speech by special guest Mrs. Mary Robinson, former president of the republic and currently president of “The Elders”, a social organization dedicated mainly to promoting peace, human rights and poverty eradication.

President General Juan Manuel B. Gómez’s speech focused on the different ways in which Irish members fight poverty and work for social justice. He also highlighted the important social concept maintained by the more than 230 charity stores on the island as an example for the entire Confederation.   

The event was completed with live interviews with some of the attendees who left us their powerful and emotional impressions, with a representation of young Irish Vincentians where they told us about their experiences, as well as other types of presentations, alternating with musical performances. Finally, a solemn Eucharist was concelebrated accompanied by the beautiful voices of the Meath County Choir, presided over by Father Michael McCullagh CM, assisted by Father Jim Noonan ODC and by the religious advisor of the General Council, Father Jose Orozco CM. During the Eucharist and with the solemnity that the act demands, the Vincentian promises were renewed.

CELEBRATION OF THE BOARD

The board meeting was held on Sunday morning. In the board meeting, after the respective prayers and Father Orozco’s reflection on the parable of the Good Shepherd, different issues were discussed, among them the invitation from USA to organize board in Atlanta in spring 2025, the preparations for the meeting in Goa in June and the situation of the SSVP in Ukraine and Slovenia, as well as the FAMVIN meeting and the 13 Houses campaign in November.

On the part of the Youth delegate, she advanced the proposed activities, including exchanges and support for young people and preparations for the Jubilee year and also the meeting of young Vincentians for the summer of 2025, in Rome.

On the other hand, the treasurer presented a progress report on the financial statements and the control work being carried out by the auditors.

In the second part, the president of Australia agreed to host the International Vincentian Day in the fall of 2024, and Brazil was postulated for the year 2025. A proposal was approved by Australia for the safeguarding of Vincentian youth in the various international meetings and also discussed various options to present in Goa, which will enable the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to receive international donations.

In other business, the president of Australia, together with New Zealand, presented a progress report on the development of a program to help national councils in the area to become sustainable. It would focus on five areas: governance, aggregation and institution, education and training, safeguarding, youth and twinning.

REPORTS OF THE VARIOUS COMMITTEES

Finally, and among other matters within the competence of the Board, the previous reports of the Statutes Commission to be presented in Goa, the Report of the International Structure and Special Projects by Julio Lima, as well as the conclusions of the International Commission for Development Assistance (CIAD) and Twinning, were presented.

Julio Lima commented on the work on the requirements for countries to become legal members, and communicating to the ITVPs how important their role is in this process with the countries. He also gave an account of the meetings highlighting the new guidelines of the Communication team, and the role of the ITVPs and the team in this. They also discussed the nominations (almost complete) and processes, and the agenda for the Goa meeting.

At the CIAD, among other matters, it was proposed that an appeal
be made to the National Councils requesting funds for aid and for the International Solidarity Fund (FIS). It was also approved to distribute the funds that are not associated with specific purposes among the countries that request them. In addition, priority will be given to projects that are community-based and sustainable.

The Twinning Commission, among other matters, decided to improve the application form to make the documents more operational and commented on the improvement of the models of England and Wales with India and New Zealand to assist Sri Lanka in a joint twinning program in the Oceania area.

INSTITUTIONAL VISITS

The following day, to conclude the day, the President General, accompanied by the rest of the board members and guests, visited Ozanam House Resource Centre and Saint Benedicts Housing in Dublin.

At the Ozanam Centre, various activities are carried out for young and old, with the opportunity to develop their self-confidence to develop and grow, so that they and their families can have a better future. It serves more than 500 people a week, ranging in age from two to ninety years old.

It is housed in a beautiful Georgian building and was the original SSVP clothing and furniture warehouse, the Center is the origin of the Charity stores, and has been used by the SSVP Ireland, for over 100 years.

The visit then continued to Saint Benedicts Housing, a housing village on Estuary Road, Malahide, in County Dublin.

The village, which opened in 2009, consists of 45 one-story, single-family homes for the elderly, with community recreation rooms and common areas. It is funded by Fingal County Council and the Ministry of Housing and by the local grant scheme, on land owned by the SSVP. The project is being maintained thanks to the commitment and dedication of volunteers from the St. Benedict Conference.

THANK YOU
The General Council would like to thank our Irish brothers, especially the members of the National Council represented by its president Rose McGowan, the volunteers, employees and friends, for the magnificent organization, for their kind welcome and for the exquisite hospitality they showed us at every moment. A fraternal visit that will remain forever in our hearts.