Representatives from 11 countries met in Aparecida, Brazil to discuss the role of the SSVP National Councils.
Brazil hosted, from May 3-5, the 3rd. SSVP South America Territorial Meeting. Representatives from 11 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela), as well as a guest speaker from the Dominican Republic, gathered in the city of Aparecida to discuss the performance of the National Councils of the region with the aim of improving the service of the Society on the continent. The meeting was attended by 35 Vincentians representing the National Councils, members of the Territorial Vice-presidency America 3 team, guests of the CGI and the Board of Directors of the National Council of Brazil.
The event was held at the Bom Jesus Seminary and had as its central theme “The National Council as the driving force of the SSVP”. According to Brother Julio César Marques de Lima, Territorial Vice-president for America 3 Region, “…All the debates and topics presented during the event revolved around the need for the National Council to be the great leader, organizer and protagonist within the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in their country. We seek to show the National Councils, some of them in need to improve their structures, that it is necessary to lead the progress in the service of the Society in each country and that it is necessary to prioritize strategic issues for the SSVP, such as establishing plans and initiatives to attract new members, new volunteers, integration of young people in the conferences and ongoing training for Vincentians. It is also vital to advance in the development of social projects and initiatives that help break the cycle of poverty. With this management of the National Councils, it will be possible to lead the work of the SSVP and move forward in the service of the poorest”.
After the reception of the participants at the Sao Paulo International Airport, transportation to the city of Aparecida and accomodations, the official opening took place on the night of May 3rd., with the celebration of the Holy Mass at Our Lady of Aparecida Basilica. On the morning of the 4th., the work began with remarks by the President of the National Council of Brazil, Brother Márcio José da Silva, who thanked everyone for their participation and recalled that the meeting should have been held in 2020, which was not possible due to the Covid19 Pandemic. “We are very happy to host the representatives of the South American countries in Brazil and to have them at our pilgrimage site, an excellent time to exchange experiences with the Brazilian Vincentians,” said Márcio da Silva.
A busy program on the first day. At the outset, the Territorial Vice-president reviewed the commitments made by the National Councils in previous territorial meetings (2010 – Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil and 2014 – Santiago, Chile), highlighting the points that still need to to be addressed to offer a more effective the service in the region. Then, the invited speaker, Brother Fausto Batista, from the SSVP Dominican Republic, presented the theme “Strategic Management of National Councils”, highlighting the leadership role that each National Council should exercise. In the second part of the day, two more topics were presented: the President of the National Council of Brazil made a presentation on the experience of the Brazilian SSVP in the management of social projects in favor of the poorest, mentionning the various programs developed and coordinated by this National Council. Brother Márcio emphasized that “all the programs aim to promote changes in the lives of those we support and the National Council is the great manager of these initiatives, facilitating and financing the action of the conferences towards the poorest“. The President of the Venezuelan National Council, Sister Genny Molina, presented the experience of the SSVP-Venezuela in the implementation of the international training curriculum developed by the CGI, highlighting the creative initiatives used to bring this training process to all Vincentians, even with the economic and communication difficulties that exist in the country. The work of the first day ended with meetings of each Zone Coordinator with the representatives of the countries under their responsibilities to discuss the difficulties of each National Council and to move forward on priority issues for the SSVP.
The second day of the event included a special presentation by the National Council of Brazil, which dealt with the experience of the Missionary Department of the Brazilian SSVP. Margarete Santos, Coordinator of this Department, made an exposé on how the Department works, how the formation of missionaries is carried out and the results obtained with the revitalization of the SSVP in various regions of the Brazilian territory. The presentation that concluded this event was made by the President General, Renato Lima de Oliveira, who raised the subject of the role of the CGI as one of the main promoters of the SSVP at the international level, enumerating the actions of the CGI, during his mandate, to support the National Councils. The President General took the opportunity to say goodbye to the Vincentians: “For me, it is like concluding my mandate with a golden brooch. There could not be a better place, since I was also present at the previous territorial meetings, as Territorial Vice-president“. The meeting concluded with the presentation of the conclusions of the zones meetings held the previous day.
In addition to the discussions and presentations that allowed a wide exchange of experiences among the countries, the participating National Councils received from the National Council of Brazil a kit containing various Vincentian formation materials. The National Council of Brazil also announced some actions to support the countries of this zone, including a sponsorship for the participation of the National Youth Coordinator of each country in the next National Youth Meeting of the SSVP of Brazil. The resolutions and commitments of the meeting will be contained in the Aparecida Charter, which will be prepared and approved by the countries shortly.
After the Territorial Meeting, the participants joined the program of the 51st. Pilgrimage of the SSVP – Brazil to the Aparecida National Shrine and, they were present at numerous events together with the Brazilian Vincentians. The presence of National Councils representatives in Aparecida also allowed the holding of an informative Workshop in which the representatives of the National Councils presented the work of the SSVP in their countries to the pilgrims present .