The new Conference kicks off with 20 members
The Council General International (CGI) is pleased to announce that Cape Verde (Africa) is the 153rd territory joining the International Confederation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. This excellent news stems from the initiatives undertaken by the “SSVP Plus” project and, obviously, from the commitment and dedication of the new members of “Maranatha*” Conference, founded on August 1st, 2021, at St. Joseph Parish, in Praia, the capital of the country.
The new Conference is off to a good start, with 20 members. The current president is member Sofia Patrícia Gomes Vieira. The Vincentian group will reach out to several needy communities, which are part of the ministry area belonging to St. Joseph Parish. “Our Conference seeks a real Gospel experience by practicing charity. Hence, we aim to help those dealing with hardship, while conveying the Word of God wherever possible. We will work for the integral promotion of those assisted, paving their way materially, but, above all, spiritually, towards the Kingdom of God,” said Sofia.
“I would like to wholeheartedly thank the Vincentians from Cape Verde who, even amidst the pandemic, managed to found the first Conference in that country. The CGI can hardly thank them enough for this. I do hope that this Conference will yield good results and provide quality service to the poor from Cape Verde, bringing Christ to the heart of all those in need, and going beyond material aid. You can always count on the CGI’s full support,” said 16th President General, brother Renato Lima.
“Our heartfelt thanks to Father José Eduardo Furtado Afonso and to Cardinal Monsignor Arlindo Gomes Furtado for encouraging the SSVP to reactivate this Conference. Without the support of the Catholic Church, it would have been very difficult for the Society to be established in Cape Verde. We will be working hand in hand with the parish, because the Conference is the social arm of the Church. Reactivating the SSVP in Cape Verde was a priority for all of us at the General Council”, remarked Ilídio Manhique, the International Territorial Vice President for Africa 2.
In the near future, Ilídio, along with brother José Gomes de Sousa, Zone Coordinator for Portuguese-speaking African countries, will visit “Maranatha” Conference in Praia to give an intensive training course, which will cover many topics such as the Rule, the history of the seven founders, the Vincentian charism, the spiritual labour of Conferences and the SSVP organization.
Nota bene: this Conference became operational in Cape Verde in the 1990s, but, for various reasons, it could not carry out its Vincentian activities and did not receive the Letter of Aggregation from Paris. However, during the years it existed, the Conference assisted several needy families and held special events on feast days such as Christmas.
Cape Verde was discovered in 1456, and remained under Portuguese rule until 1975, when it was officially declared independent. The Republic of Cape Verde, whose official language is Portuguese, is made up of 15 islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean, 450 km to the west of Senegal. Cape Verde has a population of about 560,000 inhabitants, with 75% of them being Catholics. There are 41 parishes across the country, divided into two dioceses (Mindelo and Santiago). So, there are good prospects of growth for the SSVP in this country.
With the entrance of Cape Verde to our Confederation, during this mandate presided by brother Renato Lima, the SSVP has already reached seven new territories: Vatican, Liberia, Albania, Cyprus, Cayman Islands, Tanzania and now Cape Verde.
(*) The word “maranatha”, of Aramaic origin, means “Come, oh Lord”.