On April 23, 2020, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul will celebrate its 187th anniversary. With pride and joy, we praise the meritorious initiative of the seven founders, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, founded the first Conference of Charity in Paris.
Since then, with God’s help, the Society has spread over the five continents. Today, our Society is present in 150 territories, bringing together 47,000 Conferences and 800,000 active members, and helping 30 million people worldwide every day. So, congratulations to all fellow members, associate members, benefactors and employees for the 187th anniversary of the SSVP!
These 187 years are lessons learnt for us all. This is why I dream of a SSVP free from the excessive bureaucracy in which it is immersed today. In many places of the world, this is turning it into an organisation full of constraints, restrictions, prohibitions and hurdles based upon a rigid hierarchy. I dream of a SSVP without barriers to effective communication, because we know that one of the most recurring problems in our entity is information, which is not conveyed to the grassroots.
I dream of a SSVP more open to the new forms of poverty: loneliness, drugs and mental disorders… challenges that our Conferences are not always ready to face. I dream of a more efficient SSVP when it comes to promoting pro-poor growth and helping people in our Vincentian works.
Ultimately, I dream of a peaceful SSVP, without internal conflicts, with members solely focused on conversion, sanctification and a more fraternal world. I pray to Blessed Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam to inspire us to be more pious, more tolerant and more friendly. Now, I would like to extend my invitation to all fellow members of the world. So come and dream with me!
Renato Lima de Oliveira
16th President General