Date of publication: 21/11/2018

First edition of the International Workshops on Training and SSVP Special Projects, held in Madrid, Spain, on 2nd and 3rd November 2018

Council General International

The first edition of these workshops took place in Madrid, Spain, on 2nd and 3rd November, promoted by their officers, the International Vice President for Training, fellow member María Luisa Téllez, and the International Vice President for Special Projects, Maurice Yeung. They were attended by 12 territorial delegates responsible for each of the strategic areas of Special Projects and Training. At the event were present the members of the Board, as well as the International President General, Renato Lima de Oliveira, who closed the event.

The chosen venue was the Centre “La Salle Arlep”, in Madrid. The welcoming of the National President of the Spanish SSVP was followed by the debates and proposals. The organization of this first edition of the workshops allowed the participants, more than 40 fellow members from the five continents and other invited members, to have time to gather according to their area of service in the SSVP: Training or Special Projects. On the last day, all of them attended the presentation of our IPG “Looking forward vision of the General Council”.

The intervention of our brother Renato Lima de Oliveira was very enriching, defining the targets set by the IGC for its mandate, the development of the SSVP Strategic Plan, the objectives achieved and the future expectations to take our beloved Institution, with the support and commitment of each fellow member, to the path of holiness and service towards the neediest. This objective was pursued by the founders of the SSVP and this is a legacy and heritage that we must look after.

The President General thanked all the participants for fulfilling their international service and for their commitment to the SSVP.

From the speech of the IGP, we highlight:

  • Canonization: He spoke about the progress of the Commission for the Canonization of Blessed Frederic Ozanam, which is having a good pace.
  • SSVP Plus: The latest country to join the SSVP network of charity has been Cyprus, we are now 154. The incorporation was thanks to Lebanon’s SSVP, and he had a special mention for our fellow member Ella Bitar.
  • Youth: He mentioned the development of initiatives for the young, as the II International Days of the Vincentian Youth in Salamanca-Spain and the decision to commemorate the International Day of the Vincentian Youth on 4th July, feast of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. A collection is organized on this day to support the projects of the young Vincentians, strengthen the Youth Conferences and promote Training.
  • Training: In the field of Training, he summarized the progress made, with new topics, books and documents. He announced some proposals to improve the search for information and the translations of Ozanam’s legacy, in order to have a deeper and better knowledge of the fellow members.
  • Communication: He also announced the development of the communication area, among other things, with a commitment to new technologies, the modernization of the website and the magazine Ozanam Network, as well as envisaging to make a new institutional video.
  • Thematic years: He valued the initiative of the thematic years dedicated to the 7 founders of the SSVP, which are resulting in a better understanding of them and, at the same time, in a better understanding of the spirit and the atmosphere that gave rise to the First Conference, acknowledging the work of the IGC’s Historical Commission. 2019 will be the year of Paul Lamache and 2020 will be dedicated to Félix Clavé.

To conclude, our President Renato Lima, announced for the joy of all, that thanks to this contest, a Brazilian fellow member discovered after 185 years, an engraving of Félix Clavé, thus completing the Gallery of our founders’ images.

Then, the International Vice President for training, the fellow member María Luisa Téllez and the International Vice President of Special Projects, Maurice Yeung, set out the reports of these Workshops and their conclusions,

Report and conclusions of the Training Workshop

There is a meeting in Madrid of the 12 territorial delegates for training, appointed by the International General Council along with the Vice President of Training, María Luisa Téllez and the 1st International Deputy Vice President, Carmela Addante.

On the morning of November 2nd, the Vice President of Training, through two presentations, set the objectives and functions of the delegates, and explained the reasons for the training topics that have been prepared and that can be accessed on the official website

Immediately after, the delegates explained the Training plans existing in the countries they represented. These explanations were very enriching in order to know the current course of Training.

Our sister Carmela Addante, 1st International Deputy Vice President set up 3 linguistic groups for discussing the different topics: Spirituality, Youth, History, and the Tools for Training.

Marisa Téllez put forward the conclusions and pointed out as fundamental the coordination between the present delegates with the International Territorial Vice Presidents.

Spirituality: The participants reaffirmed the importance that the spirituality has for the mission of the SSVP. An incarnated spirituality, in which we must give space, in the same way, to God and to the people in need; a symmetric space from human being to human being, as equals.

In addition, it is essential to learn more about the spirituality of the SSVP’s founders in the 19th century.

Sometimes we have problems among Vincentians because there is not a united community, as it must be in the SSVP, and this is due to the lack of spirituality and to the failure of following the Christian doctrine. We need to practice more the Vincentian virtues and cultivate joy, simplicity and boldness.

We must give a paramount place to prayer and contemplation, taking into account and celebrating the Vincentian festivities.

Youth: In some places, it is difficult for the young to be integrated in the SSVP. It was pointed out that this may be due to the model of society in which we live, a society with fewer values, less commitment, which is more secular, more consumerist and materialistic, a society of power, where wages are precarious and yet the greatest value is to have, rather than to be.

On the other hand, this model of society creates dissatisfaction in the young that are more closed in on themselves, more vulnerable to drug addiction, alcoholism, compulsive gambling and many other negative ways. Our obligation towards these young people is to be an example and a reflection of another way of life that focuses on the service to others, and on a cheerful and positive attitude.

History: All participants agree that there is a great ignorance of the biographical history of the SSVP as well as of its spirituality, despite existing an abundant documentation available, which can be easily accessed. Training should provide us the data and history about our founders, as well as about the people who were close to the foundation of the SSVP, and about our Holy Patron Saint Vincent de Paul and Sister Rosalie Rendu D.C.

This ignorance of its history, its spirituality and its Rule opens the door to situations where people or even Conferences not in line with the SSVP’s original spirit could be incorporated.

In order to bring education to all, we must rely on audio-visual resources, suitable for the different stages of life (childhood, youth, adults), through videos, graphic books and documents.

Tools: We addressed several problems within the SSVP that are the result of its international nature: different languages, different cultures, and different political systems. Therefore, despite these difficulties, it is advised to appoint a Training delegate in each country, to prepare a budget for investing in training, and to promote an on-going training for all members. We should also promote the translations and reading of the most interesting texts concerning the Conferences written by our founders and others, as well as the knowledge of the basic documents governing the SSVP, for their correct and uniform application.

An essential aspect in the Training programmes is to know how to motivate the person that needs it, without forgetting that our example as Vincentians is essential to convey and instil the love for our beloved Society.

We tackled an aspect that we have somehow forgotten: from the Training, we should seek to know more and to spread Ozanam’s thoughts about social justice and the defence of the weak, which is a more technical area that we have deepened less. The SSVP’s members must therefore be well prepared to participate and spread more and better the principles of the Social Teachings of the Church, of which Frederic Ozanam was a forerunner. In the words of Ozanam, “charity is not enough. It heals the wounds but does not stop the blows that produce them. There is a huge poor social class that does not want handouts, but institutions.”

Report and conclusions of the Workshop on Special Projects

In his opening speech, the International Vice President for Special Projects, the fellow member Maurice Yeung, stressed that the working teams are extremely necessary. The Territorial Delegates are a team in its own and they are also part of the teams led by the International Territorial Vice Presidents (the ITVP) of the respective regions, and therefore it is essential to coordinate with them.

Throughout this training workshop, several presentations took place by the fellow member Joseph Makwinja, 2nd Deputy Vice President, by Maurice and by Bruno Fabre, responsible for the CIAD in the IGC, who spoke about topics of interest for the Territorial delegates, including the “terms of reference”, “SSVP Plus projects”, “CIAD projects” and “project management”.

In addition to the presentations, we also shared experiences related to various aspects, such as the creation of new Conferences in Liberia, CIAD projects in Nepal, projects at country level, as was the case in South Sudan, etc.

Territorial delegates participated actively in the discussions and exchange of opinions after the presentations. This was very enriching and, at the same time, very useful for defining better the functions that they have to undertake and for getting the adequate knowledge about IGC projects, as well as for having their vision in line with the achievement of their objectives.

At the end of these workshops, the territorial delegates assessed their training to take forward their work. They agreed to collaborate to redefine and update the “terms of reference”. They were also commissioned to compile the “manual of policies and procedures” for the delegates and the “project handbook” (separating the SSVP Plus projects and the CIAD ones) in a period of 3 months and 6 months respectively.

The fellow member Maurice Yeung also asked all territorial delegates to draft their action plans for the coming months, in coordination with the respective SSVP International Territorial Vice-Presidents (VPTI)


Good morning:

Let me introduce myself, I am Juan Manuel Buergo, National President of the SSVP in Spain, many of you already know me from other meetings

First, I would like to thank you for your presence here and I welcome you to Spain on behalf of all the Spanish Vincentians. It is here in Madrid, the capital of Spain, where we will celebrate this international meeting of international territorial officials and delegates for Training and Special Projects, which, we hope, will be very fruitful. For the SSVP of Spain it is a huge joy to host this important meeting for the future and growth of the SSVP.

As you know, the main objective is to unify the knowledge, analyse the current situation in each area and propose projects and improvements for the future. But there are also other objectives, which consist in getting to know us more and better, in order to continue weaving the network of charity that embraces the world, the first one towards those most in need and the second, among us.

In recent statements, our international president Renato Lima, wishes us a great success for this meeting and hopes that the territorial delegates will return to their countries with more motivation, filled with new ideas, encouraged and more and more committed with the growth of the SSVP, in quality and in quantity. In short, to ensure that our small grain of sand will improve the world and therefore ourselves, doing good and bringing the message of the Gospel to anyone in need, through our example, following the example of our patron saint Vincent de Paul and of our founders.

Motivation is one of the keys! In these few days, we will not be able to learn a specific recipe to better train, to improve projects, but we are going to know each other more, we are going to love each other more, we are going to feel that we are not alone. We are going to feel that we are part of a network of charity and that we must take the first step, we have to push forward, because we have an important commitment with our beloved Society, and only that will make us servants leaders, for the greater glory of God.

Motivation appears when we fall in love with what we do, when we are moved by putting into practice the Vincentian message when we see Christ in the needy, when we are excited as were those young people led by Frederic to fight against poverty and to promote social justice, when we are eager to learn and be better in order to be faithful to our founding principles, to preserve our heritage.

This is the way we have to put it into practice, because the first founders had rules, principles, circular letters, but they did not have training schemes or special projects, they got together as we do now and travelled to know each other and to establish new Conferences. They taught charity through their example and thus, they could spread rapidly around the world. Quoting Abbot Noirot, who told Ozanam: “We only know one thing if we have been interested in it, if we have learned it by ourselves”.

My dear fellow members, during these days we will have a little bit of everything, prayer, talks, discussions, entertainment and great brotherhood, which is the ingredient that our founder liked most. When he was deadly wounded in Pisa, he wrote: “my eyes are full of tears of joy whenever I find our small family so far away, always minute because of the darkness of its works, but large by the blessing of God. Despite having different languages, they always shake hands in the same way and there is among them the same fraternal cordiality so that we can recognize each other with the same signal as the first Christians, ‘Look how they love one another!’”

The whole team of the Spanish SSVP Spain and myself remain at your disposal for anything you may need.

My fraternal greetings in Saint Vincent, Frederic and the Immaculate Virgin, our Patron Saint; may they guide us in this gathering.

Madrid, 2nd November 2018

Juan Manuel Buergo

XII National President of Spain’s SSVP