Date of publication: 15/09/2023

Inauguration of the new President General: a Vincentian, transparent and democratic transition

Council General International

The ceremony took place on the liturgical date of Ozanam, at the feet of St. Vincent de Paul

The Council General International was established on July 21, 1839, 184 years ago. During this period, several Presidents General have been in charge of the destiny of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. And on September 9, it was the turn of the 17th President General, brother Juan Manuel Buergo Gómez, who took office in a remarkable ceremony, broadcast live on Ozanam TV.

The ceremony took place in the Chapel of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris, where the incorrupt body of the patron of charity lies. According to the Rule, the inauguration always takes place on September 9, the liturgical date of Blessed Antoine-Frederic Ozanam. Presidents and representatives of several Superior Councils, including those of Australia, Brazil, the United States, England, Ireland, and France, attended the event together with other guests, religious and Vincentians from Paris.

The Holy Mass was celebrated by Father Andrés Motto, CM, international spiritual advisor, and concelebrated by other priests: Monsignor Andréa Francia (Vice Nuncio in France), Father Gilles Morin (Provincial of the Religious of Saint Vincent de Paul in France), Father Jean Declaux (SSVP spiritual advisor in France) and Francisco Holgado (deacon). In his homily, Father Motto emphasized that “charity must be something permanent and intrinsic in the life of the Church, and particularly in Vincentian life, because charity and justice are at the heart of the Gospel”.

In his emotional farewell speech, brother Renato Lima thanked everyone for their support, especially his family, the staff, the Board and the Superior Councils. “I gave myself body and soul to this noble service. I have tried to do my best, despite my limitations and shortcomings,” he said. He took the opportunity to pay a beautiful tribute to France and listed some of the achievements of this term in office. At the end, looking at the new President, brother Renato said that he would be a “faithful supporter, discreet and loyal”, wishing God to bless and inspire the new SSVP world leader.

Brother Juan Manuel Buergo Gómez announced the motto of the new administration: “See how they love each other” (a phrase mentioned by Ozanam in a letter written in 1853 in Pisa, Italy). He presented the general lines of the new administration, focusing on friendship and the spirit of fraternity, prayer and unity that should reign within the Conferences. “The most important point of our program is the spiritual strengthening of our SSVP members,” he said. And concluded: “I would especially like to thank our wives and husbands, who patiently put up with our absences and sometimes also suffer changes in family plans.”

Afterwards, everyone posed for the official photo, and the President General announced some of the first names of the members who will make up the Board and the international structure. This was followed by a fraternal get-together with all those present. Many Vincentians, including the newly-appointed President General himself, went to Ozanam’s tomb in the Church of Saint-Joseph-des-Carmes, where they prayed and meditated on the virtues of our main founder.

Click here to read the booklet distributed during the solemnity, containing the readings of the Holy Mass, the homily, the speeches of the two Presidents General, the list with the names of new Board members and the new organization chart of the Council General. We ask for everyone’s prayers for the full success of this new mandate.