Date of publication: 22/06/2022

Paris hosts the Confederation’s annual meetings

Council General International

The events were held in accordance with the Rule and French legislation.

From June 13-17, the Council General International held the annual plenary meeting of our Confederation in Paris, France. The venue was the Congregation of the Holy Spirit’s Welcome Center, a retreat house located in the south of the French capital. The meetings were organized by the Secretary General, sister Marie-Françoise Salesiani-Payet, with the essential support of the staff of the international headquarters. Most national presidents attended in person, but those who were unable to participate followed the meetings remotely via the “Zoom” system. The events were broadcasted live on Ozanam TV in four languages.
In his opening remarks, brother Renato Lima de Oliveira emphasized the institutional role of the Council General. He stressed that “the Council General must be a beacon of hope, which keeps the Society united, vigilant and always provide encouragement. We hope all that we have implemented in this mandate would be useful and well used by the superior councils, for the benefit of providing better services to the most needy that we serve in our conferences and social works”.
President Lima de Oliveira added: “We live in times of severe restrictions for everyone, especially for the most needy. The number of poor people continues to increase, misery is spreading in many parts of the planet, inflation is back, the terror of war has reappeared and, unfortunately, the message of Christ remains unknown to a large part of humanity.
This is a challenging scenario that demands concrete responses from our Society”. The first day (June 13) was the annual meeting of the Territorial Vice-presidents, who are the “heart of the structure” of the Council General. The 12 Vice-presidents spent the day discussing the reality of their regions, sharing ideas and analyzing proposals for improvement for the future. On this occasion, among other developments, the positive results of the mission carried out last May in Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark, Finland, and
Sweden) within the SSVP PLUS Project were presented.
On the following days (June 14 and 15) two meetings were held simultaneously: the Permanent Section (formed by the Board of Directors and the Territorial Vice-presidents) and the International Executive Committee (formed by the 20 countries with the largest number of Vincentians in the world). These meetings are provided for in the Rule and International Statutes of the SSVP and are also a requirement of French legislation. During the plenary session, the departments and commissions of the Council General reported in detail on ongoing projects and initiatives in the areas of formation, youth,
communication, administrative management, finances, governance, transparency, Ombudsman General (mediator), relations with the Vatican and the United Nations, canonization of Ozanam, crisis in Ukraine (strategic partnership with Depaul International), world solidarity and the status of adherence to the logo by the countries that form our Confederation. The Statutes Commission concluded its two-year work by presenting some changes that will be voted on in 2023 at the Assembly in Rome.
Father Louis-Marie Cesbron (priest of the retreat house itself) celebrated a Holy Mass for all present. The Medal “Charity in Hope” was awarded to the NGO “Fraternity without Borders”, present in eight countries (United States, Brazil, Haiti, Senegal, Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, and Congo), which was represented by Mr. Ranieri Dias Lima, Vice-president. With the same entity, the SSVP signed an institutional cooperation agreement, seeking a closer relationship between the two organizations. The aggregations of 82 conferences and six councils were also approved.
During the event, the activity reports of the President General, the Secretary General and the Treasurer General were approved, as well as the financial reports (budget for 2022 and forecast for 2023) and the minutes of the previous sessions. In total, 16 resolutions were unanimously approved, three by the Permanent Section and 13 by the International Executive Committee. The plenary also approved another series of documents, among them the Cultural Contest “Education and Charity”; the Practical Guide
“How to found a conference in seven weeks”; the Protocol of Good Governance (the superior councils will be encouraged to adopt it in their countries); and an agreement of institutional cooperation with the NGO “Fraternity without Borders”.
Before concluding the work, our Vice-president General, Joseph Pandian, officially opened the procedures for the election of the 17th President General International by reading a letter informing that, on August 13, the electoral rules will be made public, and the Council General will be able to receive nominations by candidates from the countries.
On June 16, the participants were able to take part in two Vincentian pilgrimages. The first took place in Paris, where they visited places related to St. Vincent de Paul, Ozanam and the other founders. The guide for these visits was brother Ralph Middlecamp, President of the National Council of the United States, author of Vincentian books and expert on topics related to the founding of the SSVP.
Another group visited the city of Châtillon-sur-Charalonne (formerly “Châtillon-les Dombes”), where St. Vincent de Paul founded, in 1617, the Society of the Ladies of Charity, today known as the International Association of Charities (AIC). This visit was led by Father Andrés Motto, CM, spiritual advisor to the Council General International. The pilgrimage included the participants at a formation course that the Vincentian Family was offering that same week in Paris. The emotion was very strong for everyone as they
participated in the Holy Mass in the same place where, in the past, St. Vincent had his dormitory and a small work office. Following these events, the 16th President General, brother Renato Lima de Oliveira, spent a few days in Paris before his institutional trip to Scotland, during which time he met with the staff at its headquarters, had contacts with representatives of the Vincentian family and visited Father Arnauld Mougin of St. Rosalie Parish, where the Council General recently unveiled a plaque and a bust of Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam.
“We thank all the National Councils who attended our meetings by their presence, and we look forward to seeing you in Rome from June 12 to 18, 2023 for the updating of our statutes and for the great moment of the election of the successor of brother Renato Lima, an event that will be of great jubilation for our entire Society,” noted Secretary General Marie-Françoise.
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