Over the past 10 days, the President General of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP), brother Renato Lima de Oliveira, toured the United States visiting the Councils in Phoenix, St. Louis, Philadelphia and the National Council.
Accompanied on his journey by Mike Nizankiewicz (International Territorial Vice-president for America 1), Oliveira’s first stop with in Phoenix. There, they visited the Phoenix Council’s dining rooms, aquaponics farm, thrift stores and their food reclamation and sorting warehouse. The visitors attended various meetings including one with Council staff and Vincentians at the SSVP head office (called “campus”), which houses a variety of different buildings offering a multitude of services to friends in need.
Renato also had the opportunity to sit down and speak with one of the Phoenix Council’s generous donors. While there, our President General was interviewed for an article in Phoenix Diocese Catholic newspaper (“The Catholic Sun”) and for their radio show (“Bishop’s Hour”). The first leg of his trip wrapped up with a reception dinner hosted by Phoenix Vincentians.
From Phoenix, Oliveira traveled to St. Louis where he was greeted with a major snowstorm! That did not stop him from taking in the wonderful Vincentian history that finds its home in St. Louis. He was welcomed to St. Louis with a reception hosted by the St. Louis Council. The next day, Vincentians from the St. Louis Council took Oliveira to Perryville, Mo. to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
Coinciding dates allowed Oliveira to attend the National Board Meeting while in St. Louis. He was able to spend time with members of the board and Vincentians from around the country who help lead national committees. This offered a unique opportunity for the international president to see how the National Council operates. His final stops in St. Louis were the Cathedral Basilica (the New Cathedral) and the Old Cathedral in downtown St. Louis. The Old Cathedral is the location of the first ever SSVP Conference in the United States.
“It was a true blessing to have Renato with us to share our SSVP St. Louis history, meet St. Louis Council Vincentians and witness work they do for our neighbors in need”, said John Foppe, executive director of the St. Louis Council.
The final leg of his journey took Oliveira to Philadelphia for the Vincentian Family Executive Committee (VFEC) annual meeting. While there, he also attended meetings where he met with local Vincentians to break bread and discuss the work of the Society in Philadelphia. “Renato’s visit was extraordinary”, said Pat Walsh, president of the Philadelphia Council. “He spoke to my heart as he spoke about the importance of home visits. They need to be genuine. Our time with those we serve is far more important than the money we give”.
From Philadelphia, Oliveira travelled to Panama City (Panama) to attend World Youth Day. It was a wonderful blessing to have International President Oliveira visit the United States and see what inspirational work Vincentians here are doing to help their neighbors in need. We thank all those Councils that hosted Oliveira and especially thank those individuals who organized his visit.
Text written by USA National Council
Pictures: click here. PGI Renato Lima Visits USA 2019 Pictures