Many important events and missionary trips took place this year
Despite all the difficulties faced by humanity, such as the crisis in Ukraine and the unfolding of the pandemic crisis, the Council General International (CGI) considers that the year 2022 was quite positive for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.
At the beginning of the year, the President General published a Circular Letter (January 31st) and the International Thematic Year of Auguste Le Taillandier (February 8th). This year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the beatification of Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam with a novena (September). In December, Pope Francis beatified our Brazilian sister Isabel Cristina Campos (virgin and martyr).
The President General visited 14 countries: United States, Brazil, Scotland, Spain, France, Italy, Sao Tome and Principe, Kenya, Angola, Portugal, Panama, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Besides these trips, we can highlight the meeting of the President General with a few Ukrainian members in Hungary.
Regarding the seven founders, there was a visit to the tomb of Jules Devaux (in Colombières, France) and a contest to choose the lyrics of the song “The Seven Founders” in Italian, French and English, was concluded. Our Spiritual Director, Father Andrés Motto (CM), gave a formation on Vincentian values in Bolivia and Peru. The 3rd webinar “Pandemic, Poverty and Future” (May) was held. Father Motto launched two books on Vincentian history and charisma, and Father Ozanam (adjunct spiritual advisor) published another book about prayer.
In the area of events, we can highlight: the CGI Annual Meeting held in Paris (June); the “All Africa” Assembly in Kenya (July) with the participation of 41 territories’ representatives; a special mission of the SSVP Plus Project in four Scandinavian countries (August); a meeting of Youth Territorial Delegates in Paris (September) and a meeting of Formation Territorial Delegates in Madrid (November).
As well, the CGI Board met five times and the International Territorial Vice-presidents (ITVPs) gathered on three occasions. At the CGI Annual Meeting, the electoral process was opened to choose a new President General; the Election Committee is chaired by the Vice President General, brother Joseph Pandian.
The medal “Charity in Hope” was awarded to the NGO “Fraternity without Borders” and an agreement was signed with the same entity for cooperation with the SSVP in countries where the two institutions are present. A partnership was signed with the “Order of Malta of France” to benefit the French speaking Vincentian countries. Negotiations were initiated with the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO) of the Vatican, which should lead to the signing of an agreement.
The following documents were launched: “Handbook of the SSVP Plus Project”, “Handbook of the Strategy-25 Project”, “Guide How to Establish Conferences in Universities and Colleges”, “Protocol for Good Governance “, “Guide How to Found a Conference in Seven Weeks” and the “Five-year Report of the Council General (2016/2021)”. The President General met with the Apostolic Nuncios in France and Brazil, the Ambassador of Brazil in France and the President of Sao Tome and Principe.
In the area of communications, the President General gave an interview to the French Catholic network KTO in April. At the end of the year, the Council General published a “Christmas Message”, with Board members and youth delegates speaking in their own languages. Three issues of the digital magazine “Ozanam Network” were published, summarizing all the activities of this year.
For youth, the cultural contest “Quality Education & Overcoming Poverty” was launched to select 12 young people who will participate at the World Youth Days in August 2023 in Felgueiras and Lisbon, all expenses paid by the Council General. On July 4th, the “SSVP International Youth Day” was celebrated as well as the “SSVP Women Members Day”, on July 14th.
On the Ukrainian file, immediately after the beginning of the Russian military operation (February), the Council General approved resolutions for humanitarian aid and signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Depaul International (June) allocating the transfer of resources to serve 200 meals for people in need in Kharkiv and support a Day Centre and outreach service.
The new international headquarters, located on rue de La Glacière in Paris, was officially inaugurated last April in the presence of authorities, members of the Vincentian Family, representatives of the clergy and of CGI’s global structure. A bust of Ozanam and commemorative plaque were installed at the St. Rosalie Parish located in the vicinity of the Council General. Regarding the Vincentian Family, the Council General participated at the annual meeting of its Executive Committee in Rome (November).
Approximately 70 letters were issued, the most important being about the canonization of Ozanam, delivered personally to Pope Francis. The solidarity mission of the Council General, through the Commission for International Aid & Development (CIAD) and the International Twinning Commission (ITC), allocated resources to dozens of countries; their activities’ reports will be released in the 1st quarter of 2023.
Generous financial support from the “Concordat” member countries ensured that the Council General’s finances were kept on a sound footing, and the Council fulfilled its institutional role adequately, allowing the International Structure to function properly throughout 2022.
For 2023, the Council General has already started preparations for the celebration of the 190th anniversary of the SSVP (April), the General Assembly (June) and the 3rd Portuguese Speaking Countries Summit (June). The President General intends, with God’s grace, to visit the following countries: India, Nepal, Singapore, Monaco, Dominican Republic, Honduras, USA (Puerto Rico and Chicago), Malta, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, and Brazil. The documents “How to Revitalize Vincentian Conferences”, “Global Report” and the “Guide for creation of National Youth Commissions” will be launched.
“One of the most important event of 2023 will be the election of my successor (17th President General International), and for that, we ask the prayers of all the brothers and sisters around the world. May the Good Lord choose an experienced member, with a deep commitment and awareness of the needs of the SSVP throughout the world, because this is a role of great responsibility that requires much renunciation, selfless and complete dedication”, emphasized the 16th President General, brother Renato Lima de Oliveira.