God is good, all the time! I want to share with you all a testimony of life. I thought, arrogantly, that after having exercised the service of President General of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, I would not have many new things to do after that. Bad mistake. Total arrogance. God prepared another path for me: “Many are the plans in the hearts of men and women, but what prevails are the designs of the Lord” (Proverbs 19, 21).
After 37 years as a SSVP member, having already held various functions and services in the structure of the Society, God calls me, together with other people, to the foundation of a Conference. It is as if I were returning to the past, to 1986 when I joined Saint Thomas Aquinas Conference in Campinas, Brazil, my first Conference.
In Brasilia, the city where I live, there was a parish without a Conference. It is the Mother of Divine Mercy Parish, located in the “Asa Norte” neighborhood. The right moment arrived to take the Vincentian charisma to that church. We asked Father Eduardo Peters for permission and, for several weeks, we prepared a group of volunteers. We used the booklet “How to start a Vincentian Conference in seven weeks”, edited by the Council General. The document really works!
At each preparatory meeting, we studied parts of the Rule and meditated on the virtues of St. Vincent de Paul and Blessed Antoine-Frederic Ozanam. We exchanged ideas about the practice of good works, talked about the seven founders, and reflected on the socio-economic situation in which we live. After all this process, so necessary for the newcomers to know exactly what the SSVP is, we founded a Conference on April 4th, 2023.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, God is always in charge and we are “useless servants” (Saint Luke 17, 7-10) who need to trust more in the Divine Mercy and follow the steps of the seven founders, renewing the charity and expanding the way to help those who need. If we act in this way, we will be multiplying our talents and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul will flourish.
Brother Renato Lima de Oliveira,
16th President General International