During one week, between 16th and 23rd June 2018, the Vincentian world capital moved from Paris to Salamanca (Spain), where the international General Council (CGI) carried out several activities, meetings and events in the House of the Lazarist Fathers, located in Santa Marta de Tormes.
One of those events was the 2nd International Meeting of the SSVP Youth (called Salamanca + 10), attended by 120 young leaders from countries of the five continents. There were lectures, group dynamics, reflections and debates, based on the theme “The Young Vincentian: protagonist of the present and the future”. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, sent an Apostolic blessing to the young people present at the event. In addition to Salamanca, the youth gathering continued, for another two days, in Madrid, with practical activities, such as the visits to charity works.
The impact of “Salamanca + 10” in the Spanish and international media was important. Furthermore, the President General appointed 12 new Youth Territorial Delegates, which will work in line with the International Vice-Presidency for the Youth, Children and Adolescents. The President also announced that in 2023, God willing, the 3rd International Youth Meeting of the SSVP will also be held in the city of Salamanca.
The CGI also organized the first meeting of the Special Commission established to study the benefits of the creation of several Superior Councils in India. The Commission will continue to study the issue and will present its conclusion in 12 months. According to the International Rule, nations with more than 3,000 aggregated conferences have that right.
The quarterly meeting of the Board of the General Council was also held, where important decisions were made. One of them was the creation of a Special Commission to draw up a code of ethics for the use of social networks. The Special Commission of Argentina also concluded its work and submitted to the Board of the CGI a report with recommendations; a public note on the matter was approved.
There was the annual meeting of the International Territorial Vice Presidents (ITVP), which are responsible for 12 regions of the planet. They reinforced the strengths and analysed the weaknesses in each area, proposing improvements through the exchange of experiences. Next year, this meeting will also have the presence of the Zone Coordinators, who help the Territorial Vice-Presidents in this institutional mission.
In Salamanca, two important meetings took place, in accordance with the provisions of the International Rule: the Permanent Section meeting and the meeting of the International Executive Committee (the latter made up of 15 nations that together account for 85% of all Vincentians in the world). During this two-day meeting, the departments and services of the CGI submitted their annual reports, as well as the “ethical reports” by the General President and the General Secretary. In addition, the Annual Accounts of the Council for 2017 and the 2018 budget were unanimously approved.
There were two special lectures: “Relationship of the SSVP with Parliaments” (John Falzon, from Australia) and “Fifteen years of the Rule and the Confederation” (José Ramón Díaz-Torremocha, from Spain, 14th President General). In addition, father Robert Maloney, CM (spiritual advisor of the CGI), celebrated several masses with very interesting homilies, and presented two brilliant reflections: one about the home visit and another about the dreams for the Vincentian Family.
The Canonical Commission concluded its studies and presented a detailed report on the issue, which will be sent to the Superior Councils for discussion, with a view to voting on the subject in 2022, at the Ordinary General Assembly in Rome.
The first edition of the Medal, “Charity in hope”, was officially granted to the Rotary Club International (the second medal will be granted in June 2019, the countries can now make their suggestions to the General Council about recognized philanthropic entities carrying out a valuable international humanitarian work). In commemoration of the 180 years of the General Council, which will be held in June 2019, the Film Festival “The Seven Founders” was launched, which will give awards for videos and films that reflect the sublime moment of the Foundation of the SSVP (the works should be sent until September 2019).
The opportunity was seized to extend the deadline for submitting the papers of the contest of the “International Thematic Year of François Lallier”, which went from July 8 to August 30.
On 19th June, the President General had to leave the meetings to go to Rome, where the Vatican held the first meeting of the “Dicastery for the Lay, Family and Life”, institution that officially recognized the SSVP, which depends on it. On the same day, the President met with the Special Commission for the Canonization of Ozanam, when father Giuseppe Guerra, CM, featured the latest news on the progress of the process. A quick visit was also made to the Mother House of the Religious of Saint Vincent de Paul (RSV).
Other decisions made during the meetings:
- 200 aggregations of Conferences and 10 institutions of Councils were approved.
- We had a very detailed presentation of the objectives of the Project “SSVP Plus”, which seeks to found Vincentian Conferences in the countries where the SSVP is not yet present.
- The President General announced that in 2019 the Council would have a new organization chart for services and functions, in order to better allocate the talents and give more efficiency to the international structure.
- An “Ethical protocol for the use of Crowdfunding” (request for financial resources through Internet) was approved, the text of which will be sent to the Superior Councils for its dissemination.
- The updating of the international SSVP logo was approved (a manual will be sent for the application of the logo to all countries within a few months).
- A Special Commission was set up to study the issue of the logo, consisting of the following countries: United States, Brazil, Australia, Nigeria, Italy and France.
- A new more modern model was approved for the “Letter of Aggregation” and the “Letter of Institution”, in A4 format.
- An updated list has been presented on the “Papal Briefs” and the “Indulgences granted to the SSVP” (this list will be sent to countries in the coming weeks).
The International General Council extends heartfelt thanks for the huge generosity of the Superior Councils that have sponsored the travels of several young people to the International Gathering. The CGI is also deeply grateful to the Superior Council of Spain for the efficient organization and coordination in all the events that took place, as well as to the Paris staff for their cooperation. Finally, the President highlights the essential participation of Ozanam TV in forecasting live and online, all the events, as well as to the Brazilian team for their excellent work in organizing “Salamanca + 10”.
During the events held in Salamanca, the City Council made a beautiful tribute to the SSVP and to the Vincentian youth, granting the President General the title of “Distinguished Guest”, honour that our fellow member Renato dedicated to all Vincentians worldwide.
“They were days of intense discussion, with important decision-making for the present and the future of our beloved SSVP. The General Council is strengthened each year with the active participation of the Superior Councils in new projects, programs and initiatives underway. The CGI means, above all, communication and strategy. With God’s grace, the support of the countries and the prayers of all, we go forward, reaching goals and better results”, highlighted our brother Renato Lima, 16th President General.
The city of Porto (Portugal) was chosen as a venue for the meetings of the General Council in June 2019.