On 27th October, Renato Lima, SSVP member and 16th President General of the Society, spoke for more than 1 hr 45 mins, directly to members all over the world, answering all their questions and chatting about the most interesting issues relating to the SSVP.
New technologies can be used to make Blessed Frédéric Ozanam’s dream come true: “I want to embrace the world in a network of charity”. Through social networks, Vincentians from many countries can come together, on the Facebook page of Ozanam TV, to discuss and debate with the President General, in an extended conversation, as if in their own Conference meeting.
One of the main ideas for the production of this Talk Show is described by the President General himself: “Leaders of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul have to be close to the base groups, to the members”, so this is why he has made himself available to his friends all over the world, open and approachable, answering questions from them all.
The questions from Vincentians allow him to address his own special interest in everything relating to spirituality. In the first place, the canonisation process for Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, moving forward steadily towards sainthood, and in the second place, the themed years for the founders of the SSVP, which are a significant step forward in the knowledge of the beginnings of the SSVP and its founding spirit. In reference to this, the President General has already announced that 2020 will be the year dedicated to Felix Clavé.
Another important issue addressed was the relationship of the SSVP with the Church. Renato Lima was very clear on this, “as Christians and Vincentians we have to be always close to the Church”, loving and respecting it deeply.
Many other Vincentians were interested in how the President General has managed to balance his work over his three years of leading the SSVP up to now. Renato Lima answered that many of his objectives had been achieved, highlighting his particular interest in communication and training, as well as his concern for transparency in management, and for the development of a spirituality appropriate for our organisation, drawing on the legacy of the founders strengthened in the origins of the SSVP.
Looking ahead to the new year, the President General commented that “in 2020, a landmark event awaits us, the first annual meeting of the Council General International taking place in Africa”. The chosen location is Nairobi (Kenya), which, as well as hosting this international meeting, reflects the African SSVP, already present in 40 of the 45 countries on the continent, growing daily in service to the neighbour and in the charism of Saint Vincent de Paul.
The President General also had something to say to young people, and to those who would like to see younger people in their Conferences, “home visiting is the best thing we can do for Our Lord Jesus Christ, bringing young people to the homes of those who are suffering”. This is what hooks people in, because it is the true meaning of charity, involving all. It is not just about providing food or clothing, but how we offer this help, always with a smile, an embrace, listening and understanding.
The Talk Show ended with the President General’s response to Vincentians about the role of the SSVP in today’s world. Renato Lima assures us our aim is “to be united, to be an example of fraternity, with faith, and to serve to build a better world. To offer a hope-filled alternative to the failing models of society today.”
A very special thanks to the Ozanam TV team. To Érika Azara, the moderator, and to Denilson Sá, Fátima Silva, Amauri Lopes and Vitória Lopes who were responsible for ensuring the broadcast went perfectly.
The next edition of the President General’s Talk Show will be, God willing, on 28 March 2020.