For much of the history of the Society in Australia, we gathered as members to ensure that we were not only responding to the challenges of the day, but also renewing our faith-filled commitment while ensuring that the Society was a vibrant and thriving part of the community.
Sadly, we have not done this for 60 years, despite the fact that gatherings like these occur in most countries where the Society has a presence, every few years. At an international level, they are held every six years.
By coming together we can ensure that our rich Vincentian tradition and charism is enriched and refocused, and that we are ready to respond to new and emerging forms of poverty.
We can learn from each other about ways to improve our membership as a Catholic social movement, responding to poverty wherever we find it, seeing Christ in the poor and in each other, and serving in hope.
That is why in October, we are encouraging all regions to join together in Adelaide, at St Aloysius College, to work collectively. Where a region is unable to send its president, we would ask that you consider sending a youthful representative on the region’s behalf, to ensure that we benefit from the wisdom of all ages.
We are focusing on regions, as they represent areas where all conferences come together as one, and because every area has its own challenges.
Preparation for the Congress will involve materials for reflection at a conference and regional level. These will be distributed from May until October, when the Congress begins. All members will be invited to complete a survey prepared by researchers from the University of Adelaide too.
Please take the time to complete the preregistration form, work through the materials, and gather in Adelaide to ensure that Ozanam’s vision of a network of charity encompassing the whole world continues to thrive and give hope to all.
Graham West is National President, St Vincent de Paul Society