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God’s Call To Servant Leadership

God’s Call To Servant Leadership 1198 1198 Pam Hudson

Message From Bishop John Quinn

I believe God has a special place in His heart and in His kingdom for those Vincentians who heed His call to servant leadership in our Society.  Such service is a consummate example of following in the footsteps of St. Vincent, Blessed Frederic and Jesus Christ Himself.  The spiritual rewards of doing so are many and meaningful.

Our mission says we lead men and women to join together to grow spiritually.  Serving in a leadership role is a wonderful way to become closer to Jesus, the ultimate servant leader.  And we can be sure He will bless our efforts.

God wants us to utilize the unique talents He has given us to assist those in need.  If we have been gifted with the ability to lead as well, He expects that we will do so as part of our commitment to our Vincentian vocation.

Serving as the president of a Council or Conference provides an ideal platform from which to enhance one’s own spiritual life.  And a great privilege of leadership is the priceless opportunity to nurture the spirituality of fellow Vincentians while inspiring them to be ambassadors of the mission of St. Vincent de Paul in our communities…to bring the love and mercy of Christ to His suffering children.

Council and Conference presidents have told me that their years as a servant leader have been the richest part of their lives in terms of personal spirituality and appreciation of the eternally valuable gifts God had bestowed on them.  Their uplifting experiences changed them in many ways that strengthened their relationship to God and acquainted them intimately with the innate goodness and generosity of the human spirit.

Each of us has been chosen for a purpose.  That is evident in the day-to-day reality of our beautiful vocation.  Our Lord will happily help us discern that purpose…the special way He wants us to support the magnificent mission of St. Vincent de Paul.

Since our founding, Vincentians have been bolstered by an unwavering trust in the providence of God who has demonstrated during the past 190 years that He attaches a high priority to the success of our Society.  As we continue our grace-filled journeys to our heavenly homecoming, I am sure He is smiling down on us, cheering us on and clearing our path.  We have, after all, said “yes” to His call – and He wants us to succeed, whatever role we play in His plan for our personal ministry of love and compassion.

May God continue to bless you abundantly in your exceptional service to His beloved poor.

Donation Partnerships

Donation Partnerships 1200 628 Pam Hudson

Every so often, we review donations coming into our thrift stores. We compare quantity and quality month by month, versus the previous year’s data. After a recent review, we noticed that we were trending in a negative way on thrift store donations, especially in furniture. Numbers were down versus last year’s collections. What’s causing this trend? Is it the economy, inflation and people hanging onto their furniture and clothing longer because of the economy?

How can we improve our current trend?

Then I remembered a former mentor from my corporate retail days, who had great wisdom. One of his favorite sayings was, “think like a customer.” I thought about it and decided to go to the nearest furniture store with some business cards. I talked to the store manager and I was surprised to learn what their customers ask all the time, “Will you take my old furniture once you deliver my new furnishings?” Of course, this furniture store doesn’t and therefore the customer has to either take their stuff to the dump or donate it.  I asked the store manager if I could place St. Vincent de Paul business cards by the register in a little stand-up frame with our pickup flyer with information for their customers. The store manager approved and was thrilled to be able to give to his customers an option for their old furniture.

With that win in our pocket, I proceeded to have my team of store managers go to various furniture and appliance stores to see if we could display our pickup information and business cards at their store. My team was pleasantly surprised to see every business embrace this concept and let us display our flyer and cards.

Our furniture donations have turned around in a positive way with this strategy.

Creating a win-win situation is always a great thing. We found a way to improve a negative trend and resolve an issue.

Our mission to support St Vincent de Paul will never end; sometimes it just needs a little innovation.


We hope you are planning to attend the National Assembly in August in Phoenix, AZ.

The National Stores Committee is actively planning for a great program for you.

In addition to our daylong program on Wednesday, we will have opportunities to visit a store and have workshops planned for Thursday.  Topics may include small and large store issues like merchandising, budgeting, POS, advertising, training, store layouts, budgeting, staffing, volunteers, productivity, vehicle tracking, E-Comm, loyalty cards and voucher processing, vehicle tracking.

We encourage you to talk to your store managers and leadership about attending the National Assembly.  It is a wonderful opportunity to network with and meet others around the country to share best practices.


If you have questions or have a topic for a future Stores Corner article, please email our Director of Stores Support-Jeff Beamguard at jbeamguard@svdpusa.org.

06-30-2022 Questions and Answers

06-30-2022 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Q: How much information on those we serve are we permitted to share with other organizations? Can we share our Home Visit reports?

A:  Confidentiality is extremely important in the Society. It is a violation to share information of those whom we serve with other organizations unless a written and signed waiver authorization is received from those served.

Q:  Is it against the Rule to give someone in need a ride? If not, are Conference members who do so liable if an injury occurs?

A:  It is not against the Rule; however, two Vincentians must be present and the Vincentian (driver) giving the ride should be licensed and insured. This needs to be written into your Council/Conference Safeguarding policy. If this service is an official SVDP program, it needs to be addressed one way or another in the Society’s insurance coverage. Don’t wait for an incident to ask about it!

Spanish Translation

P: ¿Cuánta información sobre aquellos a quienes servimos se nos permite compartir con otras organizaciones? ¿Podemos compartir nuestros informes de visitas domiciliarias?

R: La confidencialidad es extremadamente importante en la Sociedad. Es una violación compartir información de aquellos a quienes servimos con otras organizaciones a menos que se reciba una autorización de renuncia por escrito y firmada de aquellos a quienes servimos. Haga clic aquí para ver el formulario de liberación de confidencialidad de SVdP.

P: ¿Va en contra de la Regla llevar a alguien que lo necesita? Si no, ¿los miembros de la Conferencia que lo hacen son responsables si se produce una herida?

R:  No va en contra de la Regla; sin embargo, dos vicentinos deben estar presentes y el vicentino (conductor) que realiza el viaje debe tener licencia y seguro. Esto debe estar escrito en la política de salvaguardia de su Consejo/Conferencia. Si este servicio es un programa oficial de SVDP, debe abordarse de una forma u otra en la cobertura de seguro de la Sociedad. ¡No esperes a que ocurra un incidente para preguntar por ello!

2-10-2022 Questions and Answers

2-10-2022 Questions and Answers 150 150 Jill Pioter

Q: The philosophy of the Conference to which I belong is to help people get over an emergency situation, not to offer continual ongoing support. Is this a correct position for a Conference to take in dealing with people who come to us with needs? Our philosophy is not related to our not having sufficient funds to help.

A: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul does NOT help “in emergencies only” or “only once each year.” It is the philosophy of the Society to “treat each case on its own merit.” It has nothing to do with how often a person or family comes to us for help. It has everything to do with whether or not the need is real, and if we have resources to help. It has everything to do with compassion toward those in need and sharing God’s love with those seeking help. It has everything to do with finding Jesus in the face of the poor. If your Conference has any limitations in your guidelines which prevent you from helping people, consider removing them. Our guidelines should be emphasizing how we can help people – not turn them away.

Q: How should Councils/Conferences hold elections during COVID-19 while practicing social distancing? How can elections by email meet the requirements of the Rule for a secret ballot vote by active members?

A: It is important to hold timely elections. The important thing to remember is that the Rule does not change, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. While practicing social distancing, Vincentians are being creative in conducting Society affairs. For example, election ballots can be mailed to active members with self-addressed postage paid return envelopes for secrecy. The completed ballots are then returned to the nominating committee chair for the committee count and results. This is announced by Conference call or virtual meetings such as Zoom video. The election results are published in the minutes afterwards.

Spanish Translation

P: La filosofía de la Conferencia a la que pertenezco es ayudar a las personas a superar una situación de emergencia, no ofrecer un apoyo continuo de largo plazo. ¿Es correcta para una Conferencia al tratar con personas que vienen a nosotros con necesidades? Nuestra filosofía no está relacionada con que no tengamos fondos suficientes para ayudar.

R: La Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl NO ayuda “solo en emergencias” o “solo una vez al año”. La filosofía de la Sociedad es “tratar cada caso según sus propios méritos.” No tiene nada que ver con la frecuencia con la que una persona o familia viene a nosotros para buscar ayuda. Tiene mucho que ver con si la necesidad es real o no, y si tenemos recursos para ayudar. Tiene todo que ver con la compasión hacia los que tienen necesidades y compartir el amor de Dios con los que buscan ayuda. Tiene todo que ver con encontrar a Jesús en el rostro de los pobres. Si su conferencia tiene limitaciones en sus pautas que le impiden ayudar a las personas, considere eliminarlas. Nuestras pautas deben enfatizar cómo podemos ayudar a las personas, no rechazarlas.

P: ¿Cómo deben los Consejos/Conferencias celebrar elecciones durante COVID-19 mientras practican el distanciamiento social? ¿Cómo pueden las elecciones por correo electrónico cumplir con los requisitos de la Regla para una votación secreta de los miembros activos?

R: Es importante celebrar elecciones con tiempo. Lo importante a recordar es que la Regla no cambia, incluso durante la pandemia de COVID-19. Mientras practican el distanciamiento social, los Vicentinos están siendo creativos en la conducción de los asuntos de la Sociedad. Por ejemplo, las boletas electorales se pueden enviar por correo a los miembros activos con sobres de devolución (que incluyen franqueo pagado y la dirección para regresarlos) para mantener el secreto. Luego, las boletas completadas se devuelven al presidente del comité de nominaciones para el conteo y los resultados del comité. Esto se anuncia por conferencia telefónica o reuniones virtuales en Zoom o algo así. Los resultados de las elecciones se publican después en las actas.


How Can a Person Who Recently Lost a Loved One Cope With Christmas?

How Can a Person Who Recently Lost a Loved One Cope With Christmas? 2560 1704 Jill Pioter

Vincentian John J. Donohue from the St. Mary Magdalen bereavement group shared this with fellow members in the hopes it might help others this Christmas season.

How Can a Person Who Recently Lost a Loved One Cope With Christmas?

Many people are very happy during the Christmas season. They are filled with joy. However, there are many others who are filled with sadness because of the death of a loved one.

I can remember when my wife of 28 years died of cancer and I had three children to raise. Christmas was immensely sad for my children and myself. I did not know how to function. I did not know how to cook, do the laundry and many other things. I wished someone would have told me how to survive this most difficult time of my life. I resolved that if I ever got over all of these issues, I will do my very best to help those in a similar situation. The following are some of my thoughts.

Some Thoughts on Coping With the Christmas Season

The chances are you are not going to have a happy Christmas. As a result, you should lower your expectations. A reasonable goal would be to make your Christmas tolerable. Some of the things to consider are as follows:

  • Rest. You are undergoing the equivalent of a heart attack. Like any person who endures a heart attack, you need peace and quiet. Rest is essential and therapeutic. Create a day of self-care or a self-health day.
  • Watch what you eat and drink. There is a strong tendency to eat junk food or use excessive drugs or alcohol.
  • Exercise. Exercise helps to relieve stress. Take walks. Walks help to relieve anxiety.
  • Build yourself up emotionally. Do not be too hard yourself. Have confidence you can do certain things. If you do not know how to do something, ask for help. Friends are glad to have an opportunity to help you. Speak to your friends. Buy something nice for yourself. Have some time alone.
  • Consider new traditions – plan ahead. Determine what you can do and what you cannot do. Do something different than you did last year.
  • Discuss with your family who is doing what. Give yourself a break. This is the year you should not be overdoing anything. Let others do the work. Do not set a place at the table for the loved one. It will make the day more difficult. Consider a buffet style dinner instead of a sit down dinner. You could also consider having dinner at someone else’s house.
  • Christmas cards. Do not be compelled to send Christmas cards. Send none or a few. No one expects to receive a card from you.
  • Invitations. You may be invited to go to a party or any other social event. Do not be afraid to say no. People should understand. Only attend if you know you will feel comfortable. Generally, it is a bad idea to go to a wedding or an affair where there will be a lot of singing or dancing.
  • Shopping. Keep your shopping to a minimum. Stay out of malls or crowds. This is the time to do any online-shopping.
  • It is ok to cry. It helps to relieve anxiety. Just let the tears flow. It is therapeutic.
  • OK to be happy. Your loved one would want you to be happy. It is not disrespectful to your loved one. It gives you a break from your sadness.
  • Journal. Some people find it helpful to write out their thoughts. Do not use a computer. It is more therapeutic to write out your thoughts.

Let Christmas be the beginning of a new version of yourself. Spend time to think about Christmas more than you ever did before. Your loved one is enjoying Christ’s birthday in heaven. What a special gift! He or she will reach down from heaven and touch your heart in a way it was never touched before. You just have to ignore the commercialism and open your heart to love.

Christ came into this world as an infant and left the world a martyr. Ask yourself, do you really believe there is a God? If so, place your trust in Him. Speak to Him about your problems. Christ has said He will remove the yoke from your shoulders. I have seen a yoke and it is very heavy.

Allow Christ to be your companion on your journey. Know that you are special. Christ has given you special gifts. He does not bring anyone into the world “empty handed”. So reach out to others with love, compassion and understanding and you will have a wonderful Christ filled Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all and may Our Good Lord fill all of our hearts with love and joy and hold all of us in the Palms of His hands!

John J. Donohue
St. Mary Magdalen bereavement group
December 9, 2021

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