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02-29-24 Questions & Answers

02-29-24 Questions & Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Q: Resolution 114 says that a Conference can be “suspended” and mentions an appeal process. But I’m not finding anything that tells us what needs to be done to suspend a Conference. For example, if a Conference refused to give us annual financial reports, according to Resolution 114, they can be suspended. But who tells them? Is it a local decision (e.g., Archdiocesan Council)? Does it have to be in writing, etc.? Guidance? Where do I find this information?

A: Only the National President may suspend a member or a Conference. Here’s the process. The Council must submit a letter to the National Vice President for the region showing the specifics of why the Conference should be suspended/dissolved. This letter must also include everything that was done to correct the situation. If convinced the information is sufficient, the National Vice President will submit the suspension request to the National President. If the National Vice President or the National President is not satisfied with the information given, he/she will advise the next steps. If the National Vice President does not feel that the information is sufficient and refuses to forward to the National President, the Council may appeal directly to the National President.

Q: Our store has been up and running successfully for a while. We now are getting a large number of “walk-in” friends in need. We have hired a current Vincentian who is experienced with the Home Visit process as an intake coordinator. We will continue to use the Home Visit process, but will have the coordinator do intake documentation, refer to other sources of help, coordinate volunteers for Home Visits, and handle immediate service for basic human needs emergencies.
We would greatly appreciate any documentation on position descriptions, words of wisdom, or other guidelines to get started with this process. 

A: Here are some considerations:

  1. You are hiring a Vincentian to be the intake coordinator, which means this individual will not be eligible for a role as an officer of the Conference. Paid staff are not allowed to be officers. This person can still be a member, but not an officer.
  2. The interview and decisions for assistance should be done by two Vincentians, with someone working with the intake coordinator during interviews to decide what basic assistance should be provided.
  3. There is no national documentation such as a job description describing an intake coordinator.


P: La Resolución 114 dice que una Conferencia puede ser “suspendida” y habla de un proceso de apelación. Pero no encuentro nada que nos diga lo que hay que hacer para suspender una Conferencia. Por ejemplo, si una Conferencia se niega a presentarnos informes financieros anuales, de acuerdo con la Resolución 114 puede ser suspendida. Pero ¿quién se lo dice? ¿Es una decisión local (por ejemplo, el Consejo Arquidiocesano)? ¿Tiene que ser por escrito, etc.? ¿Orientación? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar esta información?

R: El Consejo debe presentar una carta al Vicepresidente Nacional de la Región en la que se indiquen los detalles de por qué la Conferencia debe suspenderse o disolverse. Esta carta también debe incluir todo lo que se hizo para corregir la situación. El Vicepresidente Nacional, si está convencido de que la información es suficiente, presentará la solicitud de suspensión al Presidente Nacional. Si el Vicepresidente Nacional o el Presidente Nacional no están satisfechos con la información proporcionada, aconsejarán los próximos pasos. Si el Vicepresidente Nacional considera que la información no es suficiente y se niega a transmitirla al Presidente Nacional, el Consejo puede apelar directamente al Presidente Nacional. Sólo el Presidente Nacional puede suspender a un miembro o a una Conferencia.

P: Nuestra tienda estuvo funcionando con éxito durante un tiempo. Ahora estamos recibiendo un gran número de prójimos que necesitan ayuda “sin cita previa”. Hemos contratado a uno de nuestros Vicentinos actuales, que tiene experiencia en el proceso de Visitas Domiciliarias, como “coordinador de admisión”. Continuaremos usando el proceso de Visitas Domiciliarias, pero haremos que el coordinador haga la documentación de admisión, refiera a otras fuentes de ayuda, coordine a los voluntarios para las visitas domiciliarias y maneje el servicio inmediato para emergencias de necesidades humanas básicas.
Agradeceríamos mucho cualquier documentación sobre descripciones de puestos, palabras de sabiduría u otras pautas para comenzar con este proceso.

R: Estas son algunas consideraciones:

  1. ¿Está contratando a un Vicentino para que sea el coordinador de admisión? Esto significa que esa persona no podrá desempeñar el cargo de miembro de la Mesa Directiva de la Conferencia. El personal remunerado no puede ser funcionario. Esta persona puede seguir siendo miembro, pero no funcionario.
  2. La entrevista y las decisiones de asistencia deben ser realizadas por dos Vicentinos, con alguien que trabaje con el coordinador de admisión durante las entrevistas para decidir qué asistencia básica se brindará.
  3. No existe documentación nacional, como una descripción del puesto de trabajo que describa a un coordinador de documentación de admisión.

Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership 1200 628 Jill Pioter

(Excerpted from Vincentian Life: Conference)

Within the Rule of the Society, Servant Leadership is identified as a scripture-based method of leadership which all Vincentians aspire to practice. The following quotes are from the Rule.

Rule: Part 1, 3.11: Following Christ’s example, the Presidents at all levels of the Society endeavor to be servant leaders. They provide an encouraging atmosphere in which the talents, capacities and spiritual charism of the members are identified, developed and put to the service of the poor and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The President of the Conference or Council will have special responsibility for promoting Vincentian spirituality.

Rule: Part 3, Statute 11: Leadership positions in the Society, at any level, are always to be accepted as service to Christ, the members and the poor. Servant leadership is done in imitation of Jesus who said: “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.

The passage below is an excerpt from the Newsletter of the Australian National Council by Livia Carusi and Jenny Papps. The article is entitled “Vincentian Leadership – Is There Such a Thing?”

“You say you experience great difficulty in the mission. Alas! Monsieur, there is no lot in life where there is nothing to be endured.” (St. Vincent de Paul)

It is believed that Vincent de Paul wrote over 30,000 letters during his life. For Vincentians, his letters provide a small window into his character, his courage, his struggles and achievements over a lifetime of service and leadership which was marked with great personal transformation as well as a steadfast vision for mission, charity, justice, spirituality and servant leadership.

Fast forward a couple of hundred years, and a young French man, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, and his companions, with the guidance of a Daughter of Charity, Blessed Rosalie Rendu, made a conscious and heartfelt decision to name our organization in honor of Vincent de Paul. This decision, we suspect, would not have been taken lightly, and in choosing the name “Society of St. Vincent de Paul,” they too would have understood the very essence of the man, his vision for the world and also the magnitude of his legacy.

Like other community organizations doing “good works,” the St. Vincent de Paul Society has its own unique DNA, of which our leadership model is a large part.

So what makes our DNA unique?

Briefly, it is our founding story, which no other organization can claim.

It is our place within the broader Vincentian family; our model of assisting people; home visitation (which remains authentic to our founder’s vision of assisting people in need and in pairs), and also being part of an international organization; the opportunities that we afford to members, volunteers and staff to connect and engage in our mission, our governance model of subsidiarity as well as our model of leadership.

The Vincentian model of leadership is quite simple – servant leadership.

Servant leadership is not connected to a person’s title, as it is quite different to the function of management. The cornerstone of this model is the belief that all people have within them leadership qualities and that an office, Conference or Special Work should facilitate opportunities for individual and collective leadership qualities to come to the fore.

Servant leadership echoes the message of Christ, Vincent de Paul, Frederic Ozanam and the countless number of Vincentian men and women around the world whose primary mission is to serve another first – so yes, there is such a thing as Vincentian leadership that is very much part of our DNA.

One of the topics that comes up very often related to Conferences (as well as Councils) and the role of the President is focused around a statement that has been made for years in our writings as well as our training sessions. That statement is: the Conference as a whole makes all of the decisions. Some people have a tough time grasping what that means; and that is very understandable since it is not a simple and straightforward statement. There are a few embedded qualifications.

Those two articles from the Rule (shown earlier) make it very clear as to how the Conference should be run. There is no place in the Society for a Conference dominated by one or two individuals. The Society does not support a small group of people making the decisions for the whole. Conference members should be made aware of all aspects of the item to be decided. And, for all practical matters, the decision should be made by the Conference simply through consensus. That means the members are in agreement with what should or should not be done. Formal voting on any topic should occur only when there is reason to believe there is a significant difference of opinion.

The President, as well as all members, needs to be an excellent listener and a good facilitator. This most likely means that some of us have to fine-tune our listening skills. The President must listen to what the Conference wishes to do (not tell them what he/she wishes to be done). Then the President must help (through guidance and facilitated dialogue) the Conference to make it happen. The President must serve the Conference – not the other way around.

There are times, however, that the democratic process is inappropriate. This is because the Conference is not totally autonomous. All members of the Society must be faithful to the Rule and spirit of the Society. No decision can be made at any level of the Society that contradicts the Rule. This holds true also for bylaws, standards of affiliation, or any other standards set by the general membership or by Councils.

The spirit of the Society is determined by the traditions of the Society on a global scale. As it is, the current Rule is very explicit about most things. Our focus in our decision-making should be on ways to enhance the spiritual growth of our fellow Vincentians as well as improve our service to those in need. There are many official writings of the Society, both current and historical, which can help define what is proper for Vincentians if it is not explicitly defined in the Rule.

So in summary, the statement “the Conference as a whole makes all of the decisions” is very true within the constraints described above. Our servant leaders must be geared up to serve the members rather than dictate to them. It’s all part of being Vincentian.

So You’ve Been Elected President…

So You’ve Been Elected President… 1200 1200 Jill Pioter

Thank you for sharing your time and talents with fellow Conference and Council members, as well as those in need. As with all involvement in the Society, we hope your work as a Vincentian servant leader will lead you to greater faith, an increased desire to serve, and stronger friendships.

Do you feel some anxiety about taking on a Vincentian leadership role?  Let’s take a look at a few common myths behind that anxiety.

Myth #1:  You need to know everything now.

No Vincentian has taken a leadership role already knowing everything; to be honest, no current Vincentian leader knows everything now.  What most Vincentian leaders do learn is where to look to find information, where the resources are and who in the Society has experiences and wisdom to share.

Truth #1:  You will learn and grow during your time as a Vincentian leader.

Myth #2:  You are now in charge of everything.

A Vincentian leader is a servant leader who understands the role of God’s providence. Your ultimate role is to harness the gifts and spirit of your members and direct them to growth in holiness and increased love for one another, and in ways of service to others. To do this you will need to allow God to direct you.

Truth #2:  God is in charge of everything. You are called to discern where God is leading and to follow through — and help your members do the same.

Myth #3:  You are all alone in figuring things out.

This myth could not be further from the truth. The Society is truly a global network of charity. Fellow Vincentians in 155 countries are serving those in need, as you are, and desire to do so with love and in an effective manner. As you attend regional and national gatherings, or reach out to other Vincentian leaders, you will find that many people are more than willing to share their knowledge. You will only feel all alone if you do not participate in such interactions and relationships.

Truth #3:  Most Vincentian leaders love to talk about their experiences and help each other.

Reach out to other Vincentians — even if they are not from your area — for advice and support. We will share useful information relevant to your new responsibilities in these Frederic’s e-Gazette articles throughout the year. Thank you for being willing to serve through leadership, and may you be blessed through your witness of following God’s lead in your Conference’s/Council’s service while encouraging others to do the same.

We remind you of the valuable resources on the National website and urge you to review the Governance Page where the Governance Training DVD and the other material the National Governance Committee has prepared can be found. Then make plans to use these tools.  Your Conference and Council will be better off if you do so.

SVdP North Texas CEO Featured on Guadalupe Radio

SVdP North Texas CEO Featured on Guadalupe Radio 900 900 Jill Pioter

SVdP North Texas CEO Luis Gonzalez recently appeared on the Guadalupe Radio Network. He was interviewed by University of Dallas President Jonathan Sanford on The Good News program.

Luis shared with Catholic listeners many of the Society’s good works, including the power of the Home Visit, North Texas’ charitable pharmacy, and the impact of servant leadership.

Click below to listen to the full interview.

Servant Leadership and Our Vocation webinar

Servant Leadership and Our Vocation webinar 940 788 Jill Pioter

This webinar focuses on the core spirituality of Servant Leadership in the model given to us by Christ, and exemplified by Frèdèric and Vincent. With references both from the Gospels and from our long heritage of servant leadership, you will learn how deeply embedded servant leadership is in our traditions, and about the many opportunities for all of us to seek out, and to serve as leaders. Presented by Tim Williams, National Formation Director. Register Now!

Finding Servant Leaders: Recruiting and Discernment webinar

Finding Servant Leaders: Recruiting and Discernment webinar 940 788 Jill Pioter

Join Ray Sickinger, Chair of the Leadership Task Force, as he discusses succession planning, recruitment of new Conference and Council Leaders, and guiding new leaders in discerning their personal call to servant leadership.

Register Now!

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