2007 LCUSA National Assembly Impressions

The experience in San Francisco was wonderful!

The talks were inspiring and the opportunity to network was amazing.

The Vincentian Family Gathering in San Francisco

The Vincentian Family Gathering was held at the Sheraton Hotel in San Francisco, Calif., from May 3-6. The gathering consisted of Vincentian priests, Daughters of Charity, Sisters of Charity, Ladies of Charity, and the Vincentian Marian Youth group.

There were many dynamic speakers. The key message from this gathering, was that if we collaborate our group efforts, we can better serve the poorest of the poor. The keynote address on Friday was given by Vincentian Father Manuel Ginete. He is a member of the Congregation of the Mission. He received his doctoral degree in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He said in an increasingly interconnected and globalized world, the Vincentian Family today is being challenged to keep in the forefront the interests of the poor. The Vincentian Family can best do this by deepening our sense of mission and by seeking and helping to expand the circle of solidarity.

The keynote address on Saturday was given by Patricia Palacios de Nava. She is a member and past president of the Association of International Charities (AIC), of which the Ladies of Charity of the United States of American (LCUSA) is a member. Today she is responsible for AIC’S relations with the Vincentian Family and is currently a member of the Think Tank for Systemic Change. Nava said the Vincentian Family is a great force for transformation in the lives of those who are poor. One of the many positive aspects in working together is the larger impact we can have. The work of the Think Tank is to motivate and help members of the Vincentian Family to evaluate their projects and their effectiveness in helping to change the lives of the poor.

Systemic Change is a process that implies a form of systemic thinking. This type of thinking looks at the whole and the parts, and the connection between the parts, studying the whole in order to understand the parts. The spirituality behind Systemic Change process for AIC volunteers must be sustained in a series of values and beliefs, in the Christian Vincentian Charism and in the AIC’s guidelines. It must be oriented toward a world of greater justice and equity, in which the poorest of the poor occupy the place that belongs to them in society.

The keynote address on Sunday was by the dynamic Vincentian Father Richard Benson. His talk was “Poverty and Personhood: Recognizing and Responding to Christ as a Vincentian.” In his talk he discussed the teachings of the Catholic Church that focus her mission on the preferential option for the poor. As a result, we recovered the spirituality of St. Louise de Marillac and St. Vincent de Paul, our founders, that supports everyone engaged in this challenging mission.

There was a special First Friday Mass for the Vincentian Family at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. Archbishop George Niederauer was the celebrant. It was wonderful to see him, and he was happy to see familiar faces from Salt Lake City. He says what he misses most is the people of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, and his many friends in Utah. The people of San Francisco all said they miss Bishop Wester, and we lucky enough to be able to welcome him.

Next year the Vincentian Family Gathering will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, where there are many poor who need the collaboration of the Vincentian Family to help restore the lives that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

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