Cassandra Bull: Mission and Membership Executive Officer, St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland
Can you describe your current role at the St Vincent de Paul Society in Queensland?
I am currently a member of two conferences as well as a staff member. I love being a member of a parish-based conference, where I undertake a home visitation once a week. I’m also the Vice President of a work-based conference, which is an exciting opportunity for Vinnies staff members to form a conference and be involved in conference work. On top of all of this, I have the good fortune and honour of being a paid staff member working as the Mission and Membership Executive Officer for Queensland. For this congress, I am representing my Regional Council on behalf of my Regional President, who is unable to attend.
Is it your first trip to Adelaide or your first time attending an inter-state event for the Society?
I have been lucky enough to visit Adelaide a number of times now, and was last here for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival, which was an amazing chance for young Vincentians to network at a wider Catholic youth event. I have also previously visited Adelaide for a National Mission and Membership meeting and for an Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention, which was held at the same venue as the congress. I have such fond memories and have fallen in love with South Australia just that little bit more each time.
What do you feel that the Society is currently doing well when it comes to helping people experiencing poverty and inequality in your community?
I personally believe the Vincentians involved in the Society are excellent witnesses to what Jesus meant by ‘Love thy neighbour’. I see through my work that the members in Queensland are regularly discussing ways we can improve the conditions of those we visit. There is a deep compassion and concern for our companions, and the conference meetings are filled with conversations about how we can best serve. We provide friendship and a listening ear in a time when people are perhaps feeling more and more socially dislocated. It’s an extremely humbling privilege to be part of an organisation that meets with people at their most vulnerable and extends the hand of Christ.
Do you find the use of technology in the Society is improving, and what could we do better?
There are so many different resources and tools we can utilise in our Vincentian work, and there is certainly a resolve amongst members in Queensland to try and embrace technology that will help us serve better. Our support database, our intranet, new services website, utilising apps on phones to refer companions to external services, checking Centrelink statements from the portal, and reading spiritual reflections on iPads are all great examples of how technology is making a difference to Vincentian work. I’m reminded of a quote from Steve Jobs that I love, which fits with this question well: ‘Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.’
How will you be getting to the congress in October?
I am genuinely excited to be flying there with fellow Vincentians and staff members from Queensland and having the chance to join together with old, and hopefully new, friends from around Australia. I’ve met the most amazing people through my Vinnies work, and when a group of like-minded, faith-filled, passionate individuals come together, there is no doubt that something extremely special will happen.