Jacob Miller: Development Officer, Young Adult Engagement, St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria
How did you first become involved with the Society?
College Conference was my first involvement, at Sacred Heart College in New Town, Tasmania, over 10 years ago. However, it wasn’t until stepping outside of the school framework to assist people in my local community on a Buddy Camp / Kids Camp that I really imbibed the Vincentian charism. On my first Buddy Camp I remember being able to see, hear and feel the difference my peers and I were making in the lives of each participant. It was the first time I had truly experienced the Vincentian mission of walking with our companions in hope and love.
Can you describe your current role at the St Vincent de Paul Society in Victoria?
After working as a member for the Society in Tasmania, New South Wales and more recently Victoria, I accepted a role in the Victorian Central Office in early 2017. Now as the Development Officer, Young Adult Engagement, I have the chance to support, assist and create opportunities for young adult members to respond to the mission of the Society. Working within our Services Development Department I am able to encourage the State Youth Team and young adult members to live out our charism in the most effective ways.
Is it your first trip to Adelaide or your first time attending an inter-state event for the Society?
I have only been to Adelaide once before and I am really looking forward to seeing a little bit more of the city. I have been to multiple national youth events such as the National Youth Team, Rekindle the Flame and National Advanced Training, but this will be my first gathering with members from across multiple works and regions of the Society.
What do you do in your down time?
While this may sound a little crazy, after all my volunteering and work I indulge in a little op’ shopping! Vinnies Shops have supplied me with some great bargains and outrageous shirts over the years. After that, some independent films and all the wine and fine food Carlton and Fitzroy have to offer.
As a young supporter of the Society do you believe that conferences are a place of welcome and diversity?
Vinnies has been home for me for employment, social networks, volunteering and faith. Having travelled and moved interstate, it is always the Vincentian smile and open arms that have made me feel welcomed and included. Yet, when stepping into the world of conferences, there can be barriers to diversity that inhibit our welcome and potentially, our response to social justice. Of course, this changes from conference to conference. As society has shifted away from the parish, our conference models and structures have been slow to adapt. Many individuals sharing our mission live in our communities without any connection to the parish, so how do we welcome them? Responding to the Rule, which calls us to ‘strive for renewal, adapting to changing world conditions’, I hope that the congress is a chance for us to challenge ourselves with regard to the conference context and embrace new models of coming together to put our faith in action. Young people, non-parishioners, non-Catholics, women, and working people can all encounter roadblocks in their efforts to support our mission. I encourage us to use the congress as a vehicle to challenge these obstacles. Conferences focussing on Special Works, conferences based in schools, work places or other community locations and conferences meeting through new technologies are all models that I would like to see examined, enabling us to preserve a ‘spirit of youth … characterised by enthusiasm, adaptability and creative imagination’.