Summer 2017-18

Feedback from the National Congress 2017

Together we make all the difference

The National Congress 2017 was an amazing event and we have had a lot of feedback telling us how much you all enjoyed coming together in one place with other Vincentians. You all found positives to take away with you from the congress to share with fellow Vincentians who were not in attendance, but more importantly you have all helped pave a path for the future direction of the Society and the work that we do.

Large group of congress attendees with the text 'Together we make all the difference'.



Inspirational, emotional, prayerful and joyous are only a few of the words used to describe your congress experience.

Group of congress attendees, a women at front centre is holding a St Vincent de Paul Society banner.
Top left: Members of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia attended the National Congress 2017. Back row from left: Michael Liddy, Victoria State President; Cathy Beaton, South Australia State President; Denis Walsh, New South Wales State President; Graham West, National President; Frank Brassil, National Treasurer; Brian Spencer, Vice President on National Council; Dr John Falzon, National CEO; Warwick Fulton, President Territory Council of Canberra and Goulburn; Cathryn Moore, Vice President Youth & Young Adults Representative; and Queensland State President, John Forrest. Front row from left: Liz Callaghan, National Secretary; Pat Garcia, Vice President Housing Homelessness, Bailly; Toni Muir, Tasmanian State President; Bob Burns, Western Australian State President; Claire Victory, Deputy National President; Celina Lai, Vice President Twinning; and Fay Gurr, Northern Territory President.

As we move forward from the congress we will be updating with photos, stories and plans for advancement and we hope that you will check back regularly to see how we are going.

Please remember that you can contact us anytime at au to provide feedback, thoughts and anything that you would like us to know.

Thank you for a challenging but fun weekend walking with the Lord. The organisation of the congress is exceptional.

– Denise Gittoes

Thank you for your greeting and thanks for a wonderful weekend.

– Bruce Whittet

Thanks so much everyone. Bless you all.

– Glenda

Thanks for all your organisation, it was a huge success.

– Peter Doris

Just a line to say thanks for a great National Congress; from the start to the finish it was invigorating—the guest speakers, the individual sessions on Saturday followed by the workshops. The daily Liturgies were very prayerful and the Mass at the cathedral was terrific. In saying that, the one thing that I enjoyed was catching up with fellow Vincentians, most of them strangers when we started but friends when we finished. As I stated on Sunday morning, we have planted the seed and now we have to grow into the future. Lastly, the balance between the ‘seniors’ and the young and their involvement was outstanding.

– Arthur Donovan, President, Central Highlands Regional Council

Man lighting a very large white candle.
President of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia, Graham West.

Thanks everyone for a great congress. It was really worth going and connecting with Aussies from all over. Congratulations to all the organisers—wonderful effort and venue. Much appreciated by all.

– Glenda Burke, North East Victoria

Very many thanks to all who were involved in planning and implementing the congress. I believe we now have serious work to do and a good foundation was laid during the congress.

– Gerald (Gerry) Kearney, Bathurst, NSW

I think about those people working behind the scenes who worked so hard to coordinate such a complex congress, bringing us all together to attend this historical congress. No stone was left unturned to ensure our safety and to make us welcome, bringing us Vincentians from Australia-wide to the 2017 National Congress. I was also most impressed that, although we had two days of travel, we fully utilised the three days, making the congress as economical as possible. I was also appreciative that breakfast was served at the college, saving big money from having a breakfast at a hotel. Keep up the good work.

– Herbert Portanier

Three smiling people.
L-R: Cathryn Moore, St Vincent de Paul Society Vice President, Youth & Young Adults Representative; Anneloes De Graeff, St Vincent de Paul Society National Manager, Strategic Marketing and Ray Akhurst, St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra-Goulburn Regional President Molonglo.
Three smiling men.
L-R: Congress 2017 delegates Tony Moore, Rob Fearnley and John Blake.

Thank you to the National Council for the opportunity to attend the congress. It was a valuable experience to hear of the work of Vinnies on different levels. I will treasure my involvement, the spiritual journey, observations, the joy of interacting with others and, most importantly, the vitality, passion and love of Vincentians towards those we assist. The mass was moving, with the message, homily, music, singing and the appreciation expressed by the Archbishop for what we do for those in need. Celebrating with candles in the closing ceremony touched my heart. Thank you once again and many blessings to all concerned with the congress.

– Denise Jean Gittoes, Engadine Conference,
Sutherland Shire Regional Council, Sydney Central

I had a wonderful time at the congress. It was so great to meet up with other like-minded people who are all working for the same cause. Everyone was so friendly and willing to share their stories. It was quite inspiring.

– Theresa

Two women in Vinnies t-shirts.
L-R: The St Vincent de Paul Society South Australia was instrumental in organising the National Congress 2017, from left is Jenny Papps, Executive Assistant to the State President and Chief Executive Officer and Kylie Stagg, Marketing and Events Assistant.
Three women.
L-R: Congress 2017 delegates Caroline Savage, Anita Williams and Cassandra Bull.

I attended the congress as a representative for the Altona Regional President who was stepping down. As a nominee for the position, the congress was a great motivator and I approached and won the election with vigour, vision and hope. I would like to confirm how wonderful it was to see so many young people involved in the congress. There was an air of freshness and their enthusiasm was invigorating. The young person in my workshop took the lead, taking the experience of the old and creatively projecting it to the solutions required by the facilitator from Future Friendly. I think there should have been a place for some members who have been involved in the Society and have the potential for leadership. They would have got a lot of inspiration from the congress. Perhaps one or two from each region would have completed the balance of the mix of people in attendance. The National Congress was a wonderful experience to start my new role as a Regional President.

– Grace Pulis, President, Altona Regional Council

Group of six with St Vincent de Paul Society banner.
L-R: The St Vincent de Paul Society’s chief executive officers at the National Congress 2017, from left: Canberra-Goulburn CEO Barnie van Wyk, National Council CEO Dr John Falzon, South Australian CEO David Wark, Victorian CEO Sue Cattermole, Queensland CEO Peter Maher and NSW CEO Jack de Groot.

Wonderful work! Looking forward to the future thrust with excitement and much hope—journeying together in prayer.

– Sr Lucy Kert fdcc,
Canossian Daughters of Charity, Northern Territory

What a great weekend, meeting so many interesting and passionate Vincentians. Thanks for a very worthwhile National Congress.

– John Fleming, Albury Regional President

May I pass on my thanks and congratulations to your team for putting together such an outstanding event. I do hope that something similar can be a regular part of the society in future.

– Andrew Black

Six cartoon panels. The top left shows the cartoonist doing the drawing.
During the congress Simon Kneebone, a freelance cartoonist and illustrator for over 25 years, created tailored graphics to reflect the ideas and information being communicated.

Image note (top of page): There were 175 participants at the St Vincent de Paul Society of Australia’s National Congress 2017.

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