Winter 2017

Congress 2017

Fr Troy Bobbin, Spiritual Advisor to the Society’s National Council is preparing reflections for use by our Conferences ahead of the October Congress. In his first reflection “Placing our lives in the potter’s hands” Troy asks us to reflect on 3 questions.

  1. How does the St Vincent de Paul Society need to change?
  2. How can we make the Society a place in which we are moulded anew by God?
  3. Reflect on a time when you were changed by an encounter with God through someone who was marginalised.

We have received some great responses and would like to share them.

From Robert Waterman, Wangaratta Regional President:

How does the Society need to change?

SVDP needs to try to draw more people into membership.

We need to help members to interview properly and really address the deep needs of those who seek help.

We need to try to have all members attend and take part in all conference meetings.

We need to help parishes to become more aware of who SVDP is (the conferences doing welfare work) and not just think of Vinnies shops.

How can we make the Society a place in which we are moulded anew by God?

We need to have annual retreat days, spiritual reflections at all conference meetings, encourage personal prayer in all members, and have some involvement in church life and parishes.

Encourage in members a deep and personal awareness of God’s presence in daily life.

We need to be mindful in serving Jesus as we help those who need assistance.

Reflect on a time when you were changed by an encounter with God through someone who was marginalised.

One time I was changed was when we were helping an Indian family. I kept them in my prayers, and I was challenged in trying to do things for them. There were visa issues, as well as educational costs for the 2 school-age children. They have not yet gone to school at all this year!

Other times: with various people, I became more open to them as they shared stories, needs, and suffering.

St Patricks Conference Wangaratta shared their thoughts:

How does the Society need to change?

Members need to develop and be given the skills to develop interview techniques so that we come to a deeper knowledge and understanding of the marginalised in our community.

Recruit more and younger.

Build a better awareness of Conference work within the parish. (Most parishioners think Vinnies shop when you say you belong to a Conference.)

Develop our spirituality and allow that to guide our actions and decisions. Allow ourselves to trust in God.

Be open to the needs of today and change with the times.

We need the potter’s approach and be brave enough to say, “this isn’t working” and to try a different way.

We need to be guided by the needs of those we help because they may not think the same way as us. Be flexible.

How can we make the Society a place in which we are moulded anew by God?

To be mindful and to develop our spiritual self through personal prayer, participating in annual retreat days and spiritual reflections defining the Vincentian way.

Be mindful always that we’re serving Jesus, that Jesus is present in us.

Develop a respectfulness for those we help and remember any good we do is the Holy Spirit working through us.

Reflect on a time when you were changed by an encounter with God through someone who is marginalised.

We have assisted an Indian family to the extent that we can. It is challenging because they have needs around immigration that we simply can’t do anything about. We have helped as far as we are able and can only pray that things will work out for the best.


Fr Troy Bobbin is the St Vincent de Paul Society’s National Council Spiritual Advisor.

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