In these unusual times all of us, but particularly our Society’s leaders are called to draw upon our spirituality and charism for inspiration and motivation.
In times of challenge and change our leaders are guided by our mission of living the gospel message by serving Christ in the poor as they respond to the practicalities of meeting increasing and varied needs, at the coalface where people are seeking help often for the first time.
Our leaders, across all levels of the Society, are asked to be shepherds, pastors and living missionary disciples in all areas of their life in order to lead authentically. They are challenged to be living examples of our founders and patrons who modelled for us what it meant to be radical, visionary and socially responsible in the times in which they lived.
St Vincent de Paul and Frederic Ozanam were both effective leaders of their times, encountering and ministering to the people of France and Paris. We read in their prolific letters and communications how they both lived extremely busy lives between ministry, study, accompanying companions, raising awareness and serving the poor.
They were both looked up to as leaders and used this platform to network, ask favours and educate wider society on social injustices. They identified and attracted people from all over who were committed to serving others and had a dedication to social transformation and making a difference in the world, especially in the lives of people living with poverty.
Our current leaders are demonstrating their commitment, creativity and agility. Just like our founders, they are responding to the needs around them and taking a stand on behalf of the people who have been left behind.
We have seen a strong national response to the COVID pandemic and to the impact of drought and bushfires. The Society’s leaders have taken calculated risks in the interests of the most vulnerable people, while balancing the organisations strategic and financial sustainability.
We continue our founders’ tenacity as we put people first. When relationships are strong and people feel involved, morale is high and good things happen. Relationships are key to our presence in local communities. Our leaders, whether engaged directly or indirectly with those who come to us seeking assistance, first and foremost have answered a call to serve.
Our future directions are discerned with a clear vision and dedication towards best service to people experiencing disadvantage, concern for social justice, and work towards the eradication of poverty. While our leaders are responsible for a diverse range of services for people from all walks of life in metropolitan, regional and remote communities, they are united by a commitment to make a difference in society. That is right now, tomorrow and for many years to come.
♦ Samantha Hill is Director of Mission St Vincent de Paul Society in Queensland.