In his address at the St Vincent de Paul’s AGM September 23, National President Rudolph Boneo said while it is a time for the SVP to be happy having achieved 160 years of service to the poor, it was also a time for them to “feel sad for those who are suffering up the Caribbean”. He announced that the Society is making plans to continue assisting Dominica and will accumulate building and agricultural materials to send to the hurricane-devastated island. “My appeal at this time is for conferences to show the same level of generosity as you did when Grenada was hit by Hurricane Ivan.” Boneo said he has been liasing with SVP St Vincent and the Grenadines which is the closest national conference to Dominica.
The president called for a deepening of faith to continue serving, and a recommittal to the ideal of St Vincent, and founder Blessed Frederic Ozanam. He also asked for efficiency in doing service: “Friends, today it is no longer possible to be charitable if you can’t be efficient. There are many other organisations also pledging their support for the poor…We too must therefore raise our voice…There ought to be no shame in so doing since, as Vincentians, we are not only concerned with the physical well-being of those we serve but also with the dignity of their souls.”
He told SVP members to be alert to opportunities that allow them to receive a new brother or sister as well, urging “there is a lot of work ahead for the Society. Globally, the political picture is not encouraging. At the national level the economic stability of the Society is not where we would like to see it. Sacrifices have to be made by everyone. This will only mean more persons approaching us for assistance. We must not push them away.”
Fr Roger Paponette, Spiritual Adviser, called for more discipline. Delivering the feature address, he showed how a failure to teach discipline and structure leads to a lack of meaningful planning. While acknowledging that “as a nation we are undoubtedly people who are very, very talented” and statistics rank Trinidad and Tobago as the third richest country in the Americas per capita, he said Trinidad & Tobago remains “perhaps one of the most indisciplined cultures we can find – families, schools and church too”.
He lamented that young people have not been taught to be generous and to think of others. “Because of indiscipline, we do not pass on in a consistent manner all that is good.” He called on the SVP to go beyond celebrating the good and look at the “need to be structured and planned”. He added: “Spontaneity has its place but structure also has its place.” Speaking on the formation of committees in churches, he said “You cannot begin to fix anything until you first begin to realise what needs fixing”, and asked, “How are we being organised?”
Fr Paponette announced the insertion of a monthly collection for SVP in all parishes so it is no longer left up to the parish priest to decide if and when the collection is made. – EH