Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Catholic leader in England and Wales and patron of the SVP, has praised the Society's 10,000 members for their work with people who are vulnerable.
The Cardinal said: “I treasure the SVP because they have a Vincentian tradition that is strong in its identification with Christ, seeing the person of Christ our Blessed Lord in the face of the person of the poor. And if you think you are serving your Lord in the poor then you are on your toes. You want to do it very well, and I think that’s what SVP members seek to do.”
The Cardinal described how SVP members are ‘Missionary Disciples’. “By being a ‘disciple’ we conform ourselves to Christ. We want to see the fullness of the humanity that is given to me and expressed through the person of Jesus, and through my discipleship with Him I find my human fulfilment interlocking with the divine life of God.
He continued: “Discipleship in that sense paradoxically is a search for fulfilment. But it is also ‘missionary discipleship’ because it reaches out and, as the Pope keeps saying, when it gets to the peripheries, the edges, that is where we find in the most dramatic way the person of Jesus who we want to serve. By peripheries he means all those on the edge. You can be on the edge for all sorts of reasons, economically, socially, psychologically, in your health, all sorts of ways. He means the most vulnerable. He is saying that it is those on the edge where Christ chooses to be because that is what he did in his life.”
People on the edge include those who are lonely and isolated. Cardinal Nichols highly values and endorses the work of befriending the lonely that the SVP does. “The process of rebuilding a network of friendship is the counterpoint to loneliness. If you can rebuild some context that can become friendship that’s the most important thing” the Cardinal said.
The comments came during an interview by the SVP's senior media officer for the Catholic Times. The feature can be found here.