The SVP's contribution to the Vincentian Family's celebrations to mark 400 years of Vincentian charism took place with a well attended National Meeting and Mass in Liverpool on 23 and 24 June.
Amongst the keynote speakers and guest contributors were former government minister, Sarah Teather- now Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Bertrand Oussett- former National President of SVP France, Monsignor Malachy Keegan the Prisons Chaplain and Advisor to the Bishops' Conference and John Battle- SVP member, patron, and former Labour MP.
Speeches covered welcoming the stranger seeking asylum, on the street, in prison and living the charism in SVP Conferences. The common message that ran through all presentations was the gifts of learning and enrichment that can be exchanged during the encounter with someone on the peripheries of society. The importance of being in solidarity and accompanying those who are perceived as 'strangers' was also spoken about. 'What good we could do, just being alongside, and letting God to the rest', as one speaker put it.
Presentations from Trustee Greg Pelham, members of the Community Support Projects team, Trustee and trainer Anna Harris on members Turning Faith in to Action, CEO Elizabeth Palmer and Fr Paul Roche on the spirituailty and ethical heart of the Vincentian charism, Claz Gomez on handing the charism on to the next generation, while trustee Michael Willcock acted as MC.
Break out groups focused on food poverty, overseas twinnage work, asylum and dementia.
Current SVP president Adrian Abel reflected on his five years in office, and announced St Joan of Arc SVP member Helen O'Shea as National President Elect, who will take up the mantle from Adrian in November.
A Mass at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral concelebrated by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon and SVP National Spiritual Advisor Fr Paul Roche concluded the celebrations.
Over 350 SVP members were in attendance in what was a bustling, lively and immensely popular meeting. These members, representing Conferences across England and Wales are now in the process of sharing and disseminating the learning gleaned with their local Conferences.
A feature covering the National Meeting, written by the SVP's Senior Media and Communications Officer was published in the Catholic Universe and can be viewed here.
More information including photos of the meeting will soon be avalaible on the website.