Congress 2023+ weekend

An overview of the activities of each day.

2 men in religious robes, conductining a Mass

Sunday 29 October

Delegates joined together to continue to refine their thinking on what changes should be considered to enhance the Conference model by Members, Conferences, State or Territory Councils, or National Council, and made some initial plans to commence implementation of the Congress 2023+ outcomes. 

Closing Mass was conducted by Fr Alan Gibson CM, Provincial Superior of the Vincentian Fathers and Brothers in Oceania. 

Delegates were thanked for their participation in Congress 2023+ and farewelled by the National President, Mr Mark Gaetani. 

A man on a stage lighting a candle with a poster of the St Vincent de Paul logo next to him

Saturday 28 October

Day Two of Congress 2023+ opened with a spiritual reflection that included the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, as they encountered the risen Christ in the Gospel of Luke. 

Delegates reflected on the need to adapt, viewed from the perspectives of Companions, Members, Volunteers and Staff, and considered the purpose and identity of the Society at a Conference level. 

In the afternoon session, delegates spent time considering the support required for Conferences in terms of membership, leadership, communication, collaboration and governance. This work will continue tomorrow.

Ms Geraldine Doogue AO then led a panel discussion over dinner featuring Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv (Diocese of Parramatta), Mr Andy Rajapakse MAICD (Rotary International) and Ms Rebecca Bromhead (Society Member). The panel discussed how faith-based organisations are adapting to new and changing circumstances, what other organisations are doing to address declining membership and participation, and how the Society can draw on these learnings to inform the revitalisation of our mission. 

Friday 27 October

Congress opened at 5.30pm with an informal dinner followed by a Welcome to Country by Brendan Kerin from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and an Opening Liturgy. 

The National Council President, Mr Mark Gaetani, welcomed all delegates to Sydney and thanked his predecessor, Ms Claire Victory, for her wonderful service to the Society. Mr Gaetani gave an overview of the Society’s history and its work across Australia in providing support for people in need and advocating for government policies that will improve their circumstances.  

He discussed how the intent of Congress 2023+ was to formulate ways of revitalising the Society at a time when charitable organisations are facing ever greater pressures, including the increasing challenge of attracting volunteers. Mr Gaetani encouraged delegates to explore ways that might help us to better serve our Companions and to reshape the Society so that all Members can fulfil our mission to serve Christ in the poor. 

Ms Claire Madden provided a keynote speech on trends shaping generations across Australia, drawing on demographic information to inform delegates. Key themes in her speech were relational belonging, cross-generational mentoring, learning and development and purpose and meaning.   

Delegates then shared stories about their journey with the Society, with the evening session closing at 21:30pm. 

Find out more about Congress 2023+

Journeying Together, Revitalising our Mission

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