Who is a Vincentian? One who shows compassion

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My first editorial was in the spring edition of The Record for 2011. This is my final editorial as the President of the National Council.

The inspiration for my first editorial was based on the parable of the Good Samaritan, and the question posed by Jesus as to who was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers. From there we proceeded to consider the members of the Society and how they come together in conferences to work for those we assist.  We then considered the many volunteers who support our Centres and other special works and the work they do to support the Society. The parable challenges us to get down to the essentials and, following the question that Jesus put, to ask ourselves: Who is a Vincentian? The answer, according to the Gospel, is simply one who shows compassion. In the end, who are we if we do not fit this description?

After four years working in this job, I am totally in awe of the work performed at each level of the Society, from the National Council up to the Conferences and everything in between. When you talk with many of the people doing this work, there is an innate pride in the achievements of the Society.

In spite of this, many ask whether we have reached the time to seriously consider not what we do but how we do it? Are we doing things in a certain way because that’s how we’ve always done them, or do we actually reflect on what the best way might be? Do we think about those we serve, what’s best for them, or do we stop with what’s easiest?  

You may recall we were going to have a national congress, and with that in mind we sent questionnaires to every Conference.  We received a great response. People were enthusiastic, full of great ideas—and some that were not so great as well!

The main thing was the willingness to share ideas and to compare notes. Unfortunately, the congress has been postponed for a later time. I hope it will not be too far away.

If we miss this important opportunity, we may become irrelevant.

I do not have the time or space to include in this article the lessons I have learnt whilst in this job, nor the examples I have witnessed of people daily doing God’s work selflessly, with an unbelievable commitment to the Society. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your help and support to me during my term in this office.

I am certain Blessed Frédéric would be pleased with what he sees here. He may think it’s time for some change, but he’d be OK with it.

God bless and thank you,

Tony Thornton