Following on from our series about the history of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Lance Philpott, Membership Development Officer for the Diocese of Hallam, now explains “Why we do it.”
The reason why members of the SVP volunteer to ‘meet need wherever it may be found’ can be identified in the spirituality the society fosters and engenders. Frederic Ozanam embraced the values of St Vincent because of the special way he worked with those in need. St Vincent’s qualities underpin all the society’s aims encouraging us to show simplicity, humility, gentleness, selflessness and commitment.
These Vincentian values guide us to show our love and respect to those we work with, deepen and strengthen our relationship with God and support each other in all we do. With this foundation we can:
- seek out and find those who need our help
- serve all cheerfully
- respect the dignity of the individual
- be non-judgemental
- seek justice
- be generous with our time and our possessions
How does Vincentian Spirituality affect me?
Committing as a volunteer means offering one’s service. Being called to serve means we must be able to reflect on the example shown to us by St Vincent de Paul and try to put his values into practice in our daily life. Sometimes this is not easy as ‘we are all human’ but practice does help us get it right, as does training. However, we must never lose sight of the power of God at work in our lives and the grace or help he gives us enables us to be successful in what we do.
The SVP is a spiritual society. This means our work does not “spring from ourselves alone” but from our relationship with God and the teachings and sacrifices of his son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Being a Vincentian we accept the need to work together as members of the Society and the Body of Christ. As members of a Conference, we can grow individually and collectively when we meet in Vincentian fellowship and conduct our meetings in accordance with The Rule and Internal Statutes. Living out these values and working together we are able to turn concern into action.
In more practical terms, when asked why they do it, current volunteers have offered the following:
‘Lonely and need are two words that stood out for me. I wanted to do something to help those alone and in need.’
‘I felt moved by the appeal to give something to those who might need my help.’
‘I’ve got the time and I wanted to do something worthwhile in my parish.’
‘It’s the right thing to do. I want to make a difference to others’ lives.’
‘I was looking for a way to offer my services to others and the SVP presented itself as an ideal opportunity to do this.’
If you are interested in finding out more about the SVP or setting up a conference in your parish, please contact Lance Philpott, SVP Membership Development Officer for the Diocese of Hallam at Lancep@svp.org.uk.