Calgary’s Vincentians merit praise for the good work they do among this city’s low-income families, said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi during his keynote address at the Western Regional Annual General Assembly held at St. Bonaventure Church on May 9.
“I was surprised by how much the mayor knew about St. Vincent de Paul Society and our work in Calgary,” said Theo Van Besouw, a member of the St. Peter’s conference and vice-president of the Calgary Diocesan Central Council (CCDC).
CCDC president Tony Barry (St. Patrick’s conference) said he liked the mayor’s decision to talk about his childhood memories as part of an immigrant family who relied on others to help them get established in Canada. “I’ve been in Calgary for 40 years and it was the first time I’ve heard someone at the top speaking about their time at the bottom. He ‘gets’ poverty,” said Barry.
Three things to make the world a better place
Building on a Three Things for Calgary initiative he helped launch in 2011, Nenshi also encouraged Vincentians to consciously look for ways to strengthen their communities. The Three Things for Calgary initiative challenges people to:
- Think about the community and city issues that are important to you
- Decide on three actions you can take to make your street, neighbourhood, or city better
- Do those three things and then,
- Tell others what you did—and do some more!
Van Besouw said he’s already shared that idea with the St. Peter’s Conference.
More than 90 Vincentians participated in the 2015 Western Region Annual General Assembly. Father Wilbert Chin Jon, Pastor, St. Bonaventure Parish, asked for special blessings on the 90 Vincentians gathered for the event.
Fr. Jon said he always give a prayer of thanks when he sees Vincentians in his own parish gathering emergency food supplies for someone in need. That kind of humble volunteer work is the essence of what Christ asks of all Christians, said the priest. “When Jesus said, ‘Love one another,’ he didn’t say, ‘because they deserve to be loved.’ He said, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.”
Although representatives from other municipalities and provinces attended, most of the Vincentians at the meeting were from Calgary. Calgary currently has 23 active conferences, including one youth conference. At the meeting, papers were filed to establish three more youth conferences.
Attendees also listened to a special presentation by national president Noel-Jean Cormier of Ottawa. “Conferences are very, very important to us because you’re doing the work to help people in need,” said Cormier.
The president outlined two of SSVPs newest programs: North of 60 and Twinning. North of 60 helps people living in Canada’s Arctic communities. That program has channeled $800,000 in donations to the north. Twinning enables SSVPs in Canada to support specific projects in the developing world.
For more information about what’s happening nationally, visit http://www.ssvp.ca/English. That site includes a link to the national magazine, Vincenpaul-Canada.