We lucky Vincentians by Cathal O’Rourke St. Michael’s Conference, Dun Laoghaire,Co. Dublin.
“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it” - Thomas Jefferson
As members of our respective Conferences, we are lucky on a number of counts. We are lucky to have inherited a thriving organisation with impeccable credentials. Thanks to the sterling work, since 1844, of generations of our predecessors in Ireland it is one that is in good standing in our local communities. Locally, we each carry on that tradition of service. We, in turn, will hand on the baton to the next generation of volunteers – with luck, enhanced by our current endeavours. Over time, many charities come and go reacting to society’s ever-changing circumstances. But we are there for the long haul – in action throughout the entire year, every year. Luckily, that extended vision allows us to plan long-term projects. As members of St. Vincent De Paul Society, we see at first hand the reality of inequality and the so-called poverty trap. We are lucky therefore, through the marvellous generosity of our respective communities, to find ourselves empowered to help the 17 per cent of the nation’s population at risk of poverty who are on low incomes relative to the norm. Fortunately, we are in a position to target among them the most vulnerable groups such as lone parents, unemployed people, those unable to
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work because of illness or disability, the under 65’s living alone, and those in social housing paying rent. Where we believe money can solve problems, we can help those in financial difficulties with the skill sets to budget their way out to solvency. The money to facilitate this comes from the local community that supports us. The continuing level of such community support is humbling. It is a powerful example of generosity in a world where citizens’ obligations to society are gradually being eroded and overtaken by individualism. Lucky again. We are lucky to have colleagues who are willing to undertake demanding conference leadership roles as President, Treasurer, etc. Often they are combining those roles with equally busy lives in the workforce, in family commitments and suchlike. Their phones ring ceaselessly, meetings abound, and their attics creak with legacy SVP documentation. In office, they must forget the concept of ‘leisure time’. We are very much in their debt. As volunteers, we are especially lucky to work with colleagues whose sole motivation is to help others. The selfishness and competitiveness of the commercial world hold no sway around the Conference table or on visitation. Having been gifted the means, we are greatly privileged to be able to reach out to help repair broken lives. Working together, we can continue to make each of our communities sensitive to the needs of others. When the campaigner for the homeless, Fr. Peter McVerry, was asked where he found God, he replied that he found God in the pain of the people he helps. Few of us, on our visitations, doubt that He is with us as our guide and support as we carry out our work in His name. How much luckier can you get?