I have just participated in our special Mass for members, families and friends by watching it with my own family while isolated at home. It underlined the surreal new reality that we all have become accustomed to. At a time when we are isolated from each other, I felt that it was important for us to connect spiritually.
This was made possible thanks to Fr Michael Toomey from Saints Peter & Paul’s Parish Church Clonmel celebrating our Mass and broadcasting via the web.
His homily together with Fr Paschal Scallon’s recorded reflection lifted us and left us in no doubt as to how much our mission has been vital in past years and will be in the future. It’s good to sometimes stop and reflect on what you are doing, and this crisis has undoubtedly allowed us to do that.
I was delighted that Fr Michael spoke so warmly of his association with the Daughters of Charity, our fellow Vincentians, who have greatly supported us in mind and deeds throughout the years, we will always be joined by the same ethos.
For the first time in our history we are unable to visit people requesting our help. But as with previous National crisis,’ we are ensuring by hook or by crook that those in need are getting help. By linking in with An Post and other organisations, we are able to deliver support while still adhering to Government directives designed to keep us all safe. It is great to be part of the wonderful community response to this crisis that is occurring throughout Ireland, making a difference in the lives of so many.
Our staff have also been busy supporting us and those in need, receiving calls from all over the country. Keeping our homeless hostels open, keeping us connected via social media, advocating for measures to ensure the needs of those affected are being addressed, and managing the many financial and administrative responsibilities we have.
On behalf of us, I thank them all for their efforts.
This terrible situation has exposed a vulnerability in so many with hundreds of thousands having lost their jobs and worrying what the future will hold for them. We have so often said that most workers are only one or two pay packets away from falling into poverty. Sadly, we can now see this reality.
We must prepare ourselves and make our resources available to those who will be seeking help over the next number of months when the full effects of this crisis will become apparent.
Many who have lost their jobs will not easily get back into work and will need our support. We will be called upon to help those who would have never contacted us before, with some who would have even donated previously to us. This could be soul-destroying for them, and we will have to call on all our skills and Vincentian experience to help them to get back on their feet.
I thought my final contribution to the SVP Bulletin as National President would have been a reflection of my time in the role that I have been privileged to serve in, and that my last few months in the position would be relatively quiet. How wrong I was, and I recall the words of the late great Gay Byrne when he was asked how the financial losses, he suffered had affected his life plans he replied: “when men make plans God smiles”.
I count myself extraordinarily fortunate to be a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society and to have worked with so many great members and staff over that time helping many people in need.
In the various roles I have held in the Society over the years, I have learned so much. I have been so enriched by fellow Vincentians along with those in poverty that I have visited. I am happy to have played my small part in the overall history of the Society in Ireland and look forward to continuing my visitation work in the future.
To all members and staff, I sincerely thank you for your dedication and work for those in need. I will always be grateful for the kindness and support given to me over the years.
I wish you and your families well, stay safe and God Bless.