To all the women in our Society of St Vincent de Paul, I send warm Vincentian greetings.
Today, 14 August 2021, we celebrate the second International SSVP Women’s Day, set up in 2020, on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Amélie Ozanam. It is an occasion to pay tribute to each and every SSVP woman who participates in, and contributes to, the ministry of Conferences, bringing love to their neighbours and faith to the most needy.
Amélie Ozanam, is an example and role model of selflessness, service and unconditional love for God and the mission of the SSVP in building a wonderful network of charity. Thanks to her, we have preserved much of blessed Frédéric Ozanam’s legacy, his writings and documents.
Other women were also key in the inception and expansion of the SSVP: Sister Rosalie Rendu, who took part in the foundation of the first Conference, brought the Vincentian charism to that conference, and taught them how to home visit the most vulnerable. Celestina Scarabeli founded the female SSVP branch in Bolognia in 1856.
Today our SSVP women are vital to the continuity of Conferences around the world. International Secretary General, Marie Françoise Salesiani-Payet, one of our members, is the first women in the CGI’s history to hold this office, being in charge of, among many other duties, the management of Paris’ international headquarters and representing our institution at the United Nations in Geneva.
On this International Women’s Day, I am reminded of the words of St Teresa of Avila, in the song by Michael Talbot:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
I would like to pay tribute to all the women who serve so faithfully in our Society every day. I salute your immense contribution in meeting the needs of the poor. Every day, your words and actions bring comfort, you wipe away tears, you provide a listening ear, you share pain, you help to carry burdens and you bring hope.
Your willingness to listen, patience to understand, strength to support and the love you share are appreciated and valued more than you know.
Dear SSVP women, best wishes on your day!
Kind Regards and God Bless,
Your Brother in St Vincent and BL Frederic Ozanam.