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Category: Blog

What does the word “family” mean for you?

The oldest and most sacred group is probably “The Family

There are so many different types of groups in the world today crossing various segments of society such as culture, religion, beliefs, etc. However, the oldest and most sacred group is probably “The Family”.

But “Family” is a strong word that can mean different things to different people, for a myriad of reasons, and can mean a lot more than a relative by blood or marriage. It can be people who accept you no matter who you are, or where you are from with no hatred or judgment. A belief that you can rely and count on them when you need them, someone to share your problems with and help you through difficult times.
But family also means to have respect for each other and can be used metaphorically to create more inclusive groups and categories such as community, nationhood, and global village. When I first started working for the Society I can recall typing up many minutes of meetings. I noted frequent mentions of Br. Brendan and Sr Mairead and asking in my naivety, how come I had never met all these priests and nuns? This was met with smiles and mini outbursts of laughter, and I soon realised that all these brothers and sisters were members of the SVP and the expressions were used to describe how everyone was included in this big family.

I was again exposed to a similar experience when visiting a large village in India earlier this year. As I showed photos to people I had met the previous year I continually heard “oh that is my grandmother, that is my uncle”. This didn’t make much sense at first, This didn’t make much sense at first, as it seemed the children had dozens of grandmothers. I soon learned that this was how everyone in the community saw and related to each other; one big happy family and being blood-related had nothing to do with it.
As we celebrate the World Meeting of Families themed “A Year Dedicated to Families” we should all keep this image in our heads and heart, that as humans, we are all part of a much bigger family then the traditional one most of us think of.

The Summer Bulletin is about the SVP ‘family’ and its work. Every week over 11,000 SVP members, volunteers and staff pour their hearts and souls into trying to make it easier for our fellow human brothers and sisters around the country.

In this edition, you will read;

  • How SVP strives to create “a pathway out of poverty” by petitioning the government to make changes to its policies and put the most vulnerable at the top of their agenda.
  • How the SVP Vincent’s charity shops too are doing their part to create more inclusive communities with their “extending the hand of friendship” leaflets available in 12 languages to ensure that every single member of our community has equal access to the support and friendship available from SVP.
  • SVP Young also works in many local communities instilling a sense of family and compassion for others through its school and college projects.
  • But the Society is not just working tirelessly in Ireland, it is carrying out similar activities all around the world through various initiatives like Twinning, and you will read how the SVP International President recently visited several regions in Ireland to see the work and commitment of the Irish members and staff and also met with representatives of the Vincentian Family of which SVP is part of.

One thing is for sure, the Society of St Vincent de Paul is a living, breathing example of what it means to be part of a large family, caring for others by offering friendship and support.

“Family like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions
yet our roots remain as one.”


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