Traditional ‘Encounter’ Experience:
Education and Advocacy Week – Led by the St. Vincent de Paul’s words, “There is no charity without justice, we recognize that justice and direct service are complimentary and equal. Since the pandemic limits our ability to be in person together to complete direct service, we turn to the virtue of social justice. During these virtual experiences, groups will explore a single social justice issue, through education, activities, discussions and live speakers. Our speakers range from individuals who have had firsthand experience with the issue, or a member of the Vincentian family who has worked in a non-profit or as an advocate around this issue. We can adjust these programs for high school or college aged participants.
Available themes include, but are not limited to Urban Poverty, Homelessness, Mass Incarceration, Identity and Community, and Climate Justice.
Lent and Advent Retreat:
“Love is Creative unto Infinity.” Although the Pandemic halted our in person service learning experiences, it opened us up to new and creative ways we could accomplish our mission. The benefit of virtual programming is that it can be extended over a longer period, than our traditional programs. Our Advent and Lent retreat took a similar shape this year – meeting once a week virtually with a group of participants to talk and reflect on readings and activities they were asked to complete outside of the meeting. Following the tradition of Vincent and Louise who were “contemplatives in action”, these retreats tend to the inner world, without excluding or forgetting the issues of the outer world, and our responsibility to those issues. Our Advent Retreat was Entitled “Season of Longing” and Our Lenten Retreat was entitled “Cultivating and Letting Go.” You can see the videos to each of these here.
Drives and Deeper Conversations:
Many high schools, colleges and parishes have turned to drives and collections, to supplement for their normal calendar filled with diverse experiences of service. Recognizing that young people were missing the opportunity to go deeper in their experience of service and justice, the SVDP Staff came up with our program – “Drives and Deeper Conversations.” SVDP Staff will collaborate with your group to hold a collection for one of our non-profit community partners. Throughout the 4-6 week drive, center staff will meet regularly with the group facilitating the collection, to offer experiences of virtual encounter with some of the staff or clients of the organization students are collecting for, as well as offer education around the systemic injustices that lead to the need for these collections, or these non-profits.
As cases begin to drop, and the vaccine roll out program continues, we have begun to prepare for in person programming to begin again. Although we have already hosted single days of service, with reflection and prayer on site, to limit chance of contamination in travel, these documents below (COVID-19 FAQ & COVID-19 Safety Guidelines), will help us to prepare for when we can host groups overnight at the center again.