The Rule Book is also available in Nyanja,
Bemba, Tonga & Lozi Languages.
THE RULE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION
OF THE SOCIETY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL
1. THE SOCIETY AND SERVICE TO
1.1 . ORIGINS
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is an international
Catholic Organization of lay persons,
founded in Paris in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam and his companions,
placed under the
patronage of St. Vincent de Paul, it derives its inspiration from
his thinking and work, and
seeks in a spirit of justice and charity of its members to help
alleviate suffering. The Society
wishes to remember the founders with gratitude, as they set an
example of dedication to
the poor and to the Church. From Le Taillandier, who received
the first inspiration, to
Blessed Frederic Ozanam, Paul Lamance, Francois Lallier, Jules
Deveaux, Felix Clave, all of
them knew, in their humility, how to seek the wise advice and
support of the one who would
become the first President General of the flourishing Society,
The Society has been Catholic from its origins. It remains an
International Catholic Voluntary
organization of lay people, men and women. It is open to all who
live their faith by loving
and serving their neighbour. In certain cases, circumstances may
lead to the acceptance of
Christians of other faiths or members of other creeds who accept
its principles. Faithful to its
founders, it constantly strives to renew itself to changing conditions
of the world.
No work of charity is foreign to the Society. It works through
a person-to-person contact,
encompasses every form of aid that alleviates suffering and promotes
the dignity and
integrity of mankind. The Society strives not only to alleviate
need but also to discover and
redress the situations, which cause it. It serves everyone in
need, regardless of creed,
opinion, colour, origin or caste.
Members of the Society are united together in the spirit of poverty
and sharing. They form
with those they help, one and the same family throughout the world.
1.2. PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF OUR SERVICE
1.2.1. THE VINCENTIAN VOCATION
The Vocation of the Society members, who are
called Vincentians, is to follow Christ through
service to those in need and to bear witness to His compassionate
and liberating love.
Members show their commitment through person –to-person
contact. Vincentians serve in
1.2.2. Any form of personal help.
No work of charity is foreign to the Society.
It includes any form of help that alleviates
suffering or deprivation and promotes human dignity and personal
integrity In all their
1.2.3. To anyone in need
The Society serves those in need regardless
of creed, ethnic or social background, health,
gender, or political opinion.
1.2.4. To seek out the poor
Vincentians strive to seek out and find those
in need, the forgotten, and the victims of
exclusion or adversity.
1.2.5. Adaptation to a changing world
Faithful to the spirit of its founders, the
Society constantly strives for renewal, adapting to
changing world conditions. It seeks to be ever aware of the changes
that occur in human
society and the new types of poverty that may be identified or
anticipated. It gives priority
to the poorest of the poor and those who are most rejected by
1.3. OUR PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS
WITH THE POOR
1.3.1. Prayer before personal
encounters or visits
Vincentians pray that the Holy Spirit
may guide them during their visits and make them
channels for peace and joy of Christ.
1.3.2. Reverence for the
Vincentians serve the poor cheerfully,
listening to them and respecting their wishes,
helping them feel and recover their own dignity, for we are created
in God’s image. In the
poor, they see the suffering Christ. Members observe the utmost
confidentiality in the
provision of material and any other type of support.
Vincentians endeavour to establish
relationships based on trust and friendship. Conscious
of their own frailty and weakness, their hearts beat with the
heartbeat of the poor. They
do not judge those they serve. Rather, they seek to understand
them as they would a
brother or sister.
1.3.4. Promotion of Self-Sufficiency.
Vincentians endeavour to help the
poor help themselves whenever possible, and to be
aware that they can forge and change their own destinies, and
that of their local
1.3.5. Concerns for deeper
needs and Spirituality.
Vincentians are sincerely concerned
with the deeper needs and the spiritual well-being of
those they help, always observing a profound respect for their
conscience and their
religious belief, listening and understanding with their hearts,
beyond both words and
Vincentians serve in hope. They rejoice in discovering the spirit
of prayer in the poor, for in
the silence, the poor can perceive God’s plan for every
The acceptance of God’s plan leads each one to nurture the
seeds of love, generosity,
reconciliation and inner peace in themselves, their families and
all those whose lives they
touch. Vincentians are privileged to foster these signs of the
presence of the Risen Christ in
the poor and among themselves.
1.3.6. Gratitude to those
Vincentians never forget the many
blessings they receive from those they visit. They
recognize that the fruit of their labours springs, not from themselves,
but especially from
God and the poor they serve.
2. VINCENTIAN SPIRITUALITY
2.1. Love in union with
Faith in Christ and the life of
grace: Since we are justified by faith, Vincentians have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him they have
obtained access to his
grace in which they stand, and rejoice in their hope sharing the
glory of God (Romans 5:1-
Convinced of the truth of the Apostle Saint Paul’s words,
Vincentians seek to draw closer
to Christ. They hope that some day it will no-longer they who
love, but Christ who loves
through them (Gal2:20…”I have been crucified with
Christ, it is no longer I who live, but
Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in flesh I live
by faith in the Son of God”), and
that even now, in their caring, the poor may catch a glimpse of
God’s great love for them.
2.2. The journey together
Vincentians are called to journey
together towards holiness, because true holiness is of
perfect union with Christ and the perfection of love, which is
central to their vocation and
the source of its truthfulness. They aspire to burn with the love
of God as revealed by
Christ, and to deepen their own faith and fidelity. Vincentians
are aware of their own
brokenness and need for God’s grace. They seek his glory,
not there own. Their ideal is to
help relieve suffering for love alone, without thinking of any
reward or advantage for
They draw nearer to Christ, serving him in the poor and one another.
They grow more
perfect in love by expressing compassionate and tender love to
the poor and one another.
Therefore their journey together towards holiness is primarily
- Visiting and dedicating themselves to the poor, whose faith
and courage often teach
Vincentians how to live. Vincentians assume the needs of the poor
as their own.
- Attending the meeting of the Conference or Council, where shared
spirituality is a source of inspiration.
- Promoting a life of prayer and reflection, both at the individual
and community level,
shared with their fellow members. Meditating on their Vincentian
them internal spiritual knowledge of themselves, others , and
the goodness of God.
- Transforming their concern into action and their compassion
into practical and
Their journey together towards holiness will be all the more fruitful
if the members’
personal lives are characterized by prayer, meditation on the
holy scriptures and other
inspirational texts and devotion to the Eucharist and the virgin
Mary, whose protection we
have always sought, and to the teachings of the Church.
2.3. Prayer in union with
In every Conference throughout the
world and in their personal lives, Vincentians raise
their prayers to God, united with the prayer of Christ. On behalf
of one another and their
masters the poor, whose suffering they wish to share.
2.4. The spirituality of
Blessed Frederic Ozanam:
The spirituality of one of its founders
inspires Vincentians profoundly.
Blessed Frederic Ozanam :
- Sought to renew faith, among all people, in Christ and in the
civilizing effect of the
teachings of the church through all time.
- Envisioned the establishment of a network of charity and social
justice encircling the
- Attained holiness as a layman through living the Gospel fully
in all aspects of his life.
- Had a passion for truth, democracy and education
2.5. The spirituality of
Having been placed under the patronage
of St. Vincent de Paul by the founding members,
members of the Society are inspired by his spirituality, manifests
in his attitudes, his thoughts, his
example and his words.
For Vincentians, the key aspects of St.Vincent’s spirituality
- To love God, our Father, with the sweat of our brow and the
strength of our arms.
- To see Christ in the poor and the poor in Christ.
- To share the compassionate and liberating love of Christ the
evangelizer and the
servant of the poor.
- To heed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
2.5.1. Essential Virtues.
Vincentians seek to emulate St.Vincent
in the five virtues essential for promoting love and respect
for the poor:
- SIMPLICITY:- Frankness, integrity, genuineness.
- HUMILITY:- Accepting the truth about our frailties, gifts, talents
and charismas, yet
knowing that all that God gives us is for others and that we can
achieve nothing of
eternal value without his grace.
- GENTLENESS: - Friendly assurance and invincible goodwill, which
sweetness and patience in our relationship with others
- SELFLESSNESS: - Dying to our ego with a life of self-sacrifices;
members share their
time, their possessions, their talents and themselves in a spirit
- ZEAL: - A passion for the full flourishing and eternal happiness
of every person.
2.6. A Vocation for every
moment of our live.
The Vincentian affects all aspects
of members’ daily lives, making them more sensitive and
for their family, work and leisure activities. Vincentians are
available for work in the Conferences
only after fulfilling their family and professional duties.
3. MEMBERS, CONFERENCES,
COUNCILS, COMMUNITIES OF FAITH AND LOVE.
The Society is open to all those
who seek to live their faith loving and committing
themselves to their neighbour in need. (see 6.1.4 and 6.1.5 of
part one of the Rule)
The Society in each of its Conferences
(the primary basic unit of the Society of St. Vincent
de Paul), makes no distinction regarding gender, wealth, occupation,
social status or
3.3. Meetings of Vincentian
The members meet as brothers and
sisters, with Christ in the midst of them, in
Conferences that are genuine communities of faith and love, of
prayer and action. Spiritual
bonds and friendship between members are essential, as is the
common mission to help
the poor and marginalized. The entire Society is a true and unique
of Vincentian friends
3.3.1. Frequency of the
The Conferences meet regularly and
consistently, usually weekly, but at least every
3.4. Fraternity and Simplicity
Meetings are held in a spirit of
fraternity, simplicity and Christian joy.
3.5. Preserving the spirit
Members of all ages strive to preserve
the spirit of youth, which is characterized by
enthusiasm, adaptability and creative imagination. They are willing
to make sacrifices and
take risks for the benefit of the poor wherever they maybe: by
sharing their discomfort,
needs, and sorrows and defending their rights.
Conferences are grouped under various
levels of Councils. Councils exist to serve all the
Conferences they co-ordinate. They help the Conferences to develop
their spiritual life, to
intensify their service and to diversify their activities so that
they may always be
responsible to the needs of those who suffer.
Councils at appropriate levels are particularly called to: create
new Conferences, to help
existing Conferences to expand, to promote special works, to prepare
training courses and
encourage Vincentians to attend them, to foster interest in cooperation
Vincentian family, to promote cooperation with other organizations
and institutions, to
develop friendship between members in the same area, to provide
communication to and
from Conferences and higher Councils. In summary, to promote the
sense of belonging to
a society which encircles the whole world.
3.7. Young members
Young members keep the Society young.
They see with new eyes and often look far ahead.
The Society works constantly to form youth Conferences (committees)
young members into all Conferences. Their experience in a community
of faith and love
and their exposure to poverty deepen their spirituality, spur
them to action and help them
to grow as human beings. The senior members assume the responsibility
of assisting them
along their path of training, respecting their personal choices
and their aspirations of
3.8. Aggregation and Institution
of Conferences and Councils
The visible unifying link within
the Society is the aggregation of the Conferences and the
Institution of the Councils declared by the Council General
3.9. Subsidiarity and freedom
The Society embraces the principle
of subsidiarity as its basic standard of operation.
Decisions are made as closely as possible to the area of activity
to ensure that the local
environment and circumstances (cultural, social and political
etc.) are taken into
consideration. In this way the Society promotes local initiatives
within its spirit. This
freedom of action of Conferences and Councils, which has been
kept faithfully since its
origins of the Society, enables them to help the poor spontaneously
and more effectively,
free from excessive bureaucracy.
In exercising this freedom of action to face the challenge of
poverty in their area,
Vincentians feel called to pray together for guidance and strength
and for that creative
imagination which is the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, “Your
old men shall dream
dreams and your young men shall see visions”(Joel 3:1).
All decisions are made by consensus
after the necessary prayer, reflection and
consultation. The democratic spirit is fundamental at all levels
of the Society and, when
appropriate, matters are put to a vote.
3.11. Presidents as Servant
Following Christ’s example,
the Presidents at all levels of the Society endeavour to be
servant leaders. They provide an encouraging atmosphere in which
the talents, capacities
and spiritual charisms of the members are identified, developed
and put to service of the
poor and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. The President of
the Conference or Council
will have special responsibility for promoting Vincentian Spirituality.
3.12. Formation of members.
It is essential that the Society
continually promotes the formation and training of its
members and officers, in order to deepen their knowledge of the
Society and their
spirituality, to improve the sensitivity, quality and efficiency
of their service to the poor,
and help them to be aware of the benefits, resources and opportunities
that are available
to the poor.
The Society also offers members higher training in order to better
help raise the cultural
and social level of those who request this support.
3.13. The Spirit of poverty
Members of the Society are united
in the same spirit of poverty and of sharing. They
encourage one another to live a profound spiritual life and spirit
of prayer. For this
purpose, the role of a spiritual adviser is very important.
3.14. The use of money and
property for the poor.
Vincentians should never forget
that giving love, talents and time is more important than
giving money. Nevertheless, the Society uses money and property
to help relieve the
suffering of those in need. The Society’s funds must be
handled with the utmost care,
prudence and generosity. Money must not be hoarded. Decisions
regarding the use of
money and property are to be made after reflection in the light
of the Gospel and Vincent
principles. Accurate records must be kept of all money received
and spent. The Society
may not allot funds to other organizations, except occasionally
to other branches of the
Vincentian Family, save under exceptional circumstances.
3.15. The vitality of the
Society’s network of charity depends on the regular and
exchange of news and information.
Such communication broadens the member’s horizon
and enhances the interest of members in the experiences and challenges
of their brothers
and sisters throughout the world. The Vincentian response to communication
willingness to learn and a desire to help.
4. RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN
THE VINCENTIAN AND CATHOLIC NETWORK OF CHARITY
Conferences and Councils help others
in need, both at the national and international level.
This is one of the activities most cherished by the Society. The
awareness of acute poverty
in a great number of countries and the Vincentian preferential
option for the poor, spurs
Conferences and Councils to assist others with less resources
or in particular situations.
This direct link between two Conferences or Councils, consisting
of sharing prayer, a
profound friendship and material resources, is called twinning.
This activity contributes to
world peace, to understanding and cultural exchange among peoples.
4.1.1. Prayer as the basis of friendship.
Twinning promotes spirituality, deep friendship, solidarity
and mutual help. Funds and
other material resources can be provided to enable a Conference
or Council to help local
Financial, technical, medical and educational support is given to
projects which are
commended by the Society locally, and which encourage self-sufficiency.
important is support given through prayer, as well as through mutual
among Vincentians in each area.
4.1.2. Vincentians’ personal commitment
The Society urges Vincentians to consider undertaking
a personal commitment for a
particular period of time to work with Vincentians in other countries
or promote the
spread of Conferences.
4.2. Emergency assistance
When disasters, war, or other major accidents occur,
the Society launches emergency
initiatives on the spot and provides funds for the local society
to help victims.
4.3. The Vincentian Family
Members throughout the world, together with other
communities inspired by the
spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul and with those whom they help,
from a single family.
Gratefully remembering the support and encouragement the first Conference
from Blessed Rosalie Rendu, the Society maintains and develops close
other branches of the Vincentian Family, while preserving its identity.
It cooperates with
them in spiritual development and common projects, as well as with
charitable pastoral initiatives at each level, whenever this may
be mutually enriching and
useful to those who suffer.
5. RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHURCH HIERACHY
5.1. A close relationship
Faithful to the clear intentions of Blessed Frederic
Ozanam and his companions, the
Society has a close relationship with the hierarchy of the Catholic
Church. Respect of the
members for the hierarchy provides the foundation for harmonious
The Society is legally autonomous in its existence,
constitution, organization , rules
activities and internal government. Vincentians freely choose their
officers and manage
the Society’s activities and assets with full autonomy, in
accordance with their own
statutes and legislation in effect in each country.
5.3. Moral recognition
The Society recognizes the right and duty of the diocesan
bishop to confirm that none of
its activities is contrary to the Catholic faith and morals. The
Society, wherever possible,
informs the diocesan bishops of its activities annually, as a sign
of ecclesial communion.
6. OTHER RELATIONSHIPS
6.1. Ecumenical and inter-faith relationships
6.1.1. Every member should foster ecumenism
Each Vincentian should seek to deepen a personal commitment
to ecumenism and to
cooperate in works of charity and justice as a contribution towards
the achievement of
that full and viable unity of the Church for which Christ prayed,
“….that they may all be
one. As your Father are in me and I am in you, may they be one in
us that the world may
believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).
6.1.2. The Society is committed to ecumenical
and inter-faith cooperation
Following the teachings of the Catholic Church, the
Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
recognizes, accepts and encourages the call to ecumenical and inter-faith
cooperation which arise from its charitable activity. It is prepared
to participate in the
Church’s ecumenical and inter-faith initiatives within each
country, in harmony within
each country, in harmony with the diocesan bishop.
6.1.3. The adoption of practical initiatives
Conferences and Councils should establish dialogue
with their counterparts in other
Christian churches or ecclesial communities and other faiths, with
regard to cooperation in
charitable work, wherever this is appropriate.
6.1.4. Ecumenical and interfaith membership
In some countries, circumstances may make it desirable
to accept as members, Christians
of other denominations or people of other faiths who sincerely respect
and accept the
Society’s identity and its principles insofar as differences
of faith allow. The Zambia
Episcopal Conference (ZEC) should be consulted.
6.1.5. Preserving the Catholic credo and ethos
The Catholic beliefs and ethos of the Society of St.
Vincent de Paul must be preserved. The
President, Vice-President, Secretary, Vice-Secretary, the Treasurer
and Spiritual Adviser
should , therefore, be Roman Catholic. They may in certain situations
national circumstances, and after consultation with the local diocesan
bishop, be members
of churches and ecclesial communities which share the Catholic belief
in, among other
issues, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Seven
Sacraments and devotion to
6.1.6 Affiliated groups can work very closely
The Society accepts the principle of affiliated groups.
These groups consist mainly of
members of other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities who
are attracted by the work of
the Society and / or its spirituality. They are welcome to participate
in the charitable work,
appropriate Council discussions and the fraternal life of the Society,
but are not eligible for office
in the Society. Groups from non-Christian religions may also be
6.1.7. Relationships with state agencies and
When the problems they encounter are beyond their
competence or capacity, Vincentians may
contact state agencies and other more specialized charitable organisations,
provided that such
action helps the Society in its struggle against justice, and respects
the spirit of the Society.
STATUTES OF THE INTERNATIONAL
CONFERENCES OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL
1. THE CONFEDERATION, HEAD OFFICE AND
1.1. The Confederation
At International level, the Society of St. Vincent
de Paul is united in its spirituality and
management through an International Confederation of the Society
of St. Vincent de Paul
(hereinafter referred to as the “Confederation”),
which is presided over by the President
1.1.1. The Name of the Society
The International Confederation of the Society
of St. Vincent de Paul is the sole owner
of the Society’s name. Only the Council General may, on
behalf of the Confederation,
authorize or prohibit the use of its name.
1.2. The International Head Office
The Confederation’s head office is based in Paris, France,
the city where the first
Conference was founded.
The head office may be transferred to any other location in the
world by resolution of the
Council General Assembly; this resolution shall be adopted by a
majority of two thirds of
the votes of the members present and represented.
In order for this resolution to be validly adopted by the Assembly,
the proposal must have
been included on the agenda prepared previously and sent to the
members of the Council
1.3. Other International Confederation Centers
Other work centers may be established in different cities around
1.4. Official Language
In recognition of the establishment of the first St. Vincent de
Paul Conference in France,
the official language of the Conference is French. All the Confederation’s
documents shall be drafted in this language.
1.4.1 Other co-official Languages
The co-official languages of the Confederation are English, Spanish,
Chinese. The Confederation under-takes to publish most of it’s
documentation in all the
1.5. The Assembly of the Council General
The supreme democratic body of the Confederation is the Council
General, which meets in
ordinary or extraordinary Assembly and is presided over by the President
1.6. Legal Members
Each National or Assimilated Council that joins the Confederation,
and is instituted
accordingly, shall become a legal member of the Confederation’s
They must be constituted within the scope of their national legislations
as non-profit or
similar organisations, and duly instituted by the Council General.
Although the tradition of our Society prefers to use the term “Superior
provisions in legislation or other circumstances may warrant the
use of the term “National
1.6.1. Representatives on the Council
The duly elected Presidents of the National or Assimilated Councils,
represent, and which are instituted in the different countries and
regions around the world, form the Council General.
1.6.2. Definition of Assimilated Councils
Assimilated Councils are Councils that have been instituted
or Conferences that have
been aggregated, and which are legally constituted within the scope
of their national
legislation as non-profit organizations representing a country or
region in which a
national council has not yet been instituted.
1.7. Affiliation to the Confederation
Any National, Assimilated or Associated Council (as
defined in Article 1.10.1 of Part 2 of
the Rule) of the Society around the world that wishes to join the
request this in writing and submit such request to the President
General of the
1.7.1. Requirements for the affiliation
The above mentioned written request for affiliation
to the Confederation must state that
such Council complies, pursuant to national legislation, with
the provisions established in
Article 1.6 of Part 2 of the Rule, and must also indicate the
area for which it is responsible.
Likewise, it shall expressly accept all aspects of the Rule
and Statutes of the Society of St.
Vincent de Paul, which consists of three parts: The Rule of the
of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (Part 1); the Statutes of
Confederation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (Part 2);
the basic requirements for
drafting the Internal Statutes for National, Assimilated or Associated
Councils (Part 3)
1.7.2. Legal liability
Under no circumstances shall the Confederation or
any of its governing members, by
virtue of the affiliation described above, be liable for events
occurring without their
full and proven knowledge. The National , Assimilated and Associated
for all purposes, be the highest and ultimate bodies responsible,
before any type of
national or international jurisdiction, for events occurring within
1.8. Institution of National Councils.
In order to achieve a better service for members and
the poor in the same country, two or
more National Councils may be instituted in accordance with the
provisions contained in
Article 1.9 of Part 2 of the Rule.
1.8.1. The Conditions
The following conditions must be met in order to justify
a) Excessive territorial scope
b) Difficulties in communication
c) Large number of Conferences and Councils
d) Large number of members and special works
1.9. Procedures for Instituting a new National
The following conditions must be met in order for
a new National Council to be instituted
in a country where there is already a national council.
1.9.1. Establishment of the request of a National
a) Existence of more than 3,000 Conferences working
in the country of the applicant
National / Assimilated council.
b) The new council, which is the object of the Institution request,
will have more than
c) The existing National Council, authorizing the institution of
the new national
council, presents the request.
d) The legislation in the country in question permits the institution
of two national
councils in that country, with different jurisdictions.
e) Favourable recommendation by the Territorial Vice-President.
f) Express authorization from the Council General through its Permanent
1.9.2. Institution following an official request
The Council General, through its Permanent Section,
may officially institute national or
assimilated Councils for specific regions around the world, regardless
of the frontiers of
the countries in question, whenever social –political, geographical
reasons for the service
make this necessary.
When the institution of these councils affects already instituted
national councils duly
aggregated to the Confederation in accordance with the provisions
established in Article
1.6 of Part 2 of the Rule, the aforementioned Council must be
consulted beforehand. This
consultation obligation shall be binding on the Permanent Section
of the Council General.
1.10. Other members of the Council General
Different circumstances may mean that there are other
members of the Council- General,
in accordance with the following classification:
1.10.1. Associated Councils
These are Councils that cannot achieve full legal
member status due to limitations in
their national legislation or to the fact that they have availed
themselves of legal
instruments governing legal members other than those established
in Article 1.6 of
Part 2 of the Rule.
1.10.2. Temporary Members
These are members appointed by the President General
in countries or regions where
the Society is not present and until the corresponding National
or Assimilated Council
can be instituted.
The same shall apply to the provisional Presidents of National Councils
the Council General, in accordance with the provisions contained
in Article 6.5 of Part2
of the Rule.
1.10.3. Missionary Members
These shall be members appointed by the President
General to perform specific tasks
and services. They shall always include members who have served
1.11. Right to speak but not to vote
All the other members of Council General that is :
Associated, temporary or missionary
members shall be entitled to speak but not to vote at the Council
1.12. Related Special Works
Special works related to the Society that may use
the Society’s logo in the places and
situations that are considered appropriate, shall be deemed to be
those special works in
which the Society of St. Vincent de Paul participates at any level
of the organization; the
aforementioned participation shall enable the special work to be
controlled by Vincentian
members on an effective, majority and real basis.
1.12.1. Use of the Society’s Logos
Every National or Assimilated Council shall authorize
the use of the Society’s logos
within its jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions established
in the previous
The employees of these special works and in general
those employed by the
Confederation may not hold offices on the councils of the Society,
with the exception
of the technical and executive position corresponding to them at
the special work or
council where they render their services.
2. THE COUNCIL GENERAL ASSEMBLY
2.1. The General Assembly of the Confederation
The senior body of the Confederation is the Council
General, which meets in a General
Assembly as provided in Article 1.5 of Part 2 of the Rule.
Each National Council and Assimilated Council that is a legal member
is represented by
one vote. The President General shall likewise have one vote which,
if the case maybe,
shall be considered the casting vote.
2.1.1. Quorum and Voting
The valid adoption of resolutions by the General Assembly
shall require the attendance or
representation of at least 30% of its full members. Should a second
call be necessary, this
shall be considered as validly constituted regardless of the percentage
of members present
or represented. A simple majority shall validly adopt resolutions.
2.2. Frequency of Assembly Meetings
The Council General Assembly normally meets once every
2.2.1. Extra-ordinary General Assemblies
The President General may convene Extra-ordinary General
circumstances make this advisable.
An Extra-ordinary General Assembly must be convened when so requested
than 50% of the legal members of the Council General.
The Assemblies may be attended by the representatives
of the Councils indicated in Article
1.6 and 1.10.3 of Part 2 of the Rule, each by virtue of the powers
granted to them in the
The agenda of the Assembly meeting and the notice
convening the meeting are
determined by the Secretary General in agreement with the President
and taking into
account any suggestions by members of the Council to whom this notice
2.5. Prayers and Meditation
According to tradition, the meeting begins and ends
with a prayer. Consisting of a spiritual
reading or meditation, which may lead to a brief exchange of opinions.
Spiritual Adviser gives this reading. The corresponding secret collection
is always taken
among attending members.
3. THE PRESIDENT GENERAL, THE BOARD OF THE
COUNCIL GENERAL AND THE
INTERNATIONAL SERVICE STRUCTURE
3.1 The President General
The President of the Confederation of the Society
of St. Vincent de Paul and its Council General
represents the Society before the Holy See and all International
religious or civil organizations, and
in general, before any public or private organization.
Since the founding of the first Conference, this figure has represented
the nexus of union and
moral authority of the Society in periods when the Council General
Assembly has not met
The President General personifies the unity of the Society worldwide.
3.2. The Functions of the President General
The President General, supported by a team within
the International Structure, supervises, fosters
and coordinates the Society’s activities worldwide and, for
this purpose, makes any decisions
deemed appropriate, implementing the resolutions of the Council
General Assemblies in
compliance with the provisions established in the Rule, and pursuant
to the Society’s tradition.
3.2.1. Report on the progress of the Society
In January every year, and for general information
of all the members and councils, the President
General drafts a report for all the members of the Council General,
reflecting the progress of the
Society during the previous year and the prospects for the future.
3.3. Election of the President General
The President General is elected by all the members
of the Society, represented by the Presidents
of the National, Assimilated and Associated Councils, who exercise
this right on their own behalf
and on behalf of the members they represent.
3.4. Duration of term of office
The term of office of President General is Six years;
this term of office may be renewed once only.
3.5. Age Limit
The President General may not be more than 65 years
3.6. Election Procedure and deadlines
When a President General must be elected because the
term of the existing President has reached
its end, the Vice-President General must announce this at least
Ten months prior to the time of
the election to the members of the Council General, who are then
responsible for notifying the
3.6.1. Electoral Board
The Electoral Board is presided over by the Vice-President
General and is formed by the latter, the
Secretary General and the Treasurer General, provided that none
of them is a candidate. If any of
the aforementioned three persons is a candidate, a legal member
of the Council General shall
3.7. Presentation of Candidates, forms and
During the two months following the notification of
the elections, the members of the Council
General, either individually or in groups, may present the candidates
whom they deem suitable
and worthy, chosen from among those members who have belonged to
the Society for more than
Fifteen years and who do not hold remunerated service posts in the
Confederation at any level or
in any of the participating or related special works.
3.8. Announcement of Candidates.
At least Three months prior to the Council General
Assembly meeting, the Vice- President General
shall announce the candidates who fulfil the required conditions
and whose proven acceptance
has previously been obtained by the Vice-President General.
This announcement shall be accompanied by a short Vincentian “Curriculum
Vitae,” together with
the candidate’s action programme if elected. Presented on
a maximum two sheets.
3.9. Time and form of Election
The new President General shall be elected at the
General, Ordinary or Extra-ordinary Assembly
called for this and other purposes.
3.9.1. Quorum to Election
In order for the General Assembly to be validly constituted
to elect a new President General, a
quorum of 30% of the members with voting rights pursuant to Article
2.1.1 of Part 2 of the Rule
shall be required.
3.9.2. Voting Procedure
The voting system used shall consist of two rounds
and shall be effected by secret ballot. The first
round shall include the postal votes of those electors who are unable
to attend in person. In the
second round, which shall only be required if no candidate obtains
one half plus one of votes
presented, the candidates shall be the two members who have obtained
most votes in the first
round. Due to time restrictions, this second voting round shall
be performed directly and by secret
ballot; no postal votes shall be accepted.
Voting shall take place on the afternoon of the first day of the
Council General Assembly meeting
in which the voting is included on the agenda and shall have priority
over any other matters.
If an existing President General is presented for
second term of office having passed the first
round without any candidate reaching half plus one of the votes,
in order for his / her election to
be valid, he / she must obtain at least one half plus one of the
votes presented in the second
THE INTERNAL STATUTES FOR THE SOCIETY
OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL
Members of the Society are part-time, unpaid
voluntary workers, who freely
undertake to devote some of their time, talents and resources
to the service of the less
privileged people of our society and their neighbour. The Society
as a subsidiary part
of their lives, cannot take precedence over their obligations
to their livelihoods, their
own family or legitimate interests. But subject to these overriding
serving one’s neighbours implies a giving of one’s
1.1 HE WHO SEES CHRIST IN THE FACE OF
THE POOR CAN FIND A PLACE
IN THE SOCIETY.
1.1.1 Membership is open to
all Christians of all ages, men and women, those who seek to
live their faith loving and committing themselves to their neighbour.
Christians of other confessions or people from other faiths who
sincerely respect and
accept the Society’s identity and its principles, in so
far as differences of faith allow
may join. In this respect the Zambia Episcopal Conference shall
1.1.2 Membership implies acceptance
of the Rule, and Prayer life, commitment, effective
participation, in the work of the Conference. People who, though
willing to help the
Society but are unable to attend meetings can be accepted as benefactors.
auxiliary members who help the Society through their personal
co-operation in any
work for the service of those in need.
1.1.3. The names of the persons proposed for
full membership are to be submitted to the
President of the Conference concerned. The President will provide
the recommended person to the Conference. If approved, the candidate
will be admitted.
However, the candidate must undergo a period of training, formation
in the essential elements
and characteristics of the Society, the Rule and the Internal Statutes.
The member should
attend the meetings continuously for Six months as well as taking
part in the work of the
Conference, and that of their respective Christian Communities.
Before a candidate is Commissioned as a member according to Statute
Conference President or Spiritual Advisor should consult with the
discern readiness for full membership. The Conference then takes
normally by resolution, to accept the candidate into full membership.
1.1.4 As well as taking an active part in the
work of the Conference; and that of the
Christian communities, in a spirit of fraternity and sharing, members
funds of the Society.
1.1.5 A person will be deemed to be no longer
a member of the Society:
- On resignation
- On ceasing to be an effective member, e.g. through non-attendance,
good reason to assignments or missing meetings for four times consecutively
without reasonable excuse.
- For grave reasons, the National President or the President of
Council or Conference may ask a member to resign (see Article 6.8.1
2 of the Rule). Members should take the quality of the Society to
1.2 COMMISSIONING AND DEDICATION CEREMONIES
All incoming Presidents shall be commissioned, and members shall
their promise of service to the members and to the poor, thereby
spiritual dimension of their vocation. These ceremonies usually
take place during a
festival meeting (see Appendix 1, 2 and 3).
Vincentians gather in groups traditionally called Conferences
in Zambia. Conferences
in an area are linked together in PARTICULAR COUNCIL; and three
particular councils may form a Central Council (depending on the
size of a diocese,
more than one Central Council may be established). Presidents of
and isolated Particular Councils and isolated Conferences form a
2.1.1 A Conference may be based at a small Christian
Community, parish, school, an
institute, a Factory, a village or wherever need for one arises.
2.1.2 Conferences meet weekly. If circumstances
prevent this, they should meet at least
fortnightly. The purpose of the meeting is to hear reports from
members who had
visited the needy and to decide where relief and help should be
given. As far as
possible no case of want should be neglected. Also by means of the
prayers of the
meetings and fraternal encouragement, the Vincentian vocation may
be alive and
active in the members
Members will also review assignments of the previous meeting.
2.1.3 The traditional means of contributing to
the Society funds is by a secret bag passed
around during a Conference meeting. Open monthly or annual subscription
a Conference is also acceptable. A fixed members’ annual contribution
requested but not imposed, as this must remain voluntary and the
secrete bag should
be used for these contributions. National Council may require Collections
to be held
for the poor and for the structure both within Zambia and internationally.
2.1.4 A conference has a right to appeal for
help outside its locality without prior approval
of higher councils. This need not prevent higher conferences with
helping poor conferences.
2.1.5 A conference on the recommendation of the
National Council secures admission to
the Society through aggregation pronounced by the Council General.
2.1.6 The Society in each of its Conferences
makes no distinction regarding Gender,
wealth, occupation, and Social status or ethnic origin.
2.1.7 Fraternity and Simplicity: meetings are
held in a spirit of fraternity and simplicity
and Christian joy.
2.1.8 Members of all ages strive to preserve
the spirit of the youth, which is characterized
by the enthusiasm, adaptability and creative imagination. They are
willing to make
sacrifices and take risks for the benefit of the poor wherever they
may be; by sharing
their comfort, needs and sorrows and defending their rights.
2.1.9 Conferences shall be named only after saints,
of Our Blessed Lady, or Almighty God
under their various titles. Conferences may not, however be named
after St. Vincent
de Paul or Blessed Frederic Ozanam. All Conferences and Councils
shall include a
reference to the area they serve, in their name, in order to differentiate
2.1.10 Conferences may establish Youth Conferences,
helping them to be fully integrated
into the life of the Society.
2.2 Visits to the poor are made in Vincentian
2.2.1 Visits to those in need should be made
in their environment, wherever possible. The
contact with friends in need should always be made in a spirit of
cordiality, empathy and affection. It should also promote self-sufficiency
possible for those who suffer and show concern for their deepest
needs. (See the Rule,
1.2 to 1.12).
2.3 Conference and Council Annual Review
At least once a year, each conference and council
must evaluate their service to the
members and to the poor they visit, and find ways to provide better
should also consider the new types of needs they seek to alleviate
and how to find
those in need.
An Annual Review Meeting is therefore, to become part of a conference
life and the
same idea is extended to councils.
2.4 CONFERENCE AND COUNCIL MEETING ESSENTIALS
(FOR AGENDA REFER TO APPENDIX 4)
2.4.1 Opening and closing prayers,
formal and, if needed, spontaneous.
(Refer to Appendix 4)
2.4.2 A spiritual reading and meditation,
on which members are always invited to comment
as a means of sharing their faith and deepening their mutual understanding.
2.4.3 Reading and approval of the
minutes of the previous meeting.
2.4.4 Reading and approval of the
financial statements presented by the treasurer.
2.4.5 Reports on the visits made
by the members, since the previous meeting, to families
and friends in need. Discussion on ways to improve the conference’s
2.4.6 Allocation of the visits and
other tasks entrusted to each member for the following
week by the President, after consultation with the conference. Visits
must be made in
pairs for the following reasons:
18.104.22.168.1 Two members are likely
to see different aspects of a problem and other
22.214.171.124.2 It helps to foster the
friendship between members, which is so important to us.
126.96.36.199.3 Our lord sent out disciples
in pairs, for mutual support and inspiration.
188.8.131.52.4 For the sake of the Society’s,
and visiting members’ reputation, it is prudent to
visit in pairs, especially when visiting vulnerable people living
2.4.7 Review of any correspondence
2.4.8 A secret collection must be
taken, and the amount collected announced by the
2.4.9 Whenever possible, the inclusion
of training periods for members, and
communication of relevant current information about the society.
2.4.10 Council meetings at all levels
should follow a similar agenda suitably adapted. No
secret collection need be taken.
3.1 PARTICULAR COUNCILS
3.1.1 Where there are FOUR (4) or
more conferences, under the supervision of a Central
Council, a new Particular Council may be formed, with the usual
aims but especially
to start new Conferences until there are at least Eight (8) Conferences
jurisdiction. The Particular Council may then be instituted. A Particular
consist of officers of the Conferences composing it. From their
own members they
will elect a Council President, Vice-President, Secretary, Vice-Secretary,
and Youth Coordinator.
3.1.2 The purpose of a particular
council is to animate and coordinate the work of the
conferences so that they are well run, to give advice and help where
encourage new works and generally to promote the work of the society
in the area and
to form new conferences.
3.1.3 To this end they should meet
as often as required, preferably once in a month. They
should supervise, and see that regular reports and information are
sent to the Central
Council and see that such information is given conference members
understood by them.
Council names refer to the area they coordinate.
3.1.4 Should ensure that a percentage
of Council income is submitted to the Central
Council at the required time, being financial support to the Central
particular council should submit the names and address of their
leaders as they change
3.1.5 Particular Councils must evaluate
their service to the members and to the poor. They
must adapt themselves to new challenges according to the needs of
world. Priority must be given to the poorest of the poor and to
those who are most
rejected by society.
3.2 PARTICULAR COUNCILS HAVE AN OBLIGATION
TO SUPPORT THEIR
CENTRAL COUNCIL FINANCIALLY.
4. CENTRAL COUNCIL
4.1 Where considered necessary a
Central Council may be instituted.
4.1.1 Three or more instituted Particular
Councils may under the supervision of the
National Council form a Central Council to coordinate the work of
the Society in their
4.2 A Central Council executive is
elected by officers of the Particular Councils, which
composes it. The executive shall comprise of: the President, Vice
Secretary, Vice-Secretary, Treasurer, and a youth coordinator. These
be made known to the National Council in writing. Central Councils
meet once every
month. Geographical and travel needs may make this unattainable,
should meet ONCE EVERY TWO MONTHS, but at least every THREE MONTHS.
4.3 The purpose of a Central Council
is to animate and coordinate the work of the
Particular Councils, to see that they are well run, to give advice
and to help where
necessary, to encourage new works and generally to promote the Society
in the area
as well as forming new Particular Councils.
4.4 CENTRAL COUNCILS HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO
NATIONAL COUNCIL FINANCIALLY.
4.5 FUNCTIONS OF COUNCILS
4.5.1 Councils are first and foremost
at the service of conferences and other councils falling
under their jurisdiction, with the view to promoting growth of the
Society and its
works. They also help conferences to develop their spiritual life.
4.5.2 They stimulate and coordinate
the activities of the conferences and councils within
their area of jurisdiction.
4.5.3 They examine the financial
statements and annual reports, and forward them together
with their comments, to the next higher council, without delay.
4.5.4 They cooperate with other charitable
organizations, which share the same objectives
that the Society has. However, sharing the Society’s financial
resources must be
considered only in exceptional circumstances, with great circumspection,
after receiving approval by the next higher council. It must be
remembered that the
Society’s benefactors donated specifically to the Society,
and accordingly, their
intentions must be respected. (Refer to Article 3.14 of Part 1 of
4.5.5 They encourage initiative,
and strive to establish new councils and conferences and
new works of charity.
4.5.6 They submit to the council
requests for aggregation of conferences and institution of
councils together with their comments thereon.
4.5.7 They arrange, whenever possible,
meetings for the training of members and
prospective members, in the Vincentian vocation. (For complete criteria,
3.6 of Part 1 of the Rule).
4.5.8 Without creating a parallel
organization, Councils at appropriate levels should
promote Youth Councils, when circumstances permit. Such Councils
shall have the
same relationship with the Council under which they operate as the
rest of the
Committees linked to the same Council.
5. NATIONAL COUNCIL
5.1 It will supervise by visits,
reports and correspondence the work of all councils and
conferences in the country. It ensures that the basic principles
of the society, as
expressed in all three (3) parts of the Rule are respected.
5.2 The National Council is the highest
body of the Society in the country, and it will be
based in Lusaka for easy access to the Zambia Episcopal Conference
(ZEC) and the
National Council for the Laity (NCL). It represents the Society
before civil, religious
and international authorities. It has the right to draw up and amend
the Rule of the
Society, providing such RULE or amendments are in accordance with
Part 1 of the
Rule of the Society.
5.2.1 NATIONAL COUNCIL’S INCOME
5.3 It has the right to receive funds,
legacies and donations on behalf of the society.
National Council’s income is derived from support in the form
of levies given by
other councils attached to it and from sundry receipts including
gifts, legacies and
subsidies. The National Council shall determine the levy, which
each council shall
5.3.1 Council Presidents Right to
Audit and see Correspondence
When deemed appropriate Council Presidents should authorize audits
conferences, councils and special work under the auspices of their
Council Presidents are entitled to have access to all correspondence
sent by any
of its Conferences on behalf of the Society. This same authorization
is applicable to
any Council with regard to the other Councils under its jurisdiction.
The President of the council to which any of the Society’s
special work belongs, shall
be entitled, after due consultation with National Council and evaluation
of the legal
consequences to replace the members of the board of that special
work (project) and
any of its employees regardless of their functions. (For complete
criteria, see Article
1.12 of Part 2 of the Rule)
5.4 The National Council is composed of the following:
- National President
- National Vice-President
- National Secretary
- National Vice-Secretary
- National Treasurer
- National Youth Coordinator
- Aggregation Officer
- Twinning Officer
- National Training Officer
- Persons appointed to the National Council for specific duties
- President (or delegate) of each Central Council
- President (or delegate) of an isolated Particular Council or isolated
5.5.All Councils; National, Central
or Particular must instituted and all conferences
must be aggregated by the Council General.
6. AUTHORITIES OF THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT
6.1 To suspend, members, conferences and councils.
In accordance with Article 6.8 of Part 2 of the Rule,
the Presidents of National
Councils have the delegated authority to suspend members, conferences
or councils of
the Society within their area as a precautionary measure.
6.1.1 When the National President
has made such a decision, the member, council or
conference suspended as a precautionary measure will cease to exercise
may not act on behalf of the Society under any circumstances. However,
member, conference or council is entitled to appeal to the President
complete criteria, see Article 6.8.1 of Part 2 of the Rule)
6.1.2 A suspended member may alternatively
appeal to the National Council so that the
case may be reviewed at a plenary meeting of the latter, which will
listen to the
member and make its decisions by vote. Should the member choose
this process, and
should the appeal fail, a further appeal to the President General
may be made by the
6.2 To annul the election of a President
The National President may, for serious reasons, annul
the election of a member as a
President of a conference or council. Such a member will immediately
exercise the office but may appeal to the National Council.
6.3 May establish a conciliation committee
The National Council may establish a Conciliation
Committee, to which councils,
conferences and members may appeal.
Councils, conferences and members trust the integrity of the Society
and its life of
prayer and communion, so that they may not appeal to civil or legal
resolve internal differences, without the express permission of
the Council General.
Any member, conference or council which uses means other than those
the Society to resolve internal disputes renounces Vincentian Communion
the Society. (For the complete criteria, see Article 6.11.1 of Part
2 of the Rule)
6.3.1 A Conciliation Committee
It may only have three or four members, of great experience
in Vincentian matters
with relevant skills and a conciliatory spirit. It should have the
capacity to quickly
establish the facts, be able calmly to explain the views of the
two parties to each other,
and to propose solutions, which are consistent with the spirit of
the Rule and the
Statutes. Sustained prayer, good will and a desire to reconcile,
will usually resolve the
7.1 A conference, a Particular Council
and a Central Council, whichever is the case, is
headed and directed by a President, who is elected by a secret ballot
members of the respective conferences or councils, for a period
of three (3) years and
may be elected for a similar period of time, but shall not exceed
six (6) years of
continuous service in the same post/position.
7.2 The election of a President of
a conference or council must be notified in writing, one
month before the date of the election to the delegates and supervising
body or person.
7.3 The President, Vice-President,
the Secretary, the Vice-Secretary, the Treasurer will
be elected by secret ballot by the full members of the conference
7.4 These officers may serve for
the second time if elected consecutively. The maximum
term of office for the President of Superior Council (National Council)
or those of any
other level should not exceed six (6) years.( See 19.7.2)
7.4.1 Other officers may be appointed
by the President to undertake special responsibilities
or projects. These serve under the pleasure of the President.
7.4.2 To safeguard the reputation
of the conference or council, and therefore that of the
Society itself, appointees should not be relatives of the person
empowered to make the
7.4.3 All Council Presidents and
Vice-Presidents must belong to a Conference. Other
principal officers should also belong to a Conference but there
may be occasional
7.5 Employees may only hold office
in a conference which does not control their work,
but they may not hold office in any Council.
7.5.1 The National Council will be
headed by a National President. The Presidency should
be considered by him/her to be responsibility and not an honour.
8. The President
It is recommended that members should not hold the
office of the President after the
age of 65 years. The President is at the service of all those aided
by the conference or
council and all his members. He/she will direct and inspire the
conferences or council
to ensure that the work is carried out with sympathy and efficiency
and to maintain
liaison with the council to which the conference or council is attached,
8.1 Presidents as servant leaders
Following Christ’s example, the Presidents at
all levels of the Society endeavour to be
servant leaders. They provide an encouraging atmosphere in which
capacities and spiritual charisms of the members are identified,
developed and put to
the service of the poor and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
The President of the
conference or council will have special responsibility for promoting
8.2 The Vice-President
The Vice-President Deputizes for the President and
cooperates with and assists the
President. He also visits members who fail to carryout assignments
and do not attend
meetings regularly and may be assigned other work by the President.
8.3 The Secretary
The Secretary prepares the minutes of the conferences
or council meetings, arranges
for call outs and ensures that all records are properly maintained.
8.4 The Vice-Secretary
The Vice-Secretary deputizes when the Secretary is
not available, and may be
assigned other duties.
8.5 The Treasurer
The Treasurer is responsible for keeping an accurate
and up-to-date record of the
funds of the Society. He will prepare audited financial reports
every year. He will
ensure that account withdraws are made by two officers. He organizes
8.5.1 The treasurer and the President
shall exercise strict control over conference or council
funds and shall endeavour to cooperate with banking officials and
safeguarding funds and chequebooks. All cheques paid by the Society
must be signed
by two duly authorized members.
8.6 The Youth Coordinator
The Youth Coordinator is responsible for all activities
in the Youth Committees,
promoting interest in sport and works of charity in conferences
9. The Spiritual Adviser
The Spiritual Adviser has no executive functions in
the administration of the
conference or council. Vincentians meeting as a spiritual occasion
is enhanced by the
presence of a spiritual adviser whose role is to help in the development
of the spiritual
life of the members, to help them understand better the virtue of
charity and its
practical application to the works in which they are involved. Furthermore,
presence of a spiritual adviser helps to strengthen the bonds between
activities of the Society and the apostolic activity of the church.
As a tradition since
the beginning of the Society, a spiritual adviser should be appointed
to foster spiritual
life with the conferences and councils.
Should a member of the ordained clergy, i.e. a Priest or deacon,
or a consecrated
member of a religious order not be available to act as the Spiritual
Adviser, the President of
the Council or Conference, after consultations with the President
of the next higher Council,
may appoint a layperson who has had suitable training.
9.1 Promoting unity within and between conferences
Festival meetings and conference masses should be
Conferences and councils celebrate liturgical ceremonies, particularly
ceremonies, together throughout the year, endeavouring to maintain
friendship among the members, to deepen spirituality, to share experiences
provide information to improve the Society’s service to the
poor. (For complete
criteria, see Article 2 and 3 of Part 1 of the Rule)
10. In Zambia, four festival meetings
should be convened; one on each of the Sundays
nearest four of the following feast day: -
- 9th September – feast of Blessed Frederic Ozanam
- 27th September – feast of St. Vincent de Paul
- 8th December – feast of the Immaculate Conception
- 2nd Sunday of July – remembrance day of the dead Zambian
- 1st Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year
- 9th November the Liturgical Feast Day of Blessed Rosalie Rendu
- 1st Sunday of Lent (because in Lent the need to undertake more
works is emphasized along with the need for more prayer and penance
At least once a year, members should together attend a mass for
the work of the
conference, the members themselves and those visited.
Conferences and councils help others in need, both
at the National and International
level. The Society encourages friendly relations between Conferences
The awareness of acute poverty in a great number of countries and
preferential option for the poor, spurs Conferences and Councils
locally or abroad to assist others with less resources or in particular
The direct link between two Conferences or Councils, consisting
of sharing prayer, a
profound friendship and material resources, is called Twinning.
contributes to world peace, to understanding and cultural exchange
THE DRC AND NC-ZAMBIA FRAME WORK:
- In the understanding of solidarity, our first
obligation within the Society is working within our Rule.
- In the recent past, individuals, Conferences and Councils engaged
in correspondence, donations without the full knowledge of the
higher Councils. In this regard teh partners, Dublin Regional
Council (DRC) and the National Council- Zambia (NC) directed hence
forth all correspondence by Conferences or Councils to their twin
partners, either way, should be copied to the respective Presidents.
- It was also noted that individuals of the same named Conferences
and Councils had engaged themselves in soliciting for project
funds abroad, without the knowledge of the higher Council (National
Council of Zambia). The Dublin Regional Council shall redirect
all such requests which do not bear any approval by the National
- Conferences under the Dublin Regional Council twinned to some
Conferences/ Councils in Zambia need to channel their finances
or material assistance through their Regional President.
- All Receiving Conferences/ Councils must furnish the National
Council proper distribution and utilization reports for all funds
received fro twin partner.
- Under Internal Statute 2.1.4 of part 3 of our Rules, it is stated
that "A Conference has a right to appeal for help outside
its locality without prior approval of higher Councils ...".
However the general feeling between the two partners was that
there should be openness, honesty and responsibility in the way
we conduct ourselves. All Conferences have to work in tandem with
the vision of the partners in order to achieve the goals set towards
achieving orderly and effective service delivery to the needy
and poor, those we serve.
All enquiries on this subject should be directed
to: The Twinning Officer National Council of Zambia
11.1 A Conference and a Council not
aggregated or instituted may not be twinned.
Application for twinning is done through the Twinning Officer of
12. TRANSPARENCY IN USING MONEY AND OTHER
National Council, other Councils and Conferences publish annual
finance and activity reports.
The Society shall preserve its good reputation for
honesty and responsible stewardship. It will
produce finance and activity reports at least annually as at the
A detailed, comprehensive report shall be submitted to the Council
General annually on or before
30th September. Such reports will be presented in the format specified
by International Council
General, and will encompass the year ending the previous 31 March.
Reports should be sent to the diocesan bishops to keep them informed
of the Society’s work. (for
the complete criteria, see Article 3.19.1 of Part 2 of the Rule).
National Council will be, to all legal effects, the sole responsible
party before any national or
international jurisdiction for the events occurring within the Society
All expenditures should be approved during a full executive meeting
and it is recommended that any
one holding the position of treasurer should have basic numerical
12.1.1 Vincentians should never forget
that giving love, talents and time is more important than
giving money. Nevertheless, the Society uses money and property
to help relieve the suffering of
those in need. The Society’s funds must be handled with the
utmost care, prudence and generosity.
The money must not be hoarded. Decisions regarding the use of money
and property are to be
made after reflection in light of the Gospel and Vincentian Principles.
( see the Rule 4.5.4 ).
12.1.2. Accurate records must be
kept of all money received and spent. The Society may not allocate
funds to other organizations, except occasionally to other branches
of the Vincentian family, save
under exceptional circumstances.
Property and the distribution of unused funds
Conferences and Councils may own property for either
accommodating needy people or for
fund-raising. All such properties must be reported to and be registered
with the National
Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Conferences and Councils zealously manage and maintain the Society’s
assets. The authority to
dispose of, purchase, mortgage, lease or rent the Society’s
real estate assets belongs exclusively to
National Council may, on behalf of the Society, acquire or dispose
of immovable property, and erect
thereon any buildings or facilities required by the Society for
the furtherance of its objectives,
provided that the National Council may delegate its authority or
part thereof to a Central Council.
All documents relating to the acquisition or disposal of immovable
property shall be signed by the
National President, subject to a prior resolution of the National
Council authorizing the transaction.
Should the National Council President not be available, the National
Vice-President shall sign in place
of the National President, subject to the adoption of a resolution
by the National Council to
authorize the transaction, and to authorize the Vice-President to
sign all documents relating to the
transaction on behalf of the Society. In the event of both the National
President and the National
Vice-President not being available, the National Council may by
resolution authorize the transaction,
and authorize an office bearer to sign the necessary documents on
behalf of the Society.
Any document that is to be lodged in a Deeds Office including those
relating to the transfer of
immovable property shall require two of the following signatures
– a National President or a
National Vice-President, and a National Treasurer or a National
National Council will assess annually the quantum of unused funds
held by each of the Councils or
Conferences within their areas, and will accordingly determine the
allocation of such excess funds,
to the service of the poor in their own areas or abroad.( For the
complete criteria, see Article 3.14 of
Part 1 of the Rule).
13. REFUND OF ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES.
Vincentian Officers entrusted to undertake duly authorized
tasks for the Society are entitled
to the refund of the administrative expenses incurred.
14. ASSISTANCE TO MEMBERS IN NEED
As a general principle, members should not be excluded
from receiving assistance just because they
are members. All people in need, of whatever status, are eligible
for assistance by the Society.
A member should apply to his or her President in the Conference
or Council and one other office
bearer and the matter will be passed to another Conference to deal
with.. Other members of the
member’s own Conference or Council should not be involved.
The members of the Conference
which has been asked to help will be informed that a “ special
case” is being dealt with ( without the
name being divulged), but they will be informed of the circumstances
so they can consider together
the appropriate help to give, which will be duly recorded in the
minutes and in the Treasurer’s
Conferences or Particular Councils should deal with such requests
and provide the finance unless the
amount required is beyond their means. In such event, Central Councils
or National Council are to be
asked to assist. The decision to give assistance is to be taken
by the Conference or Particular Council,
or Central Council or National Council President, and one other
Members being assisted may continue to be active members within
Members so helped are to be given the option of repaying the amount
requested, unlike the
circumstances when non-members are assisted.
If the person is an office bearer, then he or she must step down
Any assistance given should, where possible, be paid by the Treasurer
direct to the creditor and not
to the member.
No case should be taken as a precedent for any other case.
No assistance is to be given to members for educational purposes
or any other purposes such as
those when an ordinary member of the public would or could approach
a bank for a loan.
15. DECEASED MEMBERS
It is recommended that, in the 2nd Sunday of July
of each year, we remember with gratitude the
foundations laid by our deceased brothers and sisters. Accordingly,
wherever possible, their names
should be mentioned in the De Profundis prayed at the conclusion
of each meeting in July.
Decisions regarding the dissolution of a Central Council
shall rest with the National Council.
In the event of the dissolution of a Central Council, its funds
and assets shall revert to the National
Council to be utilized in such manner as the National Council may
decide in the furtherance of the
objects as set out in Articles 1.2, 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.2.3 and 1.2.4.
of Part 1 of the Rule. For this purpose
the persons authorized to sign documents for the National Council
shall be similarly authorized to
sign the documents for the Central Council.
The Society may close down if at least two-thirds of the members
present and voting at a special
meeting convened for the purpose of considering the matter are in
favour of dissolving. If the
Society should close down it will need to liquidate all its debts.
After doing this, any property of
money remaining shall not be paid or given to members of the Society.
These assets shall be given to
another non-profit organization which has objectives as close as
possible to those of the Society.
Members at the special meeting so convened will decide what organization
this should be. If the
meeting cannot reach a decision then the National Council for the
Laity will be asked to decide.
17. MEMBERSHIP FEES
17.1 The preferred level of the voluntary
Members’ annual contribution will be specified from time
to time at the National Council General Meeting. 17.2.
Out of the Conference Income, Conferences will remit 15% to the
Particular Council, which in
turn will remit 10% to the Central Council, which will remit 5%
to the National Council by April
every year. 17.3 The National Council on receipt
of Income from the Central Councils will ensure that some of
the money is sent to Council General every year- September.
National Council may require Collections to be held for the poor
and for the structure both within
Zambia and Internationally.
18. Fund-Raising Projects
All Conferences, Particular Councils, Central Councils
and the National Council are under obligation
to initiate sustainable fund-raising projects all the time for the
purpose of raising money to support
the needy people and for their administration requirements.
19. ELECTION REGULATIONS
19.1 The election of the President
at the Conference shall be supervised by the Particular
Council and at the Particular Council by the Central Council and
at the Central Council by the
National Council, and at the National Council, by a distinguished
Catholic Lay person appointed by
Executive Members of the National Council. 19.2
Members of the Society shall not hold more than one Executive post
in the Society in
order to promote efficiency. 19.3 Executive
Members of the Society shall not hold any Executive position in
the Church in
order to promote efficiency. 19.4 All elections
must be by secret vote 19.5 All positions in
the executive shall be elective, by a secret vote 19.6.1
In the event of an office falling vacant a person may be appointed
by the President to fill
the vacancy. Similarly, in the event of the office of President
falling vacant, the Vice-President shall
take over as president until elections are held. 19.6.2
For disciplinary reasons the national President or President of
a Council of Conference
may remove from office any officer under his or her control and
make a replacement.
19.7 TERM OF OFFICE
The term of office for all Presidents for Conferences,
Particular Councils, Central Councils and
National Council shall be Three years but can be re-elected for
another Three years. 19.7.1 However, the National
President shall be eligible for re-election for one additional term
exceeding three years if, under “ exceptional” circumstances,
the national Council requests the
Council General’s permission to extend further the term of
office of its President.
The Council General, through the Permanent Section, will authorize
or refuse such a request and, in
case of its authorization, will set the maximum period of time for
that extension. 19.7.2. Councils, at any level,
have the same power as Council General to authorize another
term of office for the Presidents of the Councils and Conferences
they co-ordinate, on their written
request. If it is authorized, the Council will set the maximum period
of time for the extension, which
shall be less than three years.
Council and Conference Presidents cannot, therefore, be re-elected
for a partial third term without
requesting, and obtaining the agreement of the next higher Council.
20 ELECTION OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL EXECUTIVE
AND NATIONAL COUNCIL MEETINGS.
20.1 Delegates will elect the National
Council Executive from all Councils in Zambia at the Plenary
Session, for a period of Three years, except in the case of death
or resignation of the President. The
National Council Executive may appoint sub-committees for certain
work. 20.2 A candidate aspiring for President
should be less than 70 years. Only members who have not
yet reached the age of 65years are eligible for election as President.
It is recommended that
members should not hold office of President after the age of 68years.
On reaching the age of 68 the
President shall complete his or her ordinary term of office but
must then retire. 20.3 The National Council
Executive will have meetings to attend to the day to day running
Society within the strategies and policies agreed by the National
Council, receiving reports, attending
to correspondence, etc. Changes in the Rule and the election of
the National Council executive
members will take place at the Plenary Session of the National Council. 20.4 There shall be an annual National Council
General Meeting. The National Council is the
highest decision-making body in the Society in Zambia and has been
instituted by Council General.
The Society accepts the principles of subsidiarity and democratic
consensus as the basic rule of its
functions (see the Rule, 3.9, 3.10). At every Council level, the
number of appointed members, who
are non-voting, shall not exceed the number of elected Presidents
who are members of the Council. 20.5 The Plenary
session will take place every Three years to review the operations
of the Society.
21. INTERPRETATION OF THE STATUTES
These Internal Statutes of Zambia received the approval
of the Permanent Section of the Council
General on ……………………………….
They are subordinate to and interpreted according to Part 1 of the
Rule of the International Confederation of the Society of St. Vincent
de Paul, and to Part 2, the
Statutes of the International Confederation of the Society of St.
Vincent de Paul, and shall be treated
together with them as a single legal document.
All members shall
annually renew their promise of service to the members and to
the poor, thereby
deepening the spiritual dimension of their Vocation. Annually:
Each Conference shall celebrate the
renewal of the members’ promise of service preferably during
a Festival Meeting, 27th September,
Feast of St.Vincent de Paul or during a special Conference Mass.
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Lord Jesus Christ, we the brothers and sisters of
the family of St. Vincent de Paul come before you
today to dedicate ourselves to the service of the poor. Increase
our faith so that we may always see
you in those we serve. We increase our hope that we may always undertake
our duties with courage
and patience, above all increase our love so that we may grow in
love for both you and our neighbor,
for it was you who said we cannot love you without loving our neighbor.
We also ask you to give
eternal happiness to our deceased members and hope that at our time
of judgment you will say “Come you blessed of my father
for I was hungry and you gave me to eat, thirsty and you gave me
drink.” We ask this, dear Lord for your great Glory.
2. RITE TO COMMISSION CONFERENCE MEMBERS
OF THE SOCIETY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL
(New members might well be formally received at
quarterly Festivals) INTRODUCTION RITE (After a hymn) “Whatsoever
you do to…………………. PRESIDER: In the name of the Father and the
Son and the Holy Spirit ALL: Amen PRESIDER: Today (tonight) let us pause and call
to mind that together we are in the presence
of the Lord as His people, answering His call to serve through
membership in the Society of
St. Vincent de Paul
(Pause for a moment)
Let us pray: Father, we realize your provident care for us, your
pardon of our sins, and your
protection of our life. Grant that we may serve you that we witness
to life among your
people. We ask all this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
FIRST READING: Philippians 2:1-5. ALL: Hear O God, my voice listen to my prayer PRESIDER: We are overcome by sins; it is you
who pardon them. Happy the one you choose
and bring to dwell in your courts. May we be filled with the good
things of your house, the
Holy things of your temple. GOSPEL: John 15: 1-7
(Instruction or homily, suggested emphasis on Vatican 2 decree
on the Apostle of Lay
people, especially chapter on charitable works and social aid)
3. CALLING ALL MEMBERS
PRESIDER: The following Parishioners
(students) of ……………..Conference (school)
themselves for membership in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. CALL NAMES:
Let us signify our approval by applauding. Commission and sign.
(The celebrant gives the Rule Book to each member).
PRESIDER: Receive the Rule of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul,
through studying it; meditating on
sacred scriptures, and prayer, may you be fortified in your resolve
to serve the needy people of God. NEW MEMBERS:
PRESIDER: Let us offer our prayers
to the Father of the works of these members: P:
For the leaders of our Church, that they will be supported in the
promoting works of justice and
charity among God’s people. Let us pray to the Lord, Lord
hear us. P: For the sick, the lonely, needy
and those suffering pain, that they will experience the healing
power of Christ. Let us pray to the Lord, Lord hear us. P:
For the members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, that they
will continue to grow in the
knowledge of Christ’s message of justice and charity. Let
us pray to the Lord, Lord hear us P: For our
……………Conference of St. Vincent de
Paul, that it will serve our people well, in both giving
of themselves and witnessing to the generosity of Christ. Let us
pray to the Lord, Lord hear us. P: For all
God’s people, that we may come to greater consciousness of
God’s love and concern for us
and our neighbours, Let us pray to the Lord, Lord hear us P:
For all the faithful servants of the Lord who have died in His friendship.
Let us pray to the Lord,
Lord hear us P: Father, help us to serve your
people in truth, justice and love that they may come to know, love
and serve you.
WE ASK ALL THIS IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
AMEN P: Let us pray as Christ taught us All: OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN………………………. P: May Almighty God bless you, in the name of the
Father and the son and the Holy Spirit. All:
AMEN P: Let us go forth strengthened to do
God’s work to serve his people. ALL:
THANKS BE TO GOD
PRESIDER: The life and vitality
of Parish Societies depends on leaders who are willing to give their
time and talent. We pray for the new (Central Council/ National)
President who has been elected to
lead the Council for the next Three years. Retiring
President: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international
Christian organization of lay
people, Catholic in origin, character and tradition, founded in
Paris in 1833 by Blessed Frederic
Ozanam and his companions. It is made up of Conferences and Councils.
The office of President is a
responsibility, not an honour. It is one of service, where the President
is first among equals.
lights a candle and says:
Brothers and sisters, I present to you the new President (name)…………………………
Who has been elected as the President of …………………….(Council).
This lighted candle represents the
faith and love which, with the help of God, I have tried to encourage
and nourish. PRESIDER:
New President (name)……………….receive
the light of Christ. May you be filled with the warmth of his
love, so that the light of His presence may burn evermore brightly
in this Council and throughout the
Do you promise to carry out your duties with diligence and imagination,
serving the Council and its
members, the structures of the Society and those in need for the
greater glory of God, and to seek
consensus and not to insist on your own opinion. To see every member
as a friend, to recognize their
talents, to encourage the reticent, to develop harmony and respect
between members ? PRESIDENT: I DO PRESIDER:
you have accepted a serious responsibility and I ask all those
present to share in that responsibility and to pray for the Grace
to carry it.
(The candle is extinguished)
The Rule is held by the Retiring President as it is blessed.
PRESIDER: O God, by whose word all things
are made holy, bless this Rule of the Society, and grant
that whoever reads it with a receptive mind, may with the help of
the Holy Spirit, come to know
Jesus better, to see with His eyes and love with His heart. May
their souls be protected and their
hearts filled with joy, through Christ our Lord. AMEN.
The Rule is handed to the Presider, who hands it to the President
Receive the Rule of the Society as a sign of your leadership and
responsibility. With the help of God,
may you hand this Rule on to your successor after a fruitful and
successful Presidency. PRESIDER with hands
outstretched over the President says:
Almighty God, we give thanks for the many and varied ways you build
up your Church. Bless the new
President of this Council. Grant that with vision and leadership,
he/she and all the officers, may
serve the Council and the Society with humility, and bring honour
and glory to your name. Grant this
through Christ our Lord. Retiring President:
In the spirit of Jesus and in the name of our Patron, St. Vincent
de Paul, and our principal founder,
Blessed Frederic Ozanam, we commission you, ………………(name)
as President of………………..(name
Council) to lead not as one who dominates, but as one who serves,
and to encourage your brothers
and sisters in the Society “to go to the poor with love,”
and to share their burdens and joys as true
APPENDIX 3. DEDICATION
Lord Jesus Christ, we the brothers and sisters of
the family of St. Vincent de Paul, come before you
today to re-dedicate ourselves to the service of the poor.
Increase our faith so that we may always see you in those we serve.
Increase our hope that we may
undertake our duties with courage and patience.
Above all, increase our love so that we may grow in love both for
you and our neighbor, for it was
you who said we cannot love you without loving our neighbour. We
ask you to show approval of our
Society through the canonization of our blessed Frederic Ozanam.
We also ask you to give eternal happiness to our deceased members,
and hope that at our time of
judgment you will say “come you blessed of my Father for I
was hungry and gave me to eat, thirsty
and you gave me to drink, naked and you clothed me.” AMEN.
Our Lady Queen of the poor, pray for us.
Note: It is requested that this prayer be recited at festival meetings.
Meetings are held in a spirit of
fraternity, simplicity and Christian joy. Decisions are taken
consensus after prayer, reflections and consultations. The democratic
spirit is fundamental within
the Society and when necessary a vote may be taken.
ALL: In the name the Father…………………………………
PR: COME HOLY SPIRIT, penetrate our hearts
ALL: and kindle within us the fire of your love
PR: Send forth your spirit and new life be created
ALL: and the whole new face of the earth will be renewed.
PRAYER FOR A FRUITFUL MEETING
PR: Let us remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “when
two or three are gathered together
in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
ALL: Lord Jesus Christ help us through meeting together to deepen
our Vincentian friendship and
answer the call every Christian receive to seek and find those
who are forgotten, to bring love to
the suffering or deprived. Help us to be generous with our time,
our possessions and ourselves so
that we may grow perfect in your love and to share your sacrifice
for others in the Holy Eucharist.
PR. St. Joseph, Patron of families
ALL: Pray for us
PR: St. Vincent de Paul
ALL: Pray for us
PR: Blessed Frederic Ozanam
ALL: Pray for us
ALL: In the name of the Father……………………..
21. AGENDA FOR MEETINGS
1. Opening Prayer
2. Spiritual reading and sharing
3. Roll call / Apologies
4. Minutes of the previous meeting
5. Matters arising
7. Treasurer’s report
8. Member’s report of visits:
i). – in the homes
ii) – Hospitals
iii) – Jails etc.
iv) – Other
9. Assignment of work
10. Secret collection
11. Any other Business
12. Projects (if any)
13. Closing Prayers1. Opening Prayer
2. Spiritual reading and sharing
3. Roll call / Apologies
4. Minutes of the previous meeting
5. Matters arising
7. Treasurer’s report
8. Member’s report of visits:
i). – in the homes
ii) – Hospitals
iii) – Jails etc.
iv) – Other
9. Assignment of work
10. Secret collection
11. Any other Business
12. Projects (if any)
13. Closing Prayers
22. CLOSING PRAYERS
PR: In the name of the Father……………………..
Prayer to see the Eucharist as the source of our Apostolate
ALL: Father grant that communion with Christ present in the Holy
Eucharist may impel us
to love you by serving him in our neighbour and help us to respond
with open hearts to
the sufferings of others, aware of the depths of our own needs.
Prayer that we may bear witness to Christ’s love
ALL: Grant us the grace to persevere when disappointed or distressed
and never to claim
that our work springs from ourselves alone, so that united in
prayer and action, we may
be a visible sign of Christ and bear witness to boundless love
that reaches out to all
peoples and draws them to love one another in him.
Prayer for fruitful visit
ALL: We thank you for the many blessings we receive from those
we visit. Help us to love
and respect them, to understand their needs and to share their
burden and joys as true
(Each member could say one or more Round the table”)
For the Pope and all members of the Vincentian
Grant the courage, peace and confidence you alone can give to
our Holy Father the Pope,
to those we visit, to all who help in our work, to our overseas
Brothers and Sisters and to
all members of this Society and their families who may now be
troubled or in need.
……………….Lord, hear us.
ALL: Lord graciously hear us
For the Society
We thank you, Lord because you inspired the foundation of our
Society to help overcome
suffering. Grant the Society and this Conference the grace of
continual growth and
…………………Lord, Lord hears
ALL: Lord graciously hears us.
For the deceased members of the Vincentian
Welcome into the light of our presence those who have died, and
grant that one day our
friends and relatives, those we visit and our Vincentian brothers
and sisters may all come
together before you in the perfection of love.
………………….Lord, hear us.
ALL: Lord graciously hear us.
For unborn life
O God of life and love,
You have given us the power
To bring new life into the world,
But all too often a mother’s womb’
That should be a nursery of life,
Becomes instead a place of destruction.
Help us to remove this evil
And ensure respect of all life
Made in your image and likeness, called to fulfil its promise
And destined to find a home with you for all eternity.
We ask this through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord.
ALL: In the name of the Father……………………………………….
17th February 1951. – First Zambian Conference formed.
St. Francis, Mansa
2nd Sunday of July – Remembrance of the dead Zambian Vincentians.
9th September – Feast of Blessed Frederic Ozanam
27th September – Feast of St. Vincent de Paul
8th December – Feast of the Immaculate Conception