Sheila Gilbert, a member of Little Flower Parish in Indianapolis, was elected to a six-year term as the 12th President of the National Council of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul. She is the first woman to head the National Council, as well as the first Hoosier. Gilbert was commissioned at the closing liturgy of the national meeting in Dallas on September 3 and assumed her duties on October 1.
Her platform statement provided prior to her election included her call for “Ending Poverty Through Systemic Change.” She said we must not only help those we serve to survive, we must help move them out of poverty. “Systemic change requires that we first listen to and learn from those in poverty, develop programs and processes to help individuals move forward, and advocate for change at the local, state, and national levels.”
Her involvement with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been ongoing since 1981, at the local, regional, and national levels. She has been involved with the national board for more than 25 years. Prior to assuming the Presidency, a volunteer position, she completed her 12th year as national secretary. She has also been the chair for Vincentian Formation and Leadership Development.
A native of Indianapolis, Gilbert grew up in Our Lady of Lourdes parish. Later, as a member of Christ the King parish, she helped form its first SSVdP conference. Over the years, she has also been a member of St. Matthew and Little Flower parish conferences.