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By Paul Ainslie, President of SVdP Indy

Formation is our word for training. But formation is more than just training–it is a molding of our hearts and minds to both the spiritual aspects of our works and to the mechanics of getting that work done.  Our patron saint St. Vincent de Paul said, “We have to study in such a way that love corresponds to knowledge.” We can do all our work for our neighbors in need and never think about the spiritual side of this work.  Yet, at the very core of our Vincentian life should be the knowledge that ties our work to a bigger life than just our own.

Some of our formation comes from the “How to” training for presidents and treasurers, and these are important for both the consistency of work and meeting legal and SVdP requirements. Annual reports do not seem very “spiritual” as we fill in the blanks with Conference and Council data. However, doing this correctly assures that our IRS filing each year is factual and accurately represents our efforts.

The more important formation goes toward melding our lives to the spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marrilac, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and Blessed Rosalie Rendu. Their substantial writings help guide our work each day, and understanding their spirituality will give meaning to our lives of service.

Core to this Vincentian training is the Ozanam Orientation, a seven-part overview of the history of the Society, the spiritual foundations of our work, and details about Conference and Council life. Also included is a look at poverty and SVdP’s work for systemic change, as well as information about our home visits. This training is led by 3-4 trained formators and takes about 6 hours to complete. In-person is the best way to complete this training. The Ozanam Orientation is required training for all active members of SVdP.

We have completed three Ozanam Orientations in the past six months with about 80 attendees. More sessions are being planned over the remainder of the year, including sites in Jeffersonville, North Vernon, Shelbyville and Indianapolis. Watch the SVdP Indy website for dates and other details about these opportunities to grow in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.