East Anglia SVP held Festival Days at St George’s, Norwich on September 30 and at Our Lady Immaculate and St Etheldreda, Newmarket on October. The Festival Days were designed for existing SVP members, anyone interested in learning more about SVP, and supporting clergy. Each day began with Mass, followed by welcome refreshments and opening prayers.
Christine Knight presented on behalf of Elizabeth Palmer, the SVP CEO, who was unable to attend. The presentation centred on SVP and Synodality, emphasising the need to “enlarge our tent” to accommodate more people in need, ensuring that the organisation remains robust.
Jon Cornwall, the Membership Director, discussed Spirituality within the organisation, focusing on personal growth and mutual support to become better individuals. He highlighted the efforts of St Vincent de Paul and Blessed Frederick Ozanam in their personal journeys of self-improvement. Jon also posed thought-provoking questions that engaged the members.
Christine Knight, Financial Director, highlighted the significance of fundraising and the judicious management of finances. She elaborated on the role of treasurers and provided other relevant information.
Other presentations were delivered by Barbara Quail and Sarah Barber about Mini Vinnies and Young Vincentians. Aiden Cornwall joined them to discuss his role as a Mini-Vinnie. Beth Muldrew and Tony King spoke about twinning with other nations and the impact of our donations on local communities.
Conference members shared their activities, all rooted in the Vincentian spirit. Angela Stone (St John’s) was honoured with the Benemerenti medal. Teresa Richards (St George’s, Norwich) discussed its Baby Essentials Project. Joan Donahoe (St Peter’s, Gorleston) described her work with asylum seekers. Both Neil Culley (St George’s) and Petra Tucker (St Lawrence, Cambridge) spoke about their prison outreach. Ciaran Ward (St Laurence, Cambridge) detailed the new drop-in centre, initiatives for the lonely, and support for travellers. Michael McMahon (North Norfolk) discussed various conference activities, including its soup run and the temporary emergency accommodation project. The St Ives Conference covered its activities such as the Autumn Club outings and collaborations with the local council.
Everyone who attended enjoyed the day, gaining knowledge and engaging in heartfelt conversations. It was enriching to experience Vincentian friendship and camaraderie, as well as to put faces to email addresses.
A heartfelt thanks to all attendees, and a special mention to the conferences that provided the refreshments.