Two leaders of the St. John’s University student chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society participated in the society’s 2021 Assembly of the National Council, “New Horizons of Hope and Service,” in Houston, TX, from August 25 through 28.
At the conference, Joseph Wisidagama, President, and Raphael Civil, Co-Vice President, along with leaders from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Long Island, focused on learning how to increase their younger member base. “The society does many great things for communities around the world, but struggles with recruiting younger members,” explained Joseph.
“We are often asked by many of the older members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society how we can encourage younger members to join and be active,” added Raphael.
Both Joseph and Raphael are juniors in The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies; Joseph is majoring in Legal Studies and Raphael is a Health and Human Services major. They are very active in campus life. Besides serving as Campus Ministry Student Assistants, Joseph is a member of the Music Ministry program for the church choir and a member of the St. John’s Mixed Chorus, and Raphael is a Catholic Scholar and a member of the Improv Club.
“The conversations that we had at the conference were very detailed and eye-opening as to how to remedy this issue,” Joseph said. “Since the St. Vincent de Paul Society provides hope to millions around the world, it is important that we have a new generation leading the charge.”
While they were in Houston, they participated in a service day and worked with a group of young adults to pack and deliver food to needy local families. “I will never forget this experience,” Joseph said.
“The fact that we were able to feed more than 200 families in just a few hours goes to show how baby steps can change the world.”
“More than anything else, we were grateful to be able to help the people of Houston and many different St. Vincent de Paul Society conferences around the country,” he added. “We will take the knowledge we gained back to St. John’s to improve the campus experience for our fellow students.”
The St. John’s chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society is the first college chapter in the United States. To learn more, contact the moderator of the St. John’s St. Vincent de Paul chapter, Sr. Patricia Evanick, D.C. ’97GEd, Campus Minister for Faith Formation and Leadership, at [email protected] or 718-990-6115.