back to top
Saturday, June 15, 2024
11.1 C
Sydney

St Vincent de Paul to stay Catholic, says new president

Most read

The Society of St Vincent de Paul’s elected Mark Gaetani as it's 18th national council president. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
The Society of St Vincent de Paul’s elected Mark Gaetani as it’s 18th national council president. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

The St Vincent de Paul Society’s newly-elected national president says it will stay true to the vision of its Catholic founders and will not be “an ordinary NGO.”

Mark Gaetani is the Society’s 18th national council president and the first to be based in Tasmania, succeeding Clare Victory, who has served in the role since 2019.

A banking and finance professional, he joined the St Vincent de Paul Society in Tasmania in 2016 as treasurer of the state council.

- Advertisement -

In 2018 he was elected its president and the following year joined the national council as its Tasmanian representative.

“The Society is no ordinary NGO, we are a faith-based charity and our identity is certainly Catholic.”

For the next four years he will take on the responsibility of leading the charity in its outreach and advocacy for Australia’s most vulnerable and poor.

Mr Gaetani told The Catholic Weekly the society will also address the challenge of its declining and ageing membership “head on” by considering new models for its conference structures to make it easier for younger working adults to join and contribute.

He is concerned that of the 3.3 million Australians (comprising 13 per cent of the population) living in poverty today, more than 760,000 are children.

Mark Gaetani, a banking and finance professional, is the St Vincent de Paul Society’s 18th national council president and the first to be based in Tasmania. Photo: St Vincent de Paul Society
Mark Gaetani, a banking and finance professional, is the St Vincent de Paul Society’s 18th national council president and the first to be based in Tasmania. Photo: St Vincent de Paul Society

“That’s the entire population of Tasmania plus another 200,000 people, that is the equivalent of the number of children living in poverty,” he said.

He said a big part of his mission will be to ensure the St Vincent de Paul Society stays true to the original vision of its founder Blessed Frederick Ozanam.

“Like Frederick, we will be a respectful agitator and advocate for the poor. The Society is no ordinary NGO, we are a faith-based charity and our identity is certainly Catholic,” Mr Gaetani said.

“Our mission is to serve Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy. And we work to shape a fairer and more compassionate society.”

With Catholic social teaching the “cornerstone and foundation” of its work it will continue to focus on five key policy areas of poverty and inequity, housing and homelessness, people seeking asylum, secure work and First Nations people.

At his installation by Archbishop Christopher Prowse on 5 March in St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra, Mr Gaetani thanked the outgoing president Claire Victory for her “inspiring leadership” and generosity in supporting him and the other councillors.

Ms Victory has served on the national council for 12 years, and said she will continue to contribute in different ways, including serving on national council committees and in her local conference.

“We’ve had good collaboration between our members and staff nationally, and in the states and territories, to have a really strong advocacy position.”

She said a highlight of her term as president was seeing the difference the society made to people through its advocacy, particularly for refugees and asylum seekers, people struggling financially and those experiencing homelessness.

“Increasingly we’ve been speaking with one voice on those things. We’ve had good collaboration between our members and staff nationally, and in the states and territories, to have a really strong advocacy position,” she said.

“Another highlight has been getting around the country and meeting with members from the different states and territories and seeing the great things that they have been doing.

“It reminds you that we have this amazing shared history, tradition and values that manifests in different ways throughout the country.”

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -