Society of St. Vincent de Paul
What does twinning mean?
Twinning is a sharing of the Societies resources with other conferences. It is a special work of the Society, an activity of fraternal union and sharing, with which we are able to make a difference to our twinned brothers and sisters in our twinned country, and fulfil our spiritual yearning to share with the poor.
Twinning has been an informal part of the Society for many years at the international level. Twinning became more established with a statement that came from the 1979 Plenary Meeting of the Council-General of the Society, “All monies collected in the name of the Society anywhere, belong, in principle, to the poor of the world.”
Canada started developing its twinning process in the 1990s. Our first twinning co-ordinator under National President Bob Martineau, was Rolande Lachance. Under National President Ellen Schryburt, Heidi Minuti made changes: she sought twinning representatives on the provincial/regional councils; she established procedures i.e. application and transmittal forms; and she promoted twinning at the National level.
In June ’99, the coordinator was June Hart. She clarified the process of twinning with the assistance of the Canadian National General Secretary, Nicole Schryburt. June experienced the complexity of twinning with a multitude of countries that have various banking and exchange problems, and that have varying degrees of organization of National Councils. These experiences helped to further refine the twinning process, as we make twinning a possible activity of conferences and councils across Canada.
The three types of twinning in Canada are:
• external - with another country;
• internal - with an aggregated conference in Canada;
• Pre-aggregation twinning (PAT) - with a conference
developing in a Mission area of Canada.
What would inspire us to twin?
The National Council of Canada has encouraged twinning committees to organize at all levels, in order to promote this fundamental activity of our Society. Twinning forges links with members in the Society in different countries of the world, both spiritually and materially, through prayer, correspondence, and financial assistance.
As with all Society activities, the call to recognize and serve Christ ‘s people, the poor, means that no activity that we do for them is foreign to us. Conferences and councils in developed countries can foster fraternal links with those in developing countries. In this way, they are able to promote a union of prayer, correspondence and material aid. Twinning emphasizes the universality of the Society and enables us to be a witness of Christian charity in action. Funds provided by twinning can help give dignity to the poor through education, training and the opportunity to help themselves and their families.
What is essential for a successful twinning?
The spiritual basis of the Society necessitates that all twinning links should involve a union of prayer. This can be done when we pray for the intentions of all members of the Vincentian family, especially in those countries with which we are twinned. Another practice, that can be a spiritual link, would be the offering of a Mass by both the conferences on a particular day, and if convenient, at a particular time on that day, when members of both the conferences unite in common prayers and spiritual banquet.
A regular exchange of correspondence between twins is encouraged, to strengthen the bonds of understanding and friendship. It is preferable that it is done three times a year, but you can write as often as you wish. The correspondence could be personal, friendly, and full of details about members, your work, your local area and interests, and Society activities. It can also deal with the cultural, moral and spiritual aspects of life. Photographs are also helpful. This kind of correspondence evokes mutual interest, understanding and encouragement, and helps the twinning conference to assess conditions and needs, and concerns of the people. A friendship cuts through many cultural and language barriers.
It is essential that you receive a reply to your correspondence on a regular basis. If, after 6 – 12 months, no reply has been received, write a further letter and ask the Canadian National General Secretary to organize its delivery. Do not send any further funds until you have received a reply.
3.) Financial Assistance
Regular contributions are guided by the policies on twinning. Currently, funds are sent 4 times a year (February, May, August, and November, of funds received by the 30/31st of the month previous) to twinned countries, through the National Council, for sums of $50.00 to $250.00 per quarter. (See the next section as to the way to send these funds.) These regular payments help those who are receiving the funds to plan for their needs. It is important that you are realistic, sincere and punctual. Amounts exceeding $250.00 per quarter cannot be sent, except for special works or development projects. Sums of money are often worth more in twinned countries. Larger sums can be used for works such as educational grants (typing or commercial classes, basic technical training like welding or sewing, or childcare classes), self-help or job oriented projects (small-scale industry, book binding or petty shops run by the poor), or welfare projects (medical clinics, Homes or Centers). Please inform the National twinning chairperson if you plan to send money for special works or development projects.
What steps would you take, as a representative for your conference or council, to become a twin?
Twinning is an aggregated conference- or instituted council-based activity. It needs the awareness of the needs of the poor outside of your own conference or council area, and the acceptance of this special work by a majority of your members.
You then need to decide whether you will support a conference within Canada, in a Mission diocese, or in another part of the Americas. Policies are specific as to which countries in Central and South America are available for external twinning. If you are currently twinning with another country, you can seek to change your twin or remain as you are, but no new twins will be made with countries other than those in the policy. You can twin with more than one conference or country, or in more than one type of twinning. Particular or Central Councils will probably be twinned with other particular or central councils respectively.
Forms are available from your provincial/regional representative, or the Canadian National General Secretary.
1.) To be an external twin:
Obtain an application form from your provincial /regional representative, and forward the completed form to the Canadian National General Secretary. The twinning chairperson will make the necessary applications to the National council of the country with which you want to be twinned. As stated in the International Guidelines, “Vincentians would violate their duty of accountability owed to the donors of the Society if they were to ‘twin’ with a person, group or organization, which was not a member of SSVP.”
The information about your twinned conference or council will be sent to you, along with an external transmittal form. Funds are sent to the Canadian National General Secretary, payable to Society of St. Vincent de Paul National Council, and she sends the funds to the National Council of the twinned country, along with your correspondence, if you have included it. You may write at any time, preferably separately from your transmittal, but should not send more funds until you have received a reply to your correspondence and contribution from your twinned conference or council. All funds that are to be sent out of our country must be sent through National Council, to ensure security and accountability.
2.) To be an internal twin:
To be a recipient – Obtain an application form from your provincial/regional representative, and forward the completed form to the Canadian National General Secretary. The twinning chairperson will select or seek an aggregated conference or instituted council who wishes to twin internally, and notify them of your request. Upon agreement, the National twinning chairperson will forward your information to that conference for their follow up.
To be a donor - Obtain an application form from your provincial/regional representative, and forward the completed form to the Canadian National General Secretary. The National twinning chairperson will select or seek a conference or council who wishes to twin internally, and notify them of your request. Upon agreement, the National twinning chairperson will forward your information to that conference for their follow up. Funds are sent using the internal transmittal form.
3.)To be a Pre-Aggregation Twin:
Obtain an application form from Doreen Simmers, 10 Uplands Drive, Brantford, Ontario N3R 6H6, and forward the completed form to the Canadian National General Secretary. A Mission contact person that has contacted the Society will be aware that they are to start the development of a conference. You, as the aggregated conference, will be paying for invoices which have been sent to you from the company that has supplied the aid, given to the poor by Mission conference members. No funds can be sent directly until the Mission conference becomes aggregated, ideally within two years.
What happens after the application?
Twinning has been described as a lingering labor of love. Nothing moves fast in the Society, and it may take 3 to 6 months, or longer, to establish a twinning. Keep up the correspondence. The cost of paper, envelopes and stamps is very costly in some countries, so you may be able to help with these items. Language could also be a problem, if translation is required. Be patient as it may take several months before you get an answer.
Try to establish a self-help program with your twinned conference, so that in the near future, they will become self-sufficient. Twinning is meant to help people to help themselves, so that they will not always be dependent on you.
You are not limited to sending money to your twinned conference. Tools, seeds, medication, equipment, etc. can be sent. Personal visits can be a part of your twinning. Prayers should be offered for them, as they will be for you.
As with any organization, reports have to be made. Your twinning report will be due on March 15 of each year, to your provincial/regional representative. This enables your representative to prepare their report for your provincial/regional AGM, and for the National annual report.
What can you do as an individual Vincentian?
Prayer is the key aspect of all twinning activity, and members are asked to pray regularly for each other, because without God’s help, nothing will be achieved.
You can urge your conference to participate in a twinning program. Offer to be part of a twinning committee, or a twinning correspondent. Let your conference president know that you support him or her in a twinning program. Pray as an individual, and ask your conference to do so as well, such as remembering your twin in the closing prayers of your meetings.
Conclusion, from International Council General Guidelines related to Foreign Twinning
“There is a need to create a new culture of international solidarity and cooperation, where all – particularly the wealthy nations and private sector – accept responsibility for an economic model which serves everyone. There should be no more postponement of the time when the poor Lazarus can sit beside the rich man to share the same banquet and be forced no more to feed on the scraps that fall from the table (cf.Lk. 16: 19-31). Extreme poverty is a source of violence, bitterness and scandal, and to eradicate it is to do the work of justice and therefore the work of peace. (Incarnationis mysterium, par. 12, Pope John Paul II, November 29, 1998).
If you have any questions please contact Doreen Simmers
phone 519 754 1299
fax 519 757 1070