International President of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP), Renato Lima-de-Oliveira, who is from Brazil, recently visited Northern Ireland and Ireland for the first time.
During his visit he presented a long service medal to local SVP member Sr Anne McWilliams of St Malachy’s, Coleraine.
Brendan O’Neill, Regional President for SVP commented: “We were honoured to welcome Renato Lima-de-Oliveira to our Region. He is an inspiration to all those in SVP, having joined his local SVP Conference at the age of 16 and going on to hold various posts in the Society, culminating in his installation as International President in 2016. In addition to his six year tenure in this role, Renato is also an Assistant Professor of Management at the Asia School of Business.”
As part of his three-day visit, which included travelling to meet those based in the SVP regions of Clonmel, Dublin and Drogheda, Renato also visited the Vincent’s shop on Mill Street, Newry and the SVP drop-in Centre which supports homeless people and refugees, also in the County Down town.
Brendan added: “As well as meeting volunteers in Newry, we took the opportunity to celebrate his first visit with a Mass in St Malachy’s in Alfred Street, Belfast. Following Mass, Renato presented 23 SVP members from across Northern Ireland with long-service medals, with 20 volunteers receiving 25 years’ service medals and three volunteers being presented with 50 years’ service medals.
“We very much hope that this will be the beginning of a long and fulfilling relationship between Renato and our Region and look forward to welcoming him again in the future when all of our members will extend an equally warm welcome as they did on this occasion.”
In addition to 150 SVP members, the Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Noel Treanor, Fr Perry Gildea, SVP Regional Spiritual Advisor and Fr Michael McGinnity, Parish Priest at St Malachy’s, Belfast.
SVP is a volunteer-led organisation and teams work tirelessly, 365 days a year, to provide assistance to all sections of the community across Northern Ireland.
Through Conferences (groups), SVP works with those in need, irrespective of creed, ethnic or social backgrounds, health, gender or political opinions, in local areas. Around 1800 SVP volunteers carry out activities for the charity, including paying weekly visits to around 2,500 people and run crèches, breakfast clubs and the network of 33 Vincent’s shops across the province.
Anyone interested in supporting SVP by volunteering, please get in touch on 028 9035 1561 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.