By Paul Dobbyn
HUMILITY was the prevailing tone in a speech given by Queensland’s new St Vincent de Paul Society president John Forrest at his commissioning Mass in St Brigid’s Church, Red Hill, on July 12.
“Today is not just about the commissioning of a new state president; it is a celebration of the spirituality and fraternity that underpins the society,” Mr Forrest told the congregation.
“It is witness to the dedication and commitment of many good people who choose to live out their faith and beliefs in a practical way by serving people in need.
“It is a gathering of the Vincentian family which is the society … a society of which I am proud to be a member.”
The incoming president also described the Catholic faith as a power source.
“It follows if we don’t connect with it, nothing will happen,” he said.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge was principal celebrant at the Mass, assisted by the society’s spiritual advisor Fr Ray Kearney and Jubilee Parish assistant priest Fr Stanley Orji.
The society’s national council secretary Norm Moore was present as were state presidents from the society’s NSW, Tasmania, Northern Territory and Canberra/Goulburn areas, and many members, volunteers and staff.
North diocesan council vice-president John McMahon was MC for the commissioning event.
In his speech, he noted Mr Forrest had been with the St Vincent de Paul Society for 23 years and that his father Herb had been a member of Bardon conference for almost 30 years, eventually serving as Rosalie regional president.
“Taking this leadership role was a natural progression as John had been in the vice-president role and the chair of our centres committee and the finance and property committee,” Mr McMahon said. “John has a great vision for the next four years of the society.
“He will continue to lead us as a ‘voice of the voiceless’ as we continue to help the poor and those facing tough times.”
Archbishop Coleridge in his homily drew links between the day’s First Reading on the prophet Amos, St Vincent de Paul and society founder Frederic Ozanam.
“Vincent de Paul in his time understood God’s mercy – understood God’s plans no less than did the prophet Amos,” he said.
“Frederic Ozanam in the 19th Century understood this also … that’s why we have the society today.”
The Archbishop also described society members “as in a sense like God”.
“They are examples of God’s mercy in our midst,” he said.