Catholic Social Services Victoria and members review its constitution

“Now is the time for your voice”, is the call-to-action from Mr Bernie Cronin, Chair of Council of Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV). In a recent letter to Members of Catholic Social Services, Bernie Cronin writes, “CSSV is at a pivotal point in time. NOW is the time for you to have your say.”

The call-to-action comes as CSSV undergoes a review of its Constitution, and acknowledges that a proportional share of funding has shifted towards increased member contributions. 

In his letter, dated 28 August, which announced the Review, Mr Cronin wrote: “Events of 2020 have caused additional suffering to many and severely tested the effectiveness of our support systems. For some, the crises have come in waves; they are still struggling when the next wave hits.” 

“And yet — we continue, we learn and we adapt. Importantly, we adapt while keeping firm with our purpose and values. The whole of CSSV members, staff and volunteers can stand by our convictions to preserve human dignity and to work for the common good. This also means we collectively seek to influence the forces at work in society.”

“For Catholic Social Services Victoria, our member organisations and the Church, NOW is the time of our relevance. NOW is the time for the extension of the desperately needed personal and family support services which Catholic social service organisations do so well with such a strong legacy. NOW is the time for evidence-based, co-ordinated, policy and advocacy work. We also need to be open to change ourselves, to be transformed by the dynamics of our time. We can move forward in the Ignation approach of ‘experience, reflection, action’.“

“Fired by the mission, we can focus on those areas of entrenched injustice, continue to emphasise our direct work for those who are poor and vulnerable whilst working towards public policies based on social justice and equity. At the same time we will benefit from continuing to work in solidarity and shared responsibility with other parts of the Church. We are open to change and seek collaboration, seeing ourselves as interconnected and more relevant than ever.” 

“Right NOW is the time for Catholic social service organisations and the Church to be sufficiently organised, resourced and focused to have a relevant influence on the public policy and societal forces at work.”

The letter announces that the Archbishop and Bishops of Victoria acting together as the Province, have prompted a fundamental review of governance, structure and funding. “CSSV Council and the Province, in agreement, have commenced a review. Fr Frank Brennan SJ will facilitate and prepare a directions paper,” states the letter.

“Fr Frank is well known to members and is outstanding in his capacity for such a task. He will welcome your contributions.”

Mr Cronin urges CSSV Member engagement in the review process as “it will directly influence decisions to be made by the Archbishop and Bishops on the areas they will support in the future in terms of governance, structure and funding for CSSV. For Catholic social service organisations and the Church to have influence, we need a strong collective voice.” 

The Terms of Reference of the review can be downloaded here.

The 2019 CSSV Annual Report can be downloaded here.

Email your input into the process here

In addition, Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria, Joshua Lourensz will be inviting Members to participate in one of two on-line focus groups in the near future. 

“Standing strong on our values and mission, let us continue to lead, engage and work for a better future,” writes Mr Cronin. “I quote the words of Chris Lowney which I think are apt for us now: ‘Leaders imagine an inspiring future and strive to shape it rather than passively watching the future happen around them. Heroes extract gold from the opportunities at hand rather than waiting for golden opportunities to be handed to them’.”