Society of St. Vincent de Paul Twinning
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
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.”
The two types of twinning in Zambia are:
• external - with another country;
• internal - with an aggregated conference or council
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
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.
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
You then need to decide whether you will support a conference
within Zambia, in a Mission diocese, or in another part of the
Country. Policies are specific as to which council in Zambia
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.
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).
All enquiries on this subject should be directed
The Twinning Officer
National Council of Zambia