Vincentians in Africa Challenged to Value “effective communication” as Leaders

Logo Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP)
Credit: Public Domain

National leaders of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) from English speaking African countries have been challenged to see the value of “effective communication” in their practice of leadership at various National Conferences.

“As leaders of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (Vincentians), you should know that the foundation of all relationships and the successes of any relationship is effective communication,” Madam Ama Gaines, a Ghanaian Communications Specialists, told Vincentian leaders drawn from eight African countries at an Accra Leadership Training Meeting.  

Speaking on the topic “effective Communication in leadership,” Madam Gaines noted that “as leaders, you have to know the fastest move in communication to lead your members. Since communication is a process of exchanging meaningful messages to establish and maintain relationships, as leaders you have to develop the act of speaking and listening, know your audience and be friendly.”

She added, “You have to communicate your values, not personal ones but that of the Church and the Society, deeply hold on convictions that will propel the society and the people you are leading.”

Madam Gaines was addressing about 30 participants at a leadership training meeting at the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), which included 16 National Presidents from English speaking countries of East, West and Southern African countries.

The five-day training was aimed at sensitizing the SSVP Africa leaders on Vincentian Spirituality, Effective Communication, Aggregation, Institution and Twinning Procedures; and Qualities of Good Leadership.

The Vincentians who attended the March 12-16 training were from Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Liberia, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Kenya as well as selected National and International officers of the Society.

As the keynote speaker at the training on March 13, Madam Gaines, who is currently a Communication Lecturer at Wisconsin University in Ghana, called on the Vincentians to exude quality in their practice of leadership by respecting the views of members of their Conferences since “effective communication is a plan process that must achieve a goal.”

A member of the Vincentian family, she advised that the success of the communication process depends on the leader and the effectiveness of it depends on the audience.

“We have a responsibility to transform those we lead in the society and the Church as a whole,” she said and added, “As a Conference Presidents, you are the keeper of the fire, to lead your members to live an authentic life of service to the poor, to see and know the Lord.”

Fr. Andrew Campbell, the National Spiritual Advisor in Ghana who spoke on Vincentian Spirituality said the motivation for the members is found in the spirituality of the Society, which involves both prayer and action.

He said as spiritual leaders, “We are called to reflect on the spirit and inspiration of St Vincent de Paul and living according to God’s will under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

A member of the Society of Devine Word Missionaries (SVD), Fr. Andrew further said that the “commitment to the Mission and Culture of the Society, calls us to a life of simplicity, integrity, honesty and humility and our experience of solidarity with people who are poor, marginalised or without power.”

The Inter-Territorial Vice President of the SSVP Africa Group 1, Patrick Ebhojie from Nigeria, who chaired the training sessions noted that a Vincentian leader must keep the flame alive through prayer and contemplation and being grounded in the lives of people who are poor or in need.

He reminded the African leaders that leadership was all about sacrifice, telling them that “as leaders you have to put in more effort in whatever you for the good of the society, adding that Vincentian leadership is not something we do, but the person we are.”

Speaking about his impressions as a participant at the training, Abraham Focko, National President of the Liberian Conference told ACI Africa correspondent that “the training has indeed opened my eyes as a leader to know the pros and cons of communication and how to become successful in my leadership through effective communication.”

“I have indeed learnt that one of the essential qualities of a good leader is that they have to see other people’s gifts and skills developed and they will be constantly looking at their group trying to recognise the gifts and release the untapped potentials,” he told ACI Africa correspondent in Ghana.

“When I go back to my country, I will organise a mini training meeting for leaders of diocesan conferences, who will also replicate the same in all parish conferences in Liberia,” Focko said.

SSVP is an international voluntary organization in the Catholic Church founded in 1833 to help impoverished people living in the slums of Paris, France.

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]