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Frederic Ozanam and Servant Leadership

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by Francisco Javier Fernández Chento compiled from other sources as noted

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Frederic Ozanam and Servant Leadership

  1. 1. FREDERIC AND SERVANT LEADERSHIP
  2. 2. • Jesus never intended to be the only servant leader but rather encouraged everyone to follow his example • Frederic Ozanam, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, embraced this message and example of Jesus as his own • This model was further reinforced by the selection of Saint Vincent de Paul as the patron of the first conference of charity in 1833 Servant Leadership Raymond L. Sickinger, Antoine Frédéric Ozanam, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 2017, p. 222.
  3. 3. • Frederic never aspired to a position of leadership (but in reality, he was a leader) • He never attempted to use his position for personal gain • Frederic was a believer who, animated by his faith, placed himself at the service of all those around him… his wife and daughter, his students, his fellow members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the most vulnerable members of his society Frederic Ozanam Frederic Ozanam and Servant Leadership by: Francisco Javier Fernández Chento
  4. 4. • A century and a half ago, Frederic Ozanam revealed himself as a leader who focused his whole life (family life, academic life, ecclesial life and social- political life) not on a search for his own personal comfort, but rather on a struggle to better the miserable situation in which the vast majority of the Parisians lived. Frederic as Leader Frederic Ozanam and Servant Leadership by: Francisco Javier Fernández Chento
  5. 5. • From the time of his youth, Frederic was encouraged to be a leader • He got his Doctorate in Law in 1836 and a Doctorate in Letters in 1839. He worked for a brief period of time as a lawyer and a professor of commercial law. In 1840, he became a substitute professor of foreign literature at the Sorbonne. By 1844, he was the head of the department (a position that he held until the time of his death). Frederic Ozanam and Servant Leadership by: Francisco Javier Fernández Chento Education and Career
  6. 6. • He knew how to gain success in his choices by placing his life in the hands of God’s Providence • For example about the time he graduated from law school, thinking about his future, he wrote… Today, as I approach the end of my law studies, I must choose between the two vocations, and put my hand in the urn. Which will I draw? I am surrounded in this regard by attractions of every kind […] Because God and education have endowed me with a certain tact, a certain appreciation of ideas, a certain breadth of tolerance, they wish to make me a sort of leader of Catholic youth in this country […] In a word, a series of circumstances independent of my will assail me, pursue me, turn me aside from the path I have laid out for myself […] can these external circumstances be a sign of God's will? I don’t know and, in my uncertainty, I do not rush forward or lag behind, I let it come, I resist, and if the inducement is too strong, I let myself go. Frederic Ozanam: A Life in Letters, Translated and edited by Joseph I. Dirvin, CM, published by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Council of the United States, St. Louis, Mo., Letter written to Ernest Falconnet, January 7, 1834, p. 43-44 Life Choices
  7. 7. • Frederic was… an intellectual man of the nineteenth century… who knew how to place his gifts at the service of God’s work and did this in a determined manner, unselfishly and with no authoritarian impulses that can be a great temptation for anyone who exercises a position of leadership • Frederic Ozanam wanted to be useful to society and to Church by living in the state that God had placed him • He was a professor, an author, and a lawyer, yes, but one who entered the homes of the poor and placed himself at the service of the poor Genuine leader Frederic Ozanam and Servant Leadership by: Francisco Javier Fernández Chento
  8. 8. Frederic was never actually the president of the Society of St.Vincent de Paul; nevertheless there is no doubt that he was the renowned leader of the Society. What are some examples of his servant leadership? EXAMPLES Raymond Sickinger and his book (Antoine Frédéric Ozanam, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 2017, p. 222.) Are the main inspiration for this section of the presentation.
  9. 9. • He promoted the growth of the Society and encouraged the members in their service of the poor • For example as Frederic’s life was coming to an end, he addressed the members of a newly established Conference in Florence and spoke to them about the reasons why the Society was created Encouraging Frederic Ozanam and Servant Leadership by: Francisco Javier Fernández Chento
  10. 10. • [Frederic] would remain an entire evening listening to the conversation going on around him without ever volunteering a remark unless it was directly elicited; but if anyone appealed to him, he answered willingly … silence, which he was sure to command the moment he began to talk, did not intimidate him … quite the contrary: it stimulated and encouraged him. Listening Kathleen O’Meara, Frederic Ozanam: Professor at the Sorbonne, Catholic School Book Company, New York, (no date of publication listed), p. 150.
  11. 11. • His wife Amélie Ozanam, now a widow, recalled that her husband was very charitable and very understanding of the poor, patient in listening to them, demanding yet indulgent with people. Empathy Ozanam-Soulacroix, Amélie, “Note biographique” in Frédéric Ozanam: Actes de Colloque des 4 et 5 decembre 1998, Paris, Bayard, p. 332.
  12. 12. • Ozanam valued loving relationships […] He believed that most of what people call “evil” results from broken relationships with one another and also with God. For him, healing relationships between the social and economic classes were the only answer to the great social ills and divisions of the day. Healing relationships Raymond L. Sickinger, op.cit., p. 224
  13. 13. • From an early age, Frederic was very aware of his situation, his strengths and weaknesses: I am filled with thanks to God for having brought me into the world in one of those situations on the border of hardship and of ease, which is used to privations without permitting enjoyment to be completely unknown, where one can go to bed with all his wants assuaged, but where one is no longer distraught by the continual clamors of necessity. God knows, with the natural weakness of my character, what dangers the softness of the wealthy or the abjection of the indigent classes would pose for me. I also feel that this humble position in which I am at present has brought me to serve like persons better. Awareness Frederic Ozanam: A Life in Letters, Translated and edited by Joseph I. Dirvin, CM, published by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Council of the United States, St. Louis, Mo., Letter written to Léonce Coirnier, November 4, 1834, p. 91.
  14. 14. • Frederic believed in the non-violent means of using persuasion --- using all honest weapons --- through speaking, writing, and recruiting others to side with the working poor. In this sense it is noteworthy that one of Frederic’s little known works (yet a very influential work) was published in l’Ére Nouvelle on September 15, 1848 and entitled, To good people. In that article Frederic spoke to the various social classes (to the wealthy, to the representatives of the people, to the priests and to people of whatever state in life) and urged them to resolve the serious problems that the poor had to confront on a daily basis. Persuasion Sickinger, op.cit. p. 225.
  15. 15. • “To wrap the world in a network of charity” is a phrase that has often been placed on the lips of Frederic even though he most probably did not utter those words. Those words, however, reveal Frederic’s desire to move beyond mere almsgiving and fulfill the mission of serving the most vulnerable members of society … making that mission universal and moving beyond specific cases. Conceptualization In a lost letter, the existence of which is known from his passive correspondence, it can be stated that Frederic wrote that he wanted to wrap France in a network of charity.
  16. 16. • In multiple places in his writings, Frederic analyzed the elements of the past, the realities of the present and ways of acting that would prevent future problems. Most of his classes at the Sorbonne were devoted to a study of the past in order bring to light lessons for the present and for future eras. His famous phrase, passons aux barbares is an invitation to the church and the society of his time to align themselves with the poor in order to save society: When I say “Passons aux barbares" [translated: “Let us move on to the barbarians!”] I mean that we should […] occupy ourselves with the people, whose wants are too many and whose rights are too few; who are crying out, and justly so, for a share in public affairs, for guarantees for work, and against distress; who follow bad leaders, because they have no good ones, and whom we have no right to hold responsible for the History of the Girondins, which they do not read, nor for the banquets where they do not feast. We may not succeed in converting Attila and Genseric, but, with God's help, we may make something of the Huns and the Vandals. Foresight O’Meara, op.cit., p.227-228.
  17. 17. • “Frequently, when one begins something new, that beginning is often modest because the resources that are available are often quite limited. Thus, we have reached out to the poor in an effort to comfort them, but we have had to associate ourselves with a larger group in order to support ourselves and take our first steps. Yes, we have to lean on stronger, more mature shoulders. We have become the auxiliaries of the Daughters of Charity … we have asked them for counsel and for assistance and from them we have come to learn the sufferings of the poor.” • “We were established some seven months ago and have been able to bring together some 1,400 francs. That fact proves the progress of our charitable activity. In six months, 1,400 francs was the income that allowed the Society to sustain the house for abandoned children (one of the most beautiful works ever created by human hands) […] Charity does not consist simply in the distribution of bread. If the Society with 1,400 francs was able to undertake this work on behalf of abandoned children, then with double that amount we should do something more than distribute bread and meat, something more than offer alms to our brothers and sisters who are indigent.” Stewardship From the first Report on the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul from the Time of its Establishment … presented during the First General Assembly of the Society that was held a year after its foundation. This report was developed by Gustave de La Noue, Jules Devaux and Frederic Ozanam.
  18. 18. • Ozanam corresponded with many people and therefore it is easy to find texts in which he encouraged friends to put forth their best selves in order to mutually encourage one another in growth in personal holiness and in progress in their service on behalf of those most in need “…like divergent spokes touching the same center, so our varied efforts that move toward different ends come together in one and the same charitable movement and proceed from the same principle. There must then be agreement among us in order to double our strength. There must be frequent communications which provide us a laudable example for good and provide us with a common joy in the success of each one.” Commitment to the growth of people Frederic Ozanam: A Life in Letters, Translated and edited by Joseph I. Dirvin, CM, published by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Council of the United States, St. Louis, Mo., Letter written to Léonce Coirnier, November 4, 1834, p. 65.
  19. 19. • The importance that Frederic gave to the community is revealed in his efforts to bring together in the Society the young men of his era so that he might share his vision and hopes with them and then together engage in a struggle against the serious problems that afflicted the poor and the working class. Frederic empowered these young men to become leaders. Thus, the Society is a “community of faith and works erasing little by little the old divisions of political parties and preparing for a not too distant future a new generation which would carry into science, the arts, and industry, into administration, the judiciary, the bar, the unanimous resolve to make it a moral country and to become better themselves in order to make others happier.” Community Building Raymond L. Sickinger, op.cit., p. 224
  20. 20. “The president is to serve, plain and simple […] The president leads not because he/she commands or demands or has greater knowledge than others.The president leads because he/ she is able to listen to the members, to encourage them and accompany them, and is concerned about them and their service on behalf of the poor […] The president should be humble and yet that humility should be “silent and hidden”. Ideally a president of a Conference or a Council would practice a faith that silently encourages and motivates others to do that which is good.” WHAT IS THE MISSION OF THE CONFERENCE PRESIDENT (IN THE SOCIETY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL)? These words are taken from a Spanish commentary on the International Rule of the SSVP, which is not found in English.
  21. 21. Source: Frederic Ozanam and Servant Leadership by Francisco Javier Fernández Chento

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