An Interview with Peter Burns, one of our HPC longest serving members by Guido Kelly
1. How long have you been a Vincentian? and how much have you enjoyed this aspect of Vincentian work?
I first worked with the SSVP in the early 60s during the construction of their Hostel for Men which then became the Good Shepherd Centre. I became a member of the society in 1970 and helped to establish the Regina Mundi Conference. I thoroughly enjoy being with others who share a concern for the needy and who work hard and happily to meet their needs.
2. Since being a Vincentian is a vocation, who or what motivated you to join the Society?
I was born into a Catholic family that displayed a strong faith. My parents instilled in us the message of “Love your neighbour”. It was a “natural” for me then to join with others to put my faith into action and join the Society.
3. As Vincentians, we serve with “Love, Respect, Justice and Joy”. Which of these motivates you the most? Why?
Personally, “Love” is the most important motivator”. “Love” is at the heart of all human relations not only those at the very personal level but also in the relations between communities both small and large.
4. What leadership positions have you held with your Conference or Council? Of which are you most proud? Why?
I have served as Founder/President of Regina Mundi Conference then also Founder/President of Annunciation of Our Lord Conference. I then became President of the Hamilton Particular Council. I always enjoyed the people I worked with at every level. As President of the Particular Council which at that time included Conferences in Kitchener, Guelph and Halton areas, I was fortunate to become involved with the breadth and work of the Society in Ontario and across the country. At the Particular Council level there was a need for continued growth and a hope that more parish Conferences in the Diocese would be formed and that more Particular Councils would also be organized. Father Lambertus, editor of The Register at the time, was a great help as Kitchener and Guelph formed their own Councils.
5. Drawing from your vast experiences over the years, what aspect continues to motivate you in your Vincentian work?
I love seeing and knowing that our Society continues to grow. Growth in the sense of seeing fellow members and our Society reaching out not only to the needy but also to other members of our faith in the sense of inspiration and rejuvenation. This means that there will always be the need to promote our involvement in the community and develop that growth that will only lead to better things. I am pleased to be still active in our Society and to be able to personally promote that growth.
6. What advice do you wish to share with “new” as well as “not so new” Vincentians as they respond to the wide-ranging calls for their service?
All Vincentians should strive to do their best and be content with what they can do. The work is never ending, and its success is sometimes elusive. Keep in mind that as SSVP members we are putting our faith into action and that our purpose is twofold, that is, to serve the needy but also to promote the spiritual growth of each member with whom we interact.