CRS Partners - Mrs. Elizabeth Neville
Father Bill Vos is a pastor in the diocese of St. Cloud. In addition, to his pastoral responsibilities in two parishes, he has been the Director of the Diocesan Mission Office for four years and the Diocesan Director for CRS since July 2002. He says that the support of a great staff enables him to wear so many hats and continue to do each job effectively. As the Director of the Diocesan Mission Office, his responsibilities include serving on the Diocesan Curia and attending monthly meetings with his fellow directors and Bishop Kinney as well as coordinating overseas contacts and partnerships. The Diocese of St. Cloud has had a partnership in Venezuela for many years and also participates in a CRS Global Solidarity Partnership with Homa Bay, Kenya and is currently preparing to host a delegation from Kenya. One element of his job that his staff provides great assistance with is mission education for members of the diocese. Fr. Vos feels that in his role as a pastoral agent of a global church, he needs to be an animator, using his office to help the church to develop a consciousness of the universal church and to be truly catholic. He is inspired by the high level of participation that he already sees in the diocese and his desire to get even more people involved.
Fr. Vos was raised on a farm near St. Cloud and was ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of St. Cloud in 1964. He spent 10 years in campus ministry and another 19 years in missionary work in East Africa with Maryknoll before returning to St. Cloud. He is thankful for the opportunities that each of these roles presented him and the appreciation that he has developed for the multi-cultural dimension of the church as a result of the various ministries in which he has been involved. He continues to be involved with Maryknoll and enjoys helping lay Catholics to get involved in missionary work. He has also been blessed to serve as the Chair of the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission as well as having served as the Chair of the St. Cloud Human Rights Commission.
Fr. Vos feels that the “unsung” saints like Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton and Oscar Romero have had a strong influence on him. They and others like them represent people who allowed their faith to take them to extraordinary places. He also is motivatedby people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. for their commitment to nonviolent approaches to conflict resolution. He sees the Church in the U.S. as having a key role to play in peace building efforts throughout the world and feels that we can learn quite a bit from these leaders of peaceful movements.
Outside of work, Fr. Vos tries to stay active with outdoor sports including downhill skiing, golfing, fishing and a bit of hunting. He enjoys traveling and considers himself very fortunate to have found a job that provides so many opportunities to do so. In addition to preparing to host a soon to arrive delegation from their sister Diocese of Homa Bay, Kenya, he will also be representing the Diocese of St. Cloud at the installation of the new bishop of Homa Bay In addition, he enjoys reading and tries to keep up on what is going on in the church and the world at-large.
For Fr. Vos, the year that he spent immersing himself in the culture after completing his language school in East Africa was a time that he really felt that he was engaged in solidarity. He spent time teaching religion to young children as a less-threatening way to hone his language skills. He remembers the children smiling and laughing at his mistakes. That was an important time; it forced him to acculturate--to let go of the skills and education he preciously relied upon. One of the most significant lessons that he learned from the experience was humility. Americans tend to see themselves as fixers and doers he says, and by immersing himself completely in a different culture, he came to appreciate the variety of gifts that other people bring to any given situation. In relation to his work with CRS, he feels that his immersion experience helped him to order his priorities and to make sure that they are well-placed. CRS accompanies people overseas in the work that must be done as opposed to doing it for them which empowers them to handle situations as they arise and to move forward.
Fr. Vos feels that the Global Solidarity Partnership program is a perfect fit for the work that he does in the diocese in support of solidarity. He also feels that growth and development of our Advocacy Unit is an area in which we need to continue focusing. The U.S. is in a unique position of influence and it is important to engage Catholics in the U.S. to act in a variety of ways from missionary work to grassroots advocacy.
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