Dee Mansi: Associate Honors Tradition of Systemic Change
By AJ Keith, Communications intern
“The Vincentian family of the 21st century will be and must be more collaborative. It will be rich in all its diversity. It will be deeply spiritual. It will help people find new hope that will allow them to start anew. The Vincentian Family will be committed to systemic change and will remain prophetic through her love of creation.” – Sister Blandine Klien, SC, at the 2020 Vincentian Family Leaders meeting
Lay Vincentian and Associate of the Sisters of Charity Dee Mansi is making history in strides with her devotion to eliminating homelessness. While her occupations and volunteer work are many in number, homelessness on all levels is the major collaborative project of the Vincentian Family and her main concern. As a member of one of the 150 branches of the global Vincentian Family, Dee shares in the common goal to care for those on the margins of society, which perfectly harmonizes with the Sisters of Charity’s charism of living the Gospel values and building relationships.
“Accompaniment” is a central tenet of the charism of the International Vincentian Family and the tenet that first moved Dee to help the neediest in society. Dee states that her tireless work is concerned with offering solutions to systemic problems to accompany people on their life’s journey. As Dee puts it, she offers the more effective “hand-up” rather than a “hand-out.” Dee says, “Home is as much a feeling as a structure, and I wish everyone to have this deep-rooted feeling of love, acceptance and safety as much as a roof over their head.”
Dee attended the first-ever Vincentian Family Leaders Meeting in Rome, Italy, in January as a member of the Executive Committee. According to Dee, the meeting took place to, “evaluate progress integrating and developing each National Vincentian Family Council.” Though the meeting covered a myriad of topics, homelessness was high on the agenda, as the FamVin Homeless Alliance, an important initiative of the Vincentian Family, was discussed and their collaboration within their million members to end homelessness.
Inspired daily by her wholesome volunteer work, Dee understands the importance of mutuality in her service. She thrives on the co-dependent system of teaching and learning, as she is constantly moved by the lessons that she learns from those she helps. Such is the case when she volunteers at the Saturday Friends Project which accompanies former homeless people on monthly cultural trips. “I kept thinking that I heard every reason for homelessness,” Dee says. “But each time, I would be shocked by how fragile people could be or how precarious life is for the lowly paid. Mental health problems and chaotic mismanaged finances could put a highly educated person on the streets.”
“The issue of homelessness is completely in keeping with the mission and charism of the Sisters of Charity,” Dee says. “The inclusivity of the mission involves the care of vulnerable people.” In February 2020, the Vincentian NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) at the New York United Nations took the lead on creating a definition of homelessness to better understand how prominent the issue is and to address it as part of the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030. Dee continues to lend a helping hand on local levels to honor the charism and loving global relationships for which the Sisters of Charity are known. “I am grateful for my family, my home, my friends and community, and the wholeness of this holy life,” Dee says.