Society of Saint Vincent de Paul

Last updated
Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
Bust of Frederic Ozanam.jpg
Blessed Frédéric Ozanam
Named afterSt. Vincent de Paul
FoundedApril 23, 1833;186 years ago (1833-04-23) [1]
FounderBlessed Frédéric Ozanam [2]
Mr. Emmanuel Bailly
FocusSanctification of members
through service of the poor [3]
Area served
153 Countries [4]
Estimated 800,000 [4]
Superior General
Fr. Bertin Sanon, R.S.V.
Website SVP Global

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP or SVdP or SSVP) is an international voluntary organization in the Catholic Church, founded in 1833 for the sanctification of its members by personal service of the poor.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.


Innumerable Catholic parishes have established "conferences", most of which affiliate with a diocesan council. Among its varied efforts to offer material help to the poor or needy, the Society also has thrift stores which sell donated goods at a low price and raise money for the poor. [5] There are a great variety of outreach programs sponsored by the local conferences and councils, addressing local needs for social services. [1]



The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in 1833 to help impoverished people living in the slums of Paris, France. [6] The primary figure behind the Society's founding was Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, a French lawyer, author, and professor in the Sorbonne. Frédéric collaborated with Emmanuel Bailly, editor of the Tribune Catholique, in reviving a student organization which had been suspended during the revolutionary activity of July 1830. Ozanam was 20 years old when he founded the Society. [7] He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1997. [8] Emmanuel Bailly was chosen as the first President.

Beatification recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person

Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name. Beati is the plural form, referring to those who have undergone the process of beatification.

Frédéric Ozanam French scholar

Blessed Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam was a French literary scholar, lawyer, journalist and equal rights advocate. He founded with fellow students the Conference of Charity, later known as the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris in 1997, hence he may be properly called Blessed Frederic by Catholics. His feast day is September 9.

University of Paris former university in Paris, France from 1896 to 1968

The University of Paris, metonymically known as the Sorbonne, was a university in Paris, France, active 1150–1793, and 1806–1970.

The Society took Saint Vincent de Paul as its patron under the influence of Sister Rosalie Rendu, DC. Sister Rosalie, beatified in November 1999 by Pope John Paul II, was a member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, earlier known for her work with people in the slums of Paris. She guided Frédéric and his companions in their approach towards those in need. [9]

Rosalie Rendu Beatified French Daughter of Charity

Rosalie Rendu was a Daughter of Charity who was a leading worker and organizer of care for the poor of 19th-century Paris' teeming slums, suffering from the rapid migration of people to the cities during the course of the Industrial Revolution. She was beatified by the Catholic Church for the holiness of her life. Her feast day is February 7.

Pope John Paul II 264th Pope of the Catholic Church, saint

Pope John Paul II was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 1978 to 2005.

Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul society of apostolic life

The Company of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, called in English the Daughters of Charity or Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent De Paul, is a Society of Apostolic Life for women within the Catholic Church. Its members make annual vows throughout their life, which leaves them always free to leave, without need of ecclesiastical permission. They were founded in 1633 and state that they are devoted to serving the poor through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Blessed Rosalie Rendu, DC Rosalie Rendu.jpg
Blessed Rosalie Rendu, DC

SVP gradually expanded outside Paris in the mid-19th century and received benefactors in places such as Tours where figures such as the Venerable Leo Dupont, known as the Holy Man of Tours, became collaborators. [10]

Tours Prefecture and commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Tours is a city in the west of France. It is the administrative centre of the Indre-et-Loire department and the largest city in the Centre-Val de Loire region of France. In 2012, the city of Tours had 134,978 inhabitants, and the population of the whole metropolitan area was 483,744.

Leo Dupont 19th-century French Catholic religious order founder

Venerable Leo Dupont, also known as "The Holy Man of Tours," or the "Apostle of the Holy Face", was a Catholic who helped spread various Catholic devotions such as that of the Holy Face of Jesus and nightly Eucharistic Adoration. He was declared Venerable by the Holy See during Pope Pius XII's Pontificate and currently awaits Beatification.

The Society is part of the Vincentian Family which also includes two congregations founded by St. Vincent de Paul – the Congregation of the Mission with Vincentian priests and brothers and the Ladies of Charity – along with the Sisters of Charity in the Setonian tradition and several others, including some religious groups that are part of the Anglican Communion like the Company of Mission Priests. [9] [1]

Vincentian Family

The Vincentian Family comprises organizations inspired by the life and work of Vincent de Paul, a 17th-century priest who "transformed the face of France."

Congregation of the Mission society of apostolic life

Congregation of the Mission is a vowed, Roman Catholic society of apostolic life of priests and brothers founded by Vincent de Paul. It is associated with the Vincentian Family, a loose federation of organizations who claim Vincent de Paul as their founder or Patron. They are popularly known as Vincentians, Paules, Lazarites, Lazarists, or Lazarians.

Sisters of Charity Federation in the Vincentian-Setonian Tradition

The Sisters of Charity Federation in the Vincentian-Setonian Tradition is an organization of fourteen congregations of religious women in the Catholic Church who trace their lineage to Saint Elizabeth Seton, Saint Vincent de Paul, and Saint Louise de Marillac.

England and Wales

Servant of God Fr. Ignatius Spencer from London came to know the Society in visits to Paris. Parisian Monsieur Baudon, who would assume the presidency of SVDP in 1847, visited London in 1842 and persuaded Spencer to write about the Society in the Catholic Magazine. Then in January 1844 M. Pagliano, a London restaurateur and recent convert to Catholicism, gathered 13 Catholic men and the first English SVP conference was founded. [11] Early initiatives included the formation of the Catholic Shoe Black Brigade, providing boys with gainful employment and the first home of “the Rescue Society” which under various names still offers child care in many dioceses. [12]

In 2013 there were more than 10,000 members in more than 1,000 Conferences in the United Kingdom, making over 500,000 recorded visits annually to more than 100,000 people. [12]

United States

Old Cathedral of St. Louis, Missouri, 1834 Basilica of St. Louis, France (color).jpeg
Old Cathedral of St. Louis, Missouri, 1834

The Society’s first Conference in the United States was established in 1845 in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Basilica of St. Louis King of France, or "Old Cathedral". Fr. John Timon, CM, had learned of the Society while visiting with his Vincentian superiors in Paris. From Dublin, Ireland, he brought to St. Louis copies of the SVP Rule. On November 16, 1845, Bishop Peter Richard Kenrick dedicated the new St. Vincent de Paul church on South Eighth Street and invited Timon to preach. Timon discussed the Society in his sermon, [13] in the presence of prominent laymen who took hold of the idea and held an organizational meeting on November 20, 1845. The Conference included Dr. Moses Linton, founder of the St. Louis Medical and Surgical Journal, and as chair Judge Bryan Mullanphy who would become mayor of St. Louis. [14] [15] Bishop Kenrick appointed Fr. Ambrose Heim as spiritual advisor to the Conference. [16]


Pilla was born in London in 1806 and was recruited for the Melbourne mission by the pioneering father, later bishop, Patrick Geoghegan. Ward was familiar with SVP from London and, observing the plight of the poor after the Victorian gold rush, established the Society in Australia in 1854. Ward served as its first president and helped establish the SVP orphanage in South Melbourne. [17]

New Zealand

Fr. Chataigner, SM, established the first Conference in New Zealand in July 1867, but did not affiliate with the Council-General in Paris. The first to affiliate was the Wellington Conference founded in 1908 by Fr. Petitjean, SM, and Charles O'Neill, followed by other Conferences out of Wellington. [18] [19]


Charles Gordon O'Neill was born in Glasgow in 1828. He graduated as a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Upon graduation he had joined the Society of St Vincent de Paul. He was secretary at Dumbarton in 1851. He led the St Vincent de Paul Society in the Western Districts of Scotland between 1859 and 1863. By 1863 he was president of the Superior Council of Glasgow and a member of the Council-General in Paris. [20]


SVP came to Mumbai in 1862 when the Conference of Our Lady of Hope, Bhuleshwar, was established at the cathedral by the future bishop Fr. Leo Meurin, S.J. With the closure of the cathedral in 1942, the Conference was transferred to the Church of Our Lady of Health, Cavel. Meurin also established a Conference at St. Teresa, Girgaum, in 1862, and four more in Mumbai in 1863: St. Peter, Bandra; St. Joseph, Umarkhadi; Our Lady of Victories, Mahim; and St. Anne, Mazagaon. [21] The Society is active in southern India, headquartered in Kerala.


The Society numbers about 800,000 members in some 140 countries worldwide, whose members operate through "conferences". [4] A Conference may be based out of a church, school, community center, hospital, etc., and is composed of Catholic volunteers who pursue their own Christian growth in the service of the poor. Some Conferences exist without affiliating with any local Council, and so are not counted in statistics. Non-Catholics may join and the Society serves all regardless of their personal beliefs. [4]


The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in Ireland in 1844 when it was part of the United Kingdom but was only a thing in ireland at that point until it spread worldwide. It is the largest voluntary charitable organisation in Ireland. During its history it has helped people in need through a famine, a civil war, a war of independence, two world wars, and several economic recessions. It is one of Ireland's best known and most widely supported organisations of social concern and action with over 11,500 volunteers, active in every county in Ireland. [22]


SVP Opportunity Shop in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales St Vincent De Paul Society Wagga.jpg
SVP Opportunity Shop in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in historic Anson Brown Building, Ann Arbor, MI Anson Brown Building 2010.JPG
St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in historic Anson Brown Building, Ann Arbor, MI

In Australia the "Vinnies" number about 58,000. [23] Works include Conferences, Special Works, and Vinnies shops, [24] assisting over 2,200,000 people in Australia each year. [25]

In 2018, the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland was named as one of the Queensland Greats by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in a ceremony at the Queensland Art Gallery on 8 June 2018. [26]

New Zealand

In New Zealand, SVP operates in 23 regions with over 50 shops which serve as centres for welfare service, including food banks and food trucks. Most Catholic schools have Young Vinnies who help with fundraising and with training for dealing directly with the poor. The work is varied, following the Vinnie motto: "No act of charity is foreign to the society." [27]

United States

The national headquarters is in St. Louis. Membership in the United States in 2015 exceeded 97,000 in 4,400 communities. Expenditures to people in poverty were $473,821,563. Programs include visits to homes, prisons, and hospitals, housing assistance, disaster relief, job training and placement, food pantries, dining halls, clothing, transportation and utility costs, care for the elderly, and medicine. [28] Revenue is raised through a large network of thrift stores. [29]


The first Conference of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Monaco was created in 1876. The Conference of the immaculate Conception of Monaco-City whose commemorative plaque is on the Place de la Visitation, thanks among others to Monsieur Thheuret, Apostolic Protonotary in Monaco and to Mr Gastaldi, Mayor of Monaco. Mr. Theuret was appointed first Honorary President. The Vice-President of Honor being the Marquis de la Riva, first Chambellan of the Sovereign Prince.

The first active President was Lieutenant Plati. The Sovereign Prince, Prince Charles III, was one of the first benefactors. At the time, the Immaculate Conception Conference was attached to the Particular Council of the Nice Conferences.

St. Vincent de Paul Society in Monaco is located on 32 Rue Grimaldi, in the Condamine neighbourhood.

St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores

The St. Vincent de Paul Society runs thrift stores in many countries including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Ireland, and Canada, as seen from websites for some in the US: St. Louis area with 9 such stores, [30] Cincinnati area with 7, [31] Omaha with 3, [32] Dayton with 2, [33] Des Moines with 2, [34] Florida with 35, [29] California with 26, [29] Pennsylvania with 24, [29] Western Oregon with 15, [29] Georgia with 12, [29] Arizona with 10, [35] and Idaho with 3. [36] Items from clothing to automobiles are sold for a small price, often with home pick-up for large items. Money, and many times donated items, are distributed to the poor. [37]

Related Research Articles

This article is about the demographics of the population of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, including population density, ethnicity, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis archdiocese

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is the Roman Catholic archdiocese that covers the City of St. Louis and the Missouri counties of Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Perry, Saint Charles, Saint Francois, Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis, Warren, and Washington. It is the metropolitan see to the suffragan sees of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, the Diocese of Jefferson City, and the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph.

Vincent de Paul 17th-century French priest, founder and saint

Vincent de Paul was a French Catholic priest who dedicated himself to serving the poor. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He was canonized in 1737. He was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity. Founder of Congregation of the Mission and Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Charity shop retail establishment run by a charitable organization to raise money

A charity shop, thrift shop or opportunity shop is a retail establishment run by a charitable organization to raise money. Charity shops are a type of social enterprise. They sell mainly used goods such as clothing, books, music albums, DVDs, and furniture donated by members of the public, and are often staffed by volunteers. Because the items for sale were obtained for free, and business costs are low, the items can be sold at competitive prices. After costs are paid, all remaining income from the sales is used in accord with the organization's stated charitable purpose. Costs include purchase and/or depreciation of fixtures, operating costs and the building lease or mortgage.

Patrick Feehan Catholic bishop

Patrick Augustine Feehan, was an Irish-born American Catholic bishop. He served as the fifth Bishop and first Archbishop of Chicago between 1880 and 1902, during which the church in Chicago was elevated to an archdiocese.

Sisters of Charity of New York

The Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of New York, most often known simply as the Sisters of Charity of New York, is a religious congregation of sisters in the Catholic Church whose primary missions are education and nursing and who are dedicated in particular to the service of the poor. The motherhouse is located at Mt. St. Vincent in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

The Vincentian Studies Institute of the United States (VSI), at DePaul University, Chicago, is a Roman Catholic organization to promote the Vincentian Family.

The Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception (SCIC) were established in 1854 by Honoria Conway and her companions in Saint John, New Brunswick. They serve in Canada, Peru, and Ireland.

Santiago Masarnau y Fernández was a Spanish pianist, composer and religious activist for the poor. He established the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, an organization composed of laymen dedicated to serving the poor, in Spain. A cause for his canonization has been opened by that society.

St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church (Perryville, Missouri) Church in Missouri, United States

St. Vincent de Paul Church is a Roman Catholic church in Perryville, Missouri. It was completed in 1965, but has roots in a Catholic community that built its first church in Perryville in 1817.

Ozanam House, Ipswich

Ozanam House is a heritage-listed detached house at 66 Roderick Street, Ipswich, City of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. It was built from c. 1886 to 1930s circa. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.

Matthew Talbot Hostel is a well-known shelter and support service provider for homeless men, operating since 1938, in central Sydney, Australia. It is located at 22 Talbot Place, Woolloomooloo.

India–Saint Vincent and the Grenadines relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of India and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

India–Saint Vincent and the Grenadines relations refers to the international relations that exist between India and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The Embassy of India in Paramaribo, Suriname is concurrently accredited to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.


  1. 1 2 3 "International Associations of the Faithful", Pontifical Council for the Laity
  2. "Origins", International Confederation Society-of-Saint-Vincent-de-Paul
  3. 1 2 3 4 aYaline. "Mission et Vision". Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  4. Years, SVDP USA | Providing Assistance to Those in Need for Over 150. "Assistance/Services". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  5. "History - St Vincent de Paul Society - Good Works". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  6. Stroup, Herbert Hewitt. 1985 Social welfare pioneers Rowman and Littlefield ISBN   0-88229-212-9 page 185
  7. "Blessed Frédéric Ozanam". Franciscan Media. 2016-09-07. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  8. 1 2 "Society of Saint Vincent de Paul - Vincentian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  9. Joan Carroll Cruz, OCDS, "Saintly Men of Modern Times" (2003) ISBN   1-931709-77-7 page 195
  10. "Other Key Vincentian Figures | St Vincent de Paul Society". Archived from the original on 2014-10-28. Retrieved 2017-05-27.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. 1 2 "Growth of the Society in England & Wales | St Vincent de Paul Society". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  12. Faherty, William Barnaby (2001). The St. Louis Irish: An Unmatched Celtic Community. Missouri History Museum. ISBN   9781883982393.
  13. "Dr Moses Lewis Linton (1805 - 1872) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  14. "History". SVDP USA. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  15. "Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA - Vincentian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  16. [ "History
  17. "History". St Vincent de Paul Wellington Area. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  18. Society of St. Vincent de Paul New Zealand, 1867-1933 / compiled by D.N. (Des) Ryan.
  19. Foley, C. J. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  20. "AUSTRALIAN VINNIES VISIT INDIA". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  21. "SVP Ireland".
  22. "Membership How many Conference members and volunteers does the Society have" . Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  23. "General - Who does the Society help?" . Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  24. "How many people does Vinnies assist annually in Australia?" . Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  25. "Congratulations to the 2018 Queensland Greats". Queensland Greats Awards. Queensland Government. 20 July 2018. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  26. Generally, you can look at the national page, specific areas, such as Wellington Area will give you a good indication of what type of work is done in New Zealand
  27. "Home". SVDP USA. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Find Store". Society of St. Vincent De Paul. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  29. "Locations | Society of St. Vincent de Paul of St. Louis". Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  30. "Find Us". Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Cincinnati Chapter. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  31. "Thrift Stores – Omaha Society of Saint Vincent De Paul". Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  32. "COMMUNITY STORES - St. Vincent de Paul Dayton". St. Vincent de Paul Dayton. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  33. "Our Stores - SVdP Des Moines". SVdP Des Moines. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  34. "Thrift Stores, Dining, and Program Locations - St. Vincent de Paul". Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  35. "Thrift Stores – St. Vincent de Paul CDA". Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  36. Hunt, Judy. "Retail Thrift Stores - St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane Co, Inc". Retrieved 2017-05-28.