St. Vincent DePaul Society History
“Embrace the world in a network of charity.”
Blessed Frédéric Ozanam
Frédric Ozanam, who conceived this Society, was a brilliant young Frenchman, lawyer, author and professor in the Sorbonne. 1n 1833, Ozanam led a group of university students in founding a society whose object was to minister to the needs of the Parisian poor.
The Society's establishment was due in part to the desire of the founders to furnish a practical refutation to reproaches directed against Christianity by the followers of Saint-Simon, Fourier, and other popular teachers of the day. "Show us your works!" taunted the St. Simonians. “We admit the past grandeur of Christianity, but the tree is now dead and bears no fruit." To this taunt Ozanam and his companions retorted by forming themselves into a Conference of Charity, later adopting the name of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Since then, the Society has spread throughout the world, affecting the lives of millions through its acts of charity. Frédéric Ozanam was beatified by St. Pope John Paul II on August 22, 1997.
“The Hand of God is always outstretched for those who wish to grasp it.”
-St. Vincent de Paul
Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. These acts of charity are done in the tradition of the Society’s founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and its patron, St. Vincent de Paul.
As a a reflection of the whole family of God, members, who are known as Vincentians, are drawn from every ethnic and cultural background, age group, and economic level.
Vincentians are united in an international society of charity by their spirit of poverty, humility and sharing, nourished by prayer and reflection, mutually supportive gatherings and adherence to a basic Rule.
Vincentians witness God's love by embracing all works of charity and justice. The Society collaborates with other people of good will in relieving need and addressing its causes, making no distinction in those served because, in them, Vincentians see the face of Christ.