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Society of Saint Vincent de Paul

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Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
Named afterSt. Vincent de Paul
FoundedApril 23, 1833; 191 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.

The Society of Saint 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. Started by Frédéric Ozanam and Emmanuel Bailly and named after Vincent de Paul, the organization is part of the global Vincentian Family of Catholic organizations.

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.

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]

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]

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]

England and Wales[edit]

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[edit]

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 16 November 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 20 November 1845. The Conference included 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] Bishop Kenrick appointed Fr. Ambrose Heim as spiritual advisor to the Conference.[15]


Gerald Ward 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.[16]

In March 2023, Mark Gaetani was officially inducted as the 18th National Council President by Archbishop Christopher Prowse at St. Christopher's Cathedral, Manuka in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, taking over from Claire Victory.[17]

New Zealand[edit]

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 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]


The Society was first introduced in India by the French Missionaries at Pondicherry during the Year 1852-53 as a non-aggregated Conference. The Society was officially started in India in 1863 when some conferences in Bombay were aggregated and the Bombay Particular Council was instituted. Then onwards the Society continued to grow in India. On 09.11.1953 the Superior Council of India was established and instituted with the Council General International. The Superior Council of India was renamed as National Council of India on 06.08.1973. The National Council of India has its Headquarters in Mumbai and the present President’s secretariat is at Chennai, Tamil Nadu with the election of Bro. S. Jude ZR Mangalraj as the 14th National President of India with effect from 28th February 2021.

The National Council of India is registered under the Income Tax Act 1961 with exemption under Sec 80G, FCRA under the ministry of Home Affairs and Societies Regn. Act and Bombay Public Trust Act 1950.


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 Dublin on 16 December 1844.[21] It is now the largest voluntary charitable organisation in Ireland, making it one of Ireland's best known and most widely supported organisations of social concern and action. It has over 11,500 volunteers, active in every county in Ireland.[22] 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.[citation needed]


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

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

In 1996, Ozcare was established as a special work of the society. It provides aged care and disability centres and services.[26]

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.[27]

New Zealand[edit]

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."[28]

United States[edit]

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.[29] Revenue is raised through a large network of thrift stores.[30]

One of the working companies is Aurora Glass Foundry that recycles scrap glass and turns it into various decorative glass products for sale.[31]


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 Charity Shop[edit]

The St. Vincent de Paul Society runs charity shops in many countries including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Ireland, and Canada. These shops are organized by local chapters in St. Louis,[32] Cincinnati area with 7,[33] Omaha, Nebraska,[34] Dayton, Ohio,[35] Des Moines, Iowa,[36] Florida,[30] California,[30] Pennsylvania with 24,[30] Western Oregon,[30] Georgia,[30] Arizona,[37] Idaho,[38] and Western Washington.[39] 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.[40]


  1. ^ a b c "International Associations of the Faithful", Pontifical Council for the Laity
  2. ^ ""Origins", International Confederation Society-of-Saint-Vincent-de-Paul". Archived from the original on 24 June 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  3. ^ "International Confederation of the Society of St Vincent de Paul".
  4. ^ a b c d aYaline. "Mission et Vision". www.ssvpglobal.org. Archived from the original on 21 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  5. ^ Years, SVDP USA | Providing Assistance to Those in Need for Over 150. "Assistance/Services". www.svdpusa.org. Retrieved 27 May 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "History – St Vincent de Paul Society – Good Works". www.vinnies.org.au. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  7. ^ Stroup, Herbert Hewitt. 1985 Social welfare pioneers Rowman and Littlefield ISBN 0-88229-212-9 page 185
  8. ^ "Blessed Frédéric Ozanam". Franciscan Media. 7 September 2016. Archived from the original on 30 September 2020. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Society of Saint Vincent de Paul – Vincentian Encyclopedia". famvin.org. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  10. ^ Joan Carroll Cruz, OCDS, "Saintly Men of Modern Times" (2003) ISBN 1-931709-77-7 page 195
  11. ^ "Other Key Vincentian Figures | St Vincent de Paul Society". svp.org.uk. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Growth of the Society in England & Wales | St Vincent de Paul Society". svp.org.uk. Archived from the original on 19 November 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  13. ^ Faherty, William Barnaby (2001). The St. Louis Irish: An Unmatched Celtic Community. Missouri History Museum. ISBN 9781883982393.
  14. ^ "History". SVDP USA. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA – Vincentian Encyclopedia". famvin.org. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  16. ^ Slattery, Kevin (2004). "An Enduring Legacy: Fr Gerald Ward" (PDF). St Vincent de Paul Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 August 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  17. ^ St Vincent de Paul Society elects new national leader, Catholic Voice, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, 2023-03-09
  18. ^ "History". St Vincent de Paul Wellington Area. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  19. ^ Society of St. Vincent de Paul New Zealand, 1867–1933 / compiled by D.N. (Des) Ryan.
  20. ^ Foley, C. J. "O'Neill, Charles Gordon (1828–1900)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  21. ^ Holland, Kitty; Correspondent, Social Affairs. "St Vincent de Paul plaque unveiled for 175th anniversary in Ireland". The Irish Times. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  22. ^ "SVP Ireland".
  23. ^ "Membership How many Conference members and volunteers does the Society have". Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  24. ^ "General – Who does the Society help?". Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  25. ^ "How many people does Vinnies assist annually in Australia?". Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  26. ^ "Ozcare - Aged Care, Home Care, Respite Care, and NDIS Services Queensland". Ozcare. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  27. ^ "Congratulations to the 2018 Queensland Greats". Queensland Greats Awards. Queensland Government. 20 July 2018. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  28. ^ Generally, you can look at the national page http://www.svdp.org.nz/, specific areas, such as Wellington Area will give you a good indication of what type of work is done in New Zealand http://vinnies-wellington.org.nz/
  29. ^ "Home". SVDP USA. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  30. ^ a b c d e f "Find Store". Society of St. Vincent De Paul. Archived from the original on 31 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  31. ^ Aurora Glass Foundry
  32. ^ "Locations | Society of St. Vincent de Paul of St. Louis". svdpstlouis.org. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  33. ^ "Find Us". Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Cincinnati Chapter. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  34. ^ "Thrift Stores – Omaha Society of Saint Vincent De Paul". svdpomaha.com. Retrieved 28 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  35. ^ "COMMUNITY STORES – St. Vincent de Paul Dayton". St. Vincent de Paul Dayton. Archived from the original on 2 October 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  36. ^ "Our Stores – SVdP Des Moines". SVdP Des Moines. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  37. ^ "Thrift Stores, Dining, and Program Locations – St. Vincent de Paul". www.stvincentdepaul.net. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  38. ^ "St. Vincent de Paul Society of North Idaho". stvincentdepaulcda.org. Retrieved 31 August 2022.
  39. ^ Dorpat, Paul (3 April 2015). "On a mission in 1926: St. Vincent de Paul". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 28 December 2023.
  40. ^ Hunt, Judy. "Retail Thrift Stores – St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane Co, Inc". www.svdp.us. Archived from the original on 6 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2017.

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