Do More Good | The Society of St. Vincent de Paul
“I hope to encompass the world in a network of charity.”
-Blessed Frederic Ozanam, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Each day, 800,000 Vincentians in 155 countries strive to grow in spirituality and attend to the pain of those who suffer from the effects of poverty. They represent one of the longest-standing charitable organizations in the world: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul. For more than seven generations, the Society’s lay Vincentians have embodied the core values of “love of God” and “love of neighbor,” forming powerful networks of community leaders the world over who grow together spiritually and help those in need to escape the devastating cycle of poverty. They offer companionship and understanding to the neglected, often wherever they call home.
Just 12 years after a group of French college students led by Blessed Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam, inspired by St. Vincent de Paul’s utter loyalty to society’s marginalized, formed the Society in Paris in 1833, a network of Vincentians was established in the United States. Father Ambrose Heim, known as the “The Priest of the Poor,” called the first meeting of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul in 1845 in St. Louis, Missouri at the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France.
For more than 175 years, the Society, in the U.S. and abroad, has inspired millions to grow in holiness and to serve, changing countless lives for the better. In 2017 alone, 100,000 members of the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul, across all 50 states, provided $3.4 billion worth of service to the poor. Members from 4,400 local communities, known as Conferences, operated 435 thrift stores and spent $75 million running emergency, transitional and long-term housing programs. The Society’s thrift stores produced $150 million in mission-related revenues and gave away 20 percent of their clothing and household goods inventory to those most in need.
At the heart of the Society’s service is the “home visit,” wherein Vincentians visit neighbors in their homes, allowing for the opportunity to not only provide aid and comfort to neighbors in need, but to better understand their circumstances and struggles. This work is done face-to-face by Vincentians in pairs, and the triumphs witnessed as relationships develop are personal, sometimes seemingly small, but they are also precious, holy, redemptive and revolutionary moments in people’s lives—and they’ve added up. The Society has been of service to millions over the past 175 years and is committed to continual expansion until they’ve encompassed the world in a network of charity.