The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is an international organisation formed of lay Catholics, who seek personal and spiritual growth through service to those most in need.
The origins of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
Paris. France. 23 April 1833. A group of young university students, seeing the social inequality and injustice all around them, decided to take action, hoping to change the world. They formed the first “Conference of Charity”, a group of friends who wanted to share their faith and put it into action.
Prayer and action came together in their visits to the Mouffetard district, one of the poorest parts of Paris. It was a Daughter of Charity, Sister Rosalie Rendu, who guided and supported them, instructing them about the teachings of Saint Vincent de Paul.
In 1834, the Conferences took St Vincent as their patron saint, and dedicated themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The following year, the first Rule was produced,and in 1839 the International Council General was formed.
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul today
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is present in over 150 countries, with 800,000 members and 1,500,000 volunteers. Every day, it helps over 30 million people.
The SSVP is an associate member of UNESCO and a special adviser to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is also part of the Global Catholic Climate Movement and is aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the United Nations in its Agenda 2030.
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the Church
The SSVP is legally autonomous as to its existence, constitution, organisation, rules, activities and internal government. Recognised as a civil association in most countries, Vincentians freely choose their own officers and manage the Society’s activities and assets, in accordance with their own Statutes and the legislation in effect in each country.
The SSVP maintains close links with the Catholic Church. It is presently part of the “Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life” and the “Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development” and supports the initiatives of the Holy See.