The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in Paris, France, in 1833. Frederic Ozanam, a college student, was challenged by a non-believing classmate, who asked, “What is your Church doing for the poor in Paris?” In response, Frederic and six others began a group which they named the “Conference of Charity.” They chose St. Vincent de Paul, the patron saint of the poor, to be their patron. Eventually, the organization was formally named The Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Its members were, and still are, called Vincentians.
Those first members of the Society started with the mentoring of Sister Rosalie Rendu. They began helping the poor both materially and spiritually. The Society grew rapidly and soon spread throughout France and into other European countries. In 1845, just 12 years after its founding by Frederic Ozanam in 1833, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was established in the United States, beginning in the “Old Cathedral” in St. Louis, Missouri.
Since then, the Society has spread throughout the world, so that today it can be found in 150 countries. The Society now has over 750,000 members worldwide, who continue the work begun by Frederic Ozanam in 1833.
No work of charity is foreign to the Society. Our ministry, through person-to-person contact, encompasses every form of aid that alleviates suffering and promotes the dignity and integrity of mankind.