Hearing the cry of the poor...responding to their needs...advocating for their rights.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international organization of laymen and women who seek in a spirit of justice and charity to help the poor, the needy and the disadvantaged through practical works of charity. In the tradition of its founder, Frederic Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul, the members of the Society assist the poor through person-to-person service (home visits) providing them with material aid, emotional support and spiritual comfort - whatever is necessary to empower them to become self-sufficient.
Inspired by Gospel values, the Vincentians seek to grow spiritually by carrying out their mission ever mindful of the dignity of the men and women they serve because, in them, the Vincentians see the face of Christ.
As an organization, the Society is an advocate on behalf of the poor. The Society seeks to discover the root causes of poverty and to remedy its effects.
Although affiliated with the Catholic Church, the Society helps all people regardless of their race, religion, or background. “No work of charity is foreign to the Society.” “Need, not creed” determines who is helped, and how.
“Charity must never look to the past, but always to the future, because the number of its past works is still very small and the present and future ministries that it must alleviate are infinite.”
Blessed Frederic Ozanam (1813-1853)
Like that of its founder, Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul "is to embrace the world in a network of charity."
Frederic Ozanam founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to address the problems brought on by the Industrial Revolution, as farming families migrated to Paris and other European cities seeking employment and a better way of life. What they found instead were ghettos where people lived in overcrowded houses or on the streets. Hunger was rampant, as were disease and despair. The plague of 1832 struck, making the plight of these displaced farmers and other poor people more desperate.
These were the challenges that Frederic Ozanam and the first group of Vincentian volunteers confronted in their commitment to "do something" about the poverty, sickness and squalor found in the ghettos of Paris during the 1800s.
The challenges Vincentians face today - like those faced by the Society's founders - are to understand and respond to the needs of the poor brought on by a society that is in transition. With our increasing dependence on technology, globalization of the economy, abundant dehumanization, loneliness and broken families…how will these changes affect the way we live? What impact will they have on the lives of the poor and working poor as we enter the next Century?
The Society will go forward to meet these challenges relying on God's grace, the dedication and commitment of the Vincentian men and women, and community support for the Society's mission.