The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is one of the oldest charitable organizations in the world, founded in 1833 in France by seven student including Frederic Ozanam. The young Frederic, a Catholic, wanted to help the poor of all religions during the industrial revolution.
He also wanted to improve the lives of his peers by urging them to perform works of charity rather than simply talk about what should be done to help the needy. Now beatified, Blessed Frederic founded the Society in the name of St. Vincent de Paul, a French priest from the late 16th and early 17th centuries who alerted the people of his day to many of society's ills.
Along with several friends, Frederic visited the poor in their homes, helping them whenever possible by sharing whatever food and other necessities were available for them to give. More importantly, the young men provided food for the spirit through their many acts of kindness and friendship.
The Society's work quickly began to spread and arrived in the United States in 1845 with the founding of what is now the Council of the United States in St. Louis, MO.
This international organization is made up of lay Catholic men and women who are committed to live and grow in their Christian faith through prayer and personal involvement in charitable works. It has spread to more than 130 nations, with more than 900,000 members worldwide.
Our world-wide mission is to help the needy in countless ways, primarily through one-on-one contact of volunteers with children, families and the homeless. We accomplish this mission through parish- and community-based groups called Conferences and through special projects conducted at the Council level.
Our members, called Vincentians, continually strive to promote the dignity of the people they serve while helping alleviate their suffering and distress and working to help correct conditions that cause these problems.
Today more than 4,055 active Conferences operate in the United States, with about 62,847 active members. In the District Council of Madison we have more than 250 members in our 14 parish conferences. These volunteers continually strive to carry on the work begun when the Blessed Frédéric and his friends formed that first conference in France more than 175 years ago.