The Society of St. Vincent de Paul began in Paris, France, in 1833 when a young law student at the Sorbonne, Frédéric Ozanam, was challenged during a debate to demonstrate what he and his fellow Catholic students were personally doing to help the poor in Paris. Ozanam’s reaction was immediate. Within weeks, Ozanam, at 20 years of age, and six of his peers formed the first “Conference of Charity.” Under the conference, this group of seven men financed their works of charity out of their own pockets and from contributions of friends. They visited the poor in their homes, providing them with needed aid and assistance. At the prompting of Monsieur Emmanuel Bailly and Sister Rosalie Rendu, superior of a convent of the Daughters of Charity, Ozanam soon placed the conference under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul who had spent his life in 16th century France serving the poor. Within a few years, the original group of seven grew to 600, spreading to 15 other cities and towns in France, numbering more than 2,000 members.
How We Help
Our goal is to help them meet basic needs, build self-sufficiency, and ultimately break the cycle of poverty. Instead of only helping those who come to us, we provide one-on-one service through our home visits, going into people’s homes to learn the extent of their needs before determining how to help. Following the tradition of Frederic Ozanam, founder of the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul, SVdP serves anyone in need, regardless of race, creed or origin.
The aid we provide most often includes:
- direct financial assistance for rent, utilities, transportation
- food and furniture
- consultation, referral and intervention services
Programs also include the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store near Bachman Lake in Dallas.
Home visits are an integral part of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Those who need assistance are met on an equal basis, never looked down upon, and always thought of as brothers and sisters in Christ. The Vincentians go in pairs to make a face-to-face connection and assess individual needs. By visiting someone in their home, we help them feel more at ease. Our direct service lifts spirits, renews hope and draws us closer to God.