Blessed Frédéric Ozanam
Founder of the Society Worldwide
Hearing the cry of the poor, responding to their needs and advocating for their rights…
Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in the tradition of its founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an advocate on behalf of the poor, seeking to discover the root causes of poverty and to remedy its effects.
“Need, not creed” determines who is helped, and how.
Although affiliated with the Catholic Church, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul helps anyone in need regardless of their race, religion, age, or background. Likewise, no work of charity is foreign to the Society. Consequently, we provide financial and material assistance, along with emotional and spiritual comfort to help people facing all sorts of challenges.
“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.