The Origins of St. Vincent de Paul
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul began in Paris in 1833. Frederic Ozanam, a young student at the Sorbonne, met regularly with his fellow Catholic students to discuss the issues of the day. At one of their public meetings, Ozanam was challenged by a member of the audience to answer the question of what the church was doing to be a source of good. Unable to respond, Ozanam and his friends were inspired to take action. This inspiration led to the creation of the Conference of Charity with the purpose of serving the poor.
The Conference of Charity determined that no act of charity would be foreign to their organization. The members would go out into the streets of Paris to meet the poor in their homes. Members provided food, clothing, shelter, financial and spiritual support, and tutoring and libraries to individuals and families in need. Under the guidance of Sr. Rosalie Rendu, Ozanam emphasized the importance of giving kindness, respect, and compassion to people in need.
Ozanam chose the 17th century priest St. Vincent de Paul, known as the Apostle of Charity, to be the patron saint of the organization, which was renamed the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Today, there are more than 700,000 members serving in 144 countries across the globe.
St. Vincent de PAul in the United States
The Society began in the United States in 1845 in St. Louis, Missouri. By 1903, the first Conference in Georgia was formed by parishioners at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta. The Atlanta Council, now known as the Georgia Council, was instituted in 1914 to serve as a resource and support center for the growing number of Conferences.
There are now 73 Conferences in the Georgia Council. Last year, SVdP Georgia served more than 126,000 people with almost $15 million in tangible and in-kind resources.