An Open Door to Hope

History

From Paris in 1833 to Pasco 1960       

Founder, Frederick Ozanam
Founder, Frederic Ozanam

In 1833, a 20-year-old college student and his friends began serving the poor in Paris, France. This was the beginning of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Today, there are more than 700,000 members serving in 144 countries around the globe.

The Society came to the United States in 1845 when a conference was formed in St. Louis, Missouri. On April 1, 1960, the Articles of Incorporation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul – St. Patrick Conference of Pasco were filed and recorded in the Office of the Secretary of State of Washington.

eiffel-tower
Eiffel Tower, Paris

Our Founders

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul originated in Paris, France, in 1833. Frédéric Ozanam, a young Sorbonne student, met regularly with his fellow Catholic students to discuss the issues of the day. At one of their public meetings, a challenger admitted that the Catholic Church, at one time, had been a great source of good, but asked, “What is your Church doing now?… Show us your works and we will believe you.” Unable to respond, Frédéric and his friends conceded.

Shortly afterward, Frédéric drew six friends together and inspired them to create the Conference of Charity, with the purpose of serving the poor of Paris. Frédéric and his friends decided that no act of charity would be foreign to their organization. For people in need, the Conference members provided food, clothing, shelter and financial and spiritual assistance. They also established tutoring programs and libraries.

 

Sr. Rosalie Rendu
Sr. Rosalie Rendu

Under the guidance of Sr. Rosalie Rendu, Frédéric impressed upon the Conference members the need and importance of offering the kindness, respect and compassion of God to the people they visited. In his view, this was as important as the food or clothing they brought with them.

Frédéric chose the 17th-century priest St. Vincent de Paul, known as the Apostle of Charity, as patron of the Conference. Subsequently, the Conference of Charity was renamed the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

 

The Old Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri, where the St. Vincent de Paul Society started in the United States
The Old Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri, where the St. Vincent de Paul Society started in the United States

Ozanam’s faith was very important to him and it guided him throughout his life. He was also a very humble and compassionate man. These traits enabled him to successfully assist many people in need and laid the foundation for the Society to spread throughout the world. As the Society grew, its members established volunteer groups in parishes. These groups became known as Conferences. The Society started in the United States in 1845 in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1903.

Copyright 2012, Saint Vincent de Paul, Pasco, WA