As we approach the feast of St. Vincent DePaul on September 27, we reflect on the history, spirituality, and importance of this ministry named after him.
History: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international Catholic organization of laypersons founded in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam. The Society originated in Paris when Frederic was challenged to show what the Church was doing for the poor in their city. He invited five friends to walk the streets of Paris with him, engaging in person-to-person ministry to the poor, confident that Christ would be revealed through their loving acts. The Society was placed under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul, a well-known saint of Christian charity who lived in France two centuries earlier. The tiny group eventually grew into today’s international organization with more than 800,000 members in 154 countries, all helping others through neighborhood ministry.
Spirituality: The purpose of the Society is spiritual growth of its members. The Church calls all men and women to holiness because Jesus does. He says: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) St Paul says very clearly: “This is the will of God, your holiness.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) The SVdP Society calls its members to holiness: such was the intent of its founders in 1833 and such is its intent today. Serving those who are poor increases our holiness. All of the rest of what we do flows out of spirituality which comes through prayer. Vincentians are called to holiness by striving to conform ourselves to Jesus, doing God’s will and devoting ourselves the service of God’s suffering and poor. For more information see: https://ssvpusa.org or at the local level https://www.svdpcincinnati.org/.