History & Organization
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a lay Catholic charity started by Frederic Ozanam, a French literary scholar, lawyer, journalist and social justice advocate. In 1833, Ozanam and his friends, fellow Catholics and students, began an organization to serve the poor in France.
Ozanam named his organization after St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic priest who dedicated his life to serving the poor. St. Vincent de Paul, who died in 1660, is a venerated Catholic saint known for his compassion, humility and generosity. St. Vincent de Paul is known as the Great Apostle of Charity.
Today, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is active in 150 countries. For his work, Frederic Ozanam was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1997.
Volunteers with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are called Vincentians. These volunteers are called to serve Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice and joy.
SSVP in Calgary
Calgary has hundreds of Vincentians. Most of these individuals volunteer with teams of Vincentians who gather food and household items and then deliver them to people in need. Other Vincentians visit people in their homes, help with school food drives or serve the society as members of local boards.
In Calgary, where the Society of St. Vincent de Paul operates as a registered charity under the Canada Revenue Agency, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is organized into a Central Council and four Particulars, North, South, East and West. The Central Council oversees SSVPs across the city.
Each particular is comprised of St. Vincent de Paul Conferences that are organized at the parish level.
Some Calgary conferences have more than 70 Vincentians. Others are fuelled by the good work of a handful of volunteers who are committed to doing what they can to provide help for those less fortunate. Calgary’s Central Council is guided by a Catholic priest who serves as a spiritual advisor.