Who We Are

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 153 territories around the world. For his work, Frederic Ozanam was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1997.

Members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are called Vincentians.  Vincentians respond to the Mission of the Society to live the Gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice and joy.

SSVP in Calgary

Calgary has hundreds of Vincentians organized as conferences within most Catholic parishes.  All conferences are fueled by the good work of members of who are committed to doing what they can to provide help for those in need.  The first priority is to provide and deliver food hampers to people in need.  Other Vincentians visit people in their homes, help with school food drives or serve the society as members of local councils.

SSVP conferences are organized under three Particular Councils, North, South, and West. The Calgary Diocese Central Council oversees SSVP activity across the city.  Conferences and councils operate as registered charities under the Canada Revenue Agency.  Calgary’s Central Council is guided by a Catholic priest appointed by the Bishop who serves as a spiritual advisor.

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