The St. Vincent de Paul Society was founded in Paris in 1833
by Frédéric Ozanam, a young French university student at the Sorbonne, to confront the devastating poverty of Paris. Inspired by the charitable works of St. Vincent de Paul, who had an untiring commitment to serving the poor, Ozanam’s mission was to help those in need on a one-on-one basis and “accomplish through charity what justice alone cannot do.”
The Society chose St. Vincent de Paul as its patron under the influence of Sister Rosalie Rendu, a member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, a group of religious women who took vows to serve the poor. Sr. Rosalie, who was well known for her work with the most poverty stricken people in the slums of Paris, guided Frédéric and his fellow student peers in their mission to help those in need. Today, the Society’s global presence is due to the values established by St. Vincent de Paul, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam and Blessed Rosalie Rendu, whose charitable spirit appeal universally to the human heart.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco was established in 1860.
The purpose of the Society is to help the most vulnerable in the community become as self-sufficient as possible. SVDP-SF helps over 1,000 people in San Francisco every day, including those suffering from poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, and domestic violence.
Almost one million people around the world are members of the Society.
They often call themselves “Vincentians,” in tribute to St. Vincent de Paul. What they all have in common is a desire to serve poor and suffering people – the homeless, the sick, the lonely, and the elderly. Vincentians deliver food, visit shut-ins, purchase personal care items, provide transportation, and assist in many other ways. As members of local parishes, they perform their charity in parish groups known as “Conferences.” Today, there are over 350 active Vincentians who serve in 31 parish Conferences and 2 youth grammar school Conferences. They all actively support the SVDP-SF programs.