The St. Vincent de Paul Society is an international Catholic organization of more than 750,000 lay men and women who seek to help the suffering in a spirit of justice and charity through person-to-person involvement.
Founded in France in 1833, with St. Vincent de Paul as its patron, in the United States today there are more than 59,000 members in 4,300 conferences.
Vincentians seek through prayer, meditation on Scripture and the teachings of the Church to bear witness to the love of Christ through their daily lives and in their relationships with those in need.
- person-to-person assistance, material and moral, is offered at the parish level through small groups (conferences)
- assistance to the poor and those in need
- opportunity for lay persons to participate in the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy
The St. Vincent de Paul Society and its work have been encouraged by the Bishops of Trenton to provide a special means for lay-people to participate in the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy through a time-tested organization with national and international support.
The first conference in the Diocese of Trenton was organized at St. John the Baptist Church (now Sacred Heart Church), Trenton, in 1859. The last report indicates membership in all four counties of the diocese of 245 active members and 78 associate members.
Life and Work
St. Vincent de Paul was born in 1580 to a large and poor farming family. At the extraordinary age of 20, he was ordained a priest.
In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, he fell into the hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. He was held captive about two years, until Divine Providence enabled him to escape.
After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, and became tutor to a wealthy noble family. During that time he saw the terrible spiritual state of the peasantry of France.
In 1617, he began to preach missions. So many people came to hear him preach that priests from elsewhere were called to assist him in hearing confessions.
In 1625, he laid the foundations of the Congregation of the Mission, later to be known as the Lazarists or Vincentians.
Charity was St. Vincent de Paul's predominant virtue. He was a holy charismatic man able to procure funds and assistance from wealthy Parisian women. He used the gifts to assist the poor and destitute in the city.
Despite setbacks, disappointments and slanders, St. Vincent de Paul preserved serenity and evenness of mind, having no other desire than to glorify God in all things.
He suffered greatly from ill health toward the end of his life. On Sept. 27, 1660, at the age of 89, he died calmly in his chair.
The peasant priest was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737 and his feast day is Sept. 27. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him patron of all charitable societies.
In 1833, Antoine Frederic Ozanam, a university student at the time, founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society as a Catholic charitable organization of laypersons to serve those with emotional, material or spiritual needs.
St. Vincent de Paul Society
PO Box 5147
Trenton, NJ 08638-0147
Director: Patricia Brooks