About

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is a lay Catholic organization whose mission it is: to serve Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy, and to help shape a more just and compassionate society.

Values

The Mission of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul implies that as Vincentians we:

see Christ in anyone who suffers

come together as a family

have personal contact with the poor

help in all possible ways

History, Patron and Founder

HISTORY

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) figures prominently among those apostolic institutions which owe their beginnings to the free decisions of lay people. Founded in Paris in 1833 by Frédéric Ozanam and his friends, the SSVP is a worldwide organization of lay Christians. As a Catholic society, it is open to all those who desire to do good work in love and service of…

MAIN FOUNDER: FRÉDÉRIC OZANAM

Frédéric Ozanam was born on April 23, 1813, in Milan. In 1815, the Ozanam family moved to Lyon (France) where the father had secured a position in the Hôtel-Dieu hospital. From an early age on, Ozanam witnessed poverty and misery through his father’s work. As a member of the “Workers”, his mother, too, worked tirelessly to help those in need. It is no wonder then that…

FIRST FEMALE COLLABORATOR

From the very beginning, the members decided to dedicate themselves to the poor. The group approached Sister Rosalie Rendu, a reverend Daughter of Charity, who initiated them into the practical care of those in need. For two years, under the guidance of Sister Rosalie, the young Vincentians visited homes, bringing bread, wood, and above all - friendship. …

THE SOCIETY OF SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL IN CANADA

The first Conference of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) in Canada was founded by Dr. Joseph Painchaud in 1846, in Quebec City. Inspired by his time with the Society while studying medicine at university in Paris, he returned to Canada to discuss the founding of a Conference in his parish. During this period in Quebec, needs were vast…

INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION

In 1835, the Society began to expand, and Conferences were founded outside of Paris, in Nimes and Lyon, and even beyond France, in Rome. When Frédéric Ozanam died in 1853, there were 15,000 Vincentians. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is now present in 153 countries with 800,000 active members. Ozanam pioneered the “network of charity”…

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CANADA PRESIDENTS

1846-1850: Honorable Judge Jean Chabot
1850-1866: Augustin Gauthier
1866-1881 : George Manly Muir
1881-1885: Paul Ernest Smith
1885-1911: Charles-Narcisse Hamel
1911-1942: Charles-Joseph Magnan
1942-1969: Honorable Judge Thomas Tremblay
1969-1972: Honorable Justice Gérard Lemay
1972-1977: Patrice Boudreau
1977-1983: Marie-Claire Gingras-Letarte
1983-1995: Robert Martineau
1995-2001: Ellen Schryburt
2001-2007: Michael Burke
2007-2013: Penny Craig
2013-2019: Jean-Noël Cormier
​2019-: Joseph Claude Bédard

Board of Directors & Staff

Richard Pommainville

Richard Pommainville

Executive Director

Joseph Claude Bédard

Joseph Claude Bédard

President

Kerri Abbott

Kerri Abbott

Vice-President for Eastern Canada Interim President - Atlantic Regional Council

Pierre Morissette

Pierre Morissette

Vice-President for Central Canada

Kevin Gallays

Kevin Gallays

Vice-President for Western Canada

Mary Baskin

Mary Baskin

Secretary

Dave O’Connor

Dave O’Connor

Treasurer

Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie

Archbishop Emeritus Sylvain Lavoie OMI

Spiritual Advisor

Sophia Mutuc

Sophia Mutuc

Youth Representative

Clermont Fortin

Clermont Fortin

Twinning Representative

Deborah Joyce

Deborah Joyce

Training Representative

Jim Paddon

Jim Paddon

Social Justice Representative

John Carey

John Carey

Spirituality Representative

Ann Massel

Ann Massel

President - Ontario Regional Council

Michel Olivier

Michel Olivier

Quebec Regional President

Tony Barry

Tony Barry

President - Western Regional Council

Minette Gomez

Minette Gomez

President - British Columbia and Yukon Regional Council

International Confederation of Society of Saint Vincent de Paul

Learn more about the international confederation of Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and how it is represented in over 150 countries.

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History

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) figures prominently among those apostolic institutions which owe their beginnings to the free decisions of lay people.

Founded in Paris in 1833 by Frédéric Ozanam and his friends, the SSVP is a worldwide organization of lay Christians. A Catholic society, it is open to all those who desire to do good work in love and service of their neighbour.

Under the patronage of Saint Vincent de Paul, the organization draws its inspiration from his thoughts and his works. Members strive, in a spirit of justice, charity, mutual help, solidarity with the poor, and through personal commitment, to ease the hardships of those who suffer.

The Founder: Frédéric Ozanam

Frédéric Ozanam was born on April 23, 1813, in Milan.

In 1815, the Ozanam family moved to Lyon (France) where his father had secured a position in the Hôtel-Dieu hospital.

From an early age on, Ozanam witnessed poverty and misery through his father’s work. As a member of the “Workers”, his mother, too, worked tirelessly to help those in need. It is no wonder then that Ozanam would devote his entire life to defending the rights and dignity of vulnerable people. 

Not long after entering the Royal Collage of Lyon (secondary school), he developed a reputation as a diligent and exceptionally intelligent pupil. He began contributing historical and philosophical articles to the Collage’s journal and found time outside of school to write for the Association for the Propagation of the Faith. 

In 1831, Ozanam entered Sorbonne to study law. He married in 1841 and was soon established both as a family man and as a successful professor at the Sorbonne. While in Paris, he was haunted by the misery of the poor, and his dream was to help close the divide among social classes. His faith was tested daily, studying in an environment where it was fashionable to scorn and ridicule Christianity. 

He decided to establish a Catholic discussion group, where students were invited to confront critics of their faith and defend the relevance of the Church. Nevertheless, taunted by the perpetual question “what was the Church doing for the poor?”, Ozanam and his friends decided to found the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in the spring of 1833, and their first meeting was held on April 23. He was only 20 years old at that time.

First Female Collaborator

From the very beginning, the members decided to dedicate themselves to the poor. The group approached Sister Rosalie Rendu, a reverend Daughter of Charity, who initiated them into the practical care of those in need.

For two years, under the guidance of Sister Rosalie, the young Vincentians visited homes, bringing bread, wood, and above all – friendship. 

Initially, the group (or Conference, as these groups are called) didn’t admit new members for fear of weakening the bond. However, with the reassurance from Sister Rosalie, a second conference was formed, and thus began the expansion of the Society.

The Society Of Saint Vincent De Paul In Canada

The first Conference of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) in Canada was founded by Dr. Joseph Painchaud in 1846, in Quebec City. Inspired by his time with the Society while studying medicine at university in Paris, he returned to Canada to discuss the founding of a Conference in his parish.

During this period in Quebec, needs were vast and visible. Epidemics frequently broke out with the arrival of immigrants.Economic depressions called for the establishment of savings banks or banking co-ops to encourage the poor to save money. 

In 1848, a few days after the foundation of the Society in Montreal, the members visited a prison and immediately afterward prepared a report for the government suggesting important reforms to the management of the prison.

During his lifetime, Dr. Painchaud founded 12 Conferences, and from these would grow the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Canada.

International Expansion

In 1835, the Society began to expand, and Conferences were founded outside of Paris, in Nimes and Lyon, and even beyond France, in Rome. 

When Frédéric Ozanam died in 1853, there were 15,000 Vincentians. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is now present in 153 countries with 800,000 active members.

Ozanam pioneered the “network of charity” that spread all around the world. As part of this network, we must recognize the thousands of volunteers in Canada and globally who so generously give their time. If you visit one of the Society’s stores and outlets, you will see them working tirelessly sorting through donated goods, putting away merchandise and helping with sales. It is thanks to these stores that many of the poor are able to find essential items, including clothing and household goods, at very low cost, or even for free.

This expansion of the Society throughout the world is the most beautiful monument that could ever be erected to the memory of our founders, indeed to the memory of all our predecessors.