Posted July 21, 2006
Yet another church movement working to make
Christ alive in the hearts of people
Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Founded by a Group of Students
VATICAN CITY, JULY 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the description of the
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which appears in the Directory of
International Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical
Council for the Laity.
Official name: Society of St. Vincent de Paul
History: The SSVP was founded in Paris as a result of a conference on law
and history organized by the journalist Emmanuel Bailly for university
undergraduates at a time when Catholic student welfare associations were
being closed down.
The intellectual purpose of these meetings did not, however, meet with the
spiritual aspirations and the desire for social commitment felt by a group
of students led by Frederic Ozanam (beatified in 1997).
Convinced of the need to put words into practice in order to demonstrate the
vitality of their faith, they decided to change them into conferences of
charity, which were to be essentially lay in character, obedient to the
authority of the Church, designed to sanctify their members and the poor
people they served.
They were to be marked by simplicity, friendship and fellowship in relations
between the members, with decisions taken on a collegial basis, practicing
charity not as an individual activity but through group solidarity.
In 1835, after drawing up their first rule, the conferences of charity took
the name of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, after the saint chosen as
their patron, and in 1845, they obtained Holy See recognition in a brief
issued by Gregory XVI.
As an international catholic organization, SSVP is a member of the
Conference of International Catholic Organizations, and as an NGO it has
consultative status with UNESCO.
Identity: The SSVP charism is expressed and authenticated among the poor and
the marginalized, and in the contribution it makes to the advancement of our
suffering brethren in the light of the Gospel message and the twin heritage
of St. Vincent de Paul and Frederic Ozanam.
The association takes part in the Church's charitable work, emphasizing a
personal relationship when serving the neediest people. It encourages the
laity's sense of responsibility, encouraging cooperation between all the
members of the ecclesial community. It draws its inspiration from the
teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the social encyclicals,
incorporated into different countries, by performing actions for the benefit
of the poor in respect for their traditions and cultures.
In a world in which poverty not only means "not possessing" but also "not
existing," it strives to make the poor the protagonists of their own human
and spiritual self-fulfillment. It contributes to the new evangelization by
bearing witness to Christ through living charity on behalf of the lowliest,
the voiceless, the unloved.
Organization: SSVP has a rule, which sets out its vocation, organization and
mission. The official management bodies of the association, whose grass
roots groups have retained the original name of "conferences," are the
general council, made up of the president general and the presidents of the
national councils which meets in an international general assembly every six
years; the regional or interregional councils; the executive committee
appointed by the president general, and made up of the secretary general,
the treasurer general, the general vice president and the territorial vice
presidents; the permanent section, comprising the executive committee and
the mission delegates; and the international coordination committee.
Membership: SSVP has a membership of some 47,000 conferences, comprising on
average 15-20 members each, and is present in 130 countries.
Works: SSVP is committed to supporting training, education and development
projects, and manages medical facilities, social service facilities and
homes/hostels; institutes for children; centers for young people; schools;
vocational training centers; hospices; centers for unmarried mothers or
women in difficulty, and for the rehabilitation of former inmates;
institutes for the physically and mentally disabled; helping victims of
violence, disasters and war; caring for and supporting the terminally ill,
alcoholics and drug-dependents; programs for disadvantaged families.
Publications: Vincenpaul, a quarterly newsletter.
Web site: http://www.ozanet.org
Société de Saint Vincent de Paul
5, rue du Pre-aux-Clercs - 75007 Paris - France
Tel. [+33]1.53458753 - Fax 1.42617256