The Spiritual Mission of the St Vincent de Paul Society is to continue the work of Jesus
Now the strongest bond of true friendship is charity, and the exercise of good charity is the practice of good works Blessed Frederic Ozanam
The Spirituality of the St Vincent de Paul Society is expressed through our Society logo. Our “good works” are symbolically presented in the hand that offers the Cup, the hand of the vulnerable who receives the Cup and the hand of Christ blessing the Cup. This is a spirituality which is practical, engaging, relational and always responding in love.
In 1833 Frederic Ozanam and six other University students met in response to a debating challenge to “Show us your works!” This meeting of confreres was not a business meeting but one which met weekly to strengthen their friendship, share faith and spirituality and to strive to alleviate the suffering of crushing poverty of Paris. Membership to these Conferences grew quickly within the university scene and throughout many parishes around Paris.
By Frederic’s death at age 40 the Society had spread to over 50 cities in Europe and numbered over 10,000 members. After some short years the Society came to Australia. The first establishment was in Melbourne in 1854 with Fr Gerald Ward, which seemed to dissipate after a short while, then significantly to Sydney with Charles O’Neill in 1881. Much has happened since this first meeting and the first act of charity of a delivery of firewood to a widow’s door, but one aspect which remains changeless is our mission and purpose.
That message of a lay Catholic organisation striving in our work towards a more just and compassionate society, is expressed everyday through the service of our employees, volunteers and members. They carry the light of hope for many in our world through the Society’s homelessness services, family assistance, our advocacy and social justice initiatives, walking with our refugees and asylum seekers and those living with mental health issues and disabilities. Our Conference members, just like Frederic and his companions, continue to reach out with the hand of friendship to those doing it tough in current economic times in their local communities.