A street view of the SVDP Buffalo building.

About Us

Our Mission

The St. Vincent de Paul Society’s mission is to fulfill the two great Commandments – love of God and love of neighbor.

St. Vincent, Our Patron

“Bringing Charity to Life”

A painting of St. Vincent DePaul holding a child.

Where this is a need…

The Society seeks out God’s needy, both materially and spiritually, and helps where and when they can. Sometimes they can do little more than just listen and comfort. Sometimes they are able to help with a bag of donated foodstuffs, or by assisting with the necessities of life.

SVDP is not just a “provider of emergency food orders.” Vincentians are also concerned with the needs of the aged, lonely, handicapped, permanently sick or housebound, and persons in convalescent nursing homes and hospitals. Persons to be aided are met “on an equal basis,” never looked down upon, and always thought of as brothers and sisters in Christ. Visits to those in need are made in pairs to help the recipients feel more at ease and avoid scandal. Wherever there is a need, the Vincentians go two-by two and do what they can to ease the suffering of their fellow human beings. In coming closer to those in need, SVDP members feel that they come closer to God!

“Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.”

Our History

St. Vincent was a very charitable man whose ideas of charity and giving are practiced throughout the world today. He was born a peasant, became a priest and preached the word of God to those around him. His ways and teachings have laid the foundation for many other charity based organizations. St. Vincent is the patron saint of charitable causes and his feast day is celebrated on September 27th.


Society of St. Vincent dePaul Founder

Blessed Frederic Ozanam (1813 – 1853) was founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Frederic was a husband and father, professor and servant of the poor. He founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as a young student with others of the Sorbonne in Paris. Sister Rosalie Rendu, a Daughter of Charity, is considered a mentor of Frederic and of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as she taught the first members the art of helping the poor and the sick. Frederic’s writings on social justice anticipated the first social encyclical of our modern times, Rerum Novarum.

A painting of Frederic Ozanam.

How the Society Started

Frédéric Ozanam left his home in Lyon, France, in the autumn of 1831, for Paris. He registered in the School of Law at the Sorbonne, University of Paris. Frédéric collaborated with Mr. Emmanuel Bailly, editor of the Tribune Catholique, in reviving a student organization which had been suspended during the revolutionary activity of July 1830. They called their new association “The Conference of History.” The group met on Saturdays to discuss various topics, everything but politics.At one of their meetings, a student challenged Frédéric and the practicing Catholics. He admitted that the Catholic Church had done much good work in the past, but “what do you do now?”Frédéric called for a meeting of five of his friends; they agreed to meet at Mr. Bailly’s office. The date was April 23, 1833, Frédéric’s twentieth birthday. Inspired by their words, Frédéric decided to found the “Conference of Charity” to assist the poor. Emmanuel Bailly, the married layman, was chosen by the six students as their first President. In a short time, they changed their name to The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in honor of their patron.

How The Society Started in the United States

While historians are not certain about some details, there is no doubt that the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was established in St. Louis, Missouri at the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, popularly called “The Old Cathedral,” in 1845. Father John Timon, CM, an American Vincentian priest from Pennsylvania, and later Bishop of Buffalo, New York, was the one who brought copies of the Rule of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul back from Dublin, Ireland, to St. Louis. Timon talked to various people about the Society and its wonderful work with the poor.Bishop Peter Richard Kenrick, successor of the first Bishop of St. Louis, Joseph Rosati, CM, asked Father Ambrose Heim to establish the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and be its Spiritual Advisor. Father Heim was known by all for his extraordinary zeal and ministry with the poor. He became known as “The Priest of the Poor.”The first meeting of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the United States was held on November 20, 1845, only twelve years after its foundation in Paris. Nineteen of the most prominent Catholic laymen of St. Louis attended. Dr. Moses Linton was elected President, Bryan Mullanphy, Vice President, Dennis Galvin, Second Vice President, James Maguire Jr., Secretary, Patrick Ryder, Treasurer, and Fr. Ambrose Heim, Spiritual Advisor. The Conference was aggregated (formally recognized) by the Society’s International Council in Paris on February 2, 1846.

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