Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
An international society of Catholic laymen established for the purpose of performing deeds of charity, particularly visiting the poor in their homes and relieving their material wants and spiritual needs.
The work is carried on almost exclusively by volunteers.
The society was founded in May 1833 in Paris, France by six students, the leading spirit of whom was Frederic Ozanam, and in a short time had spread throughout the world.
Its members number over 150,000 who are classed as "active" or "honorary" according as they attend the weekly meetings or "conferences" and participate actively in the organization's charitable work, or as they lend their support by spiritual and monetary offerings.
The General Council of Paris has jurisdiction over the entire society which is divided into national superior councils, central couhcils, which govern diocesan councils, which in turn rule over the particular councils and parish conferences of a city.
The official organ of the society is the Manuel de la Societe de Saint Vincent de Paul.
The society was established in the United States in 1845, the first branch being organized in Saint Louis, Missouri.
In 1914 it was organized into a body with a superior council at Washington and is now represented in dioceses throughout the country.
It exists in a flourishing condition in England where it has its superior council in London, and in Ireland where the head council is in Dublin.
The society has orphan asylums, immigrant aid societies, fresh-air nurseries, industrial schools, hospitals, etc. under its patronage.
There exists also an international woman's society of Saint Vincent de Paul with the same aim and organization as the men's.
It was founded at Bologna in 1856, and has headquarters there.
New Catholic Dictionary