The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is one of the oldest charitable organizations in the world, founded in 1833 in France by six students including Frederic Ozanam. The young Frederic, a Catholic, wanted to help the poor of all religions during the industrial revolution.

He also wanted to improve the lives of his peers by urging them to perform works of charity rather than simply talk about what should be done to help the needy.  Now beatified, Blessed Frederic founded the Society in the name of St. Vincent de Paul, a French priest from the late 16th and early 17th centuries who alerted the people of his day to many of society’s ills.

Along with several friends, Frederic visited the poor in their homes, helping them whenever possible by sharing whatever food and other necessities were available for them to give. More importantly, the young men provided food for the spirit through their many acts of kindness and friendship.

The Society’s work quickly began to spread and arrived in the United States in 1845 with the founding of what is now the Council of the United States in St. Louis, MO. The Society reached the Upper Peninsula in 1855 in St. Ignace. There are now 34 conferences in the Diocesan Council of Marquette, MI – SSVdP which covers the entire Upper Peninsula and includes Florence, WI.

This international organization is made up of lay Catholic men and women who are committed to live and grow in their Christian faith through prayer and personal involvement in charitable works. It has spread to 150 nations, with more than 900,000 members worldwide.

Our world-wide mission is to help the needy in countless ways, primarily through one-on-one contact of volunteers with individuals and families. We accomplish this mission through parish based groups called Conferences and through special works conducted at the Council level.

Our members, called Vincentians, continually strive to promote the dignity of the people they serve while helping alleviate their suffering and distress and working to help correct conditions that cause these problems.

No form of charity is foreign to the Society. Vincentians typically help through financial assistance with utilities, rent, transportation, emergency prescriptions, transitional housing, birth certificates, state IDs and driver’s licenses, etc.; through food pantries and vouchers for material goods at the 18 SVdP Thrift Stores spread throughout the Upper Peninsula and Florence, WI. Each Conference determines the type of assistance available in their community.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was established in the Upper Peninsula in the mid-1800s. The following information was recorded by Bishop Baraga in his diary.

January 13, 1855: This morning with a prayer and an address, I inaugurated the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which the Rev. Mr. Jahan had initiated, and which hopefully will do much good. May God grant it.

February 4, 1855: Today the first Sunday of the month, pontifical Mass for the first general communion of the members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. (in Mackinaw)

March 4, 1855: Today on the first Sunday of the month, pontifical Mass for the first general communion of the members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. (in St. Ignace)

March 11, 1855: Third Sunday of Lent, founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, to which God the Lord may give his holy blessing.