Members of the Society of St.Vincent de Paul (or “Vincentians” ) are men and women who strive to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to individuals in need. We are young and old. Our members come in every shade of skin color. Some of us are wealthy, some are financially poor, but all of us are blessed with an awareness that our blessings (time, talent or treasure) are to be shared with our brothers and sisters in need.
We know that we are not alone. We are part of an international society of friends united by a spirit of poverty, humility, and sharing, which is nourished by prayer and reflection, mutually supportive gatherings, and adherence to a basic Rule.
Energized by the awareness that service to our brother or sister in need is in fact an encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ, members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are keenly aware that poverty, suffering and loneliness are present for millions in our communities. For that reason, we collaborate with all who seek to relieve need and address its causes.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul offers tangible assistance to those in need on a person-to-person basis. It is this personalized involvement that makes the work of the Society unique. This aid may take the form of intervention, consultation, or often through direct dollar or in-kind service. An essential precept of the Society’s work is to provide help while conscientiously maintaining the confidentiality and dignity of those who are served. The Society recognizes that it must assume, also, a role of advocacy for those who are defenseless or voiceless. Some 12 million persons are helped annually by Vincentians in the United States.
The list of services of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the United States is endless. No work of charity is foreign to the Society. To quote our patron, St. Vincent de Paul: “Charity is infinitely inventive.”
ST. LOUIS, Mo. ―The third annual Friends of the Poor® Walk to benefit the needy and suffering who are served by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) is scheduled to be held across the country on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010. Anyone interested in participating or making a pledge can log on to www.svdpfriendsofthepoorwalk.org. SVDP programs include food pantries, housing assistance, disaster relief, job training and placement, clothing, transportation and utility costs, thrift stores, home visits, care for the elderly, medicine, and youth outreach. All proceeds from the walk directly benefit the people served by SVDP in the communities in which the monies are raised, and there are no administrative fees associated with the event.
Participants can also become virtual walkers and make an online pledge. The event in each community is designed and run by the St. Vincent de Paul Conference or Council in that area, so details such as the time and date may vary by location. A “Walk Locations” tab on the Web site displays a map showing the various Friends of the Poor® walks around the country. Most are held near September 27, the feast day of the Society’s patron, St. Vincent de Paul. National sponsors of this year’s walk are Ascension Health, one of the nation’s largest Catholic and nonprofit health systems; Catholic Financial Life, a faith-based membership organization; and Scottrade, one of the leading online investment firms in the United States. Last year, some 16,000 walkers, representing 409 SVDP Conferences and Councils in 36 states and more than 158 locations around the country, raised more than $1.2 million. The total revenue in 2009 was 50 percent higher than the inaugural walk in 2008. “The timing of the walk is important,” said Joe Flannigan, national SVDP president. “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in people needing assistance in the last year across the entire country. People who were already reeling from the effects of a job loss, homelessness or hunger are suffering even more. And, unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more children who are affected as a result of those issues.”
Roger Playwin, executive director of the National Council of St. Vincent de Paul in St. Louis, Mo., emphasized the local benefits that the walk generates. “People who participate can take comfort knowing that any money they raise will stay local,” he said. “I think that’s one reason why we’ve seen so much growth in the people participating and the monies raised from this event in the few short years we’ve been holding it.”
One of the oldest and most successful charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (http://www.svdpusa.org/) is a Catholic lay organization of more than 690,000 men and women throughout the world who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually and offer person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 142 countries on six continents. With the U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., membership in the United States totals more than 146,000 in 4,600 communities.
De Paul was born in Pouy, renamed Saint-Vincent-de-Paul since 1828, Landes, Gascony, France, to a family of peasant farmers. He had four brothers and two sisters.
De Paul studied humanities in Dax, France with the Cordeliers and he graduated in theology at Toulouse. He was ordained in 1600, remaining in Toulouse until he went to Marseille for an inheritance. In 1605, on his way back from Marseille, he was taken captive by Turkish pirates, who brought him to Tunis and sold him into slavery. After converting his owner to Christianity, Vincent de Paul escaped in 1607.
After returning to France, De Paul went to Rome. There he continued his studies until 1609, when he was sent back to France on a mission to Henry IV of France; he served as chaplain to Marguerite de Valois. For a while he was parish priest at Clichy, but from 1612 he began to serve the Gondi, an illustrious family. He was confessor and spiritual director to Mme de Gondi, and he began giving peasant missions on the estate with her aid. READ MORE