In 1833, in response to criticism that Catholics only talked about the needs of the poor but did little to help them, Frederic Ozanam, and a group of fellow students sought out the poor of Paris and visited them in their homes, providing food, clothing, friendship, and spiritual support. This became what is today the Society of St. Vincent de Paul who is the patron of charitable societies. The Society is an international Catholic lay ministry with approximately 700,000 members in 142 countries.
Essential Elements of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Spirituality to bear witness to Christ and through faith called to care for others
Friendship to bring people together and draw them closer to God
Service to those in need through personal contact
Pope John Paul II wrote,” The St Vincent de Paul Society represents an outstanding form of Charity that is carried out on all continents; the service of the poor which, as St. Vincent loved to recall, is a way of serving Christ. Through its daily commitment, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a constant reminder to the Church of its vocation to show Christ’s preferential love for the poor”.