History

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul began in Paris, France, in 1833 when a twenty-year old law student at the Sorbonne, Frédéric Ozanam, was challenged during a debate to demonstrate what he and his fellow Catholic students were personally doing to help the poor in Paris. Acting on the challenge, Ozanam, and six of his peers formed the first "Conference of Charity" on April 23, 1833. Under the conference, this group of seven men financed their works of charity out of their own pockets and from contributions of friends. They visited the poor in their homes, providing them with needed aid and assistance. They formalized their work under the guidance of Sister Blessed Rosalie Rendu, D.C. who was known for her service to the poor in the slums of Paris.

Early in the group’s formation, Ozanam adopted the name of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in honor of their patron saint, who had spent his life in 16th century France serving the poor. Within a few years, the original group of seven grew to over 2,000 members, spreading to 15 other cities and towns in France. Ozanam died on September 8, 1853 at the age of forty. In recognition of his life’s work, Frédéric was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1997, and is now known as Blessed Frédéric Ozanam by the Catholic Church.

The first meeting of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the United States was held on November 20, 1845, in St. Louis, Missouri. A Conference was subsequently formed and formally recognized by the Society's International Council in Paris on February 2, 1846. St. Louis continues to serve as the U.S. headquarters for the Society. Around the world, the Society is found in 150 countries on 5 continents, with over 800,000 members performing works of charity for those in need.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul started in the Diocese of Dallas in 1954 with the formation of the first conference at Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Since that time, the membership has grown to nearly 1,000 members in 38 conferences serving the Diocese of Dallas, covering an area of 7,523 square miles representing the following counties: Collin, Dallas, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, Navarro and Rockwall.