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Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP)

Website: http://www.ssvpglobal.org/

Category: Humanitarian

Year of Foundation: 1833 (Conference of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul; international from 1842)

Location of Foundation: Paris, France

Location of Headquarters: Paris, France

Brief Description: The Society of St Vincent de Paul describes itself as 'a Catholic voluntary organisation of lay men and women dedicated to providing personal help to people in any kind of need.' (Source: www.ssvpglobal.org; accessed 5 May 2010).

Founding Rationales:

According to the organization's rules first published in Paris in December 1835: 'The object ... of this Conference is, firstly, to sustain its members, by mutual example, in the practice of a Christian life; secondly, to visit the poor at their dwellings to carry them succor in kind, to afford them, also, religious consolations, remembering these words of our Master: "Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God;" (Deut. viii. 3; Matt. iv. 4) thirdly, to apply ourselves, according to our abilities and the time which we can spare, to the elementary and Christian instruction of poor children, whether free or imprisoned, seeing that what we may do for the least among our brethren, Jesus Christ has promised that He will accept as done to Himself; fourthly, to distribute moral and religious books; fifthly, to be willing to undertake any other sort of charitable work to which our resources may be adequate, and which will not oppose the chief end of the Society, and for which it may demand our co-operation upon the proposition of its directing members. ... No work of charity should be regarded as foreign to the Society, although its special object is to visit poor families. Thus, its members are expected to embrace every opportunity of affording consolation to the sick and to prisoners, of instructing poor, unprotected, or imprisoned children, and of procuring the succors of religion for those who need them, at the hour of death. ... The Council-General is the bond of all the Conferences — it maintains the unity of the Society. It labors for whatever can promote its prosperity. In this respect it adopts the course which it judges most useful. ... It decides upon the allocation of the central fund.'

Source: 'Rules of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul' (New York: Council of New York of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, 1869), pp. 11-12, 25, 35 (at www.archive.org - accessed 5 April 2010).

Evolution of Membership:

Society of St Vincent de Paul Membership Chart

Sources: YIO; EAIO; www.ssvpglobal.org (accessed 5 May 2010).