WHOs we are and WHAT we do

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is an international voluntary Catholic Christian organization that was founded in 1833 by a young law student named Frederic Ozanam.

He was so appalled by the conditions of the poor especially during the plague of 1832 in France, that he organized about six other students and himself into a society, named after St. Vincent de Paul, dedicated to serving the poor. They did this by visiting them in their own homes and providing emergency assistance through food, clothing, comfort and where appropriate, spiritual guidance.

The members of the Society draw our inspiration and energy from the message of Our Lord in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew and attempt to live the core values, Love of God and Love of our neighbour, by working directly with people in need.

The Society quickly grew internationally and was established in Canada in Quebec City in 1845. Here in Hamilton, the Society was started in 1865.


This Hamilton Diocesan Particular Council was established in 1867 and was formally instituted by the SSVP Council General in Paris on March 29th , 1880. Some local parish conferences have been in existence for more than 100 years. We have deep roots, a tradition of which we can be proud, and we are very active in the modern world. Here in Hamilton, we operate 2 retail stores specializing in used clothing and furniture at affordable prices, we send numerous children to summer camps.

In addition, we continue to turn “concern” into “action” by carrying on with our main works of everyday visits to the needy in the tradition started by Blessed Ozanam. This work is usually carried out at the Parish level by the members of the Conferences.

WHY do we help

The Society has a proud tradition of supporting and championing the rights of the poorest members of our community. Members are motivated by their belief that they do make a difference to the lives of the people that they help as well as by the teachings of their faith. Members adhere to the words of their founder, Frederic Ozanam, who said “I would like to embrace the whole world in a network of charity”, and as such they offer their goods, talents and wealth in the spirit of charity, service and sharing with their neighbours, the poor. Members receive spiritual fulfillment as they share their spirit of warm acceptance and cordiality with the needy.


Hampers for the Needt at Christmas