On 23rd April 1833, Frederic Ozanam's 20th birthday, the first meeting took place at 18, rue du Petit-Bourbon, (today 38, rue St. Sulpice) in the offices of the newspaper "La Tribune Catholique", of which Emmanuel Bailly was Chief Editor.
Bailly had gathered around him six students of the Sorbonne University, Paris, who were between the ages of 19 and 23. This small group, united by a sound friendship, became the "Conference of Charity", and placed itself less than a year later, under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul, whose spirit and example inspired them. Thus The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was born.
|Blessed Frederic Ozanam|
It is difficult not to marvel at the amazing growth of the Society, which is truly international, now having a presence in about 150 countries in the world. From just a few members in 1833, it had grown to 76,500 members in 1883 and by 1913 had nearly doubled its membership to 134,000. In 2013, 200 years since it began, there are over 700,000 member volunteers in the world.
A major Pilgrimage, starting at Lyons, where Frederic lived as a young person, is due to take place in April 2013 and will end in Paris, the traditional headquarters of the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul. On 6th July there will be an SVP National Meeting at Birmingham Cathedral Hall and the next day, 7th July, SVP members will have the opportunity to attend the Walsingham National Pilgrimage.
Please think about becoming a member in this momentous year, by contacting your parish SVP group. If you cannot become a member, why not become a Friend of the SVP? Go to the SVP website for more information.
Thank you to Peter Wells from the SVP for this story.