About SSVP

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international Catholic voluntary organization of lay people, founded in Paris in 1833 by Frédéric Ozanam and his friends. It is open to all those who desire to live their faith in love and service of their neighbour.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Lakeshore Particular Council is a registered charity and as such has a defined Constitution and Bylaws. The Society is managed by a Board of Directors.

The stakeholders of the Society include the people we serve, our donors, and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul National Council of Canada. The Society prides itself on transparency and accountability. This web site was developed as a way to enhance accessibility to our services and programs and increase awareness within our communities of the works of the Society.

The Society is part of an international family of Vincentians who follow both the Rules and Statutes of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul of Canada and the laws and regulations for Registered Charities and non profit Societies in Ontario and Canada. The Particular Council is an advisory Council to the Conferences to ensure that the Mission and Vision of the Society is maintained and that the decisions and directions of the programs and services are in keeping with the 'Rule' of the Society internationally.

Charitable Number


As a Catholic lay organization, we will embrace the world in a network of charity, serving Christ in the suffering, poor or marginalized, bringing them love and respect, aid and development, hope and joy, in a more just society.

We also seek to deepen our spirituality and the mutual love and support amongst members, so that, seeing how we serve those in need with one mind and heart, people are attracted to the Society and to Christ who animates it.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is a lay Catholic organization who mission is:

To live the Gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice and joy.

The Mission of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul implies that as Vincentians, we:

  • see Christ in anyone who suffers;
  • come together as a family;
  • have personal contact with the poor;
  • help in all possible ways.

General International Council

The General International Council leads and coordinates the activities of the Society throughout the world. It guarantees a bond among all the Councils of the Society.

National Council

The National Council is the highest body and the official voice of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Canada.

Provincial or Regional Council

When the interests of the Society demand it, and with the approbation of the National Council, the Central Councils, the Particular Councils and the Isolated Conferences of a region or of a province may group together in one Provincial or Regional Council.

Central Council

At the diocesan level or at any other level defined by the National Council, the Particular Councils and the Isolated Conferences are grouped together under a Central Council.

Particular Council

Where a sufficient number of Conferences exists, they should be grouped under a Particular Council which then encourages and coordinates their Vincentian action.

The Lakeshore Particular Council includes the geographical area from Courtice to Campbellford along Lake Ontario and the Catholic Diocese of Peterborough.


The Conference is the fundamental cell, indispensable to the Society. The structure which makes up the Councils on the superior levels exists only in function of the Conference.

Twinning is a direct link between two Conferences or Councils, consisting of sharing prayer, a profound friendship and material resources. It promotes spirituality, deep friendship, solidarity and mutual help. Funds and other material resources can be provided to enable a Conference or Council to help local families. Financial, technical, medical and educational support is given to projects which are suggested by the Society locally through prayer, as well as through mutual communication regarding what has been accomplished and what is happening among Vincentians in each area, including news about persons and families.

The Society urges the Vincentians to consider undertaking a personal commitment for a particular period of time to work with Vincentians in other countries or to spread Conferences.

When disaster, war or major accidents occur, the Society launches emergency initiatives on the spot and provides funds for the local Society to help victims.

The Society maintains and develops close relationships with other branches of the Vincentian family, while preserving its identity. It cooperates with them in spiritual development and common projects, as well as with the Church's charitable pastoral initiatives at every level, whenever this may be mutually enriching and useful to those who suffer.

The Founder: Frédéric Ozanam

Blessed Frédéric Ozanam is recognized as the main founder of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He was that rare individual of intellectual genius and extraordinary holiness. He was a husband and father, professor and researcher, journalist and author, apologist and defender of the faith. Above all, he personified the Good Samaritan.

Antonie Frédéric Ozanam was born in Milan, Italy, on April 23, 1813 where his parents, residents of Lyon, France, had moved temporarily. His parents were devout Catholics who passed on to young Frédéric a deep love of God and the poor. After graduating from high school at the Royal College of Lyon, he moved to Paris to study law as his father wished. There, he was confronted with a society in deep turmoil and detached from its faith, as a result of the Revolution of 1830. Guided by André-Marie Ampère, an eminent scientist and Catholic, he came to the unshakable certitude that Christianity was the only remedy to cure the evils of this time.

He gathered around him students of like mind and faith and they confronted faculty members of the Sorbonne University who attacked their faith. He persuaded the Archbishop of Paris to have Father Henri Lacordaire, a renowned preacher, deliver a series of lectures at Notre-Dame Cathedral. The success of these lectures or conferences was overwhelming and the Conférences de Notre-Dame were launched.

Ideas about social justice were promoted in the Tribune Catholique, a newspaper founded in 1832 by Emmanuel Bailly. A literary circle, La Société des bonnes études was linked to this newspaper. The aim of this circle was to develop among Catholics a taste for historical, philosophical and religious research. Ozanam had a similar idea and he and friends became active in what became known as the Conférences d'histoire. It developed into a dynamic forum of discussion and research at the university.

One March night in 1833, a fellow student, a non-Catholic, challenged Frédéric and friends. His question was "What are you doing for them (the poor), you and your fellow Catholic...? Show us your works!" Ozanam knew that faith must be translated into action and that, like the apostles, they needed to evangelize by the practice of charity. He rallied the group when he cried out: "The blessing of the poor is that of God...let us go to the poor,"

One evening in May 1833, Frédéric and five other students met in the office of Mr. Bailly. The "Conference of Charity" was born. They asked Sister Rosalie Rendu, a Daughter of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul to teach them how to minister to the poor with love and respect, and she did so with much kindness. By 1834, there were more than 100 members and the Conference was renamed the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, taking the saint as an example to follow, and placed under the protection of the Blessed Virgin.

Ozanam was becoming a respected figure in professional areas. As a Doctor of Law in 1836, he began a career as a lawyer and then became professor of Law in Lyon. In 1839, he graduated as Doctor of Literature. He finished first in the 1840 competitive examination of the Faculty of Arts and Literature at the Sorbonne. He was named professor of Foreign Literature at the same university in 1844.

Ozanam married Amélie Soulacroix in Lyon on June 23, 1841 in a wedding celebrated by his brother Alphonse. A daughter, Marie was born in July 1845. His life, with his family, teaching, research, writing and various civic social and religious commitments was a full one.

Other than his service to the poor, he researched the conditions of the working classes and defended their rights as human beings and workers. He co-founded the newspaper l'Ère Nouvelle (New era) to propagate his social and political ideas. Ozanam was one of the first to formulate the idea of a "natural salary" to claim compensation against unemployment and accidents, and to ask that a pension be guaranteed to works.

In 1852, exhausted from excessive work over the years, he was forced to rest and went to Italy. However his health continued to deteriorate. Although weak, he left Italy with his wife by steamship on August 31, 1853 and landed in Marseilles, France a few days later. He passed away in that city on September 8, 1853, the feast of the birthday of the Blessed Mother, to whom he had such a great devotion. He is buried in the crypt of the Church of St-Joseph-des-Carmes in Paris. His feast is celebrated on September 9.

Pope John-Paul II beatified him in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on August 22, 1997.

Saint Vincent De Paul

Saint Vincent de Paul, patron of the Society, was named patron of works of charity by Pope Leo XIII.

Vincent de Paul was born to peasant farmers on April 24, 1581, in a village near the city of Dax in Gascony, France. In 1595, his father, recognizing his intellectual talents and pleasing personality, and aware of the limited possibilities in the region, enrolled Vincent in a boarding school run by the Franciscans. Vincent received Tonsure and Minor Orders in 1596 and went on to complete his education at the University of Toulouse, France. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1600. His ambition was to obtain an ecclesiastical post, which would provide prosperity for him and family.

Father Vincent settled in Paris where in 1623, he received a degree in Canon Law from the University of Paris. He soon secured a position as Chaplain to Queen Marguerite de Valois but his life was to change shortly thereafter.

During this period, Father Vincent suffered an intense spiritual crisis. After some time, he promised that if God were to take away the darkness he was experiencing, he would dedicate his life to the service of the poor. The anguish went away and Father Vincent would remain faithful to his vow for the rest of his life.

Father Vincent became acquainted with Father Pierre de Bérulle, a holy priest who later beame cardinal and who also became Father Vincent's spiritual director. Father de Bérulle got him his first parish at Clichy, near Paris, in May 1612. There Father Vincent rebuilt the local church and transformed it into a model parish. He was transferred to another parish in 1617, Châtillon-les-Dombes, where he again experienced the misery of the peasants and organized the practice of Christian Charity to respond to their material needs.

During this same period Father Vincent was also entrusted with the education of the son of Count Philippe-Emmanuel de Gondi and his wife Françoise Marguerite, one of the most prestigious families in Europe. Count de Gondi appointed Father Vincent Chaplain of prisons and of the slaves rowing the galleys. King Louis XIII appointed him General Chaplain of the Galley's in February 1619 and he worked at this ministry for a few years. Father Vincent was becoming more devoted in the service of the poor whom he felt were his lords and masters. He felt the need to establish institutions to carry out his ministry and mission, which he now saw as the continuation of the mission of Jesus Himself.

Father Vincent received a generous endowment from the de Gondi family in April 1625 so he could pursue his work of charity. He set up missions and colleges spreading out to Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Poland and North Africa. He established The Confraternities of Charity in 1617 to attend to the poor and the sick. Today, this organization is know as the International Association of Charities (IAC).

The Archbishop of Paris granted his approval to Father Vincent's community of priests and brothers, The Congregation of the Mission, also known as Vincentians, on April 24, 1626. Their mission was to evangelize the poor in rural areas and to help in the formation and education of priests. On November 29, 1633, in a small house in a suburb of Paris, the Daughters of Charity, an order of non-cloistered women, was established, co-founded by Father Vincent and Louise de Marillac to carry out a hands-on ministry to the poor.

Saint Vincent de Paul pursued his mission with great energy and conviction, answering the material and spiritual needs of the poor and the abandoned all his life. He is a most admirable example of charity in action. Saint Vincent de Paul passed away on September 27, 1660. Pope Clement XII canonized him on June 16, 1737.