About Us

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is an international organisation formed of lay Catholics, who seek personal and spiritual growth through service to those most in need.

SSVP Zambia

In Zambia, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was first established in 1950 in Fort Rosemary (Mansa) by a French Priest. During the pre independence time Zambia was going through a lot of challenges, which included; economical, Social, Political, and Cultural challenges among others. The road infrastructure and communication was in very poor state, however this did not destruct the mission by the Missionaries to establish the Society in Zambia. After establishing the first conference in Mansa, in 1951 the second establishment was recorded in the Northern part of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Mbala in particular. Lusaka was the third establishment of the Society in Zambia and it was established in 1955, then Fort Jameson (Chipata) in 1963 and during the post independence the Society continued to grow with Mongu being established in1966.
Copperbelt Province joined the frenzy and the Society was established in Ndola and Kitwe in 1976 and Chilubi Island in the Northern Province was equally established

History of SSVP

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul was founded by a group of seven Catholic laymen, who initially named the society The Conference of Charity. Six of the seven men were young students at the Sorbonne University, with a brilliant young lawyer Antoine Frederic Ozanam, who was just 20 years old, and Joseph Emmanuel Bailly being the leaders of the conference. The other members include Francois Lailier, Augustus Le Tallandier, Paul Lamache, Felix Clave, and Julius Devaux (Treasurer).The seven men came together on a Tuesday, 23 April 1833, at 18 Rue de Petit-Bourbon (now 38 Rue de Saint Sulpice, Paris, France). With the objective of serving the Parisian poor in mind, they formulated plans to provide assistance to the homes of the poor people around the area.The team worked closely with another charitable organisation, The Daughters of Charity, in planning the distribution of help to the poor. With influence from Sister Rosalie Rendu (1786-1856), a nun from The Daughters of Charity, the newly-formed Conference of Charity took St Vincent de Paul as their patron saint, thus changing the name of the conference to The Society of St Vincent de Paul. The decision was made because the idea of helping the poor was in line with the works of Saint Vincent de Paul, who dedicated his life to serve the poor.By the end of the first year, the society had increased in numbers to the point where it became necessary for the society to be divided into several smaller groups. Thus, the Rule of The Conference was drafted, introducing the concept of “Council General” and “Conference”. The first President-general was Joseph Emanuel Bailly, who was in charge from 1833 to 1844.The Holy See approved of the aims and methods of The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, and enriched it with its precious approval at the end of 1845.The society quickly grew in numbers, not only in France, but also throughout the world. The society reached Italy (1842); England (1844); Belgium, Scotland, and United States (1845), Germany, Holland, Greece, Turkey and Mexico (1846); Canada and Switzerland (1847); Austria and Spain (1850). The motivating factors that led to the rapid growth can be attributed to firstly the desire to see Christ in the poor and secondly the need to visit the less fortunate in their homes on a person-to-person basis, before any help could be given.Between 1860 and 1870, the Council General was dissolved by force of law because the French government feared that this widely rooted society would become possible opposition. However, after 1870, the conferences resumed their activities and gradually continued with their work in serving the poor.By 1933, a century after it was started, The Society of St Vincent de Paul had representations in more than 33 countries including Zambia. In 2008, the society had grown to include more than 45,000 conferences with more than 700,000 active members, existing in 143 countries worldwide. The Society of St Vincent de Paul of Singapore is a part of the global Vincentian family.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul?

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international lay organization, Catholic in character, where all are welcomed, who through personal contact seek to relieve those in need without regard to wealth, position, social status or ethnic origin. In promoting human dignity and integrity, the Society works to redress situations which adversely affect peoples' lives and their basic rights.
It consists of almost 900,000 Catholic lay persons, and is currently established in 131 countries and on all 5 continents.

How old is the Society of St Vincent de Paul?

The Society was founded in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam while he was a student at the Sorbonne in Paris. Challenged to put their Christian beliefs into action, Frederic and some of his close friends joined with their mentor, Monsieur Bailly, and set about helping the poor and oppressed of Paris. Their objective was to undertake practical work among the poor, and Monsieur Bailly was elected the first President of their "Conference of Charity". They firmly believed that in order to address the needs of the less fortunate, one must be prepared to visit them in their homes, see for oneself the conditions of their lives, and then go about helping them.
The organization grew rapidly, and its members chose St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), the patron saint for Christian charities who devoted his life to helping the poor, the downtrodden and the underprivileged, as their patron and renamed it the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in 1835.

What is it like to be a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul?

When someone becomes a member of the Society, they don't just “join” an organization and attend a few meetings. They embark upon a new way of life. The character of true Vincentians is reflected in their mildness of manner and the temperate tone of their actions. Visiting many families and seeing their difficulties throughout the year teaches people to face their own problems more readily.

When was the society introduced to Zambia?

The first conference in Zambia was established at St. Francis Parish , Mansa, on 17th February 1951 and registered as a society under government Gazette Notice No. 1261 of 3rd August 1971.

Does the Society have a Constitution?

The constitution of the Society is embodied in its Rule, which guides the Presidents and members of the Conferences and Councils in their activities as they seek to reach out to the poor and the needy of Zambia.

How is the Society structured in Zambia?

The Society has a National Council which today oversees some 30 Central Councils and over 1, 200 Conferences.
The Conferences are the backbone of the Society, and are to be found in all 10 Catholic Dioceses in Zambia.

How is the Society structured in Zambia?

The Society has a National Council which today oversees some 30 Central Councils and over 1, 200 Conferences.
The Conferences are the backbone of the Society, and are to be found in all 10 Catholic Dioceses in Zambia.

What is a Conference and what does it do?

A Conference is the basic organizational unit of the Society, and is typically associated with a church parish or student group. Meetings are held weekly and members are assigned in pairs to visit the poor in their homes or at institutions in their vicinity.

How do these visiting teams assist the poor?

We reach out to the poor through the home visits made by conference members to assess their needs and offer spiritual guidance and material help. The Society provides residential care for the aged and homeless poor through its Ozanam Homes, in furtherance of the intent of its Rule, “No good work is foreign to the Society”.

What are the Ozanam homes which are operated by the Society?

These homes for the aged poor are the responsibility of the Central Councils in which they are located.. These homes are not Nursing Homes, so incoming residents must be ambulatory and in fairly good health. Once admitted to the home however, all their needs are met, both in life and in death.

How does someone become a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul?

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Society may contact the Conference President or their parish priest at the nearest Parish, or simply contact the National Council of Zambia.