The 7 FoundersOzanam (1813-53)Bailly (1794-1861)Taillandier (1811-1886)Lallier (1814-1886)Deveaux (1811-1880)Lamache (1810-1892)Clave (1811-1853)

The 7 Founders

There is no question about the inspiration and leadership provided by Ozanam, but who were his friends without whom the organization could not have been founded, much less have flourished? These founders were friends who had known each other for little more than a year. All seven originally resided outside of Paris. Their non-student mentor, Emmanuel Bailly, had already established himself in the city for several years, however. The young founders had much in common besides their provincial roots. Five of them were studying law. Four of them had fathers who were medical doctors. For the most part they came from families who were part of the professional middle class that arose after the French Revolution. The core group of friends consisted of Ozanam, Lallier, Lamache and LeTaillandier, and to varying degrees they would remain in contact throughout their lives. (Thirty years after Ozanam’s death, Paul Lamache, the last living founder, would report that he still prayed daily for Frederic.)
The founders shared a strong Catholic faith, and the need they felt to defend it among their peers drew them to participate in the Conference of History, presided over by Bailly. This desire to defend their faith in public was evident through most of their lives. Five of them continued on a regular basis to contribute well-reasoned articles to local journals and major newspapers. The core group of four friends would each go on to be well-respected members of the communities in which they settled and continued to serve the poor through the Society they had founded. Although their stories are unknown to most members of that organization today, all the founders led remarkable lives of distinction.
Founder Members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
1 Frederic Ozanam’s (1813 – 1853)
2 Emmanuel Bailly (1794-1861)
3 Auguste Le Taillandier (1811-1886)
4 Francois Lallier (1814-1886)
5 Jules Deveaux (1811-1880)
6 Paul Lamache (1810-1892)
7 FELIX CLAVE (1811-1853)

Blessed Frederic Ozanam (1813 -1853) 

“We are below in order to accomplish the will of Providence.” Frederic Ozanam was born on the 23rd April, 1813 in Milan from a comfortable family. In 1815, the Ozanam Family came to live in Lyon, France, where the father, a physician got a post at the Hotel – Dieu Hospital.In 1822, Frederic started his high school studies. In 1831, at the age of eighteen, when Ozanam arrived at the University of Paris to study Law, he was appalled to find an atmosphere of bitter hostility to Christianity. In the nineteen century in France, there was the Revolution. The Church, which has suffered not only the loss of property and power but also many martyrs, tended to regard the Revolution as an unmitigated disaster.So, Frederic with a number of his fellow students formed a study group to present a positive intellectual witness to their faith. He and his friends engaged in endless debates and public controversies on behalf of Christianity. But finally Ozanam was stung by one student’s derisive challenge: “You Christians are fine at arguing but what do you ever do?” In that instant he was struck by fundametal insight:

That Christianity is not about ideas but about deeds inspired by love. Ozanam resolved to start a fellowship of Christian LAY PEOPLE who would immerse themselves in the world of the poor; performing acts of charity as personal sacrifice. This became THE SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY.
The world of Ozanam in Paris and other cities was inhabited by the poor whom Victor Hugo immortalized as “The Miserable.” An example: a child of a factory worker will not live more than nineteen months. In entering this world, Ozanam and his companions were crossing a divide of bitter class hatred, entering a world as little known to most of the clergy as it was to the bourgeois intellectuals so enamoured with “liberty, and fraternity.”Ozanam had no programme of social reform. Indeed there was little that his program of charity could do to change the fundamental conflicts of the society. But his experience allowed him to see below the surface, so he wrote:” It is the battle of those who have nothing and those who have too
much, it is the violent collision of opulence and poverty which makes the earth tremble under our feet.” Ozanam’s response was Christian charity. His concern was not only the welfare of the poor but the credibility and integrity of the Gospel. The poor he said are “messengers of God to test our justice
and our charity and to save us by our works.”In brief, in 1833, Frederic Ozanam, then a twenty-year old student in Paris and some young friends of his, felt inspired with M. Bailly, their senior, to unite themselves in the service of the poor in the most direct and humble way and within the frame work of their professional and family lives as
laymen.At the outset, these young men felt the need to “bear witness” to their Christian faith by actions rather than words. They regarded the unfortunate as their brothers whoever they were and whatever the nature of their sufferings. In them they saw the suffering of Christ. They recognized in
them the dignity of men faced with the world and its miseries and also their dignity as those to whom, first of all, the Kingdom of God is given.Their method: personal contacts with those who suffer, to live united together in such a spirit that is the very essence of the original character of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. In the light of the age in which they lived and as laymen Ozanam and friends showed a prophetic foresight. Broken in health if not in spirit from fighting, he resigned from teaching and public activities. He died soon after, on September 8, 1853 at the age of forty. Ozanam’s motto was: “The equality between men operates with sharing.”The first conference meeting was held in Paris on the 23rd April, 1833. Frederic Ozanam was
beautified on August 22nd 1997.

Downloadable Ozanam Biography.pdf

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