Blessed Frederic Ozanam                History of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul

A small group of university students led by Frederic Ozanam (1813-1853) looked at the pitiable economic plight of many in Paris, France and joined together to attempt to alleviate the suffering of the poor that they saw around them. They wanted to bear witness to Gospel values, develop their own spirituality, and relieve the suffering of the needy. They recognized the responsibility of lay people for ministering to those in need through personal contact.

So, in 1833, they chose a patron and organized themselves to help the poor. St. Vincent de Paul, a 17th-century French priest not only ministered to the poor but also organized religious and lay women and men to develop this ministry. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, composed of lay Catholic men and women in cooperation with the pastor and parish staff, became a reality, thanks to this compassionate band of young Frenchmen.

Funds come from poor boxes; special collections; members' secret donations at meetings and fundraisers. Many times the parish also helps. "No work of charity is foreign to the Society. Need, not creed" determines who is helped and how. Carrying this philosophy to the United States, the first U.S. Conference, the basic parish unit, was founded in St. Louis, Missouri in 1845.

Today's Society of St. Vincent de Paul has grown to over 900,000 women and men from 131 different countries with 48,200 local conferences which are aggregated into diocesan councils. And, the Society's founder (Frederic Ozanam) has been called "Blessed" by the Catholic Church, the last step to elevation to Sainthood. JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR HIS CANONIZATION!!

Local History

It was over 140 years after it’s founding that the Society of St. Vincent de Paul came to the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1987, a Vincentian who moved to Lincoln, Bob White, approached Bishop Flavin and asked why Lincoln had no Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The Bishop's response reportedly was "Why don't you form one?" In response, a small group gathered at St. Mary's, the "Old Cathedral," and formed the first Conference, much as Frederic Ozanam's followers did in 1833. Their Conference, the first in Lincoln, was aggregated to the Society on June 6, 1988.

Shortly thereafter, Blessed Sacrament and St. John's Conferences were formed; followed by St. Teresa and the Cathedral of the Risen Christ. St. Patrick came next, followed by St.  Damian in Seward; St. Joseph in Harvard, and St. Peter & Paul at Falls City. In January, 2001, Sacred Heart was established with St. Joseph (Lincoln) and North American Martyrs added in 2002. These twelve conferences currently compose the Lincoln Diocesan Council which was also instituted on June 6, 1988.

Father Ramon DeCaen became spiritual advisor to the St. Vincent de Paul Lincoln Council in 2011. We thank him for his Vincentian zeal, and ask God's continued blessing on our ministry of service in the spirit of Blessed Frederic Ozanam, our founder, and St. Vincent de Paul, our patron!

Our Core Values

  • The dignity of the human person
  • Identification of Jesus with the poor
  • The preferential option of the poor
  • Jesus is the Evangelizer and servant of the poor
  • Growth in intimacy with Jesus is a life-long process
  • Poverty of spirit is the primary beatitude
  • The Society is concerned with charity and justice
  • Prayer is essential:  personal and communal
  • The virtue of humility:  personal and corporate
  • The virtue of charity within and outside of the Society
  • Divine Providence
  • Friendship
  • Solidarity
  • Community
  • Simplicity