"The question which is agitating the world today is a social one. It is a struggle between those who have nothing and those who have too much. It is a violent clash of opulence and poverty which is shaking the ground under our feet. Our duty as Christians is to throw ourselves between these two camps in order to accomplish by love what justice alone cannot do".
Those words, spoken in 1834 by the Founder of the Society of St.Vincent de Paul, Frederic Ozanam, remain accurate in today’s world.
Frederic was 20 years old when he began the Society with a number of friends in Paris on April 23, 1833. He made that defining statement a year later. It encompasses the spiritual ethos of the Society and its focus on working for social justice.
The name of St.Vincent de Paul was chosen for the new Society as its patron saint. From the outset the Society favoured a practical, direct approach to dealing with poverty.
Frederic Ozanam laid down the instruction that SVP members must give of themselves, through their time, talents and resources to help the poor:
“The poor person is a unique person of God's fashioning with an inalienable right to respect,” he said and instructed SVP volunteers: “You must not be content with tiding the poor over the poverty crisis. You must study their condition and the injustices which brought about such poverty, with the aim of a long-term improvement.”