The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) is a lay Catholic organization whose mission is:
To live the Gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice and joy.
Information updated November 2016
History: In 1833, Frederick Ozanam, a law student in Paris, was shocked when he saw the squalid conditions in which the poor were living. He organized a small group of students into a society dedicated to serving the poor: they visited poor people, and provided emergency assistance through food, clothing and comfort. Where it was appropriate, they gave spiritual guidance. They named their society after St. Vincent de Paul (c.1580-1660), a priest in France who dedicated his life to founding charitable organizations to help the poor, prisoners, galley slaves, the ill, and all the less fortunate members of the area. In 1846 SSVP came to Canada.
Today: Today, about one million people in more than 132 countries on five continents are members of SSVP, and they continue to reach out in love to serve Jesus Christ in his suffering brothers and sisters. About two-thirds are in developing countries and many are twinned with Canadian conferences.
Membership: St. Mary’s Conference has been an active group of members (currently 43) trying to ease the suffering of the poor since 1923 in Lindsay and the surrounding area. As Vincentians, we see Christ in anyone who suffers, we come together as a family, we have personal contact with the poor and we help in any possible way. Members have been trained and screened as we are dealing with very vulnerable people. For 13 years members participated in an ecumenical food cupboard along with five other local churches until it closed. We have returned to our former mandate of visiting clients in their homes or an alternate convenient location to evaluate the need and provide assistance. The volunteers work in teams of two.
Call Us: If you need help, we are a phone call away at 705-340-3001. An answering machine service will hold the messages. The messages will be monitored Monday, Wednesday and Friday by our volunteers with a follow-up call returned as soon as possible. Please speak slowly, leaving your name, number and address with a short message as to why you are calling. Assistance from the SSVP is not intended to be a means of continuing support. We encourage people to become self-sufficient.
Revenue: The SSVP’s funding comes from donations collected by volunteers and friends at all church doors on the first weekend of every month. Donations may be made through the collection basket, by mail or to the parish office through the use of special envelopes throughout the year. In memoriam donations are collected at the parish office or local funeral homes at the request of the family of the bereaved. Occasional financial donations have been made by groups or businesses, especially for our Christmas program. Some of our benefactors have generously left us bequests.
How We Help: Most often assistance given is for food, but occasionally assistance is given with overdue utility bills, rent or mortgage to keep clients in their homes. Assistance is given for glasses and medical necessities. Sometimes the assistance is for furniture, travel expense, clothing or finding work. Occasionally we will refer clients to other services as needed.
Christmas Programs: At Christmastime the St Mary’s SSVP coordinates a comprehensive Christmas basket program for families with dependent children. Last year approximately 124 families received food and gifts through this program. Clients are interviewed, needs assessed and wish lists created. Some children are sponsored individually through the Angel Giving Tree by parishioners. Others are adopted by outside sponsors. Some of the classrooms in the Catholic schools sponsor a family through the Adopt-a-Family program and collect extra food to supplement the groceries purchased by the SSVP. Businesses, groups and individuals or families have been sponsors through the Adopt-A-Family program.
Award: Each year at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School the SSVP provides a bursary award called the Trials to Tribulations Award for a student who has overcome difficulties.
Twinning: St. Mary’s Conference is twinned with Sacred Heart Conference in Haiti providing supplementary funds for people in crisis.
Meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month, September through to June. Please refer to notices in the church bulletin for meeting location and dates. To join our group or to find out more about us and our ministry, leave your information on our answering machine and someone will get back to you.
(See St. Mary’s Parish Conference SSVP at
http://stmaryslindsay.ca/organizations/society-of-st-vincent-de-paul/) (Since 1923)
(See Peterborough [Diocesan] Particular Council SSVP at http://www.vinnies.ca/about/)
(See Ontario Regional SSVP at www.ssvp.on.ca) (Since 1850)
(See Canadian national SSVP at www.ssvp.ca) (Since 1846)
(See international SSVP at http://en.ssvpglobal.org/) (Since 1833)