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Society of St Vincent de Paul


The Society of Saint-Vincent de Paul (SSVP) was created in Paris in 1833 by a small group of Catholic students led by a young man by the name of Frederic Ozanam.

When at university Frederic would take part in debating clubs, usually in order to stand up for the Catholic faith.

During one such debate an accusation was put to him to ‘show me your works then’, and to Frederic’s horror he realised that he merely defended the faith but did not put the works he spoke about into practice. Realising that the charge had truth Frederic with a few friends decided to come together and ‘do the work’ that Jesus spoke of - to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, look after widows and orphans, in other words, come to the aid of anyone who is in need in this world, also keeping in mind Jesus’ words ‘if you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me’.


It is said that the first thing Frederic and his friend done was visit an old man in order to give him fire wood; remember this was Paris in the 1830’s where absolute poverty was rife. When Frederic got to the old mans door he supposedly took fright at the thought of what may be on the other side of this poor looking door, so he put the sticks down at the side, knocked the door and walked away. Later on he felt ashamed of this act, realising that it is better to know the person, not just leave things outside the door, for in knowing the person we can become a good friend, good company.


From a small Conference of Charity, the Society has today spread throughout the world, thus fulfilling the wish of its founder “I would like to embrace the world in a network of Charity”.

When he saw how his idea had begun to grow, with more people wishing to join in his work, he decided to rename it and call in after the French Saint who he found to be closest to understanding the conditions that the poor live in, this Saint was Saint Vincent de Paul, and that what we have been called to this day.


It is said that you will always know you have been in a Catholic Church if you see a Tabernacle at the top end of the Church, and someone with a box at the back of it looking for a donation.


The Church in recognising the work we do in bringing dignity to the human person has blessed our work by allowing us to do this in all parishes that have a SSVP conference operating within it.



The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) in our parish of St. Ambrose continues this work today in our own community. We are lay members of the Catholic Church, ordinary everyday people, who want to bring the love of Christ to those whom they find in need.

We help in many, many ways, whether it is material help, financial help, spiritual help, or just being someone to talk to, and we believe very much in the person to person contact with those we help.

We still refer to ourselves as conferences today just as they did when they began, and there has been a conference of the SSVP in St. Bridget’s Church since before the church was built, coming into being in the year 1877 when the people of Baillieston used the old school for mass; These were the days of Father Peter Terken, the first parish priest.

This is something the people of Baillieston should look on as a wonderful gift from God.


We are not a secret society but we are a society with people’s secrets, because if someone comes to us for help then their business stays with us.

So if you feel you are in need of help and do not know where to turn, or you know of someone who may be in need of help, please contact us. Speak to one of us at the back of the church at the weekend, or call us on 07864 279 521 and leave a message.


For a wider understanding of what we do nationally please visit our website


To see what we do globally go to

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