Welcome to St. Vincent de Paul-Cincinnati!
Whether you are here as an employee working in one of our many ministries, a volunteer helping us serve, or a Vincentian who is called to serve his or her neighbors in need, we are glad you are.
We’d like to share with you a brief background of who we are, where we’ve come from, where we are going, and why the work that you do here is so important.
Let’s begin with St. Vincent de Paul-Cincinnati’s Mission Statement:
St. Vincent de Paul – Cincinnati is a network of neighbors, inspired by Gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and service to people in need.
History of the Society and its Founders
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a worldwide organization, founded in Paris in 1833 by a college student named Frederic Ozanam. Frederic was moved to begin the organization when, during a debate on the Catholic Church, he was challenged with the question: “What is your church doing now? What is she doing for the poor of Paris? Show us your works and we will believe you!”
Because of this challenge, Frederic and his friends began a group to help the poor within Paris. They organized this group in “Conferences” (chapters), each working in a specific area. In order to determine the best and most compassionate way to help those in need, Frederic and his friends turned to Sr. Rosalie Rendu, who served for many years in the most impoverished district in Paris. From her, they learned one of the most fundamental practices of the Society – the home visit. Sr. Rosalie was a member of a Vincentian order, the Daughters of Charity, which was founded by St. Louise de Marillac.
The group named themselves after St. Vincent de Paul, who is known as “The Apostle of Charity and “Father of the Poor”. In emulating St. Vincent and following his example in the treatment of the poor and vulnerable, Frederic and his companions found a strong base from which to grow.
And grow we did! St. Vincent de Paul now has more than 800,000 members in over 150 countries. The first Conference in the United States was founded in 1845 in St. Louis, Missouri. From there it spread quickly. In 1869, the Cincinnati District Council was founded. Today, the Cincinnati District Council is made up of 60 Conferences with more than 1000 members.
St. Vincent de Paul-Cincinnati Today
“Neighbors helping neighbors” is at the heart of the 60 Conferences in the Cincinnati District Council. Located in 55 parishes, four schools, and one “special works” Conference, members of St. Vincent de Paul, called “Vincentians, provide person-to-person assistance to impoverished members of their own communities. These committed volunteers visit those in need in their homes and show God’s love by offering material help, compassion, and prayer.
St. Vincent de Paul holds a unique place in Cincinnati today. Along with our Conferences, St. Vincent de Paul –Cincinnati operates numerous additional programs.
We now formally refer to our administrative offices as the Liz Carter Outreach Center, and our new building, where all services will be offered, is called the Neyer Outreach Center.
Our Outreach Center offers assistance to individuals who live in areas of the District that are not covered by our Conferences.
The Outreach Center also houses our charitable pharmacy which serves five counties in Southwest Ohio, and it houses our Ozanam Center for Service Learning, which runs immersion retreats for groups of all ages to help them deepen their understanding of issues of poverty and Vincentian spirituality.
We also operate a year-long service program, the Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati, in which young men and women in their 20s can spend a year volunteering full-time in our outreach center, living in community, and experiencing Vincentian spirituality.
The Cincinnati District Council also operates seven thrift stores across the area. The revenues from these stores support our other services, and the stores also provide a source of low-cost or no-cost clothing, furniture, and household goods for those who need them.
Systemic Change programs, such as Getting Ahead and Upward to Work, enable our neighbors to engage in the identification of root causes of their material poverty and to create strategies to help our neighbors achieve greater self-sufficiency.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has three main principles that direct our actions:
♦ We seek to grow in faith by bearing witness to Christ and His church by showing that the faith of Christians inspires us to work for the good of humanity.
♦ We seek to grow in friendship by bringing together people of goodwill and to assist them by mutual example and true friendship in drawing nearer to the divine model by fulfilling His essential precept; namely, the love of God in the person of others.
♦ We seek to grow in service by establishing a personal contact between our members and those who suffer to bring to the latter the most efficacious and charitable aid possible, and to promote self-sufficiency.
This is the lens through which we see the world.
At the heart of what we do is the home visit. The home visit is a process in which Vincentians go to the homes of our neighbors to evaluate their needs, and if they wish, to pray with them. This is not to check up on them to make sure that what they are telling us is true, but to check in on them to make sure they have what they need.
As Vincentians we try to meet those that we help where they are. We prefer to sit with our neighbors and work out the solutions that they need, rather than stand behind a counter and give them the help that we think would be best.
Whether you are a new employee, volunteer, or Vincentian we offer our heart-felt thanks for helping us accompany our neighbors in need. We could not accomplish this mission without your support!
For more information, visit www.svdpcincinnati.org.