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The Saint Vincent de Paul Society was founded in Paris in 1833 by a young French nobleman named Frédéric Ozanam. At just 20 years old, he was inspired by his love of St. Vincent de Paul, to aid the city’s poor living in the slums of Paris, France. His mission became to help the needy on a one-to-one basis and to “accomplish through charity what justice alone cannot do.”
The Society took Saint Vincent de Paul, as its patron, under the influence of Sister Rosalie Rendu, DC (Daughter of Charity). Sister Rosalie (who was beatified in 2004 by Pope John Paul II) was a member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, a group of religious women who take vows to serve the poor and those in need. Frédéric was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1997.
The purpose of the Society today is to help those most in need to become as self-sufficient as possible. It is the personalized involvement of its members that makes the work of the Society unique. This aid may take the form of intervention, consultation, or often through direct dollar or in-kind service. Vincentians deliver food, visit shut-ins, purchase personal care items, clothing, and furniture, provide transportation, and assist in many other ways. As members of local parishes, they perform their charity in parish groups known as “Conferences”. An essential precept of the Society’s work is to provide help while conscientiously maintaining the confidentiality and dignity of those who are served. The Society recognizes that it must assume a role of advocacy for those who are defenseless or voiceless.
Almost one million people around the world are members of the Society. Some 12 million persons are helped annually by Vincentians in the United States. The Society serves the poor regardless of creed, race, or sexual orientation.
The Camas-Washougal Conference
St. Thomas Aquinas Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) is our parish’s outreach to the needy and suffering within the Camas and Washougal communities. The SVdP Society is a Catholic based group of volunteers, inspired by the Christian values of charity and compassion for all. We are men and women who strive to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to individuals in need. We are young and old. Our members are diverse in our personal and financial lives. All of us have an awareness that our blessings (time, talent and treasure) are to be shared with our brothers and sisters in need.
In keeping with the vision of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, our members interact personally with our clients and make home visits to assess individual needs. We also collaborate with several charities in our area to meet the needs of our community. Some of these charities are The Community Pregnancy Clinic, The East County Family Resource Center (our local food bank), The Inter-Faith Treasure House, and many other churches in the area.
No need is outside the concern of the SVdP Society. Our aim is to bring social justice and true charity to all those in need within the Camas-Washougal community. If we are unable to personally assist a client we make every attempt possible to steer them in the direction where they may be able to obtain aid.