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Home > Other Ministries > St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul

  • Who We Are
  • Programs


The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international Catholic organization of laypersons who live according to their faith, serving and loving others as Jesus did.  In 1833, this organization was founded in Paris, France by Frederic Ozanam.  He was twenty years old and a college student when he and his comrades decided to bear witness to the Church by fulfilling this mission and calling he received from Jesus.  This group of volunteers placed their organization under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul, and were later know as “Vincentians”.  They derive their inspiration from the Saint’s way of life and work.  They carry with them the spirit of justice and charity, by a person-to-person involvement from its volunteer members, to help those with specific needs and those who are suffering, regardless of denomination.  The Society’s charitable services, expressed principally through its network of parish volunteer groups call “Conferences”, is the basic level of the Society and is part of the life of the Catholic Church.  “Do not turn your face away from the poor, and God’s face will not be turned away from you”. (Tobit 4:7)

The next level of the Society are called the Councils with geographic boundaries within a particular Diocese or Archdiocese.  The Councils function is to provide a forum for the Parish Conferences to come together to share their experience in order to improve their services to the needy.  In addition, the Councils provide for activities and charitable programs beyond Parish limits.  “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that of the Lord, you shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ”. (Col3: 23-24)  

Past Present Future
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam, a 20 year old student of the Sorbonne University in Paris.

In answer to a taunt for Christians to “Practice what they preach”, Frederic Ozanam and a group of fellow students started to seek out and visit the poor of Paris in their homes, taking them bread and clothes, their friendship and their concern.  This small group took as their Patron the Great French Priest, who alerted the world to social problems, St. Vincent de Paul.

Similar groups began in Paris, then in the rest of France and eventually spread throughout the Christian world with the object of visiting, for the love of God, those in need.  


Today the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (known as the SVDP) is a worldwide lay organization of Christian men and women, young and old of every race and color, numbering 750,000 of whom some 36,000 are in the United States.

The members meet in Parish and District groups in order to help in a personal way those in need.

There is no need which is outside the concern of the Society be it sickness or disability, mental or physical, family problems, social or economic,  the loneliness of old age, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the grieving, the alienated.  

The Society supports and operates rehabilitation workshops for the handicapped, free dining services and children’s camps, and organizes its own overseas aid – know as twinnage.

The aim of the SVDP is to bring social justice and the friendship of true charity to all those in need.  

No matter how good the Welfare Services provided by the State may be, the work to which the SVDP is called will always be necessary.  For it is fundamentally the giving of oneself in friendship to another which can only be a personal encounter.

Mankind searches for peace – peace because of the horror of war, but also peace of mind. The Gospels tell us again and again that true peace is possible only if we live as Christ showed us by His own life.

The work of the SVDP is the Gospel message in action

I was hungry 
I was thirsty  
I was a stranger  
I was sick  
I was in prison and you cared.  


Stores and Workshops: The stores and warehouses are a vital part of our charitable activity.  Donated items are recycled back into the community, providing people with inexpensive household and clothing items.  The stores also provide employment and job skills to entry-level applicants.  Moreover, the profits from the stores help support some of our charitable programs.

Currently, St Vincent de Paul has five thrift stores and two warehouses open in Orange County.

       Orange      San Juan Capistrano      Laguna Hills        Orange Warehouse       La Habra               

“There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need”.  (Acts 4:34-35)

Food Bank:  The SECOND HARVEST Food Bank of Orange County, formerly known as the Food Distribution Center, was established in 1983.  This private, not-for-profit agency is focused on alleviating the problem of hunger in Orange County.  It serves as a clearinghouse dedicated to providing the vital link between the food industry and the hungry.

Many people are not aware that the hungry are their neighbors and coworkers.  Therefore, hunger awareness is one of the main goals of the Food Bank.  According to the 1990 census and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assessment formula, approximately 400,000 Orange County residents were at risk of missing meals sometimes during the month.  The high cost of living teamed with low-end wages make it difficult for many working families to make ends meet each month.  After paying rent and utilities many people do not have enough left over to feed their families.  The Second Harvest Food Bank, in partnership with various nonprofit agencies, is attempting to fill the gap.

The Food Bank distributes surplus and salvaged food to more than 316 not-for-profit- agencies with established feeding programs.  Churches, soup kitchens, shelters and rehabilitation centers are only some of the agencies that receive supplies from the Food Bank.  One such program is the Brown Bag program, which assists approximately 1,300 low-income seniors by providing them with two supplemental bags of groceries twice a month.  Moreover, the Food Bank offers food-handling classes to the agencies and makes certain that they are abiding by health and safety regulations set forth by the National Second Harvest Food Bank network and the Orange County Health Department.  Each agency must send at least two people for food safety and handling training before they are able to distribute food.

Saint Hedwig Conference: The Saint Hedwig Conference of Saint Vincent De Paul operates within the local area to provide assistance to those in need. The Saint Hedwig conference provides services to those of all faiths in a variety of ways. Including the following:

  • Home visits to the sick and elderly
  • Providing food and clothes to those in need
  • Transportation to church and to doctor appointments
  • Financial assistance for children to attend the Saint Vincent De Paul Summer Camps

In addition to the services mentioned above, the Saint Hedwig Conference of Saint Vincent De Paul works in conjunction with We Care, a local provider of food and clothing.

The Saint Hedwig conference meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month at 7:00 PM in church meeting room.

For more information and a way to become involved please contact the St. Hedwig Parish Office at 562-296-9000.

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