The Society of St. Vincent de Paul began with a personal challenge to provide individual help to the needy and it remains true to that mission today. In 1833, Frederic Ozanam, a young law student at Sorbonne in France, was challenged during a debate to demonstrate what he and his fellow Catholic students were personally doing to help the poor in their Parish. Ozanam – only 20 years of age – acted immediately and with six others financed works of charity out of their own pockets. They called their group the Conference of Charity. Ozanam pioneered the lasting process of a home visit to access needs and the follow-through to meet them.
As recommended by his mentor, Monsieur Emmanuel Bailly and Sister Rosalie Rendue, a Daughter of Charity, Ozanam placed the Conference under the patronage of St. Vincent del Paul, who served the poor in 16th Century France. Ozanam’s group of 7 grew to 600 and then 2000 spreading across France. In 1845, it crossed the ocean to St. Louis, Missouri. One hundred years later it came to Phoenix, Arizona and a Conference in Tucson at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Parish soon followed.
Today, St. Vincent de Paul in Tucson continues to provide personal, one-on-one assistance to individuals of all faiths, all colors and all cultures.