St Vincent de Paul Society members are passionate about helping those in need in their local community and work together in groups known as ‘Conferences’ that are usually attached to; parishes, schools, universities, workplaces, or groups of individuals from the local area.
The Society would not exist without its members and volunteers; they are the Society. They live their faith in action by visiting people in their homes or in the community, providing friendship and support to those they serve and to each other. They are called to seek out the poor and marginalised wherever they may be.
Let us live together in great charity and friendliness.
St Vincent de Paul, XI: 99
Dependent on local need, members have the opportunity to be involved in a range of services, including home visitation and:
- Education, training and supported employment opportunities
- Homeless services
- Disaster relief
- Mobile and fixed meal services
- Migrant and refugee services
- Housing support and emergency accommodation
- Mentoring and social support programs
- Youth programs – including family, teen, kids, and young carers camps, ‘Buddies Days’, mentoring programs, tutoring and homework clubs, and much more
- Budget counselling
- Material assistance; and much more.
Members also meet regularly to share their experiences, reflect on their service, and monitor and discuss local needs. The Society’s founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, believed strongly that for each act of service to be a true expression of faith and love, members must come together in prayer, to explore and grow their personal and Vincentian spirituality.
Do members have to be Catholic?
No. The St Vincent de Paul Society welcomes people of all backgrounds and beliefs. The Society is a Catholic lay organisation however, and exploring and sharing our Vincentian spirituality is an integral component. To enable a full experience and individual acts of service, members are encouraged to be open to prayer and reflection.
What is Vincentian spirituality?
Those who seek to live their lives and their faith in the spirit of St Vincent de Paul are known as Vincentians. Central to Vincentian spirituality is:
- To see Christ in the poor and marginalised.
- To be one with the poor.
- To serve with humility, authenticity, and without judgment.
- To give of one’s self, rather than the simple provision of material assistance.
Vincentian’s see their work as a continuation of Christ’s own work.
Who do members help?
The Society’s members help anyone in need, regardless of their background, culture, religion or political opinion. One of the principle tenets of the Society is to meet people where they are; be it in their home, in hospital, in detention, on the street.
What age can I become involved with the Society?
- Mini Vinnies – 4 to 12 years (primary school age)
- High School/College Conferences – 12 to 18 years (secondary school age)
- Youth & Young Adult Conferences – 17 to 35 years
- Society Members – 18 years +
How much time/commitment is required to be a member?
The Society recognises that the level of involvement members and volunteers can commit to will vary depending on their personal circumstances such as; study, work, and family commitments. For this reason, the Society holds three forms of membership:
- Conference members committed to living the Society mission and serving those in need and attending regular conference meetings.
- Associate members committed to living the Society mission and serving those in need but do not attend conference meetings.
- Volunteer members Support the mission of the Society through acts of voluntary service in any of the Society’s works (programs).
Meetings and opportunities to engage in acts of service occur during and outside business hours, dependent on the local membership. While it varies from conference to conference, members generally meet fortnightly and those participating in home visitation, usually do so on a weekly basis.
Youth and Young Adult conferences are often involved in services that range in commitment from weekly or fortnightly (such as homework clubs) through to monthly or quarterly, (such as mobile/fixed meal services, detention centre visits or kids camps).
Members and volunteers are supported to adjust their commitment as their personal circumstances change.
Are there leadership opportunities for members?
There are lots of opportunities for members to contribute to the leadership of the Society. This includes formal positions such as; president, treasurer and secretary roles within conferences, regions, states and nationally; as well as volunteer coordinators and/or representatives for special programs and services, youth representatives, spiritual advisers, again at all levels of the Society’s organisational structure. Of equal importance are opportunities to mentor and journey with fellow Members in their Vincentian journey.
What support is provided to members?
The St Vincent de Paul Society provides ongoing training and formation opportunities to support members in their service to those in need and to deepen their understanding and expression of the Society’s mission. This includes training in; Society programs, Workplace Health and Safety, Child protection, as well as formation opportunities such as; retreats, festival days, pilgrimages and immersion programs, and more
Learn more about the role of Conference Presidents: