Origins and ministry of Vincent’s Society

 St. Vincent's Society was founded in 1833 on the initiative of Blessed Frederic Ozanam, who wanted to encourage laymen to participate in charitable work. At the beginning, he gathered young adults, especially students and tried to draw them into serving the poor. Their work was based on Christian love. Due to simple work and commitment of its members, the Vincent’s Society quickly expanded. In the first years after its establishment, first conferences were formed in Paris and throughout France. By 1983, for its 150th anniversary, the society was already active in107 countries throughout the world.


Beginnings in Slovenia

In Slovenia, the first conference was set up on 24 April 1876 by Janez Gogal, a canon and secondary school teacher, and by professor Josip Kronberger with the help of Leopoldina Hoppe, a sister of mercy. In 1912, Vincent’s Conferences were active in all the parishes of Ljubljana. This was a time of awakening consciousness of laymen, who were allowed to take up the leading positions instead of priests. As a result, in 1918, Fran Lavitžar, a school inspector, was elected president of the society. In 1936, the association had 31 conferences with 264 members, and their work was supported by 2056 benefactors. During the Ljubljana earthquake in 1895, the conferences helped people cope with the aftermath.


Ministry of Vincent's Society  

The Vincent's Society was active in various areas: helped the poor and aged pay the rent, students to get education, provided hospital treatment and aftercare for patients. Its members gave special attention to the working poor in the cities. The Society established homeless shelters and homes for orphans. It covered the holiday cost forpoor children from Ljubljana and in the countryside it organized educational courses for nurses. The members of the society helped also the priests preparing children and adults to receive the sacraments. For many years, it was the only representative of charity in Slovenia. The society also took care of the spiritual life of its members through prayer, reflection and spiritual exercises.


Vincent's Society in independent Slovenia  

After the II World War, the conferences were violently dissolved and charity work was forbidden. Nevertheless, the spirit of charity continued to exist and in 1994, the Lazarists started to set up Vincent's Conferences again.


Blessed Frideric Ozanam

The founder

Together with his friends he founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which grew considerably and is today active on five continents. He was also the initiator of famous Conferences that took place in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

After completing his studies he taught law at the University of Lyons and then returned to the Sorbonne to teach literature. He also dedicated himself to study of Christian civilization during the migration of peoples, Dante and medieval Italian literature.

Frederic started a newspaper L'Ere nouvelle (The New Era, 1848) in order ‘to spread Christian spirit in republican institutions’. With the same intention he stood in elections for the Parliament. His program was based on the awareness that the gap between rich and poor was going to widen.

Even though he saw his academic work as his mission work, he had to resign due to his poor health. He devoted his last strengths to science work and to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Fully committed to God, he died on 8th September 1853 in Marseille at the age of forty. Because of his extraordinary sensitivity he left a mark in all who knew him. He was an upstanding witness and example of faith in private and public life. The process for his beatification started in 1925. At the World Youth Day in Paris, 8th September 1997, Pope John Paul II in front of a crowd of one million people beatified him and set him as an example and intercessor. His feast is celebrated on 8th September.