On this last weekend in April, we invite all Vincentians to celebrate Ozanam Sunday.
Frédéric Ozanam was born on April 23, 1813, in Milan, Italy. On April 23, 1833, Frédéric and six friends founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Also, St. Vincent de Paul was born on April 24, 1581. So to commemorate these events the Society in the United States celebrates the last Sunday of April as Ozanam Sunday.
Frédéric was a husband, father, professor and servant of the poor. He founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as a young student with others of the Sorbonne, University of Paris.
Frédéric Ozanam left his home in France, in the Fall of 1831, for Paris. He registered in the School of Law at the Sorbonne, University of Paris. He worked together with Mr. Emmanuel Bailly, editor of the Tribune Catholique, in bringing back a student organization which had been suspended during the revolutionary activity of July 1830. They called their new organization “The Conference of History.” The group met on Saturdays to discuss any and everything, but no politics.
At one of their meetings, a student questioned Frédéric and the practicing Catholics in attendance. The student said that the “Catholic Church had done a lot of good work in the past”, but “What does the Catholic Church do now?” Frédéric called for a meeting in Mr. Bailly’s office with his six friends on April 23, 1833. This was his 20th birthday. Inspired by their words, Frédéric decided to begin the “Conference of Charity” to assist the poor. Mr. Bailly, the married layman, was chosen to be the first President. Shortly thereafter, they changed the organization’s name to The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in honor of their patron.
Today, the Society has grown to over 800,000 in over 150 countries worldwide. The members operate through “conferences”. A conference may be based out of a church, community center, school, hospital, etc., and is composed of volunteers who dedicate their time and resources to help those in need in their community.
Harry Ohde – President/CEO
Society of St. Vincent de Paul Chicago-ADC